Scientist create gene-edited pigs 英科學家用基因編輯造“抗病豬”

Scientists have created gene-edited pigs! Find out what they are in Take Away English.

21

不少人都聽說過基因改造生物。多年來,科學家一直在研究修改生物和植物的DNA,以從某種方式上改變它們的特徵。生活中最常見的例子就是基因改造食品。現在,科學家可對豬的基因進行改造,從而提起它們的存活率。他們使用的技術不是基因改造,而是基因編輯。區別是什麼呢?跟隨本集《隨身英語》尋找答案。

Vocabulary: Genetics and disease 詞彙: 遺傳學和疾病

By now, most of us will have heard of GMOs. In case you haven’t, GMO stands for genetically-modified organism. This basically means that an organism has had a foreign genetic sequence introduced into it. In theory, this gives the organism certain advantages – it may become hardier by developing a resistance to disease, or in the case of GM food, may be bigger and require fewer nutrients to develop.

GM organisms have been used for a while. Scientists in the UK are trialling a GM wheat which allegedly yields40% more crop in greenhouse conditions. GM hens, which are able to lay eggs from different poultry breeds, have been used by scientists in Edinburgh to conserve rare birds by storing their stem cells in a seed bank. And more recently, scientists in China used information from the genome of a plant to increase the production of a key malaria drug, helping to meet the large global demand.

But now scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute have created GE pigs which are allegedly immune to one of the world’s costliest livestock diseases. GE stands for gene editing. Unlike GM, gene editing merely alters the DNA of the creature. In this case, a small region of pig DNA was deleted, preventing contraction of the PRRS virus, or Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus.

The virus causes breathing problems and death, but even after the GE pigs were exposed to it, none have become ill. And the effect is permanent, so the resistance will be passed on through natural breeding. Tests so far showed that the animals are not weakened in any other way by the process, claims Research leader Dr Christine Tait-Burkard. “The main thing that this edit will do is benefit animal welfare because the animals will not get a devastating disease.”

However, critics have argued that the creature’s welfare will actually suffer because of this. Helen Browning of the Soil Association believes this only addresses the symptom of the problem and not the root cause. “It is not encouraging companies to change the way they keep their pigs so they don’t become diseased in the first place”, she says.

Regardless, this is an experiment and while the technique appears to work, it is several years away from regulation and implementation. “On top of that, only if these studies are successful and the public are accepting, would we integrate these gene edits into commercial breeding stocks,” Dr Tait-Burkard told the BBC.  So it seems we may have a while yet.

詞彙表

genetically-modified 基因改造的
organism 生物體
genetic sequence 基因序列
hardy 強壯的
resistance to disease 抗病
nutrient 營養物,養分
trial 試驗
stem cell 幹細胞
genome 染色體組,基因組
drug 藥物
immune 有免疫力的
DNA 脫氧核糖核酸
contract a virus 感染一種病毒
reproductive 繁殖
respiratory 呼吸的
syndrome 綜合症
expose to (a virus) 感染(一種病毒)
pass on 傳下去,遺傳給…
symptom 症狀

測驗與練習

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. What is a GMO?

2. True or false: Genetic modification and gene editing are the same thing.

3. What effect has gene-editing had on these pigs?

4. In what way does Helen Browning believe that gene editing targets the symptom and not the root cause of the problem?

5. Which word in the text means ‘physical and mental health and happiness’?

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單字填入句子的空格處。

1. I’m very ______. I almost never get sick and I’ve never broken a bone!

hardy       resistance       nutrient       immune

2. Anyone who has been to the tropics recently may have been ______ to the virus.

passed on       contracted       trialled       exposed

3. Whether or not your character is determined by your ______ is still hotly debated.

stem cell       DNA       syndrome       genetically-modified

4. The plants absorb water and other ______ through their roots.

resistances       nutrients       drugged       symptoms

5. The life-saving medicine is still undergoing ______, but should be available shortly.

trials       exposure       immunity       resistance

答案

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. What is a GMO? 
A GMO is a genetically-modified organism.

2. True or false: Genetic modification and gene editing are the same thing.
False. Genetic modification introduces foreign material into a creature. Gene editing alters a creature’s DNA.

3. What effect has gene-editing had on these pigs?
The pigs are allegedly immune to the PRRS virus.

4.In what way does Helen Browning believe that gene editing targets the symptom and not the root cause of the problem?
She says it doesn’t encourage companies to improve the way they keep their pigs, stopping them from becoming diseased in the first place.

5. Which word in the text means ‘physical and mental health and happiness’?
Welfare. (Critics have argued that the creature’s welfare will actually suffer because of this.)

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單字填入句子的空格處。

1. I’m very hardy. I almost never get sick and I’ve never broken a bone.

2. Anyone who has been to the tropics recently may have been exposed to the virus.

3. Whether or not your character is determined by your DNA is still hotly debated.

4. The plants absorb water and other nutrients through their roots.

5. The life-saving medicine is still undergoing trials, but should be available shortly.

下載

下載文字稿
下載聲音檔

BBC 英語教學