Not since the discovery of the double-helix DNA structure by Watson and Crick in 1953 has the field of genetics been so significantly in the social consciousness. Certainly there have been massive advances in understanding how genetics plays a role in everything from the elimination of disease to the development of drought and pest resistant crops to the creation of new breeds of pets (cockerdoodle anyone?). However for the first time scientists have created an animal whose genetic code has been enhanced with molecules that are not found in the natural world. Obviously the scientist and technologist in me races off to a future that is populated by wonderfully useful animals who have been created to eliminate the weaknesses and shortcomings that evolution hadn’t yet had the millions of years to smooth out. That said there are clear consequences of such breakthroughs that need to be weighed on ethical and moral grounds.
- E. coli’s genetic code has been hacked (newscientist.com)
- Animal’s genetic code redesigned (bbc.co.uk)
- Animal’s Genetic Code Redesigned (3quarksdaily.com)
- Pandora’s Box: Researchers create first animal with artificial genetic code (theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com)
- How Biotech and Genetics Will Power the World in the Next Century (blogcritics.org)