Genetic Technology

By Victoria Levin

What It Is

Genetic technology is used to take advantage of natural genetic variations. It uses genetic engineering to modify organisms. For example GMO (genetically modified organisms) is found in up to 80% of the food products in the U.S. Genetic engineering could be a good thing, like when introducing a gene into cotton to help it resist the Helicoverpa larvae, but as many good things as genetic technology can do, GMO is one of the bad things genetic technology has done. According to the Non-GMO project "GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.

Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve."

As genetic technology advances, so does the evidence that it can really help if used properly. "DNA extraction is the first step in the genetic engineering process." According to Ag Biosafety. "In order to work with DNA, scientists must extract it from the desired organism. A sample of an organism containing the gene of interest is taken through a series of steps to remove the DNA. The second step of the genetic engineering process is gene cloning. During DNA extraction, all of the DNA from the organism is extracted at once. Scientists use gene cloning to separate the single gene of interest from the rest of the genes extracted and make thousands of copies of it. Once a gene has been cloned, genetic engineers begin the third step, designing the gene to work once inside a different organism. This is done in a test tube by cutting the gene apart with enzymes and replacing gene regions that have been separated. Since plants have millions of cells, it would be impossible to insert a copy of the trans gene into every cell. Therefore, tissue culture is used to propagate masses of undifferentiated plant cells called callus. These are the cells to which the new trans gene will be added. The fifth and final part of producing a genetically engineered crop is back cross breeding. Transgenic plants are crossed with elite breeding lines using traditional plant breeding methods to combine the desired traits of elite parents and the trans gene into a single line. The offspring are repeatedly crossed back to the elite line to obtain a high yielding transgenic line. The result will be a plant with a yield potential close to current hybrids that expresses the trait encoded by the new trans gene."

Humans also have a great use for genetic technology. According to Dr. Ray Bohlin "The primary use for human genetic engineering concerns the curing of genetic disease." So over all there are many great rolls that genetic technology plays in our lives, such as curing genetic diseases, introducing genes into things such as cotton to help ward viruses, and also to immunize humans. But there's always one bad apple in the barrel, and that one bad apple that genetic technology does is produce GMO.


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Overview of gene technology research at CSIRO, CSIRO,

What is genetic engineering?, What is genetic engineering?,

The Truth About GMOs: Are They Safe? What Do We Know?, WebMD,

Human Genetic Engineering, Human Genetic Engineering,

Overview of the Process of Plant Genetic Engineering,