Genetic Engineering

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Genetic Engineering is the changing of an organism's genetic, or hereditary, makeup to get rid of unwanted characteristics or to make wanted new ones. Genetic engineering is used to increase plant and animal food production. It is also used to help dispose of industrial wastes, to diagnose disease, improve medical treatment, and produce vaccines and other useful drugs. Genetic engineering techniques include the selective breeding of plants and animals, and hybridization, which is the reproduction between different strains or species.

The first known genetic engineering technique, that is still used today, was the selective breeding of plants and animals. This was usually used to increase food production. In selective breeding, only the plants or animals with desirable characteristics are chosen for further breeding. Corn has been selectively bred for increased kernel size and number and for nutritional content for about 7,000 years. More recently, selective breeding of wheat and rice has been promoted to produce higher yields has helped supply the world's ever-increasing need for food.

Cattle and pigs were first domesticated about 8,500 to 9,000 years ago. Through selective breeding, they have become main sources of animal food for humans. Dogs and horses have also been selectively bred for thousands of years. They have been bred for work and recreational purposes. This resulted in more than 150 dog breeds and 100 horse breeds.

Hybridization or crossbreeding may involve combining different strains of a species or members of different species in an effort to combine the most attractive characteristics of both. For at least 3,000 years, female horses have been bred with male donkeys to produce mules, and male horses have been bred with female donkeys to produce hinnies, for use as work animals.

Genetic engineering should definitely be used to alter the genetic makeup of future generations of humans.