Right from childhood we are taught to believe that God is the only creator and we are the created. With the advent of genetic engineering technology, the scene has come to a point that you can create anything out of fantasy. This genetic modification is direct manipulation of an organism using modern DNA tech. Genetic engineering alters the genetic make up of the organism by introducing foreign DNA into it. Genetic engineering has turned useful in bio-technology and medicinal research. The first genetically engineered organisms were bacteria in 1973 and then mice in 1974.
Genetic engineering has become a part of our daily life and diet. Almost 70 to 75 percent of processed foods available on our grocery contain genetically engineered ingredients. Can you imagine cats glowing in darkness? I can see the frown of disbelief on your face when you read this? It’s more real than reality. What about cabbages that produce scorpion poison? This time you will be more shocked, I know. Read about some of the most unusual genetically engineered animals and plants . More are on your way.
Cats that glow in darkness:
In 2007, South Korean scientists genetically altered a cat’s DNA and made it glow in dark. They took out that DNA and applied it to other cats and cloned them in to a group of fluorescent, night- glowing cats. After that they put the altered gene in to the eggs for cloning and the cloned eggs were implanted back into the donor cats. The purpose of cloning night glowing cats is that the fluorescent proteins will help them to artificially create human genetic diseases.
One of the most valuable materials in nature is the strong, flexible spider silk. In 2000, Nexia Biotechnologies genetically produced a goat that produced spiders’ web protein in its milk. They inserted a spiders’ dragline silk gene into the goat’s DNA and successfully made the goat to produce silk protein in its milk. From this “silk milk” a web-like material called Biosteel can be manufactured.
A bio-technology company called AquaBounty genetically engineered a salmon that grows twice as fast as the ordinary variety. Even though company assures the same flavor, texture, color and odor for the new salmon, whether the fish is safe to eat is still unclear. Genetically engineered Atlantic salmon can produce growth hormone year-round by adding a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon. Scientists can keep the hormone active by using a gene from an eel-like fish called an ocean pout. If ADI approves the sale of Sarmon in markets it will the first time that the government is allowing the sale of genetically engineered animals in the market.
Next in the category is a pig that was genetically modified to have a better digest and to produce phosphorus-loaded dung. The pig which is known as “Enviropig”, or “Frankenswine”, can produce phytate, a form of Phosphorus, in its dung. But when the farmers use this dung as fertilizer, it enters the watershed and creates algae blooms that consume oxygen in the water and will mar marine life. Scientists, by adding E. Coli bacteria and mouse DNA to a pig’s egg, has limited pig’s Phosphorus production. Thus, they made the pigs more eco-friendly.
Flavr Savr tomato
In order to slow the ripening process of tomato, the California-based company Calgene developed a genetically modified one with natural favor and color called Flavr Savr tomato. Thus, they succeed in saving it from rotting and softening. It was the first genetically altered commercially grown vegetable to be granted permission for human consumption in 1994. Even though it was approved by FDA, it was disappeared from the market by 1997 because of its delicate nature and the difficult encountered in transporting it. In addition to these- it was said to have a very bland taste.
A good news for banana lovers. Scientists have engineered bananas that produce vaccines for diseases like hepatitis B and cholera. They also experimented in potatoes, lettuce, carrots and tobacco but the ideal to produce vaccines according to them is banana. When we inject an altered virus to the banana sapling that virus becomes permanent in plants cells. And when the plants grow it will also produce the virus proteins without the infectious part. If you bite a banana which is loaded with these virus proteins your immune system will develop anti-bodies to fight the disease as it happens in normal vaccines.
Scientists at the University of Washington genetically modified plants that can clear contaminated sites. By absorbing the pollutants into its roots it defuses the byproducts. It sometimes incorporates pollutants into its roots, stems and leaves or releases to air. It is clinically proven that these genetically altered plants can remove 91 percent of the most common groundwater contaminant, trichloroethylene, of theUS.
A breed of genetically modified hens that lay eggs with cancer-fighting elements in hem have been created. Human genes are inserted to their DNA that has human proteins and complex medicinal proteins, similar to drugs that used to treat skin cancer and other diseases, into the white of their eggs. Consequently they lay eggs which have miR24, a molecule with potential for treating malignant melanoma and arthritis, and human interferon b-1a, an antiviral drug that resembles modern treatments for multiple sclerosis.
Super carbon-capturing plants:
An ordinary variety of trees and plants can absorb five gig tons of carbon in the atmosphere. The remaining carbon is responsible for the greenhouse effect and global warming. So, scientists aim to create genetically engineered plants and trees that can absorb carbon in abundance. A plant can retain carbon in the leaves, branches, seeds and flowers for centuries. So researchers hope to produce bio-energy plants and trees with large root systems that can capture and retain carbon underground. Scientists are currently working on switchgrass and Miscanthus because of their extensive root systems.
Scientists now go to an extent of taking the poison in the scorpion’s tail and apply it on cabbage. The main purpose of genetically producing venomous cabbage is to make it pesticide-free at the same time it arrests the caterpillars which damage the crops. It can produce scorpion’s poison that kills caterpillars if they bite its leaves. Don’t worry it has been modified for humans so can be used safely.
Agriculture researchers are on a new mission of producing genetically altered cow that generate less methane. Cows produce significant amounts of methane in their digestive process as it takes high-cellulosic food like grass and hay. Methane is one of the major reasons for green house effect. So they have been working to produce cattle that create 25 percent less methane than the average cow.
Genetically modified trees:
In order to prevent deforestation researchers genetically modified trees that grow faster, yield better wood and capable of detecting biological attacks. This will help to reverse deforestation at the same time meeting the demand for wood and paper products. If we take Australian eucalyptus trees as an example, it has been altered to survive in extreme cold climate and loblolly pines have been made with less lignin, the element that makes trees rigid. But some are of the opinion that the trees could spread genes to natural trees and may increase wild fire risk. How ever, USDA gave approval for a biotechnology company ArborGen to begin field trials by planting 2, 50,000 tress in seven states.