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Is Biotechnology And Genetic Engineering A Modern Development Or Are They Rooted In Indigenous Knowledge

1885 words - 8 pages

Introduction
There is no doubt that man’s progression and development have been aided by the use of genetic engineering as well as biotechnology. These processes have allowed humans to increase their productivity, efficiency and understanding of ourselves and our surroundings. One aspect which remains unanswered with regards to these innovations is whether they can be traced back to the indigenous knowledge of our forefathers. Biotechnology has been a part of humanity since the dawn of humankind. According to Peters P. (1993) “Through the use of the resources in their environments our forefathers acted as the first biotechnologists by manipulating these resources to better their own lives”. ...view middle of the document...

The location of the centromere can also be used to determine the location of certain genes.

The Chromosome and gene
http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/han dbook/illustrations/geneinchromosome.jpg

What is Biotechnology
It is important to understand what biotechnology is before we can answer whether or not it has any link to indigenous knowledge. Biotechnology is defined by Peters (1993) as “the use of living organisms or their products to modify human health and the environment”. Societies have been manipulating living organisms from as early as ten thousand years ago when societies would only take the seeds from crops with desirable traits to plant them the following year. Around 4000BC the Chinese were using bacteria which produced lactic acid to manufacture yoghurt, cheese moulds as well as acetic acid to produce vinegar. As a result of this it is my opinion that the harnessing of cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that have positive repercussions on our lives as well as the planet have been a part of humanity since very early on in our existence.

http://cnx.org/content/m44609/latest/?collection=col11516/latest
Cheese, Bread, Wine and Yoghurt were all first made using biotechnology
Genetic Engineering
Genetic engineering can be defined by AgBiosafety (2005) as “the process of manually altering or manipulating an organism’s genome with the aim of introducing one or more traits which do not occur naturally in the organism”. Genes can be transferred between an individual organism and another individual of the same species but they can also be transferred between unrelated species. This opens the door for almost endless amounts of discovery and innovation. Some genetically engineered organisms have been made available to the public for sale. These include golden rice which is rice that has had the carotene gene from carrots transferred into it. Carotene serves as a source for vitamin A which is responsible for good vision in low light especially by producing pigments in the retina of the eye. It is also responsible for the formation and maintenance of teeth, healthy skin, skeletal and soft tissue as well as mucus membranes. This means that those who do not have vitamin A in their regular diet can now have it by eating the modified rice. Another example of genetic modification is humalin which is used to treat diabetes in humans by transferring the insulin gene from humans into bacteria. There is a large variation of uses for genetic engineering today. According to Boundless(Year not specified) “Genetic engineering has applications in medicine, research, industry and agriculture and can be used on a wide range of plants, animals and microorganisms.” The insights gained through the use genetic engineering have increased the efficiency in industry by revealing what exact percentage and quantities of substances are required for their usage. I believe that...

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