Molecular Biotechnology in Our Life

Essay by LaxflexUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, January 2003

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If you have had a can of soft drink, ate a fruit, or took some head ache medicine this morning - then it's very likely you have used a genetically enhanced product. Genetics is a part of biotechnology that manipulates biological organisms to make products that benefit humankind. Biotechnology is essential in our life, but there are some concerns regarding its safety. Although, biotechnology may pose some danger it is proving to be very beneficial to humankind. The first applications of biotechnology occurred approximately around 5000 BC. Back then people used simple breeding methods. Chains of plants or animals were crossed to produce greater genetic variety. The hybridized offspring then were selectively bred to produce the desired traits. For example, for about 7000 years, corn has been selectively bred for increased kernel size and additional nutrition value. Also, through selective breeding, cattle and pigs have become the major sources of animal foods for human (Encarta 99).

The modern era of biotechnology started in 1953 when British biophysicist Francis Crick and American biochemist James Watson presented their double-stranded model of DNA. DNA is an extensive, chain-like structure made up of nucleotides, and in a way it looks like a twisted rope ladder (Drlica 27). In 1960 Swiss microbiologist Werner Arber had discovered restriction enzymes. This special kind of enzymes can cut DNA of an organism at precise points. In 1973 American scientists Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer removed a specific gene from one bacterium and inserted it into another using restriction enzymes. This achievement served as foundation to recombinant DNA technology, which is commonly called genetic engineering. Recombinant DNA technology is a transfer of a specifically coded gene of one organism into bacteria. Further, the host bacteria serve as a biologic factory by reproducing the transferred gene. Today biotechnology's applications...