Genetic engineering, also referred to as genetic manipulation, is the process of modifying an organism’s DNA structure and/or sequence using biotechnology. Genetic material is altered using restriction enzymes and gel electrophoresis. These two methods are described by the removal, or splicing, of a specified part of the genetic code, and then introducing the altered code to a new DNA which may be from natural sources, or formulated in an artificial environment. This advanced method is used in many ways such as: producing drugs, enhancing food, and modifying the traits of a baby to achieve desired results. Genetic engineering is used to produce transgenic organisms, which are organism’s whose genetic makeup has been modified to change the organism for the better or worse. This topic includes transgenic microorganisms, which are mutated bacteria; transgenic plants, which are an important part of our food supply, and transgenic animals, which are used to study genes and used to improve food supply and quality.
Transgenic microorganisms are, as the name suggests, microorganisms like bacteria whose genetic make-up has been mutated for medical and biological purposes. The theory of transgenic microorganisms was proposed few years after Watson & Crick discovered the DNA structure, but it was never put to test until a decade ago. To illustrate, one of the earliest and most successful uses of transgenic microorganisms occurred in pharmaceuticals which involved gene splicing of the E. coli bacteria in order to generate large amounts of insulin for manufacturing purposes. Furthermore, urokinase, a plasminogen activator was discovered while experimenting on the E. coli bacteria. Urokinase is found in everyone’s kidneys and is used to dissolve blood clots within the body; this benefits people who have very low urokinase content in their kidneys by offering an inexpensive and fast way to get it injected into their bloodstream when having blood clots. If modifying bacteria can benefit us so greatly, think about what amazing things can be discovered by genetically engineering plants and animals.
Plants were being cross- bred as early as when Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk, discovered genetics and started performing experiments on them and we started mutating them as early as the 1960’s. They did not make a whole lot of progress, but modern-day scientists have discovered a whole range of benefits that come from metamorphosing plants. For instance, we have been mutating plants in order introduce a new trait to the plant which makes the plant immune to certain pests, pesticides, harsh weather, and diseases; this ensures the prolonged life of the plant. This can be used to save many endangered plant species, and can serve to bring plants back from the brink of extinction. To exemplify this point further, we have been modifying plants so they can produce a lot more food, which benefits mankind greatly in famines and times of crisis. Even though badgering Mother Nature is a very risky and dangerous thing to do, these experiments and mutations will serve us humans greatly in terms of medicine and sustenance. Then, it wasn’t long before scientists got curious and started experimenting on creatures and beasts that live and breathe among us.
Before long, we discovered transgenic animals, animals that carry a foreign gene that has been deliberately inserted into their genome using recombinant DNA methodology. Transgenic animals are produced and used for a whole slew of reasons ranging from treating human