Unit 1 - Genetic Engineering

This GCSE Biology quiz takes a look at the genetic engineering of plants, animals and bacteria, and how we use genetic engineering in the fields of farming and medicine.

Insulin, vaccines and growth hormone are examples of proteins made using genetic engineering and are very important drugs used in humans. Genetic engineering involves removing a gene from one organism and placing it into another organism, for example a type of bacteria. The bacteria will then multiply and make the protein instructed by that gene. Genes are cut from human chromosomes using enzymes and pasted into other organisms including plants and animals. If this is done early in development, the organism will develop new features such as better growth or resistance to disease.

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Amongst the examples of genetic engineering that you need to know for the exams are the production of herbicide resistant crops and the production of insulin. You need to know the principles of how each type of genetic engineering is carried out and the arguments for and against them.

Some plants are naturally resistant to herbicides. Scientists can identify the gene responsible and transfer it to agricultural crops. These crops can then be sprayed with herbicide to kill the weeds growing in the field, giving a better yield of the food crop. The main argument against this particular type of genetic engineering is that it will reduce biodiversity which is essential for the health of our planet. Many people are concerned about genetic engineering of crops due to the possible effects on wildflowers, animals (particularly insects) and humans. More time and research is required to make a fully informed decision about the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops.

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  1. Which of the following is often cited as an objection to GM crops?
    Some people avoid GM foods due to concerns about GM foods on human health
  2. Genetic engineering involves the transfer of what?
    The genetically modified organism is referred to as being transgenic
  3. What is used to cut the gene out from a chromosome?
    These are given the special name of restriction enzymes
  4. What does a herbicide kill?
    Herbicides kill unwanted plants known as weeds. If crop plants are GM, they can be made resistant to weedkiller. Without weeds the crop can grow better and give a much higher yield
  5. The first GM pet is which type of creature?
    The GloFish glows in the dark as it has a gene for fluorescence. They are GM zebra fish and come in a wide variety of amazing colours
  6. Cattle can be genetically enhanced to increase what?
    It is an alternative to the use of artificial growth hormones
  7. Genetic engineering can be used to make which type of drugs?
    Insulin is another example
  8. A major objection to GM crops is the possible creation of wild plants which are resistant to what?
    It could be possible to transfer a gene for weedkiller resistance naturally from a GM crop into a wild plant making it a 'super weed' which could outgrow all the other plants
  9. Crops produced using genetic engineering are known as GM. What does GM stand for?
    GM crops can be resistant to herbicides, produce greater yields, resist a specific type of disease and so on
  10. Why are bacteria often used to produce proteins?
    Bacteria multiply very quickly and produce large quantities of the desired product rapidly

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