At some time in our lives, we have all heard of some form of genetic engineering whether it was on the news, at school or in the workplace. Most people do not realise just how much time and money is now going into creating solutions to our everyday problems using genetic engineering, problems such as our food crops being destroyed by viruses. But it doesn't just stop there. Genetic engineering is now going much further than just solving everyday problems. Scientists are now trying to solve deeper problems. For example, they are trying to create perfect crops and livestock for farmers and even perfect children for parents. .
Genetic engineering refers to the technologies that are being used to change the genetic make-up of cells and transfer genes from one species to another. .
Genes are complex chemical units contained within chromosomes. They determine the characteristics of an organism. .
Genetic engineering involves either altering these characteristics within an organism or transferring them to another. Through genetic engineering, organisms are given new combinations of genes and therefore new combinations of characteristics that do not occur naturally. .
Two American scientists, Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer, discovered the cloning of genetically engineered molecules. .
Cohen and Boyer first met at a conference in Hawaii, 1972. At that time, Boyer was a biochemist working at the University of California and Cohen was an associate professor at Stanford University. Boyer's laboratory had quite recently isolated an enzyme that could be used to cut strands of DNA into precise segments. These strands could be attached to other strands of DNA. Cohen had found a way to cross species boundaries, using cells of DNA called plasmids, and had also came up with a way of isolating and cloning genes. .
When cloning, scientists take cells from one organism that has particular characteristics that they believe to be useful.