Recently, scientists discovered that modern humans and chimpanzees share 98%
of the same genes. Many people were shocked by the announcement, and I suspect
that at least some of the chimpanzees were taken aback too… perhaps
even a little disappointed.
There’s also been some controversy regarding genetic manipulation
in food crops, farm animals and decorative pets, who, like
their owners, might not survive long in nature if left to fend for
It turns out that a big part of the public’s concern revolves
around misunderstandings with respect to the terminology. We
hear about the insertion of jellyfish genes, daffodil genes, cow
genes, shark genes, and even Mr. Greenjeans, into the DNA of
In truth, there are no jellyfish, daffodil, cow, or shark genes –
there are only genes. The existence of Mr. Greenjeans is still a
matter of debate. Genes are sections of the DNA molecule that
code for the manufacture of proteins and enzymes, or direct the
activity and timing of other genes, turning them on or off.
I think we can all agree that gene splicing, as it is sometimes
called, should always be done in a well-supervised and responsible
manner. But it is also clear that there are societal benefits to
introducing medically useful proteins, enzymes and amino acids
into the diets of people who are currently lacking them, are suffering
debilitating afflictions, and would not otherwise have access
to such medications through conventional means.
Unlike the DaVinci Code, the DNA code has much to offer mankind,
today, and for millennia to come.