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Transgenetics


            The use of Transgenetics, although not a new practice, is a technology that has recently become a subject of serious debate due to its prevalence in our every day lives. If the current exponential trend in use of genetically modified plants continues organic plants might soon be a thing of the past. Whether this is a more progressive or harmful step is yet to be known.
             Transgenic plants are plants that have been genetically modified by incorporating a foreign gene into their genetic make up. Although this modification of a plants genome seems to be a ground breaking technology, farmers have been genetically altering plants for several thousands of years in the same way that we breed dogs. Many of our modern day crops were produced from farmers using cross breeding to make plants with sweeter fruits, larger seeds, or faster growth. Serious though into the use of genetic technology began in 1865 with Mendel's paper which was groundbreaking in showing that plants had dominant and recessive genes that controlled their traits. It was then discovered hundreds of years later that mutations were the source of the development of many of the desired traits in the plants. In the 1920s scientists began subjugating plants to x-rays to increase the rate of mutation. Fifty years later the first transgenic plants were created by three separate groups at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, the Rijksuniversiteit in Ghent, Belgium, and Monsanto Company in St. Louis, Missouri.
             The process of transgenic, although complicated, can be broken down into five major steps. First, the gene that produces the desired protein is isolated. It is then extracted and modified by using enzymes. The gene is then transferred into the nucleus of a new plant cell and that cell will then have that gene incorporated in its make up every time it replicates. Back-cross breeding is then used to incorporate this genetic make up to a whole elite line of plants.


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