What are the benefits and dangers of technologies like a DNA technology that bioengineers can use to create organisms with traits never before seen in nature (herbicide-resistant crops, mice with fluorescent organs, yeast cells that smell like wintergreen, etc)?
The technology being referred to is called genetic engineering and biotechnology is needed to produce genetically modified organisms also known as GMO's. The portion of DNA needed must first be cloned and transferred to the host organism. The genetically modified organism will then produce the protein that the section of DNA codes for. A benefit is the production of the hormone insulin, via genetically modified bacteria. It is identical to insulin produced in the human body because the bacteria have the human DNA sequence to produce it--they were genetically modified. These and other drugs can be produced quickly and inexpensively. Certain crops and livestock are genetically modified to withstand various diseases, or to grow larger, or to even produce vaccines. However, there are critics who argue this technology is unsafe to human health and to the environment. Some are afraid the transgenic crops will quickly spread and replace the natural ones. Or that when insects or birds feed on them, it may affect their health. Each country is governed by different rules and regulations. In the U.S., transgenic crops have been sold for decades. They are deemed no more harmful than regular ones and labels don't necessarily have to state which type of food you are consuming. Critics think more risk assessment studies are needed to protect the health of people and the environment.