By way of background, consider this: genetic engineering opens up vast possibilities that could never be possible by nature alone. If nothing else, it is an amazing scientific feat to, for example, take a gene from a species of Arctic flounder that is resistant to freezing in cold temperatures, and inserting that gene into a tomato’s DNA. Under natural circumstances, the cold resistant gene would be passed along only to fish offspring, but with genetic engineering, the fish gene can be transferred to any other living organism, including humans.
The most common application of genetic technology today is in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Such common uses include:
- to force expression or suppression of different traits in plants (for example, improved nutritional content, improved texture, improved uniformity, and improved appearance);
- pesticide resistance;
- herbicide resistance;
- to produce crops with pharmaceutical properties (“pharma crops”);
- tolerance to temperatures;
- tolerance to soils.
In my next post I will explore these uses in greater detail.