Introduction to genetic engineering.
You may have heard that many foods (plants and animals) these days have questions around them, as to whether they have been grown naturally or have been manipulated in some way. These are genuine concerns as biotechnology has entered into new areas where DNAs of plants and animals have been combined to create new DNAs that never existed.
It is VERY important to understand what DNA and Gene is. DNA simply means Deoxyribonucleic Acid. It is a hereditary molecule that is found in almost all living things (cells). DNA carries a code (information) that genes use to make living things grow. It is found in all cells in structures called chromosomes.
Genes are instruction manuals in our body. They are molecules in our body that explain the information hidden in our DNA, and supervises our bodies to grow in line with that information. READ MORE HERE
With that brief DNA and Gene explanation, let us see this scenario.
A scientist wants to make blue apples:
The scientist decides on the intent or reason for making blue apples.
He can get a plant with blue fruits (say blue berries). He cuts out a piece the blueberry DNA and inserts it into the apple’s DNA. He plants the new apple seed and the apple tree produces blue apples instead of red.
But it is not plants alone — if he wants a cow to have some desired traits such as high milk production, he can get the DNA of a cow with that trait and fix its DNA into the new cow, so that the recipient cow will have a high milk production trait.
Some time back farming practices like Simple Selection, Crossing, Interspecies Crossing, Embryo Rescue and Cell Selection were used to propagate crops and animals with better qualities. The concept is what drives genetic engineering today.
It is worth knowing that biotechnology or genetic engineering has the capacity to manufacture entirely new animals or plants, from merging cells from different sources. It can get a bit scary on the face of it, but in this lesson, we shall look at what the real issues are, in terms of foods that we eat.
It is important that you read about DNA and GENES (click here) to help you understand this better.