The scientific rules of genetics were not known until the nineteenth century, when Gregor Mendel determined from his study of plants that particles that can not be seen carry traits that are passed on from generation to generation. In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick made the makeup of the genetic code called deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, the genetic material that is in all living cells. Deoxyribonucleic acid encodes the order of amino acids that have peptides and proteins. In the 1970s, researchers started experimenting with the transfer of a specific part of DNA from one organism to another, letting the other organism make a new protein and make a new trait. This scientific breakthrough led to the progress of biotechnology or genetic engineering, as we know it today.
It is very clear that the use of biotechnology in agriculture will have great implications for agriculture, the environment, and the economy around the world. It is already making an impact on the world's food supply. Some of the first genetically improved products has included major food crops, such as soybeans and corn, as well as cotton. These genetic changes help plants protect themselves against insects or make them tolerant to herbicides that is used to control weeds. The economic benefits for farmers have been seen, and data is proving that genetically improved crops make the environment better by reducing the use of insecticides and herbicides. Scientists are working on more products that will include direct consumer benefits, such as increased levels of vitamins in fruits and vegetables, improved amino acid or fatty acid, or improved texture and taste.
The first genetically improved crop was a tomato, approved for comme...
... middle of paper ...
...e greatest challenges we face in this new century, such as hunger and malnutrition, as well as more effective ways to prevent diseases and treat serious illnesses. Biotechnology is an available and exciting new development, which is already improving the way we live.
Pollack, Andrew. “Identifying the dead, 2,000 miles away.” New York Times
20 Sept. 2001.
Starr, Cecie, Ralph Taggart. “Recombinate DNA and Genetic Engineering.” Writing and
Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens, and Leonard J. Rosen. New York: Addison, Wesley, Longman, 2000. 501-15.
Brown, Patrick O. Stanford University Department of Biochemistry. Home page. 29
Sept. 2001. http://cmgm.stanford.edu/biochem/brown.html
Mertz, Beverly. Access Excellence. Home page. 1999. 2 Oct. 2001.
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