Genetic Engineering

TECHNOLOGY

Genetic engineering is the process of using recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology to alter an organism’s genetic makeup. Traditionally, humans have indirectly manipulated genomes by controlling reproduction, as well as selecting those offspring that have the desired characteristics. Genetic engineering involves the direct manipulation of one or more genes. Most commonly, a gene from another species is introduced into the genome of an organism to produce the desired phenotype.

Genetic engineering is a term that was first introduced into our language in the 1970s, to describe the nascent DNA recombination technology and some of the things that were happening around it. As most people who read textbooks know, recombinant DNA technology started with very simple things – the cloning of very small DNA particles and their cultivation in bacteria – and has evolved into a huge field where complete genomes can be cloned and transferred from one cell to another, using techniques that could be broadly defined as genetic engineering. For me, genetic engineering, in a general sense, means that you are taking DNA fragments and combining them with other pieces of DNA. This does not really happen in nature; it is something we produce in test tubes in the laboratory. And then what we have produced is taken and propagated in different organisms ranging from bacteria cells, to yeast cells, to plants and animals. So while there is no more precise definition of genetic engineering, what best defines it is that it includes the field of recombinant DNA technology, genomics, and genetics in the 21st century.

WHAT USES DOES GENETIC ENGINEERING CURRENTLY HAVE?

Can you imagine modifying an insect so that it does not transmit dengue? This is what was done in 2011. The ‘ Field performance of engineered male mosquitoes ‘ study tells how males of the Aedes aegypti species were modified . Thanks to this, the population of this species was reduced by 80%.

And a rice with more nutrients? In 2000, a publication announced what in 2005 would be known as golden rice 2 . This GM crop was produced with public funds and later its patent was released. This means that any capable laboratory can produce it.

Can you reduce pesticides with GMOs? Too. The Bt corn variety requires fewer pesticides than other types of corn. Specifically, a meta-analysis showed that GM crops require 37% less pesticides than conventional crops. In other words, GMOs can be used to reduce the environmental impact of crops, although they are not a panacea.

RECOMBINANT DNA TECHNOLOGY

But how is all this done? What tools does genetic engineering use to produce a new modified organism? Genetic engineering is a whole branch of research and knowledge. Within it there are some technologies, such as recombinant DNA technology , that are used as tools. In this particular case, a DNA fragment from one organism is isolated and manipulated to ‘recombine’ it with that of a different organism.

Whoever writes these lines makes monthly use of a medicine that uses this technique. Without this technique, and its dissemination thanks to the public health system, daily tasks such as frequent exposure to sunlight or sports in any measure would be small daily odysseys that cause eczema and even disability.

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