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Genetic Engineering It is variously known as genetic engineering genetic modification or genetic manipulation Genetic engineering is the process by which genes are altered and transferred artificially from one organism to another In other words it is the reshuffling of genes usually from one species to another Advances in genetic engineering are progressing rapidly and innovative applications of this knowledge are just beginning to be imagined and understood Genes that have been artificially moved into an organisms genome make it possible to create organisms with traits that cannot be obtained through normal sexual reproduction Current Applications in Genetic Engineering For thousands of years breeders of plants and animals have used breeding methods to produce favorable combinations of genes These genetic engineers have produced most of the economically important varieties of flowers vegetables grains cows horses dogs cats etc Beginning in the 1970s scientists developed ways to reintroduce individual genes into cells or into plants animals or other organisms Such techniques alter the heredity of the cells or organisms Researchers have found important uses for genetic engineering in such fields as medicine industry and agriculture Many new uses are predicted for the future In Medicine A number of human illnesses are caused by the failure of certain genes in the body to make specific proteins For example the failure of genes in the pancreas to make insulin causes diabetes Scientists can produce large quantities of insulin in bacterial factories by joining the insulin gene isolated from human cells to plasmids from cells of Escherichia coli a bacterium found in the intestine of animals and humans used extensively in genetic engineering E coli can be fatal to humans if undercooked meat is digested bacteria The insulin is then given to patients who need it Many people suffer from diseases caused by genetic defects Using recombinant DNA techniques scientists can test DNA isolated from cells of unborn babies to learn whether the babies will
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