There are more complicated control arrangements. For example, the gene whichmakes insulin is turned on in pancreas cells but not in liver cells.To understand the connection between a gene and its function requires lots of scientific work, enough to keep biologists busy for a very long time. Even in thesimplest cases, one first needs to know what sequence of letters make up the protein-making gene, and what sequences make up the control genes which turn it on or off,as well as where they are situated on the chromosome;one needs to know what
signals activate the control genes; then one needs to know the chemical reactions inwhich the protein molecule takes part, and finally one needs to know how thosechemical reactions relate to some activity of the cell. Each different organism has tensof thousands of different genes and makes a huge number of proteins. Life isenormously complex.Slowly but surely, more and more secrets of living things are being uncovered.Hundreds of genes are now understood completely. There are many more genes whichhave been discovered and associated with some function, but not yet understood verywell.It is now possible to transfer a gene from the DNA of one species to the DNA of another species. For cases in which scientists know exactly what a gene does andexactly how it does it, it is now possible to express that function in another species.That is genetic engineering.There are practical applications of this knowledge. The first practical applicationswere in medicine, using genetically modified bacteria to make medical drugs such asinterferon, human growth hormone and human insulin. The second kind of applicationwas to modify organisms for agricultural purposes. It is this second application thatwill occupy us now.to top
Some Early Fruits of Transgenic Agriculture
Let's see what some of these agricultural applications have been and what they mightbe in the future.