Genetic Engineering Uses Enzyes
Genetic Engineering uses enzymes to Cut and Paste genes. Scientists can now change an organism's genes to alter its characteristics.
The basic idea is to move useful genes from one organism's chromosomes into the cell of another...
1) A useful gene is "cut" out from one organism's chromosome using enzymes.
2) Enzymes are then used to cut another organism's chromosome and then to insert the useful gene.
3) This technique produces genetically modified (GM) organisms.
Genetic Engineering Can Benefit Humans 1
1) Reducing vitamin A deficiency (shortage)
Beta-carotene is used by our bodies to make vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is a big problem in parts of South Asia and Africa - up to 50,000 children go blind each year due to Vitamin A deficiency.
Golden Rice is a variety of GM rice. It contains two genes from other organisms which together enable the rice to produce beta-carotene.
So growing Golden Rice in these places means fewer people will suffer from Vitamin A deficiency.
Genetic Engineering Can Benefit Humans 2
2) Producing human insulin
The human insulin gene can be inserted into bacteria to produce human insulin.Lots of human insulin can be produced quickly and cheaply to treat diabetes.
3) Increasing crop yield
GM crops have had their genes modified, to make them resistant to herbicides - chemicals which are used to kill weeds.
Fields of these crops can be sprayed with a herbicide and all the plants except the GM crop are killed. This can increase the yield of the crop, making more food.
Genetic Engineering has Disadvantages
There are worries about the long term effects of genetic engineering - that it might accidently create unplanned problems.
1) Some people say that growing GM crops will affect the number of weeds and flowers (and therefore wildlife) that usually lives in and around the crops - reducing farmland biodiversity (the number of species is an ecosystem).
2) Not everyone is convinced that GM crops are safe. People are worried that they may develop allergies to the food - although there's probably no more risk for this than eating usual foods.
3) A big concern is that transplanted genes may get out into the natural environment. For example, the herbicide resistance gene may be picked up by weeds - creating a new "superweed" variety.
Some people are worried about the impact of genetic engineering. Other people think that the benefits of genetic engineering outweigh the disadvantages. You need to give both sides of the argument.