Biotechnology has become a very important tool in agriscience. It promises unprecedented advancements in plan and animal improvement, pest control, environmental preservation, and life enhancement. However, there are real dangers that this new power over life processes can lead to unmanageable consequences in careless, uninformed, or criminal hands. Therefore, governments, scientists, agencies, corporations, and individuals have moved cautiously in the pursuit of new benefits through biotechnology. Bio means life or living, so biotechnology is the application of living processes to technology. While many definitions abound for biotechnology, one of the more popular definitions is the use of microorganisms, animal cells, plant cells, or components of cells to produce products or carry out processes.
Living organisms have been used for centuries to alter and improve the quality and types of food for humans and animals. Examples include the use of yeast to make bread rise, bacteria to ferment sauerkraut, bacteria to produce dozens of types of cheeses and other dairy products, and microorganisms to transform fruit and grains into alcoholic beverages. Similarly, green grasses and grains have been stored in air-tight spaces and containers, such as silos, where bacteria converts sugars and starches into acids. The acids provide a desirable taste and protect the feed from spoilage by other microorganisms. The converted feed is called silage.
Humans have improved on nature’s support of plant and animal growth since they discovered that the loosening of soil and planting of seeds could result in new plants. Even prior to that discovery, they probably aided plant growth by keeping animals away from plans until they yielded fruit or other plant parts which were edible by humans.
History documents the domestication of the dog, horse, sheep, goats, ox, and other animals thousands of years ago. Improvement by selection soon followed. Improvement by selection means picking the best plants and animals for producing the next generation. As people bought, sold, bartered, and traded, they were able to get animals which had desirable characteristics, such as speed, gentleness, strength, color, size, milk production, and the like. By mating animals with characteristics that humans preferred, the offspring of those animals would tend to imitate the characteristics of the parents and further intensify the desired characteristics. By accident, the owner was practicing selective breeding or the selection of parents to get desirable characteristics in the offspring. The chariot armies of the Egyptians and Romans; the might of the Chinese emperors; the speed of the invading barbarians into northern Europe; the strength of mounts carrying armored knights into battle; and the evasive Arabians of the desert’ all provide convincing testimony to early successes at breeding horses for specific purposes.
An Austrian monk named Gregor Johann Mendel is credited with discovering the effect of genetics on plant characteristics. Genetics is the biology of heredity. Heredity is the transmission of characteristics from an organism to its offspring through genes in reproductive cells. Genes are components of cells which determine the individual characteristics of living things. Mendel experimented with garden peas. He observed there was definitely a pattern in the way different characteristics were passed down from one generation to another. Generation refers to the offspring, or progeny, of common parents. In 1866, Mendel published a scientific paper reporting the results of his experiments. He had discovered that certain characteristics occurred in pairs, for example, short and tall in pea plants. Further, he observed that one of those characteristics seemed to be dominate over the other. If tall was the dominant characteristic, then tall plants crossed with tall or short plants produced mostly tall plants. But, some plants would be short. It was observed that the short characteristic could be hidden in tall plants in the form of a recessive gene. Such recessive genes could not express themselves in the form of a short plan unless both genes in the plant cells were the recessive genes for shortness. He also observed that short plants crossed with short plants always had short plants as offspring. This happened because there were no tall characteristics in either parent to dominate the characteristic of the offspring.
Mendel’s work provides an excellent example of the power of the written word. His discoveries and conclusions would have been lost if they were not recorded. The usefulness of his discoveries was not recognized until long after his death. In 1900, other scientists reviewed his writings and built upon the observations and conclusions he had reported. Today, biologists credit his work as being the foundation for the scientific study of heredity. Principles of heredity apply to animals as well as plants.
Most recently scientists have learned to improve plants, animals, and microbes by manipulating the genetic content of cells. This procedure permits more choices for the researcher and more rapid observation of results. With manipulation of cellular material, the scientist can not alter the characteristics of microorganisms as well as of larger plants and animals. This new capability has some amazing implications for human efforts to improve the quality of life.
