Biotechnology is big news today, particularly in the field of genetic engineering. Since the first Patent and Trademark designation on a genetically engineered microorganism in 1980, millions of transgenic mice, rabbits, pigs and sheep have been patented. It is a billion-dollar industry now, with placement in investment magazine advice columns and an Internet filled with businesses offering biotechnology services.
As more companies become involved directly or indirectly with genetic engineering, it is important that they understand what this industry is and the non-traditional risks that apply.
Genetic engineering is the general term for any number of processes used to change the genetic material--the DNA code--in a living organism. When this is done, organisms can be made to exhibit new characteristics. Transgenic animals are creatures whose DNA has been supplemented with foreign genetic material. Notable genetic engineering experiments include bacteria that produce human hormones and the development of pigs with human-friendly organs for transplant.
Research in this area can produce an array of benefits including gene defect repair, enhancement of production or growth, and resistance to disease or damage. …