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Genetic modification

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L133-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2000
Retrieved March 17, 2018, from

Article Summary

Genetic modification is the heritable alteration of the genetic make-up of an organism. As a natural process this is as old as genes themselves, and has been utilized by human beings since the beginnings of agriculture. Recently, the term has come to apply specifically to newly developed DNA technologies, where the genome of an organism is modified using artificial techniques. These rely on the ability to cut DNA precisely, isolate desired fragments and insert them into a single cell of another organism. From this transformed cell a new multicellular organism can be regenerated. There is a wide range of applications of the new technology, from employing yeast to synthesize human insulin, to making crops resistant to pest and diseases. However, it has also attracted much opposition. It has been criticized for being unnatural, for posing an unassessable risk to the environment and to human health, and for providing an instrument for!the manipulation of human genetic make-up that might invite serious abuse.

Citing this article:
Tester, Mark and Edward Craig. Genetic modification, 2000, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L133-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2018 Routledge.

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