The Second Symposium on the Nature of Science
GENETIC ENGINEERING AND FOODLaurens Mets
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(running time 55:43)
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Genetic engineering involves manipulating the genetic makeup of organisms by man. Anthropological studies coupled with evolutionary theory suggest that man has engaged in genetic engineering of crops and domestic animals since the origin of civilization. Basic scientific investigation into the mechanisms of heredity, driven often by the practical need to improve food production, has revealed many of the molecular details of how genes control the properties of organisms. An important investigative technique involves transferring individual genes from one organism to another. These transgenic methods have also found use in engineering crops and will soon see use in domestic animals. Does this new genetic engineering tool pose special risks when it is applied to food organisms? How can we teach students to distinguish between science and politics in assessing this type of question?
Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology
The University of Chicago
Dr. Mets received his B.A. in biological chemistry from Pomona College and his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University in 1973. His research has focused on understanding how plant and algal cells construct their photosynthetic apparatus and on how photosynthesis functions as a solar energy conversion system. He has an interest in applying genetic engineering to the improvement of photosynthetic production of hydrogen from water as an environmentally friendly fuel.
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