Genetic Engineering: The Key To A Better World

1343 words - 6 pages

John Jones

Eng 1010

10/28/10

Genetic Engineering: The Key to a Better World

Genetic engineering is the process scientists use to “alter the genetic material of cells or organisms to enable them to make new substances or perform new functions” (Genome ¶19). This process allows scientists to do many things, such as, enhancing the heartiness of crops, developing personalized medications, therapy for disorders, development of crops for higher energy gain, studying infectious diseases and creating vaccines. The benefits of genetic engineering go beyond just the scientific advancements that are possible. Genetic engineering has the ability to influence the quality of life and ...view middle of the document...

From these twenty four lines of wheat there were several lines of wheat that exceeded the standard expected wheat yield and two of those lines exceeded the expected yield by twenty percent. This twenty percent yield gain would account for approximately an “$80 million dollar boost in revenue for the wheat industry” in Victoria (Gene Therapy ¶4). This is a significant gain in wheat production as well as a significant increase in revenue. With further refinement and research, the yield gains can exceed twenty percent in those areas most affected by drought conditions.

With the completion of the Human Genome project, scientists are now able to determine the interactivity between the vitamins and minerals absorbed in our diets and lifestyle, to the genetic code that triggers disease. For instance, the vitamin D is found to have influence over two hundred genes, many of which are related to disease. The main sources of vitamin D are, direct exposure of the skin to sunlight and a diet rich in oily fish. “A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to rickets, as well as increasing an individual’s susceptibility to autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, as well as certain cancers” (Pediatrics ¶2). The study of the human genome has allowed scientist to pinpoint two thousand seven hundred and seventy six binding sites for the vitamin D receptor. These binding sites are where vitamin D attaches itself to DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and influences the proteins that are made from that portion of genetic code. There was a large concentration of these receptors around the genes that scientists have correlated with multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, lymphocytic leukemia and colorectal cancer (Pediatrics ¶4). By studying and researching the effects of lifestyle and diet on the human genome, the scientific community can impact the life expectancy and quality of life for mankind.

On the cutting edge of genetic engineering and genomics is the creation of life in a laboratory setting. The cost of this single exercise was well over forty million dollars. At the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, MD, scientists were able to build a synthetic genome for a strain of bacterium. This was done by taking man made iterations of the basic nucleic bases (adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine) and inserting them into the bacterium, then taking the resulting product and inserting it into an existing cell. This example of genetic modification leads to a colony of cells living by a synthetically driven genome. This synthesis of a living organism “is not the same as creating life from raw materials, which is called “genesis”, but it is considered “poesis” or human construction” (Scientific American ¶4). The purpose of this research is to “develop a universal recipient cell, into which researchers can plug a variety of synthetic genomes and see how they run” (Scientific American ¶5)....

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