While the new information technologies and robotics are changing the nature of farm management, replacing machines for human labor in virtually every area of activity, the new gene-splicing technologies are changing the very way plants and animals are produced. Genetic engineering is the application of engineering standards to the manipulation of genes. Those engineering standards include quality controls, quantifiable standards of measurement, accuracy, efficiency, and utility. The long-term impacts of the new biotechnologies are likely to be as significant as the impact of “pyro technologies” over the course of the first five millennia of recorded history. For thousands of years human beings have been using fire to bum, solder, forge, and melt metallic ores, creating a range of useful materials. Now, for the first time, molecular biologists are able to add, delete, recombine, insert, stitch, and edit together genetic materials across biological boundaries, creating novel new microorganisms, plant strains, and animal breeds that have never before existed in nature. The shift from pyrotechnologies to biotechnologies is epochal, with potentially profound consequences to the way future generations will reshape their relationship to the biosphere. Although some in the scientific community continue to perceive gene-splicing technology as merely a sophisticated extension of classical breeding techniques, others acknowledge its qualitative break from any known procedures for manipulating nature. We need cite only three examples to illustrate the vast differences that exist be- tween classical breeding and the new gene-splicing techniques. At the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Ralph Brinster and a team of researchers inserted human growth-hormone genes into the biological code of mice embryos in vitro. The embryos were implanted into a female mouse and gestated. At birth, the mice contained fully func- tioning human genes in their biological makeup. The mice with human growth-hormone genes grew to be nearly twice as large as ordinary ones, and passed the human gene into successive generations of their offspring. In a second experiment, scientists inserted the gene that emits light in a firefly into the genetic code of a tobacco plant, forcing the plant to glow twenty-four hours a day. In a third experiment, scientists at the University of California at Davis, using cell-fusion technology, combined the embryonic cells of a sheep and a goat-two unrelated species-and transplanted the embryo to a surrogate sheep


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