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  • Neil: Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil and with me in the studio today is Harry.

  • Harry: Hello!

  • Neil: We all have two biological parents

  • but in the future if someone from the UK tells you they have three parents, it might be true.

  • Harry: That's right. This is because the UK has become

  • the first country to approve laws allowing the creation of babies with DNA from three people!

  • DNA is the chemical structure present in the centre of a cell which defines somebody's characteristics.

  • This is to fight a particular disease.

  • Neil: Yes. Sometimes parts of the DNA called genes are faulty.

  • it means they don't work properly and this might cause problems later on.

  • A new technique will allow some of these genes to be replaced by healthy ones from a third person.

  • Harry: This practice is controversialpeople argue about it.

  • They fear we're going to mess with nature and end up with a Frankenstein's monster!

  • Neil: Wow, that would be frightening, let's hope it doesn't happen!

  • Well, in this programme we're talking about the three-parent baby

  • and you're going to learn some vocabulary related to reproduction.

  • Harry: Geneticsthe science of how living creatures

  • pass their characteristics to their offspringis fascinating, Neil!

  • Neil: It is fascinating, and you know what I find most surprising, Harry?

  • It's how much DNA we have in common with other living creatures.

  • Harry: I've heard that a very high percentage of our DNA is similar to the DNA of monkeys.

  • Neil: The comparison with monkeys is easy. Over 95% of our DNA is identical to theirs.

  • But what you might not know is... how much of our DNA is similar to the DNA in a banana?

  • Harry: A banana?!

  • Neil: Yes. And that's my quiz question today.

  • What percentage of our DNA is similar to that of a banana? Is it:

  • a) About 1% b) About 20% or

  • c) About 50%

  • Harry: I think we have very little in common with bananas so I'm gonna go for 1%.

  • Neil: Well, I'll give you the correct answer at the end of the programme.

  • Now let's talk about the three-parent baby. A pioneering technique,

  • in other words, a technique never used before, has been developed by scientists in Newcastle University here in the UK.

  • The technique helps people with faulty mitochondria

  • which are structures that work like energy factories in our cells. The mitochondria are like batteries.

  • Harry: And what kind of problems do people who inherit faulty mitochondria have?

  • Neil: They have serious health problems such as brain damage and heart failure.

  • Harry: That's terrible! Maybe it would be good to have this technique approved.

  • Neil: Well, not everybody agrees with it.

  • Fiona Bruce, who is a Member of Parliament here in Britain, expressed concern when the proposal was discussed.

  • Listen out for the expression she uses right at the beginning of her speech.

  • It means that when you start something, you can't take it back.

  • Fiona Bruce MP: Once the genie is out of the bottle,

  • once these procedures that we are being asked to authorise today go ahead, there will be no going back for society.

  • Harry: She says that the genie is out of the bottle.

  • It's an expression to do with fairy talesin particular, the story of Aladdin

  • when he rubs a lamp and a genie appears. When the genie is released, anything is possibleeven bad things.

  • And there's nothing anyone can do to stop it.

  • Neil: So in the case of DNA engineering

  • people are afraid that similar techniques might be used to create designer babies

  • babies whose characteristics like height, sex, hair and eye colour are created to order.

  • Or we might be looking at babies with several parents - and who knows where it might end.

  • Harry: But the approval of this proposal has also made many people happy,

  • Neil: Yes, people like Victoria, a mother who has a sick child because of faulty mitochondria.

  • She uses an expression which means 'amazing or astonishing'.

  • Which expression is it?

  • Victoria Holliday: It's just mind-boggling what this could mean

  • for our family and for other families who are affected. It's just the best news!

  • Harry: She uses the expression 'mind-boggling',

  • in other words something astonishing, overwhelming. That's great news for this lady. I'm happy for her.

  • Neil: Yes, it is. According to statistics faulty

  • mitochondria affects one in every 6,500 babies - a considerable number of people.

  • Well, this is an interesting subject but we're running out of time and...

  • Harry: ... and you're going to tell me what percentage of DNA we have in common with a banana, aren't you?

  • Neil: I am. And the options I gave you were about

  • 1%, 20% or 50%. And you said...

  • Harry: I said I thought it was just 1%.

  • Neil: Well, can you believe that it's 50%? We are half... half and half like bananas.

  • Harry: That's incredible! They're not even mammals,

  • we are so different to them ... It's mind-boggling!

  • Neil: Let's listen to today's words once again, Harry.

  • Harry: Yes. They were: DNA, genes, faulty, genetics,

  • pioneering, mitochondria (the singular is irregular: mitochondrion)

  • the genie is out of the bottle, designer babies and mind-boggling.

  • Neil: Well, that's it for today. Do go to www.bbclearningenglish.com

  • to find more 6 Minute English programmes. Until next time. Goodbye!

  • Harry: Bye!

Neil: Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil and with me in the studio today is Harry.

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B1 UK TOEIC harry dna faulty genie mind boggling

BBC 6 Minute English_April 02, 2015 - Three-parent baby

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    Adam Huang posted on 2015/04/03
Video vocabulary