Wouldn't it be great to improve health care, improve agriculture, and improve our quality of life? Genetic engineering is already accomplishing those things, and has the potential to accomplish much more.
Genetic engineering, also referred to as biotechnology, is a fairly new science where the genes of an organism are modified to change the features of an organism or group of organisms. Genes are found in the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of an organism, and each gene controls a specific trait of an organism. Scientists have discovered what many of these genes control, both in plants and animals. Scientists then can modify these genes to benefit the organism. For example, if a person has a gene that codes for a certain disease, scientists can insert healthy copies of that gene to heal the patient. Genetic engineering is the hottest new field in medical research (Elmer-Dewitt). Although there have been some questions about whether genetic engineering is ethical or safe, there are too many benefits to ignore it.
Of the many uses of genetic engineering, agricultural use is one of the most beneficial. Scientists can modify plants to grow in adverse environments, places where there are often droughts and floods. Researchers are working on plants that can survive frost ("Advocates . . ."). Other plants are being genetically altered to fight certain diseases. A good example of this is the tomato. If a tomato is given a fungal-fighting microbe, it can resist the gray mold called botrytis (Dyson).
Biotechnology is also making plants more nutritious by increasing protein and vitamin content. Animals are even genetically engineered to produce meats that contain less fat. Scientists are even working to take t...
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"Genetic Engineering." The 1998 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier Inc. 1997.
"Genetic Engineering." The New Illustrated Science and Invention Encyclopedia. Volume 8. Connecticut: H.S. Stuttman, Inc. 1989. p. 1104.
Loveard, Keith and Tet Sieu, Choong, "Magic Genes." [On-Line]. Available: http://www.pathfinder.com/asiaweek/97/0905/cs1.html
The Economist, from the editors. "Genetic Research Will Improve the Quality of Health Care" in Genetic Engineering: Opposing Viewpoints, Bender, David and Leone, Bruno, series editors. San Diego: Greenhaven press, 1996.
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