Of the estimated 300,000 kinds of plants and over 1 million kinds of animals in the world, all are different in some ways. On the other hand, plants and animals have certain similar characteristics which lend themselves to classification and permit prediction of characteristics of offspring by viewing the parents. That is, the individual fertilized cell, called the embryo, contains coded information that determines what that cell and its successive cells will become. The coded materials in a cell is called DNA. DNA is an acronym for Deoxyribonucleic Acid.
Scientists have a working knowledge of how genetic information is stored in a cell, duplicated, and passed on from cell to cell as they divide and the organism forms. Further, the process of transmitting genetic codes from parents to offspring and from parent to clone is common scientific knowledge. A clone is an exact duplicate of something. A major breakthrough was made in the early 1980’s as scientists developed the process of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering refers to the movement of genetic information in the form of genes from one cell to another. Genes are comprised of DNA. It is believed that a universal chemical language unites all living things. It was observed in the early 1800s that all living organisms are composed of cells. And, that cells of microscopic organisms, as well as larger plants and animals, are basically the same. Then in 1867, Friedrich Meischer observed that the nuclei of all cells contain a slightly acidic substance. He named the substance nucleic acid. Later the name was expanded to Deoxyribonucleic Acid or DNA. DNA in all living cells is similar in structure, function, and composition, and is the transmitter of hereditary information.
DNA occurs in pairs of strands intertwined which each other and connected by chemicals called bases. The pairs of DNA strands may be likened to the two sides of a wire ladder. And, the bases may be likened to the rungs of that wire ladder. The different bases are 1) Adenine, 2) Guanine, 3) Cytosine and 4) Thymine. The first letters of each name of the bases - A, G, C, and T, - have become known as the genetic alphabet of the language of life. If one end of the wire ladder is held while the other end is twisted, the resulting shape would be called a double helix. This is the shape of the DNA strands in a cell. Two strands of DNA and the bases between the strands compose a specific gene. The order or sequence of the bases between the DNA strands is the code by which a gene controls a specific trait. Therefore, each rung with its accompanying side pieces of DNA constitutes a gene containing the genetic code to a single trait. The genetic material in the cells of a given microbe, plant, animal, or human can be isolated and observed. Further, the trait or traits a given gene determines can be identified and/or the combination of genes that influence a single trait can be determined. The matching of genes to traits is called mapping.
Some examples of individual traits are hair color, tendency for baldness in humans, height of plants at maturity, and tendency of females to have twin offspring. As cells divide, the DNA strands separate from each other and create duplicate strands to go to the new cells. Therefore, the genetic codes are duplicated and passed on from old cell to new cell as growth occurs and individuals reproduce. Scientists can now remove individual genes carrying certain genetic information and replace them with genes containing other genetic instructions. By doing so a given characteristic or performance can be altered in the microorganism or other plant or animal. For instance, plants that are susceptible to being eaten by certain insects may be altered so they will have resistance to that insect. (BT corn) The process of removing and inserting genes into DNA is called gene splicing, or recombinant DNA technology. And, the process of finding and recording the location of genes is called gene mapping.
Microscopic plants and animals lend themselves well to genetic engineering. Microbes reproduce quickly and can be genetically engineered to produce products needed by other plants, animals, and humans. One of the first commercial products made by genetic engineering was insulin. Insulin is the chemical used by people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels. Previously, insulin was available only from animal pancreas tissue, was in short supply, and was very expensive. However, a bacterium called E. coli was genetically engineered to produce insulin much like cows produce milk and bees produce honey.
