What is Genetic engineering?
The mechanism of extracting certain genes from the DNA (chromosome) of one living being and inserting them into the DNA of another living being in such a manner that they form a reproductive component of that living being is known as Genetic Engineering. The mechanism that generates the resultant recombinant DNA follows these four steps:
- Identify a living being that has a desirable gene/s.
- Take out the entire chromosome from the living being.
- Remove the desired gene/s from the extracted DNA. This is done with the help of a restriction enzyme that searches for particular nucleotide sequences and cuts the DNA by dissolving the bonds at this spot.
- Transplant the extracted gene/s into an existing living being’s DNA. This process involves a series of steps and measures.
When modifying the DNA of other living being, the same restriction enzyme is used that was used for removing the gene/s from the original chromosome. The extracted genes can be inserted into the openings in the DNA and joined using another enzyme. This modified recombinant DNA is thus passed to the living being’s DNA.
Thanks to their simple structures, bacteria are the most commonly modified life forms. Modified bacteria were first created in 1973. These simple life forms can be altered to create desirable proteins that are harvested and used. Things like spider silk or insulin, which are difficult to obtain naturally, can be easily produced using genetically-modified bacteria. Moreover, scientists have managed to modify the cellular respiration process in bacteria so as to change the byproducts. Normally CO2 is produced, but after modifications engineers have been able to produce hydrocarbons such as diesel and polyethylene as byproducts of cellular respiration process in bacteria.
Implementing Genetic Engineering for Economics
Genetic engineers developed genetic engineering techniques to modify gene sequences in organisms in order to display specific traits. The process is gaining pace as scientists are working together with genetic engineers to discover the functions and positions of certain genes in the chromosomes of various living beings. Once these genes are classified, engineers formulate techniques to modify them and create living beings that are stronger and advantageous such as cows that can produce larger volumes of milk, pest-resistant crops, etc.
The use of genetic engineering techniques has increased as more is being discovered about the genetic compositions of different living beings. The process has found notable application in the field of agriculture for producing genetically modified plant varieties. The scientists have successfully developed insect-resistant crops by combining a bacteria gene containing a protein that is toxic for insects but harmless when consumed by human beings. Similarly, a vast variety of genes can be incorporated into the plants to produce desirable crops that are disease-resistant, climate-resistant, produce higher yield, have herbicidal properties, grow faster, drought-resistant, have a longer shelf life, and provide better nutrition.
Growing genetically modified plants offers several benefits to farmers and agriculture-based businesses. Not only the farmers produce a higher yield but they are able to significantly boost production and sales at a minimal investment. Pest, disease, and climate resistances decrease harvest loss, which increases their profits. In addition to farmers, agriculture-based businesses have made profits by using end-products produced from genetically-modified seeds.
Ethical concerns over the use of Genetic Engineering
A major concern that prevents widespread implementation of genetic engineering scale is ethical issues. A lot of countries around the world have passed huge restrictions or complete bans on the manufacturing and business of genetically-altered organism food items. Some countries have mandatory requirements for labeling GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms). Here are some factors that should be considered when creating or using GMOs:
Impact on the environment: Using genetic engineering techniques, engineers have created plants that are healthier and yield better than their naturally occurring equivalents. This is like a boon for the agriculture industry. However, it is hard to ignore the consequences that might ensue. The modified crops are being grown outdoors on a large scale. They can cross-pollinate with original, unchanged crops breeding beyond the selected growing areas to form hybrids that might disturb the ecosystem. Other than that, they could grow bigger or overpopulate the area, smothering the other plants growing in the area.
Safety: This usually comes up when dealing with food products that are based on GMO. It is necessary to ensure that food products are fit for human consumption. The concern is to check whether GMO feed is safe and healthy for animals. Many people oppose the consumption of GMO foods citing lack of evidence. However, there is enough research that clearly shows that GMO food products are risk-free and that they can be safely consumed by humans. Another concern is ensuring the health and safety of farmers, their animals, and other people who come in contact with chemicals that are used in combination with GMO seeds. It is believed that these chemicals are hazardous and thus, the safety of farmers and their families shouldn’t be overlooked.
Human beings: Genetic engineering in humans raises a lot of questions concerning the ethical and therapeutic impact of these techniques. It is proven that genetic engineering entails immense medical applications in terms of reducing or completing preventing various genetic disorders. Nevertheless, the scientists need to draw a line somewhere and how far should they allow the technology to interfere with human life. Allowing parents to choose the color of the children’s eye, their gender, or heights before birth is like interfering with the way nature works. This can have some unexpected consequences in the future with children being born with disorders that are unheard of and have no available treatments whatsoever. Therefore, there should be discretion over using these techniques, especially in human beings.
If you are studying genetic engineering, you will get technical writing assignments based on various topics covered in the subject. These assignments not only test your knowledge and understanding of the exiting techniques but assess your ability to describe them in a clear manner. If you are having any difficulty with finding a good topic for your technical writing project or conducting research on the same, you should consult qualified academic writers for correct guidance.