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Genetic Engineering in Agriculture Biotechnology also called genetic engineering is a branch of science in which an organisms genes are manipulated in order to modify its characteristics This technology has been applied to plants and animals and humans as well Genetic engineering in agriculture is often compared to crossbreeding a technique used to develop improved breeds and varieties Biotechnology is much more than crossbreeding Researchers are given more control over what genes and which traits they wish to manipulate Scientists can now also transfer characteristics from one species to another An example of this is the Arctic flounder and the strawberry Arctic flounders have a gene that prevents them from freezing in the icy arctic waters Scientists are trying to use this antifreeze gene in strawberries so they can resist frost This is only one of many developments scientists are working on Others include improved flavor nutritional value resistance to disease and insects and resistance to bruising in fruits and vegetables Researchers are developing produce designed to be picked and delivered at peak ripeness and flavor Leaner meats and cooling oils with less saturated fat are on the horizon and even plants that will protect the environment have natural fertilizers and pesticides and provide more yield with less input Despite the many benefits there are also oppositions and possible risks Many religious groups strongly oppose biogenetic techniques A concerned group of religious leaders has requested a moratorium for the patenting of human and animal genes We believe that humans and animals are creations of God not humans and should not be patented as human inventions This statement was signed by 186 religious leaders representing over eighty different faiths on May 18 1995 Many believe that without these patents researchers would not have the rights and licenses needed to conduct genetic experiments and would eventually stop altogether There are many professionals in the field who are unsure about
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