Genetic engineering is a Good Thing?

Larry Caldwell larryc at
Thu Sep 24 11:41:03 EST 1998

[This followup was posted to sci.agriculture and a copy was sent to the 
cited author.]

In article <EzDBx7.K4o at>, 
staplei at says...

> So, my question:  Does anyone have any recommendations for
> broadening my education in such matters, please?  While pointers
> to paper publications would be of interest in the mid to long
> term, the timeline for the present request from a high school
> student suggests that "on-line" pointers are probably of more
> immediate relevance.  And we're obviously talking stuff for the
> uninitiated, not articles full of gooblygook and jargon. :-)

I don't know about articles, but genetic engineering has been going on 
for a while, and is found in some surprising places.  

Human insulin production is almost all accomplished by splicing human 
genes into yeast cells.  The yeast then happily chugs out human insulin, 
which has markedly increased the life span of diabetics.  Prior to 
genetic engineering, humans were given horse insulin and experienced 
various side effects.

Humans are one of the biggest targets for genetic modification.  
Transgenic treatments have been tried with cystic fibrosis with some 
effect.  A virus is used to transfer functioning genetic material into 
defective lungs.  Similar genetic repair therapies are in the works for a 
whole spectrum of genetic diseases.

In agriculture, researchers have been inducing polyploidy for decades.  
This is a doubling or quadrupling of the number of chromosomes in a 
target species, without actually changing the genetic information.  
Polyploid crops are generally larger and more vigorous than their haploid 

Maybe that can give you some key words to plug into web search engines.

-- Larry

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