Letter: Mutants are necessities

February 22, 2014 

Everyone's seen "mutants." However, most do not realize that genetic "improvements" are observed on a daily basis. If you have blue eyes, you are a mutant.

Every day, hundreds of mutations occur within our cells during protein synthesis. Mutations are simply a typo within a strand of amino acids, each named by an alphabetical letter. Letters can be added, deleted or switch places. Typos can be caught and fixed by proofreading enzymes but mostly don't alter the subsequent protein and slip by.

Ordinarily, mutations do not affect the cell's functions, but there is the potential for misprints to cause drastic changes. Thousands of years ago, a mutation occurred affecting eye color in a region where effective night vision was imperative to survival. Paler colored irises reflect more light and provide better eyesight in the dark. This led to higher survival rates, and eventually this mutation passed from one individual to 8 percent of the world population.

Sadly, not all mutations are advantageous. All genetic disorders originate from mutations.

Mutations have played a pivotal role in our species' continuance. We need to accept mutations as biologically necessary while also acknowledging their inevitable impact on human survival.

JACKIE WELLS, Richland

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