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Humans have been unwittingly altering the genetic makeup of animals and plants for thousands of years through selective breeding. But this process, which involves the natural exchange of thousands of genes in each crossing, is very slow and can only occur within a single species.
Genetic engineering allows this process to be accelerated by adding genetic material, very often from another species, directly into an organism's genome. A range of techniques are us
The use of GMOs has been highly controversial. Concerns centre around four areas: ethical opposition to GM technology on principle, because it is seen as "playing God"; concern that there may be adverse, long-term consequences to environmental or human health; worries that GM technology rests in the hands of a few multinational companies; and, finally, issues of equity, with the cost of modified crops being beyond the reach of those who most need them.
The prospect of a human baby with three biological parents has moved closer after scientists created monkeys using a technique that one day could stop children from inheriting severe genetic diseases.
The birth of four healthy macaque monkeys in the US offers the strongest evidence yet that DNA can be transplanted safely from one egg to another to correct genetic defects that damage health.
The successful experiment in a close human relative suggests that it should be possible within a few years to use the method to help women who carry genetic disorders to avoid passing them to their children.