Genetic engineering, recombinant DNA technology, genetic modification/manipulation (GM), and gene splicing are terms that apply to the direct manipulation of an organism's genes. Genetic engineering is different from selective breeding, where the organism's genes are manipulated indirectly. Genetic engineering uses the techniques of molecular cloning and transformation to alter the structure and characteristics of genes directly. Genetic engineering techniques are now commonplace in medicine and agriculture, and are used from everything to treating diseases, improving crop yields, and improving the quality of produce to be more healthy.
The term "genetic engineering" was coined by Jack Williamson in his science fiction novel Dragon's Island, published in 1951, one year before DNA's role in heredity was confirmed by Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase, two years before James Watson and Francis Crick showed that the DNA molecule has a double-helix structure, and 50 years before the human genome was sequenced.
Genetic engineering in plants is the oldest form of commercially viable genetic technology. In 2020 with global food prices beginning to skyrocket, Bio-ethics protocols were relaxed to allow for more GM produce to be produced to feed the hungriest places on Earth. Golden Rice, developed in the early 1990s, was one such GM Plant that benefitted from the new policies. Rich in Beta Carotene, Golden Rice is widely claimed to have solved the problem of Vitamin A deficiencies in Children in underdeveloped countries. Golden Rice was the first of a new generation of GM Foods engineered to be healthier than their traditional cousins. To counter the risk of the new crops intermixing and contaminating those of the natural world, new regulations were put in place that required them to be grown in isolated areas. Agribusiness managed to capitalize on this with the creation of vertical farms in major cities, limiting the cost of exporting their goods, and containing them in a sealed environment. Today, GM Plants account for 70% of the world's produce intake.
- Golden Rice: Beta Carotene infusion; high in vitamin A, with a distinct yellow hue.
- Titan Tomatoes: High in Vitamin C, A, and Vitamin B1, first employed by hamburger chains.
- Super Corn: High in Vitamin C, D, B6 and B5.
- Desert Wheat: Deeper root system, can grow in more arid environments.
In Vitro Meat
In Vitro Meat is meat that has never been part of a full animal. With conventional meat becoming even more expensive and an increasing demand for food brought on by an increasing population, in vitro meat started becoming popular. This was controversial at first, but eventually, by the 2030s, it, along with vertical farming, became more widely accepted by everyone. The Jews were among the last people to accept in vitro meat because they were not sure whether it was kosher or not. However, when a Jewish scientist was able to create kosher in vitro meat, the Jews accepted. Eventually, this technology revolutionized the organ transplant industry as well.
While phosphorescent were popular novelty pets in the 2000s and 2010s, it wasn't until the 2020s that GM Pets really came into high demand or were as varied as they are today. Originally some animals were bred using artificial selection to produce tameness, as was the case with the Siberian Fox, however this took decades. Genetic modification sped up the process and gave greater control over desired qualities.
- Minis: First introduced in 2024 Genetically Miniaturized Animals or "Minis" are animals that exist in nature that have been genetically engineered to be significantly smaller than their normal forms. For example, a popular pet among young boys is the mini T-Rex, a clone of the ancient reptile that is roughly 2 feet tall once fully grown, and engineered to be less aggressive than their ancient ancestors.
- Cubs: The first GM pet to gain widespread popularity, Genetically Stunted Animals or "Cubs" were introduced in 2018. These are pets that have been modified to stay in their infantile stage, i.e. dogs remain as puppies, cats as kittens, deer as fawns, etc. These modifications made it possible to domesticate many animals previously too wild to keep in captivity. GM Harp Seal pups, bear cubs, and fox kits are the most popular "cubs" on the market today.
- Mythics: A genetic hodgepodge of both existing animals and custom DNA strains, "Mythics" are pets that resemble the mythological creatures of ancient fantasy. First created in 2027 and marketed to the wealthy, many Mythics are now affordable to the middle Class. These include the Phoenix, the Griffin, the Dragon, the Unicorn, etc. All of these animals are created to be passive towards humans, and are never larger than a horse.
- TrekPets: Much like the Mythics these creatures are engineered to resemble animals in fiction, especially Star Trek. The most popular today is the Tribble.
In the late 21st century, a project was started to bring animals back from extinction. The project was called Jurassic Park after the famous film. The first animal brought back was the passenger pigeon. Initial attempts involved animals from the Pleistocene and the Holocene. Then, they started cloning animals from earlier periods with the help of amber. The blood found in the amber was used to bring many extinct animals back to life. These included dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex. The earliest time period from which humans have brought back extinct animals is the Carboniferous period. These were giant insects like the Meganeura or archnids like spiders or scorpions such as Pulmonoscorpius.
