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Identification of purposeful (engineered) genetic changes vs. random mutations

Identification of purposeful (engineered) genetic changes vs. random mutations


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Okay, first - I'm not a proponent of intelligent design. I do not think it's a valid scientific theory (it has no mechanism of change/design). Second, I could be wildly off on what I think I know, in which case, my apologies for the question.

My question is, I know that scientists manipulate the genes of organisms (both animals and crops we use as food). I think this could be considered legitimate intelligent design (right? I'm talking as opposed to looking at an organism and saying that this couldn't have evolved naturally, therefore it was intelligently designed).

So, mankind has modified organisms - outside of knowing we did this, can we tell they were intelligently created? If so, how? Can we tell when a genome has been altered?

Also, if I'm totally off base, please correct me.


One should be able to tell this from comparison of the sequence with that of the original organism in GenBank etc. The differences in an engineered organism will generally be extensive and of such a kind that a specialist in the field will be able to identify their origin and deduce that they did not arise naturally.

However there is no general and guaranteed method. If I were to engineer a single base change, there would be no way to distinguish that from a natural mutation. The only thing is that if the mutation were beneficial then it would probably have occurred naturally and I wouldn't have needed to engineer it.


Depends on the type of alteration.

If we are talking insertion/alteration/deletion of whole genes, we can easily discover the changes by genome sequencing and comparison.

If we are talking a single point mutation somewhere in the genome, it is harder to detect the change as such mutations can occur naturally (roughly 20-30 such mutations occur per human generation).



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