The State's Stake


What stake does the state of Iowa have in developing industries based in biotechnology? How will biotechnology really affect the state and its citizens? Who will benefit? Who will it harm? These are the types of questions politicians and policymakers are struggling with right now. Their answers will affect you.

Biotechnology, and especially genetic engineering (GE), has the power to affect every aspect of our lives. The medicines we take, the food we eat, the water we drink, even the clothes we wear, can all be changed through genetic engineering. GE allows scientists to take the building blocks of life, genes, and recombine them in almost limitless ways. The results can be amazing.

GE is already helping researchers find treatments for diseases like cancer. Genetic engineering can create foods packed with extra nutrients. Genetic engineering can make a cow produce medicinal milk. It even provides the power to clone (copy) entire organisms.

Promoters of biotechnology point out the awesome possibilities and, of course, the incredible economic potential. From the state's perspective, biotech-based industries may mean big bucks with more jobs and a stronger economy.

Along with all the potential though, come serious concerns that cannot be overlooked. What if a genetically engineered crop damages the environment it grows in? What if foods from these crops trigger allergies? What if a bacteria engineered to clean up oil spills also harms the wildlife that come into contact with it? If the state is ready to reap the benefits, will it also be ready for the responsibility if things go wrong?

When the leaders of Iowa are determining the state's stake in biotechnology, they must use facts to carefully weigh both the potentials and the risks.


Explore More: Genetic Engineering
Copyright 2004, Iowa Public Television
The Explore More project is supported by funds from the
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and the USDE Star Schools Program.


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