What is Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering is when an organism has part of its DNA removed and this part is replaced by new different DNA (this takes place artificially). Any living thing that has had its DNA changed artificially is known as a ‘genetically modified organism’ also known as (GMO).

The advantages of genetic engineering are:

1) Deadly disease can be prevented much more easily. This will protect livestock and crops which will increase food production as it prevents them from getting harmed or dying (which would have a negative effect on agriculture).

2) Animals and plants can be genetically modified to have the wanted features. For example a cow can be genetically engineered to produce more milk which has useful proteins. Another example would be a tree can be genetically engineered to absorb a much larger quantity of carbon dioxide which would reduce global warming.

The disadvantages of genetic engineering are:

1) There is a lot of concern about what would happen if these ‘strange’ genes were to enter into the wild. This could have terrible and not to mention irreversible consequences that would be difficult to cure.

2) There are ethical and health issues with this as we do not know the impact of GM foods on our health.

3) There is reduced fertility in genetically modified animals and plants.

How does genetic engineering take place? (Genetically engineering bacteria)

1) Identify the desired gene in a chromosome in the nucleus of a cell.

2) Cut out the desired gene using an ‘enzyme’ (a biological catalyst).

3) Remove one of the plasmids (bits of DNA) from the bacterial cell.

4) Cut open the plasmid using the same enzyme.

5) Carefully insert the desired gene into the plasmid with a different ‘enzyme’.

6) Put the plasmid back into the bacterial cell using a minor electric shock.

7) Place the bacteria into a container with the correct conditions to enable it to divide and grow.

It might seem that these steps may be easy to do, but in reality it is very challenging and time consuming. GM food is mainly grown commercially in Canada and the USA, in the UK there is very little commercial GM food grown. At the moment that is a lot of debate weather or not these GM products are a good thing or not, only time will tell.

Thank you for reading.

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