When studying the facts about genetic engineering, the names of Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen will always be mentioned. In 1973, the two scientists invented a DNA cloning technique. For many historians this was both the discovery and beginning of this science.
Cohen and Boyer’s Work
Cohen and Boyer utilized enzymes to slice a bacteria plasmid. Then they placed this in another DNA strand. These strands were obtained from the same bacteria. Next, the two inserted frog DNA into the bacteria.
Their work proved that mixing and manipulating genes was possible. Today several enzymes are used to slice the DNA in different ways. The mapping of DNA has made it possible to manipulate genes more easily.
As more facts about genetic engineering emerged, it became possible for scientists to produce insulin for diabetic patients. At the same time the technique has been employed for making EPO (used to treat patients with kidney ailments).
This was followed in 1990 when genetic therapy was invented. People with poor immune systems could have their white blood cells genetically altered. These can be reinserted into the bloodstream to improve the immune system.
Benefits for Agriculture
One of the advantages of genetic engineering is that it can be used to modify crops. By altering the genes, fruits and vegetables become more resistant to diseases. They can also increase in size. The benefits are obvious: food production will increase at lower costs.
There are other positive facts about genetic engineering with regards to agriculture. The amplified food will help address the food shortage. It also means a reduction in the use of fertilizers and insecticides. This in turn reduces the potential risk for health and pollution.
Benefits for Animals
Genetically modified animals will lead to more diversity in the breeds. It will reduce the number of animals currently on the endangered list. Genetic engineering can strengthen animals and help them cope with the environment.
It will also make them more resistant to diseases. Using this technique, a tree’s roots could be fortified so it helps deal with flood occurrences.
Human Genetic Engineering
No study of the facts about genetic engineering will be complete without discussing human genetics. On the positive side it can be used to eliminate hereditary diseases.
Down the line, it can be used to remove the physical disabilities and ailments. Genetic modification can be used to add to a person’s intelligence and change their physical appearance.
However some scientists have expressed concern at the possibility of human cloning. The subject of human cloning is still being debated. Some critics have pointed out a future whereby cloned beings will face discrimination or go running amok.
Some also claim the results of cloning a human being raises ethical concerns. If it is permitted, future society will consist of babies being mass produced according to specifications. The critics point out that this will dehumanize society.
A lot of the facts about genetic engineering will be made clear as the years go by. The questions being raised about it will likely be answered by more research.