Genetic Engineering: What is Genetic Engineering?

Written by Patrick Dixon

Futurist Keynote Speaker: Posts, Slides, Videos – BioTech, MedTech, Gene Therapy and Stem Cells

Video on Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering is the alteration of genetic code by artificial means, and is therefore different from traditional selective breeding.

Huge number of other resources on this site about Genetic engineering.

Genetic engineering examples include taking the gene that programs poison in the tail of a scorpion, and combining it with a cabbage. These genetically modified cabbages kill caterpillers because they have learned to grow scorpion poison (insecticide) in their sap.

Genetic engineering also includes insertion of human genes into sheep so that they secrete alpha-1 antitrypsin in their milk – a useful substance in treating some cases of lung disease.

Genetic engineering has created a chicken with four legs and no wings.

Genetic engineering has created a goat with spider genes that creates “silk” in its milk.

Genetic engineering works because there is one language of life: human genes work in bacteria, monkey genes work in mice and earthworms. Tree genes work in bananas and frog genes work in rice. There is no limit in theory to the potential of genetic engineering.

Genetic engineering has given us the power to alter the very basis of life on earth.

Genetic engineering has been said to be no different than ancient breeding methods but this is untrue. For a start, breeding or cross-breeding, or in-breeding (for example to make pedigree dogs) all work by using the same species. In contrast genetic engineering allows us to combine fish, mouse, human and insect genes in the same person or animal.

Genetic engineering therefore has few limits – except our imagination, and our moral or ethical code.

Genetic engineering makes the whole digital revolution look nothing. Digital technology changes what we do. Genetic engineering has the power to change who we are.

Human cloning is a type of genetic engineering, but is not the same as true genetic manipulation. In human cloning, the aim is to duplicate the genes of an existing person so that an identical set is inside a human egg. The result is intended to be a cloned twin, perhaps of a dead child. Genetic engineering in its fullest form would result in the child produced having unique genes – as a result of laboratory interference, and therefore the child will not be an identikit twin.

Genetic engineering could create crops that grow in desert heat, or without fertiliser. Genetic engineering could make bananas or other fruit which contain vaccines or other medical products.

Genetic engineering is helped by the fact that it only costs $1000 to analyse someone’s genetic code (sequencing of genome) – down from $800m in 2001.

Genetic engineering is aided by techniques such as Crispr which allow scientists to swop genes between humans or between animals and humans or between animals, in a very precise and controlled way.

Genetic engineering will alter the basis of life on earth – permanently – unless controlled. This could happen if – say – mutant viruses, or bacteria, or fish or reptiles are released into the general environment.

READ FREE BOOK on Genetic Engineering – by Patrick Dixon, author of 16 books and creator of this website – read now: Chapters 1 and 2 explain basics in way which is easy to understand.

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Genetic Engineering: What is Genetic Engineering?

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