Chapter 1

What Do Genetic Engineers Do? What is Genetic Engineering? In the early 1950s, the scientist Rosalind Franklin created X-ray images of deox yribonucleic acid (DNA). Her work, which revealed the structure of the genetic material in cells, provided a foundation for the discoveries of her better-known colleagues, James Watson and Francis Crick. According to the writer Jamie Metzel, the work of Watson and Crick essentially showed that “the Book of Life had a structure.” Just over 50 years later, the Human Genome Project announced that they had completed their work: identifying and mapping the genes that comprise human DNA. Or, to continue with Metzl’s analogy, the Human Genome Project taught us that “the Book of Life could be read.” That brings us to the modern world of genetic engineering, in which the genes of all types of organ isms can be not just mapped, but deliberately manipulated and changed. In Metzl’s words, genetic engineering shows that “the Book of Life can be written.” Some of the techniques employed by biotechnologists have already made their way into daily life; for example, consumer products like 23andMe allow anyone with


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