Understanding Genetic Engineering

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What if cancer could be cured by eating a pear? Or if a crop of wheat could be developed so that it never rotted? These may sound like science fiction but they're not as strange as they first seem to be, and may even be reality in the future. Fifteen years ago who would have thought that plants could be created to be immune to pesticides or that it would be possible to create a sheep that is exactly like its parent in every physical way? And yet both of these currently exist due to genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is a developing science that is viewed with a lot of public apprehension. No one seems to be able to explain what genetic engineering is, when it first began, or what the possibilities are for the future of this science.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency genetic engineering is: “A process of inserting new genetic information into existing cells in order to modify a specific organism for the purpose of changing one of its characteristics” (USEPA 1). Cells are the smallest living things on earth , but all organisms are made up of different kinds of cells. Some organisms are made up of only one cell, but most organisms are made up of trillions of different cells with each cell having its own job within an organism. Some cells make skin, some make leaves, and others make up nerves and brains (Franklin Institute 1). All cells begin the same with no distinction from other cells; at this stage they are called stem cells and are able to develop into whatever form of cell is needed. Inside each cell is a control center called a nucleus that contains the code with the information for the cell's development. This code is written on deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, and is stored in packages, or chrom...

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