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Genetic engineering (also called genetic modification) is a process that uses laboratory-based technologies to alter the DNA makeup of an organism.
Genetic engineering as the direct manipulation of DNA by humans outside breeding and mutations has only existed since the 1970s. In 1972, Paul Berg created the first recombinant DNA molecules by combining DNA from the monkey virus SV40 with that of the lambda virus. The first field trials of genetically engineered plants occurred in France and the US in 1986, tobacco plants were engineered to be resistant to herbicides.
It is a set of technologies used to change the genetic makeup of cells, including the transfer of genes within and across species boundaries to produce improved or novel organisms. New DNA is obtained by either isolating and copying the genetic material of interest using recombinant DNA methods or by artificially synthesising the DNA. Used in research and industry, genetic engineering has been applied to the production of cancer therapies, brewing yeasts, genetically modified plants and livestock, and more.
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