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Genetic engineering decoded

Research on mapping the genomes of various plants -- trees included -- has been going on since 1985. Genetic engineered is the modification of an organism's genetic makeup, or genome using recombinant...


January 1, 2001
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Topics
Strauss: Paper companies are looking at GM as a more efficient way to grow trees

Research on mapping the genomes of various plants — trees included — has been going on since 1985. Genetic engineered is the modification of an organism’s genetic makeup, or genome using recombinant DNA methods. As odd as it might sound — the idea of humans being able to engineer other organisms — genetic engineering is not really an overly complex process.

A piece of DNA that codes for a desirable trait in one organism (for example, production of a toxin that kills insects) is removed from that organism’s DNA and spliced into the DNA of another organism. The cellular machinery of the modified organism treats the new piece of DNA like its own, and, if all goes as planned, the modified organism will exhibit the beneficial trait.

Commonly engineered traits include pesticide resistance, which allows plants to survive being sprayed with pesticides like Roundup, and pest resistance, which usually takes the form of plants producing a toxin that kills insects and other ravenous micro-creatures.

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