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Genetic Engineering And Its Disadvantages

Genetic engineering is the process of manually adding new DNA to an organism.

Tina S
Tina S
Jan 3, 2010
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Genetic engineering is a laboratory technique used by scientists to change the DNA of living organisms. Genetic engineering is different from traditional breeding, where the organism's genes are manipulated indirectly. It uses the techniques of molecular cloning and transformation to alter the structure and characteristics of genes directly. Genetic engineering techniques have found some successes in numerous applications.

DNA is the blueprint for the individuality of an organism. The organism relies upon the information stored in its DNA for the management of every biochemical process. The life, growth and unique features of the organism depend on its DNA. The segments of DNA which have been associated with specific features or functions of an organism are called genes.

Molecular biologists have discovered many enzymes which change the structure of DNA in living organisms. Some of these enzymes can cut and join strands of DNA. Using such enzymes, scientists learned to cut specific genes from DNA and to build customized DNA using these genes. They also learned about vectors, strands of DNA such as viruses, which can infect a cell and insert themselves into its DNA.

It seems when most people think of Genetic Engineering it is in conjunction with the cloning of animals, humans, or other organisms.

Probably the most famous example of cloning in genetic modification was of Dolly the Sheep. In 2003 A cloned Jellyfish gene was added to a Zebra fish with the hopes of marketing a new breed of "Franken fish", unfortunately sales never took off.

Apart from identical twins, your detailed genetic make-up is unique. Individual genes are particular sections of this chain, spaced out along it, which determine the characteristics and functions of our body. Defects of individual genes can cause a malfunction in the metabolism of the body, and are the roots of many "genetic" diseases.

What is cell?
 
A cell is the smallest living unit, the basic structural and functional unit of all living matter, whether that is a plant, an animal or a fungus. Some organisms such as amoebae, bacteria, some algae and fungi are single-celled - the entire organism is contained in just one cell.

Genetic mapping
 
Our understanding of our genetic makeup is being greatly expanded by a systematic mapping process known as the Human Genome Project, carried out internationally with enormous commercial and government funding. Smaller projects are also drawing the genetic map of pigs, chickens and some other organisms. As this work proceeds, individual genes are being identified for various functions and especially for medical conditions. Sometimes it appears that a single gene is responsible, for example in cystic fibrosis, but most conditions seem to be caused by more complex sets of factors, both genetic and environmental.

We should make an important distinction between a gene which causes a condition outright, and one that gives one a susceptibility to it, but which requires other factors to be present as well for the condition to develop. The ability to detect such genes now means we can use the tests for screening, especially pre-natally. This raises some important ethical questions, as we shall see. Screening for various diseases is not, strictly speaking, the same thing as manipulating or "engineering" them. Some people feel "engineering" is an inappropriate term, with connotations of cold mechanics rather than living things, but it does reflect that manipulating genes has in some cases become a relatively common laboratory technique.

We should also put it in context, that genetic engineering has been performed for centuries in animals and plants by selective breeding. This enhances particular genetic traits based on outward appearance, by choosing, for example, which boars to mate which sows to develop, over many generations, leaner pig meat.
 
Engineering

There are a number of ways through which genetic engineering is accomplished. Essentially, the process has five main steps.

1. Isolation of the genes of interest
2. Insertion of the genes into a transfer vector
3. Transfer of the vector to the organism to be modified
4. Transformation of the cells of the organism
5. Selection of the genetically modified organism (GMO) from those that have not been successfully modified


What’s wrong of genetic engineering?
 
Genetic Engineering is a test tube science and is prematurely applied in food production. A gene studied in a test tube can only tell what this gene does and how it behaves in that particular test tube. It cannot tell us what its role and behavior are in the organism it came from or what it might do if we place it into a completely different species. Genes for the color red placed into petunia flowers not only changed the color of the petals but also decreased fertility and altered the growth of the roots and leaves. Salmon genetically engineered with a growth hormone gene not only grew too big too fast but also turned green. These are unpredictable side effects, scientifically termed pleiotropic effects.
 
Genetic engineering enables scientists to create plants, animals and micro-organisms by manipulating genes in a way that does not occurnaturally.
These genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating non 'GE' environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way.
 
Their release is 'genetic pollution' and is a major threat because GMOs cannot be recalled once released into the environment.
 
Because of commercial interests, the public is being denied the right to know about GE ingredients in the food chain, and therefore losing the right to avoid them despite the presence of labeling laws in certain countries.
 
Biological diversity must be protected and respected as the global heritage of humankind, and one of our world's fundamental keys to survival. Governments are attempting to address the threat of GE with international regulations such as the Bio-safety Protocol.
 
What should be done:

  1. Avoid genetically engineered (GE) food, currently in products containing soya and maize.
  2. Buy organic products - look for the Soil Association label.
  3. Tell your MP and the Minister of the Environment you object to GE crops being released on test sites in your area -or any area you care about. Ask your MP or the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) for details from the Public Register of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
  4. Copy this briefing and give it to a neighbour /friend.
  5. Contact your local paper; write a letter to the editor.
  6. Demand clear choice and non-GE products from your supermarket (addresses of head offices and sample letter available from WEN).
  7. Read up on the issue. Get WEN's Campaign Pack on Genetic Engineering (out in August, L2).
  8. Join a local environmental group and campaign against GE crops and GE food.
  9. Support WEN's Test Tube Harvest Campaign (cheques payable to: 'WEN- Test Tube Harvest').
  10. Join the Women's Environmental Network.
  11. Contact the Test Tube Harvest Campaign for further information.


  12.  
 
Author's note: I have very little knowledge about science. Basic biological terms are critical to me..still I was trying to write something about genetic engineering.
Keywords: Genetic Engineering,Disadvantages,cell,DNA,genetically modified organisms,genetic pollution,environment,bio-safety protocol,humankind,micro-organism,Molecular,mapping,production,microbiology.


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