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Who owns life?Tiki looking at DNA molecule

Genetic Engineering

A guide for kids by Tiki the Penguin

Tiki's Quick Guide

Genetic engineering (GE for short) is about scientists altering the 'recipes' for making life — the genes which you find in all living things. Doing this is very clever and seems to be very useful. Back in the 1990s, many 'Greens' campaigned against genetic engineering and still do. They predicted disaster but that hasn't happened. Nobody has died from eating genetically modified (GM) food. They were also worried about the private GE companies' ownership of the recipes — genes — for making these new life forms. So is genetic engineering okay? And what about CRISPR: what is it and why so important? My guide explains the basics but it's up to you to make up your own mind about GE.

Explaining ...
... genetic ...
... engineering

Finding your way around my GE Guide
You can jump to any part that interests you from the table below. If you want to start at the beginning, click the green arrow below (forward to 'Genes, snails and whales').

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Table of contents

Genes, snails and whales What makes you human or me a penguin? What are genes?

Tried and tested Life on Earth has been around for a long time so it's been well tested.

Adapt or die Only the fittest life survives. Here's how it does it.

Coils and corkscrews About that incredible stuff DNA.

Copycat: How DNA copies itself.

Welcome to gene tinkering Snipping and sticking genes.

Evolution on fast forward Speeding breeding.

So what is genetic engineering? Nobody knows quite what will happen.

What can genetic engineering do? Bigger, better, faster? Could it cure diseases?

What's wrong with genetic engineering? Getting rich quick by 'owning' life.

Why the rush? The GE companies want to make money fast.

It's the same stuff! Can something that is different be the same?

What the companies are making now! Which foods are being engineered?

Problems with weedkiller-safe crops Goodbye birds and flowers.

Poisonous plants: good or bad? Pests get used to poisons.

Scattering the genes Contaminating natural genes. The GM genie's out of its bottle big time.

What about the future? Regulation, open source, CRISPR and protests.

The bottom line Ending secrecy and finding out what's going on.

What you kids can do? Genetic engineering is here to stay so you can help make sure that it used wisely. The future is in your hands. (End of my Guide)

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