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Genetic Modification in Plants, Animals and Medicines

Aug 29, 2022

Key Concepts

  • Genetic
  • Recombinant DNA technology
  • Genetically Modified crops
  • Transgenic


Genetic modification is the technique that can alter the characteristics of plants, animals, or microorganisms by transferring DNA from one organism to the other organism. This can be done through targeted removal of the desired genes from the DNA of one organism and adding to the other organism. This method, for example, is used to develop fungi and bacteria that produce medicines. Gregor Johann Mendel is known as the father of genetics. Mendel used pea plants to explain the pattern of inheritance. 

Gregor Johann Mendel


Genetically modified organisms are organisms that have their DNA altered through “genetic engineering.” 

What are Genetically Modified Organisms? 

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are formed when DNA from one organism is inserted into another organism within the laboratory. These are also called transgenic organisms. 

GMOs are formed in the laboratory using scientific methods like Recombinant DNA technology and Reproductive cloning. 

In recombinant DNA technology, one or more genes from the organism are inserted into the DNA of another organism. Reproductive cloning is involved in extracting the mature somatic cell from the selected organism and is inserted into the egg of the selected organism, which has the nucleus removed. 

Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically Modified Plants 

The genes of the crops are modified using genetic techniques. They are also called transgenic crops. The aim of producing GMOs is to increase the yield of crops and also produce disease-resistant crops.  

An example of a GMO is golden rice, modified to extract beta carotene twenty times more than the previous type of rice; the other rice variety is created to fight iron deficiency. The gene of a bean plant is taken and inserted into the rice. Such kind of rice helps to fight iron deficiency.  

Crossbreeding is a backbone for improving the genetics of our crops. The pollen grains from one plant are placed on the female part of a flower of another plant, leading to the production of new seeds with a hybrid variety of the two parent plants. Plant breeders select the plants with the best traits to produce the next generation. 

Genetically Modified Plants 

Genetically Modified Animals 

Genetically modified animals are created by inserting genes into the selected organisms; for example, pigs, chickens, cows, and fish are some modified animals created by scientists within animals, the embryo is altered by genes as it results in producing more milk, and meat, and also prevent diseases.  

The first genetically modified animals regenerate from single cells; animals develop from the embryo by cloning method or by microinjection. Genetically modified animals are different from cloned animals. The DNA of an adult animal is transferred into an egg cell and then implanted into a female adult. By microinjection, genes are injected into the embryo. 


The embryo develops into an animal that is genetically identical to the donor animal, For example –In mammals, the injected eggs are implanted into the mother; if the genes are successfully injected into the egg’s original DNA, the offspring will carry the extra foreign DNA.  

The genetically modified animals will mate and produce offspring; the foreign gene inherits similarly to the normal DNA. The first genetically modified animals were mice which were modified in the 1980s. Genetically modified mice are still common, and they make up 98% of all GM animals.  

Genetically Modified Animals 

Genetically Modified Medicines 

Genetically modified medicines are a revolutionary idea. This helps to cure diseases like diabetes, and hypertension and treat genetic disorders. 

Animal products like milk, egg white, blood, urine, and silkworm cocoon are used to produce drugs that can be made by chemical synthesis. The first genetically modified drug is produced from the milk of transgenic goats, preventing blood clots.  

Insulin is the first genetically modified medicine created by injecting a gene from the intestine of the pig into a bacterium. The bacterium with the selected gene grows and produces insulin. Products like Aspartame, Remicade, Avastin, etc., are results of genetic engineering. Genetically selected plants also produce edible vaccines, which are used to prevent diseases. 

Genetically Modified Animals 

The Benefits of GMOs 

  • Nutritional value foods can be improved, e.g., by introducing proteins, vitamins, and vaccines.  
  • Crops that are produced lack allergens.  
  • Crops can provide a better yield.  
  • Genetically modified crops produce herbicides that kill pests.  
  • It improves food supply as well as agriculture in poor countries.  
  • Crops have a long shelf life. 

The Risks of GMO  

  • New traits cause adverse health reactions.  
  • Crops limit the biodiversity of the local environment.  
  • Cross-pollination leads to weeds.  
  • Foods with GMOs may not be labeled.  


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