Genetically Modified People
By 2015 Genetic Engineering had become increasingly more common, and the first modification for humans was produced to increase mental activity. By 2018 over 100 people had been genetically modified globally, most in the US and Canada, and a few in Japan and South Korea. These GM Humans, often called Augments, were the first humans to freely modify their own genetic code for personal gain. Many of the people became very successful members of society, becoming business owners, politicians, medical professionals, etc.
Regardless of their status or their contributions to society, Augments were horribly discriminated against almost immediately after undergoing the procedure. The first record hate crime against a Genetically Modified person was committed in 2020 when Toray Shears of Delaware was stoned to death outside of a Catholic parish. His assailant was later found not guilty of murder after the US supreme court in 2022 defined that the US Constitution extended to humans only, which GM Persons do not apply. All 200 of the worlds GM humans, begin to see their rights stripped away as the US becomes the last country to define them as non-citizens. In a desperate plea, Theodore Bell, a prominent activist of Augment Rights, persuades the US Congress to allow for a small section of land in Mt. Hood, Oregon to be made into a reservation for the Augments. Denied their rights to own property in most places, most of the world's Augments take refuge at the Mt. Hood Reservation.
Prior to the Shears v. Adams decision, US President Sarah Palin signed into law a provision that made GM drugs illegal in the US. Most of Europe had already outlawed Genetic Engineering in its entirety, and most of the world followed suit with similar anti-GM legislation over the next two years. Many countries went so far as to make augmentation punishable by death, as such all but the few who could not escape their home countries fled to the Mt. Hood Reservation in the US.
In 2023 the US Government began rounding up GM Persons and moved them to the Mt. Hood Reservation. Some were able to bring some personal possessions with them to the reservation, but most were robbed of their belongings before being moved. In 2024 using their very limited resources, the augments of Mt. Hood constructed a small village on the reservation. It was named New Liberty. The same year the fist Augmented child is born from two GM Parents and by 2026 the village had reached a population of 300 living under a very liberal society, with no formal government.
New Liberty never stopped petitioning for their rights; in 2025 they applied for restoration of their rights to President Narain, in 2029 they made an impassioned plea to President Edwards who once called their exile, "The greatest social injustice of our time;" in 2030 New Liberty petitions a number of global patent offices with the sea of ideas they have generated during their years in exile. They are always either denied or ignored universally.
New Liberty was also under constant protest or even violent assault as in 2028 when it was attacked by a group of White Supremacists. The Augments were usually able defend themselves using superior intelligence, strength and speed, but from time to time some of New Liberty's residents were killed by the occasional radical.
In 2031 BBC made a documentary on New Liberty showing for the first time life inside the sanctuary for the Augments. The citizens of the reservation were shown to be extremely intelligent and resourceful, having produced their own water filtration system, electrical grid, vertical farm, and a fairly dynamic economy for a small town. This documentary, "Life in New Liberty" began the liberalization in opinion of the augments around the world. Many believe this led in the successful appointment of Judge Harriet Li to the Supreme Court following the death of Chief Justice John Roberts. Li had been a stoic activist for Genetic Rights, and was the first Federal Judge to uphold the repeal on the "Frankenfood" Ban of 2023. New Liberty went before the Supreme Court once again, but this time their rights were returned and all 500 augments were permitted to leave New Liberty, though they were still unwelcome outside of the US.
Shortly after the end of the Flood War, many of the world's youth began opting for expressive genetic enhancements. While sex organs were the most common of these types at first, many subcultures began to change themselves to resemble what they would normally have to dress up as i.e Cosplay.
- Furries: These people would modify themselves to become anthropomorphic animals.
- Trekkies: These people modified themselves to resemble the various species of the Star Trek universe (Vulcans and Klingons were the most common.)
- Sky Walkers: These people modified themselves to resemble the various species of the Star Wars universe.
- Cartoonies: People who modify themselves to resemble cartoon characters.
- Vidies: People who modify themselves to resemble video game characters.
- Telies:People who modify themselves to resemble characters from live-action TV shows.
- Otaku: People who modify themselves to resemble anime and manga characters.
- Druids: People who would modify themselves to resemble creatures of Pagan lore.
- Avatars: People who would modify themselves to resemble the Na'vi of James Cameron's Avatar.
- Dark Children: People who modify themselves to resemble mythical creatures such as vampires, werewolves, etc.
- Rainbow Children: People who simply change their skin colors to non natural tones.
