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By R. Glaser

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There is risk in all human activity; science and medicine are no exception. Clinicians and scientists have made mistakes in the past, and no doubt will do so in the future. It is therefore necessary to carry out risk assessment analysis to determine both the possibility of something going wrong and the possible consequences of any such error. Such assessments have to be carried out in the UK before any recombinant DNA experiment to identify the appropriate safety precautions for that work. In coming to a more general risk assessment of this technology, it is important to have a realistic idea of the nature of the dangers and the risk that they might occur.

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However, theoretically, given enough time and resources, it should be possible to obtain animals with any desired phenotype (including those containing genes derived from other species) by selection of spontaneous mutants. Natural mutation is a potent force when linked to an appropriate selection mechanism, and we should not underestimate the ability of the evolutionary process to generate complex and wonderful creatures. The radical difference of biotechnology is that it speeds up and simplifies the process, bringing it from a theoretical possibility to reality.

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Biophysics by R. Glaser


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