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Genetic Engineering

             Genetic engineering refers to the direct manipulation of the genes of an organism by technological intervention. This is a relatively new, yet highly controversial field in science including several areas of interest such as transgenic plants and animals, stem cells, recombinant microorganisms and cloning. It promises to produce several breakthroughs in agriculture, medicine, manufacturing, bioremediation and livestock production (1). As a result of philosophically believing in science and the country's use of a democratic political system, I argue for the continued research in this field. .
             Transgenic plants are currently being used for several beneficial purposes. Pathogen resistant plants are currently being developed to decrease the need for hazardous and costly herbicide and pesticide treatments that are often used six to eight times a year (1). Manganese containing pesticides may be the cause of several neurodegenerative conditions such as Madcow Disease, Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease and Alzheimer's (2). Herbicide spraying costs about $10 billion a year, although 10% of crops are still lost. Reducing the amount of pesticides and herbicides sprayed annually will undoubtedly decrease further destruction to our environment as they tend to last long after the crop season and may affect other organisms in the area. Transgenic plants are also being developed to better withstand oxidative and salt stress. Shelf life, sweetness and color may also be extended by further research. Using transgenic techniques, scientists are able to modify the nutritional content of plant by transferring genes that produce amino acids such as lysine and by altering the saturation and chain length of lipids (1). The entire genome of rice, the staple food of one third to one half of the world's population, has recently been identified(). This may lead to a functional increase in its environmental tolerance and product yield.

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