In 1988, California scientists made the first outdoor tests of ice-minus. Ice-minus is bacteria that was genetically altered to retard frost formation on plant leaves. Synthetic chemicals are now available to protect fruit crops when temperatures fall 4 to 6 degrees below what would normally damage the fruiting process. Similarly in 1988, genetically altered bacteria was injected into elm tress in an effort to control the deadly Dutch Elm disease. Further, bacteria was genetically engineered so they turn a brilliant shade of blue in the presence of a compound called X-Gal. Such bacteria can be easily detected and traced in experimental or real-life situations. The ability to so mark organisms has made biotechnology a safer and more manageable enterprise. In animal science, the hormone bovine somatotropin has long been know for its stimulation of increased milk production in cows. However, it was not available for commercial use until bacteria was altered to produce the hormone. Another example of hormone production by genetically altered bacteria is an animal hormone called porcine somatotropin, which increases meat production in swine. In plant science, Roundup and Liberty Ready Corn and Soybeans and BT Corn are examples of where genes have been altered enabling herbicide resistance and insect control through biotechnology.
It is now evident that genetic engineering and other forms of biotechnology hold great promise in controlling diseases, insects, weeds, and other pests. The plants and animals that we nurture for food, fiber, recreation, and preservation can benefit from biotechnology as well as humans. Further, the environment will be enhanced by less use of chemical pesticides and greater use of biological controls.
Environmental pollution and the elimination of waste products from home, business, industry, utility, government, the military, and other sources has become a major problem throughout the world. Landfills are becoming full and causing problems of leakage into the ground water, old dump sites are creating new problems, waste is piling up, and sewage and chemical disposal is a constant problem. The “tipping” or unloading fee for dumping solid waste material in landfills has risen from as low as $3.00 per ton in some communities in the early 1980s to over $146.00 per ton for New York City in the middle 1990s. Further, from 1993 levels, the environmental laws mandate a reduction in solid waste disposal by 10 percent by 1995, 27 percent by 1997, and 40 percent by the year 2000.
Biotechnology is being used to help solve waste disposal problems. Already, genetically altered bacteria are used to feed on oil slicks and spills to transform this serious pollutant into less harmful products. Similarly, bacteria have been developed to decompose or deactivate dioxin, PCBs, insecticides, herbicides, and other chemicals in our rivers, lakes, and streams. And, bacteria strains are under development to convert solid waste from humans and livestock into sugars and fuels. While great progress has been made in pollution reduction in some areas, pollution is still one of the world’s greatest problems. Biotechnology has brought some spectacular breakthroughs in waste use and decomposition and promises much more in the future.
Federal and state governments monitor biotechnology research and development very closely. Much fear has been expressed about the dangers of genetically modified organisms. Therefore, appropriate policies, procedures, and laws have had to be developed as biotechnology has evolved. Research priorities and initiatives require discussion and interaction by scientists, government agencies, and other authorities. Products are tested in laboratories, greenhouses, and other enclosures before being approved for testing outdoors and in other less controlled environments. Even then, outdoor tests are first conducted on a small scale in remote places under careful observation. Under these conditions, the efficiency, safety, control, environmental impact of new organisms are determined. If the new organism poses an unmanageable threat, it can be destroyed. Biotechnology is rapidly gaining the public’s confidence and has become an important part of our daily lives. M<any of its potential benefits have already been realized and most believe that we have only scratched the surface. With proper safeguards, we can look confidently to a bright future in this emerging field.
Transcript of "PowerPoint"
Introduction <ul><li>Biotechnology is a tool of agriscience </li></ul><ul><li>Promises unprecedented advancements </li></ul><ul><li>Has real dangers </li></ul><ul><li>Definition of Biotechnology </li></ul>
Historic Applications <ul><li>Living organisms have been used for centuries to alter and improve the quality and types of food for humans and animals </li></ul><ul><li>Yeast to make bread rise </li></ul><ul><li>Bacteria to ferment sauerkraut </li></ul><ul><li>Bacteria to produce cheese and other dairy products </li></ul><ul><li>Microorganisms to make alcoholic beverages </li></ul><ul><li>Bacteria in silage production </li></ul>
Improving Plant and Animal Performance <ul><li>Improvement by Selection </li></ul><ul><li>Improvement by Genetics </li></ul><ul><li>Improvement by Biotechnology </li></ul>
Improvement by Selection <ul><li>Soon followed domestication of the dog, horse, sheep, goat, ox and other animals thousands of years ago </li></ul><ul><li>Purchasing, selling, bartering and trading got people animals with desirable traits </li></ul><ul><li>Mating plants and animals with desirable traits resulted in selective breeding </li></ul><ul><li>Historical evidence in the development of the horse </li></ul>
Improvement by Genetics <ul><li>Gregor Johann Mendel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Austrian Monk who is credited with discovering the affect of genetics on plant characteristics </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Experimented with garden peas </li></ul><ul><li>Published findings in 1866 </li></ul><ul><li>People didn’t pay much attention </li></ul>
Improvement by Genetics <ul><li>Mendel’s work would have been lost if not recorded </li></ul><ul><li>1900 other scientist reviewed, built upon his observations, and conclusions </li></ul><ul><li>Today Gregor Johann Mendel is credited for discovering the principles of heredity </li></ul>
Improvement by Biotechnology <ul><li>Improvement by manipulating the genetic content of cells </li></ul><ul><li>Permits more choices for the researcher, more rapid observation of results </li></ul><ul><li>New capability with amazing implications </li></ul>
DNA - Genetic Code of Life <ul><li>Over 300,000 kinds of plants </li></ul><ul><li>Over 1 million kinds of animals </li></ul><ul><li>All are different in some ways </li></ul><ul><li>All plants and animals are alike in some ways </li></ul><ul><li>All contain DNA </li></ul>
DNA - Genetic Code of Life <ul><li>Cloning is common scientific knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Early 1980’s Genetic Engineering developed </li></ul><ul><li>Discovery credited to James Watson and Francis Crick. </li></ul><ul><li>Rosalind Franklin actually deserves most of the credit. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>function </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>composition </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>transmitter of hereditary information </li></ul></ul></ul>
DNA - Genetic Code of Life <ul><li>DNA occurs in pairs of strands intertwined </li></ul><ul><li>Connected by chemicals called bases </li></ul><ul><li>Likened to the two sides of a wire ladder </li></ul><ul><li>Bases likened to the rungs and include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Adenine (A) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guanine (G) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cytosine (C) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thymine (T) </li></ul></ul>
DNA - Genetic Code of Life <ul><li>Examples of traits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>hair color </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>tendency for baldness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>height of plants at maturity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>tendency of females to have twins </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Gene Splicing </li></ul><ul><li>Gene Mapping </li></ul>
Solving Problems with Microbes <ul><li>Microscopic plants and animals lend themselves to genetic engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Produce quickly and can be genetically engineered to produce products needed by other plants, animals, and humans </li></ul><ul><li>One of first commercial products was insulin </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Used by people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels </li></ul></ul>
Improving Plants and Animals <ul><li>1988- first use of ice-minus </li></ul><ul><li>1988 use of genetically altered bacteria for Dutch Elm Disease </li></ul><ul><li>BST and PST </li></ul><ul><li>Roundup and Liberty Ready corn and soybeans </li></ul><ul><li>BT Corn </li></ul>
Improving Plants and Animals <ul><li>Genetic engineering and other forms of biotechnology hold great promise in controlling: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Diseases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Insects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weeds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other pests </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Environment will be enhanced </li></ul>
Waste Management <ul><li>Environmental Pollution is a major problem </li></ul><ul><li>Landfills are becoming full </li></ul><ul><li>Old dump sites are creating problems </li></ul><ul><li>Waste is piling up </li></ul><ul><li>Sewage and chemical disposal is a constant problem </li></ul>
Waste Management <ul><li>Genetically altered bacteria are used to feed on oil slicks and spills </li></ul><ul><li>Bacteria are being developed to decompose or deactivate dioxin, PCBs, insecticides, herbicides, and other chemicals </li></ul><ul><li>Bacteria are under development to convert solid wastes into sugars and fuel </li></ul>
Safety in Biotechnology <ul><li>Federal and state governments monitor biotechnology closely </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of genetically modified organisms </li></ul><ul><li>Policies, procedures and laws have been developed </li></ul><ul><li>Gaining in public confidence </li></ul>
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