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Why is genetic engineering important?

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Quick Answer

Genetic engineering is important because it provides benefits in the areas of agriculture, production of valuable proteins, production of vaccines and disease-resistant plants. These benefits are often realized with a lower cost, quicker production time and higher production volume than alternative solutions.

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Genetic engineering in agriculture offers crops that have improved nutritional quality, resistance to disease and fewer post-harvest losses. These crops also use the minerals in the soil more efficiently and have better nitrogen fixation, which reduces the exhaustion of the soil's nutrients.

The proteins produced by genetic engineering include human insulin, growth hormone and an antiviral called interferon. Before the production of human insulin, diabetics relied on insulin taken from the pancreas of a pig. Due to the difference in the gene sequencing, some patients had trouble tolerating it. As of 2014, human insulin in the market is available at a cheaper rate than pig insulin. Interferon stimulates immune processes that function to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.

Genetically engineered vaccines provide safer choices as they don't contain live viruses. These vaccines are produced by copying the DNA of a virus instead using of the method of using weakened forms of live viruses. This eliminates the possibility of accidental infection due to the virus.

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