- Homosexuals: LGBT people who modify their reproductive systems to become hermaphrodites.
- Beauties: Women who modify themselves so that they look like they are wearing make-up and nail polish all the time even though that is an illusion. [Red lips, eyelids that match eye color, Katy Perry eyelashes, nails that look like they have clear nail polish on, cheeks that always blush, self-cleaning teeth, flawless and impervious skin, and a change in hair (usually purple, blue, white, or pink) and sometimes eye and/or skin color to a non-natural tone to accomodate are the most common features. They would be among the first people to attain eternal youth and immortality.]
- Childhood Adults: People who modify themselves to resemble human children even in adulthood. (They can still breed.)
- Genderless Children: People who modify themselves into bodies that are half-man/half-woman.
- Human Computers: People who modify themselves to have a natural brain-computer interface.
- Iron Children: People who go so far as to alter their biochemistry to become iron-based lifeforms. (This is controversial.)
Full Human cloning was considered even more of a taboo than genetic augmentation. However by the 2060s, it had become more acceptable and more accessible for some. To the surprise of most of the practice's fiercest opponents, most people chose not to clone loved ones that had died, but rather conceive children from the DNA of historical figures.
A number of children whose genetic material was largely extracted from great historical figures went on to have very similar careers to their genetic parents. Most parents gave their cloned children the first name of their genetic doner:
- Eleanor Roosevelt Appler (Clone of Ambassador Eleanor Roosevelt): 58th President of the United States
- Robert Kennedy Mackenzie (Clone of Senator Robert F. Kennedy): US Senator from Maine
- Martin Franklin (Clone of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.): US Attorney General under President Brianna Lynée.
- Warren McKay (Clone of Chief Justice Earl Warren): 60th President of the United States
- Ein Mertz (Clone of Albert Einstein): Theoretical Physicist, Caltech
- Laura Galileo McKee (Hormone re-engineered clone of Galileo): Astronaut
- Nicholas Washington Brittan (Clone of George Washington, re-engineered slightly due to age of hair sample): High Commander of POTA 2085-2099
- Tutankhamun II (Clone of Egyptian Pharoah Tutankhamun): President of Egypt 2082-2085
- David II (Clone of King David, whose body was discovered in the 2050s): UN Administrator of Israel and Palestine 2085-2099
Synthetic genomics is the idea of creating life with a man-made set of genetic code. In 2010, J. Craig Venter and a team of scientists created the first synthetic life-form, Mycoplasma laboratium, a type of bacteria. Not long after, other scientists such as Jay Keasling started creating synthetic single-cell life-forms to produce medicine, biofuels, etc. As time went on, more and more complex synthetic life began to emerge. Animals became available with features that were fully customisable for commercial, scientific, and industrial roles. For example, in 2037, a team of scientists created synthetic crustaceans that could reproduce in the larval stage. The scientists called them silverswimmers after the hypothesized species in The Future Is Wild. Plants could be programmed to turn into furniture and building materials. This also led to some forms of expressive augmentation. By the 2060s, the first fully synthetic humans were created.
When synthetic humans were first created, there was controversy much like with embryonic stem cells. The main problem was discrimination. Synthetic humans were horribly discriminated against by their creators who did not consider them human. When this was exposed, more and more people began to wonder whether synthetic humans should be created. Finally, in 2075, the US Supreme Court ruled that synthetic humans were indeed human, just like the augments before them in 2035, so they should not be treated cruelly. The rest of the POTA quickly accepted afterwards. The European Federation was the last to accept them in 2099.
- Mycoplasma laboratorium: The first synthetic life-form ever created.
- Medicine Bacteria: Bacteria that make medicine.
- Biofuel Bacteria: Bacteria that make biofuels.
- Upholstery Plants: Plants that turn into furniture.
- Building Plants: Plants that turn into building materials.
- Customizable Animals: Animals with fully customizable features.
- Silverswimmers: Crustaceans who reproduce in the larval stage. Named after the hypothesized species in The Future Is Wild.
- Deathgleaners: Bats that are diurnal (daytime animals), rather than nocturnal. Named after the hypothesized species in The Future Is Wild.
- Rabbucks: Large, antelope-like, deer-like rabbits. Unlike smaller rabbits, they reproduce much slower (only as fast as an antelope) to reduce a chance of outcompeting antelopes and deer to extinction. Named after the hypothesized species in After Man: The Zoology Of The Future.
- Expressive Augmentation: see above.
- Synthetic Humans: Humans with synthetic genomes.