Microbes and Genetic Engineering

History 1990's and Beyond

Brief History
How Does It Work?
WebMicro 2000








  • The U.S. Human Genome Project begins a 13-year effort coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health.

  • The project originally was planned to last 15 years, but rapid technological advances have allowed 97% of all genes to be identified by 2000.

  • Project goals are to identify all the 100,000 genes in human DNA, determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA, store this information in databases, develop tools for data analysis, transfer related technologies to the private sector, and address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project.



The Year 2000 and Beyond




  • Genetic Engineering is moving on to the food industry. Here, genes for important food traits can be inserted into plant DNA. The food that is grown has more desireable traits.

  • Genes for pest resistance can also be inserted into plant DNA to allow plants greater survival rates.

  • New versions of familiar foods--ones that are custom "built" to improve quality or remove unwanted traits. Insect-resistant apples, long-lasting raspberries, and potatoes that absorb less fat are among the more than 50 plant products under study now that are likely to reside soon on grocers' shelves.

  • Whether genetically engineered foods succeed or fail ultimately depends on public acceptance. Early reports on the Flavr Savr tomato, the first recombinant DNA-derived whole food product to reach grocery shelves, were favorable.

  • However, the idea of genetically modified foods has caused much controversy. Scientists wish to stress that as for safety, FDA officials have assured them that these foods will be just as safe as products consumers are used to finding on their store shelves.




© 2000 Jody Becker, Robin Norwood and Brad Greenspan. All Rights Reserved, except for the images, which retain their own copyrights.
This site was designed by Jody Becker, Robin Norwood and Brad Greenspan for MBI 699.W in August of 2000.