Genetic Engineering

13.1 Genetic Engineering

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO):

  • Genetic engineering is a gene manipulation technique to genetically modify an organism to form new gene combinations.
  • Organisms whether animals, plants or microorganisms produced through recombinant DNA technology are known as genetically modified organisms or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
  • Genetic engineering involves the transfer of DNA segments from one organism to another through recombinant DNA technology.
  • By using techniques and procedures in recombinant DNA technology, biologists can reconstruct the DNA or genome (a complete set of DNA) of an organism.
  • Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms that contain recombinant DNA.
  • Through recombinant DNA technology, new combinations of genes are produced in an organism
  • Organisms that contain recombinant DNA are known as transgenic organisms

Genetically Modified Food (GMF):

  • Recombinant DNA technology has successfully produced many crops (rice, oil palm, pineapple, corn and soybeans) as well as livestock (salmon, cattle and goats) that have the desired characteristics.
  • Genetically modified foods (GMF) have DNA from other plant or animal species.
  • Intake of GMF by humans is likely to have a variety of still unknown health implications.

Characteristics of genetically modified food (GMF):

  • Resistant to herbicide
  • Resistant to disease
  • Application in medicine
  • Tolerance to heavy metals
  • Resistance to pest
Advantages of GMF Disadvantages of GMF
  • Overcome worldwide food shortage by producing high quality transgenic crops amd livestock
  • Reduce cost of food production
  • Increase nutritional value of crops
  • Reduce problems of crops related to pests
  • Reduce usage of pesticides
  • Increase in production reduces price of food,thus increase food availabilty
  • Endangered natural species
  • There is a slight possibility that the foreign gene inGMF may be transferred to humans,for example.antibiotic-resistance gene 
  • May have adverse effects pn human health and genetic material
  • Genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis are incorporated into corn genes to increase corn's resistance to insect attack.
  • ‘Super salmon’ is a genetically modified fish that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe to eat in the United States and Canada.
  • The growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon is inserted into the genome of Atlantic salmon
  • With this, Atlantic salmon grow faster, i.e. ‘super salmon’ can be produced all year round.


  • The hormone insulin plays an important role in controlling blood sugar levels.
  • In the past, insulin was extracted from the pancreas of cattle or pigs to treat patients with diabetes mellitus.
  • Now, insulin can be obtained from genetic engineering techniques and can be produced commercially for the use of diabetics
  • In addition to insulin, hepatitis B vaccine, blood clotting factors and growth hormone have been successfully genetically engineered.