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  1. 1
    Peer Reviewed

    Life and death decisions.

    Bane A; Brown L; Carter J; Cote C; Crider K

    International Social Work. 2003 Apr; 46(2):209-219.

    Genetics is a relatively new science with a wide range of applications that lead to an even broader range of issues. Since Darwin (1859) proposed his theory of evolution in Origin of the Species, scientists have been trying to locate the biological structures for the transmission of traits from generation to generation. The 20th century yielded considerable fruit in this endeavor. In fact, a complete map for this transmission process is close at hand. On 26 June 2000 Craig Venter, President Bill Clinton and Francis Collins announced the completion of an initial sequencing of the human genome (Hamilton and Regalado, 2001; Collins and McKusick, 2001; Collins, 1999; National Research Council, 2000). Called the Human Genome Project, this has already identified the genes determining Huntington's chorea, polycystic kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia and various other genetic diseases (Hodgkinson et al., 1990; Varekamp et al., 1990; Wertz et al., 1992). The purpose of the Human Genome Project is to identify, prevent or cure genetic abnormalities. As this research progresses, many preventions and cures for hereditary diseases seem to be within reach, although identification of these diseases is often the only recourse at this time (Hamilton and Noble, 1983; Paul, 1997; Von Wartburg and Liew, 1999). Currently, genetic screening is becoming increasingly available to the public (Fertel and Reiss, 1997; Rauch, 1988; Schroeder, 1991; Young and Robinson, 1984). History suggests that as testing procedures are made available, they are rapidly introduced to the American public. For example, shortly after the test for polio was discovered it was administered to millions of American children. (excerpt)
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  2. 2
    Peer Reviewed

    Biotechnology and food systems in developing countries.

    Timmer CP

    Journal of Nutrition. 2003 Nov; 133:3319-3322.

    Even in a world with adequate food supplies in global markets, which is the situation today, biotechnology offers important opportunities to developing countries in four domains. First, many agronomically hostile or degraded environments require major scientific breakthroughs to become productive agricultural systems. Few of these breakthroughs are likely to be achieved through traditional breeding approaches. Second, biofortification offers the promise of greater quantities and human availabilities of micronutrients from traditional staple foods, with obvious nutritional gains for poor consumers, especially their children. Third, many high yielding agricultural systems are approaching their agronomic potential. Radically new technologies will be required to sustain productivity growth in these systems, and only modern genetic technology offers this hope. Finally, many cropping systems use large quantities of chemical inputs, such as herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers that can be unhealthy for people and soils alike. Biotechnology offers the potential to reduce the need for these inputs in economically and environmentally sustainable ways. Applying these new technologies to society’s basic foods raises obvious concerns for both human and ecological health. For some, these concerns have become outright fear, and this has mobilized a backlash against genetically modified foods in any form. These concerns (and fears) must be addressed carefully and rationally so that the public understands the risks (which are not zero) and benefits (which might be enormous). Only the scientific community has the expertise and credibility to build this public understanding. (author's)
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