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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What is Enzyme Splicing?

     Enzyme-splicing (as I have called it, since before it was officially invented) is a gene editing technique using enzymes to remove or replace targeted genes. Responsibly used, it will solve some of the problems that are inherent with GMO's. Stability issues are resolved, problematic bacterial genes with unpredictable side effects are completely removed from the process.
    There are real issues that can be solved with genetics other than those traditionally solved with chemical agriculture. Growth issues for plants in poor soils can be resolved by reducing the uptake of growth inhibiting minerals or adding nodules to the roots similar to legumes (thus boosting nitrogen fixing w.o. the need for fertilizers). Water conserving traits found in weeds could be added to crops. Yield per measure of water could be increased, thus making farming cheaper.
    Responsibly enzyme-spliced genes are similar to (at least) millennium-old practices of selecting desired traits from crop plants and cross-breeding them. Some evidence exists that for grains at least, the manipulations of mankind predate recorded civilization.  Enzyme splicing is not traceable using the same techniques as bacterial splicing techniques.
   I regard enzyme splicing as the only technique that should be used to manipulate genes, other than the old hybridization techniques. But, as always, it should done responsibly. Our manipulations of nature may outlast us as a species. To deeply and fully consider a manipulation before it is made is always the best practice. Then, as always, test test test... before humanity is introduced to the effects of the manipulations.    

    Responsibility is key in these operations. I had, for many years, predicted the rise of this technology as a more responsible and safe form of genetics. This was before anyone was actually even doing this kind of splicing or even talking about it. Why did I know about it? Nature actually splices genes in this way (using enzymes) occasionally, and commonly blocks expression of genes this way (using enzymes). Nature has operated beautifully for a lot longer than mankind, I assume that it knows best in this case.

1 comment:

  1. The name of one kind of the enzymes used are meganucleases, a kind of large endonuclease used as molecular scissors to cut DNA at a specific site only, reducing chance effects.