Encyclopedia of Global Justice

2011 Edition
| Editors: Deen K. Chatterjee

Genetic Engineering

  • Monika Piotrowska
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9160-5_50

Understanding how genetic engineering works is critical to understanding its relevance to global justice. Humans have been genetically modifying organisms since the first domestication of plants and animals. For thousands of years farmers have relied on selective breeding to increase the size of livestock and yields of grains, or produce more flavorful varieties of vegetables. As a result, modern plants and animals barely resemble their ancestors. Corn, for example, looks almost nothing like the wild grass it originated from. Compact ears with large kernels adhering tightly to the cob – useful in a grain to be stored for long periods of time – is a trait that was coaxed out through repetitive crossbreeding. Today, scientists do not need to cross varieties to get the desired traits; they can simply add them.

Unlike the process of selective breeding, which involves the mixing of entire genomes, modern genetic engineering consists of extracting a gene (or genes) known to give rise to some...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monika Piotrowska
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA