You must of heard of the term genetic engineering in the news or in the papers. But what does it mean? Is it good for us? What are its benefits? If you have ever had any of these queries, then you are in the right place!
What are genes?
Genes are the blueprints or building blocks for your body. All living things from the plants to the tiniest snail to the largest whale have genes. So, where are these genes you ask? Genes are stored in chromosomes found in the human cell. Genes contain detailed information about your body.
Genes are the genetic building blocks for life.
What is genetic engineering?
Engineering means building something. Genetic engineering is building something with genes. Imagine if you knew every detail about plants, animals and human beings. Details like what they are made of, how they grow, how they change etc.
Scientists believe they can use genetic engineering to make the world better. Plants can be made to grow faster and bigger. Then there will be food for everyone in the world.
Human cells can be cloned and altered. Many rare diseases can be cured. Synthetic insulin for people who suffer from diabetes is got from genetic engineering.
How is it all done?
Let’s take the example of plants. Scientists can use the DNA of simple organisms like bacteria or viruses to be inserted into a plant’s genes. This will result in the plant reacting and changing with the new genes. The plant develops unique new characteristics. The new features could be resistance to diseases and the ability to bear bigger, riper fruits. These new species of plants are called genetically modified crops. Sometimes, they even become resistant to insects and pests. That’s the miracle of genetic engineering.
The only general worry that people have about modifying genes is that you can’t predict what will happen with 100% accuracy. It takes years of testing and research to study the results carefully.