6.6 Genetic Engineering
Genetic Engineering involves changing the genetic make-up of an organism. Genes can be transferred to the cells of animals, plants, or microorganisms at an early stage in their development.
A gene is a ‘cut out’ of the chromosome of an organism using an enzyme. The gene is then placed in the chromosome of another organism. Genes may be place inside an organism of the same species to give it a ‘desired’ characteristic.
Sometimes genes are placed in a different species, such as bacterium. For example, the gene to produce insulin in human can be placed in bacteria. Then the bacteria can produce large quantities of insulin to treat diabetes.
Genetic engineering changes the genetic code of an organism and so it involves putting a new gene in the organism's existing DNA. The altered organism is called a Transgenic Organism.
New genes can be transferred to crop plants. Crops with changed genes are called genetically modified (GM) crop plants. GM crops may be insect-or herbicide-resistant and usually have increased yields.