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A Look into Chemical Engineering

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03/06/2011

A Look into Chemical Engineering

The vast majority of people do not take in consideration, if the food we gulp down is safe or nutritious. Most Americans do not even worry if they will have enough to survive on. The agriculture industry faces the difficult task of keeping enough food and clothing produced to provide our growing population with its needs. They are forced to look into new technologies to combat this ongoing problem. New land developments are destroying fertile areas, making it difficult to grow enough crops to keep up with the worlds demand. The field of genetic engineering could be an answer to this highly debated issue. Scientists have been looking into the use of DNA to create large quantities of enzymes and hormones. However, genetics is a tricky science that makes many worry about its implications. Many would like to do away with the idea of chemical engineering, but this would lead to shortages of food and amplify starvation rates worldwide.

Genetic engineering is the direct human manipulation of an organism's genetic material in a way that does not occur under natural conditions. Genes are special chemicals that resemble sets of blueprints which determine an organism's traits. The most common form of genetic engineering involves the insertion of new genetic material at an unspecified location in the host genome. This is accomplished by isolating and copying the genetic material of interest, generating a construct containing all the genetic elements for correct expression, and then inserting this construct into the host organism (Wikkipedia). This process makes it possible to reorganize and modify genetic material leading to transportation of genes in a lab, rather than nature. With more studies, crops can be produced that will be safe and this idea could double or even triple food production for the world.

Transplanted genes can lead to crops which are unaffected by environmentally friendly herbicides and pesticides, allowing farmers to have better control over weed and insects. At the same time, they are eco friendly to our environment. An increase in crop production will lead to more grain for live stock, which in turn, benefits exports and feeding more people on a large scale.

The mid 1990's is when the first approved commercial use of bioengineering food began. The number of acres planted with genetically engineered crops, primarily insect-resistant corn, cotton, and herbicide-resistant soybeans, has risen sharply, from 4 million acres in 1996 to approximately 100 million acres in 1999 (about 50 percent of the total production of these crops in the U.S.). (Source)

A company named Monsanto is currently producing a genetically altered crop called Roundup Ready Soybeans. They have been developed for farmers as a radical weed control. As we all know, weeds can make crops difficult

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