13 Things That Might Surprise You About Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering is a term used to describe the direct manipulation of an organism’s genes. The most common application of this technology is through genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are plants or animals that have had their genetic code altered in some way.

TIP:Genetic engineering and GMOs are synonymous, though this is not always true. Genetic engineering can refer to anything that alters the genetic makeup of a living thing, including selective breeding and cloning.

Here are 13 things that might surprise you about genetic engineering.

1) Genetic engineering has been around since the dawn of time. Genetic engineering is done through selective breeding, which has been done by humans for thousands of years. In fact, humans have altered the genetics of nearly every organism we use for food through selective breeding (and thousands more we don’t eat).

TIP:Selective breeding can be thought of as “genetic engineering” in that it manipulates the genetics of a given species for desired results like bigger fruit or tastier corn. This makes selective breeding and genetic engineering essentially one in the same. That said, selective breeding doesn’t always aim to create completely new organisms (like GMOs do).

2) There are no GMO fruits or vegetables on the market today.* Though there are many

Genetic engineering, or GE, is the process of changing an organism’s genetic makeup. It can be used to change an organism’s characteristics and traits, such as altering a plant in order to make it resistant to pests. GE is becoming a very common practice in the world today, with new products being manufactured every day.

Some surprising things about genetic engineering include that broccoli contains as much caffeine as coffee plants do, zebrafish are often used in experiments because they can regenerate lost limbs and their embryos are transparent, and most foods contain some genetically engineered product.

Treat yourself to the 13 things you didn’t know about genetic engineering below.**The majority of commercial meat products sold in the United States today come from animals who were raised on genetically modified feeds.*

How many people have a clear idea of what genetic engineering actually is? Not many, I suspect. So here are a few things that you might find surprising about this science:

1) Genetic engineering is not particularly new

2) It is a slow process

3) The process does not lend itself to quick fixes or overnight success

4) The results are unpredictable

5) It is not always possible to know what was modified in the process

6) It is not possible to stop the process once it has started

7) Genetic engineering can be used in ways beyond our control. And we may not always like those ways

8) There are no international laws covering genetic engineering. It is all still up in the air, and could stay that way for some time yet.

9) We cannot track engineered organisms in the wild after they have been released. So we do not know how they will react with other organisms, or what their impact on the ecosystem will be. And that should worry us

10) There are potentially negative consequences of genetic engineering, with very little in the way of regulation to protect us from them at present. But who would want to regulate something that could end up wiping out half the planet? And who would be able to enforce any

1. It’s a lot older than you think

The first genetically engineered plants were created by a Russian scientist, who wanted to make bread that wouldn’t go moldy. She took genes from a potato plant, and inserted them into the DNA of wheat. The result was a huge success.

In 1983, after the Russians had created their genetically engineered strain of wheat, they made it available to other countries for free. The United States decided not to take advantage of this offer. Why? Because the project was funded by the Soviet government. What if there was something in that bread that would cause people in the United States to become communists?

The United States is not alone in having strange and unfounded fears about genetic engineering. In fact, most of the world’s major crops have been genetically modified!

The many applications in genetic engineering have helped gain a better understanding of how genes work. The information that has been obtained through genetic engineering can help us understand what goes on inside our own bodies and give us the knowledge to cure diseases. Genetic engineering is being used to better understand the world around us and can also be used for more practical things such as producing crops that resist disease or produce more food. The ideas behind gene cloning are simple, but the process of doing it is difficult, which is why it took over 30 years for scientists to discover how to effectively clone a gene.

The process of gene cloning can be broken down into six steps: 1. The piece of DNA that you want to clone must be isolated from its original source. 2. You must then insert the DNA into a host cell in order to get the cell to produce enough protein for further manipulation. 3. Next, the cell must be induced to produce an excess amount of copies of the desired gene so that you end up with enough DNA for your purposes. 4. The DNA must then be extracted from the host cells so that it can be sequenced and analyzed for later use. 5. The final step involves inserting the cloned gene back into its original position in order to produce more protein or RNA.*

Art and science are sometimes thought to be complete opposites, art being the expression of emotion, and science the cold-hearted pursuit of knowledge. But genetic engineering is an area where art and science meet. By its nature, it involves creativity as well as knowledge.

Trying to alter an organism’s genome is a process that requires an artist’s touch. The DNA in a genome is like a cookbook, containing recipes for all the proteins that the organism will make. Genetic engineers try to change those recipes by taking recipes from one organism and combining them with those of another. It is like taking the ingredients from one recipe (say, chocolate cake) and trying to combine them with another (say, apple pie). The result won’t be either chocolate cake or apple pie; it will be something new.

In fact, what has emerged from these experiments are new kinds of life forms that we can’t yet describe with our current vocabulary. Genetic engineering has created organisms that are part plant and part animal—organisms called chimeras. It has also created bacterial da Vinci machines that can make changes to their own DNA on command—organisms with what amounts to artificial intelligence inside them.

In April, the US National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering released a report on “The Future of Genomic and Molecular Technologies in Medicine”. The report was widely covered in the press, but one important finding went largely unreported. It is this: there are now more than 10,000 genetic tests available.

The public is increasingly aware of genetic testing, but in many cases we lack an understanding of what it can and cannot do. Here are some surprising facts that might help to fill in some gaps.

1. Genetic tests are not very good at predicting disease risk or cancer risk

2. Genetic tests have become less expensive over time

3. Genetic tests often have false positive or false negative results

4. Genetic tests do not tell you what your future health risks are

5. The human genome only accounts for about 0.2% of our genetic makeup

6. Most diseases with a genetic component are complex in nature and cannot be attributed to a single gene

7. Most genetic testing does not involve sequencing DNA

8. There are more than 1,000 different genetic disorders, most of which were not discovered until recently because they inflict their harm gradually over time and can be easily ignored or mistaken for another disorder

9. Many genes associated

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