Genetics & Biotechnology


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Genetics & Biotechnology

Genetics & Biotechnology

When in 1973, Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer combined the genetic material of a frog and a bacteria, the scientific community had stepped into a new realm, biotechnology. Today, biotechnology have moved from the laboratory, to the market. With bioengineer corn, tomatoes, cotton, and rice grown by farmers, we find ourselves in a new era.

On paper, the technique the Cohen and Boyer began is simple. Take the RNA of a bacteria. Slice out a gene that you have an interest in. Insert that gene into the DNA of a frog's egg cell. But the trick lays in finding the right segment of gene to cut, and the proper location in which to splice it.

A Word of Caution

As we gained a better understanding about the process for how genes make and control processes in cells, and in our bodies, we gained the tools that allowed us to alter those same genes. As genetic research continues, we find ourselves on the doorstep for new ways to correct medical problems. Genetic disorders may one day be correctable after conception. Already, crops have been redesigned for increased resistance to infestations, poor soils, and viruses. From experiments with cloning, we find ourselves asking, could we solve the organ donor problem by cloning organs. Stem cell research may answer that problem.

But as with all new technologies, Pandora's box holds terror as well as hope. Are we tinkering in area best left alone. Will we clone people? Is the technique simply the evolution for solving infertility as some scientist have are claiming, or are we resuscitating Hitler's search for the perfect human. This debate, once only brought up in the realm of science fiction, is now in the realm of fact.

As you study how we have learned how to alter, and theory change the physiology of organisms, do not lose sight of the ethical boundaries that must be addressed. With science, and with new knowledge comes responsibility. Weight your choices carefully.