Biology in Your World Section 1.2 Solving Real-World Problems Biologists are working to solve problems, such as: Preserving our environment Improving the food supply Understanding the human genome Fighting disease Preserving our environment Conservation biologists are exploring ways to achieve a balance between people’s growing need for land and the need to preserve the environment. Improving the food supply Genetic engineering of crop plants has made some plants resistant to herbicides, or poisonous to insect pests, or more nutritious. Understanding the human genome A genome is the complete genetic material contained in an individual. Government-funded and private research teams from several countries completed sequencing of the human genome. Fighting Disease AIDS is a fatal disease caused by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), a virus that attacks and destroys the human immune system. New vaccines are being tested that attack two or more parts of the HIV virus at the same time. Fighting Disease, continued Cancer is a growth defect in cells, a breakdown of the mechanism that controls cell division. Great progress is being made in curing many cancers. great promise. Fighting Disease, continued Emerging diseases Biologists are fighting new diseases not known in the past. Some of these diseases include West Nile virus and mad cow disease. Fighting Disease, continued Gene Therapy is the replacement of a defective gene with a normal one. Researchers believe it is possible to use a virus to transfer a normal copy of a gene into a cell.