• Question: whats genetic engineering? How can genetic engineering be applied in the current society?

    Asked by Mariana to Priscilla, Mel, Jay Oty, Dorcas, Chapa on 2 Oct 2014.
    • Photo: Melissa Kapulu

      Melissa Kapulu answered on 2 Oct 2014:

      @Mariana very good question

      Genetic engineering has really changed the way we do science now. Genetic engineering is simply the manipulation of genetic material, that is DNA or genes, in a cell or organism to be able to bring about desired characteristics or eliminate unwanted characteristics. This can be applied in every day life from agriculture, environmental issues, medicine, and food processing. Genetic engineering has been applied in all these areas. A good example is the genetic engineering of crops in agriculture to either get rid of the problem of insects or improve the yields and add other nutrients. A good example is the genetic engineering of maize to include a toxin from a bacteria that is able to kill the insects that harm the crops.

      In medicine a controversial application has been in the cloning of a sheep called dolly. This raised a lot of issues as it seemed scientists were a step away from cloning human begins. Cloning is simply the process of producing an organism or a cell that is genetically identical to one that occurs in nature (did you know that “cloning” already exists in nature in the form of identical twins?). Dolly was an example of the cloning of a whole organism. A very good example in medicine that has been beneficial is the cloning of cells for the purposes of correcting genetic diseases. This is called therapeutic cloning or gene therapy to allow tissue transplants in individuals with some genetic diseases.