Engineering

The Pros and Cons of Nutritional genetic engineering

What exactly are genetics and genetic engineering? Genetics is defined as the study of biologically inherited traits (Hartl 1). These would also include traits that are influenced by the environment. The fundamental concept of genetics is that the traits of the offspring are inherited in combination from the parents, and by means of reproduction, such characteristics are passed down from generation to generation. The elements that carry the traits are called genes (ibid.).Genes govern most of the physiological and morphological traits that are inherited by the offspring, thus having a control on what the offspring would look like (Valpuesta 1). On the other hand, genetic engineering is the brainchild of recombinant DNA or rDNA technology. This technology allows the transfer of genes from other species without the use of traditional methods of breeding, which requires the two species to mate and reproduce (Debusk 46).Conventional breeding needs two different species that are somewhat related in order for them to create offspring. By using genetic engineering, genes that are needed or added do not have to come from sexually-compatible organisms, also the possibility of adding genes to a crop one at a time saves the time and effort for creating the hybrid or transgenic organism (Valpuesta 1). By combining the desired genes and inserting them into the genome or the gene library of the organism that needs to express the trait, there is no need to wait for so many generations. This made rDNA technology a fast-paced technology (Debusk 47). Tissue-culturing of transgenic plants are also being done in line with genetic engineering of plants, however such a practice oftentimes cause undesirable traits to surface, causing some plants to be discarded (Valpuesta, 10). Thus, using genetic engineering for crop improvement reduces such hassles. One of the practical applications of genetic engineering is the production of food with improved quality. Aside from being resistant to diseases, as well as giving a higher yield than previous generations, these foods are also enriched with additional nutrients that are not normally found in such crops (Herring 63). The process of adding nutrients originally not included in a particular crop is called biofortification (Shattuck and Bradford 1). It is a potentially cost-effective and sustainable way to increase the nutritional value of agricultural commodities. There is significant capital input in creating super-crops but once the genome of the plant is established, continued investment is no longer required and large numbers of the human population would greatly benefit, especially those that suffer from malnutrition (ibid.). One of the best examples for biofortification is golden rice, an enriched rice variety that contains vitamin A, through ?-carotene as the precursor molecule (Hartl 472). The rice plant is inserted with ?-carotene-producing genes from both daffodil, a flowering plant and Erwinia uredovora, a bacterium which is genetically engineered to have the enzyme-producing genes (Baisakh and Datta 530). A rice plant containing the gene from daffodil and another rice plant containing genes from E. uredovora were crossed, producing progeny that contained the two sets of genes needed for the synthesis of vitamin A in the

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