Current Genetic Technologies 6.3

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Inquiry Question 3: Does artificial manipulation of DNA have the potential to change populations forever?

Content Descriptor: Investigate the uses and advantages of current genetic technologies that induce genetic change: (6.3.1)

AquAdvantage salmon:


  • Moreefficient food production reduces impact of overfishing
  • Cheaperfood to produce
  • Increasesbiodiversity through the production of hybrids
  • Inland farms can increase access of landlocked regions to fishDisadvantages:
  • Maydamage ecosystems if salmon escape
  • Usinginland regions can lock down water which may be necessary for human use
  • Removejob opportunities from outcompeted fishermen
  • Contributeto the eutrophication of waterways

Recombinant production of insulin:


  • Allowsincreased and cheaper production of insulin for those suffering from diabetes
  • Ledto breakthroughs in the areas of recombinant DNA research

Content Descriptor: Compare the processes and outcomes of reproductive technologies, including but not limited to:

Artificial insemination: (6.3.2)

Artificial pollination: (6.3.3)


Content Descriptor: Investigate and assess the effectiveness of cloning, including but not limited to:

Whole organism cloning: (6.3.4)

Organism cloning:

Whole organism clones can be made through asexual methods, such as those in bacteria, plants and fungi. Clones can also occur in identical twins when an egg splits in utero.

Cloning of organisms can be artificially induced:

  1. Unfertilizedegg has nucleus removed
  2. Skincells from adult are fused with egg using an electric pulse
  3. Celldivision
  4. Implantedinto surrogate mother


Many organisms have been cloned using somatic cells, including sheep, cows, cats, dogs and rabbits. While successful trials have occurred, they often have a lower life expectancy.

Gene cloning: (6.3.5)

Gene cloning:

Gene cloning is completed through use of recombinant DNA

  1. DNAis extracted from an organism
  1. DNA is introduced to restriction enzymes which select single genes of interest which theycut away
  2. Cut away DNA is introduced into plasmids, which combine it into their genome(recombinant)
  3. DNAis transferred into bacteria using chemical methods
  4. Bacteriumare grown in colonies
  5. Colonywhich holds the desired genes is selected and cultured

Content Descriptor: Describe techniques and applications used in recombinant DNA technology, for example:

The development of transgenic organisms in agricultural and medical applications: (6.3.6)

Recombinant DNA:

Allows for multiple copies of genes to be made and thus inserted into other organisms go give new traits. Traits may include disease resistance or a different colour, refer also to case studies A and B (6.2.1)

  • Agriculture – Used to make more efficient, cost effective and resilient organisms. This isdone through the production of transgenic organisms (Case studies A and B).
  • Medicine – Tests done on copies of genes to determine risk factors for non-infectious genetic Also used in the production of vaccines and proteins such as insulin, interferons and human growth hormone.

Content Descriptor: Evaluate the benefits of using genetic technologies in agricultural, medical and industrial applications: (6.3.7)


  • Agriculture – Significant impact on increasing food production (Case studies A and B)(6.2.1).
  • Medicine – Can be used to increase quality of life for humans, generally the benefits andpossible improvements significantly outweigh the ethical or unforeseen 
  • Industry – Genetic technologies such as recombinant DNA is used for the industrialproduction of proteins, usually used in the pharmaceutical industry. This both increases the benefit to human health, but also significantly decreases the cost of pharmaceuticals. While this cost is reduced, the benefit is not always passed onto the consumer. Genetic technologies have also been used to produce biofuels through altering the waste product of target bacteria.

Content Descriptor: Evaluate the effect on biodiversity of using biotechnology in agriculture: (6.3.8)

Evaluation: (From 6.2.4)

Genetically modified organisms whether plant or animal will be able to outcompete their unmodified counterparts. A prime example of this is in transgenic sunflowers, which are capable of producing 50% more seeds than unmodified plants. This advantage, as well as more efficient use of resources is feared to cause non-GMO sunflowers to be outcompeted for resources such as land, thus harming biodiversity. There are also possible negative impacts for the existence of entire species, as can be found in the example of AquAdvantage salmon. The creation of these salmon through genetic technologies pose a threat to the biodiversity of a variety of fish and ecosystems, should they escape. These salmon if released could outcompete similar fish in their ecological niche, which has further implications for entire food webs which may rely upon these species for food.

While genetic technologies such as AI may encourage the reduction of genetic diversity through promoting limited alleles, it also enables the uniting of different genetic combinations from vast areas, overcoming geographical barriers. These methods also may promote biodiversity through the increase in genetic diversity, such as the creation of hybrids.

Content Descriptor: Interpret a range of secondary sources to assess the influence of social, economic and cultural contexts on a range of biotechnologies: (6.3.9)


Case study A One major social consideration supporting the introduction of Bt cotton is simply the huge demand for cotton as a product of over 28 million tons in 2018. Bt cotton is far more efficient for land use; in Australia in 2012 it produced $180/hectare more worth of cotton and Bt cotton usage worldwide has seen 50% more cotton grown on the same amount of land than that of 40 years ago. Bt cotton is also more water efficient, consuming 3-4% less water than regular plants. Therefore, use of Bt cotton provides more arable land and available water for other uses such as food production.

However, use of Bt cotton may also cause large amounts of competition which may lower the price and thus wages for farmers selling cotton. This also has implications for ethical considerations.

Overall biotechnologies have significant benefit to society. These benefits should be considered with reference to the possible threat which biotechnology poses.


Generally, economic factors favour the use of biotechnology. Biotechnology enables the cheaper production of food, medicine and industry. Recently, this has enabled private companies to pursue the exploitation of genetic technologies.


As referenced in 6.2.3, there is some cultural and religious controversy regarding the use of biotechnology. Cultural demand for goods such as cotton has also influenced the integration of a variety of genetic technologies.

Inquiry Question Review: Does artificial manipulation of DNA have the potential to change populations forever? (6.3.10)

You should be able to:

  • Describeand compare the impacts of artificial insemination and pollination
  • Assessthe effectiveness of cloning

Maintain a vast knowledge of multiple case studies of genetic technologies in order to evaluate their impacts and benefits