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DNA sequence In 1973, two scientists undertook an experiment that rocked the world. By transferring the DNA from one species to another, Herb Boyer and Stan Cohen became the first Genetic Engineers. Their experiment triggered a wave of controversy about the dangers of genetic manipulation, but it also generated a multi billion dollar industry.
Biotechnology would soon transform the pharmaceutical industry and genetically modified food was to herald the biggest revolution in agriculture since the industrialization of farming. Yet the public was skeptical, and so were certain scientists. Some feared that a cancer-causing gene stitched into the DNA of a bacterium might be accidentally absorbed in the human gut, enabling cancer to be passed on like an infectious disease. Biologists from all over the world were called to a meeting in California to draw up a strict set of safety guidelines.

When the panic subsided the stage was set for a biotechnology bonanza. A race began to produce genetically engineered insulin. A couple of years later a young researcher called Rob Horsch, who worked for the chemical giant Monsanto, produced the first genetically engineered plant. The biotech revolutions had arrived.

Produced/directed by Carlo Massarella and edited by Paul Shepard.
Vegetables Scientist with lab equipment
Photo (bottom right): A lab worker checks one of the machines used to mass produce genetically modified organisms.


Tomatoes
The potential for good and bad in modifying our food.
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Microscopic material
The first experiments in genetic engineering.
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Cell and virus
See how gene therapy is used to treat genetic diseases.
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