The Basic Steps in Creating a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant, animal, or microorganism whose DNA has been modified or altered through genetic engineering (Lallanilla, 2016). GMOs and modification to an organism’s genetic material is not natural is any way and does not occur from mating or natural recombination (World Health Organization, 2016).

Genetically modified organisms are created by means known as “modern biotechnology” or “recombinant DNA technology” which allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism to another even between nonrelated species (World Health Organization, 2016).

A GMO, according to Powell and Maurer (2015), is made by performing the same basic steps each time: identifying a trait of interest, isolating that genetic trait, inserting that trait into the genome of a desired organism, and then growing the engineered organism. Each of these four basic steps entails different processes and are vital to GMOs. The first step, identifying a trait of interest is important for scientists because they need to locate a beneficial trait that is also desirable to have a successful GMO.

In order to identify a desirable new trait, scientists most often look to nature. Successful discovery of a new genetic trait of interest is often a combination of critical thinking and luck. For example, if researchers are searching for a trait that would allow a crop to survive in a specific environment, they would look for organisms that naturally are able to survive in that specific environment. Or if researchers are aiming to improve the nutritional content of a crop, they would screen a list of plants that they hypothesize produce a nutrient of interest.

Get quality help now
Doctor Jennifer

Proficient in: Genetic Engineering

5 (893)

“ Thank you so much for accepting my assignment the night before it was due. I look forward to working with you moving forward ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

The next step involved in creating GMOs, isolating the genetic trait of interest, is done to identify what part of the organism’s genetic makeup contains the trait of interest (Powell & Maurer, 2015). Thirdly, the desired trait is then entered into a new gene, this is accomplished by cutting and pasting the genetic trait into a plasmid using enzymes (Powell & Maurer, 2015). If the insertion of the trait was successful it brings us to the final step of creating GMOs; growth. After the insertion of this trait into the organism is completed, the modified organism should be able to grow and replicate with its newly engineered genome (Powell & Maurer, 2015).

Genetically engineering of crop plants and domestic animals are done for various reasons, but mainly performed because there is some perceived advantage either to the producer or consumer of the food (World Health Organization, 2016). Sometimes GMOs are made because they are thought to increase product growth rate, they are thought to make a food tastier and/or healthier, or they produce items like fur, milk or silk that a producer needs faster than the organism would be able to normally make over time on its own. According to Powell and Maurer (2016), it is common in biotechnology research to genetically engineer bacteria to produce a desired protein.

In most cases, GMOs have been altered with DNA from another organism, be it a bacterium, plant, virus or animal; these organisms are sometimes referred to as “transgenic” organisms. A gene from a spider that helps the arachnid produce silk, for example, could be inserted into the DNA of an ordinary goat. That may sound far- fetched, but that exact process was used to breed goats that produce silk proteins in their goat milk. The milk is then harvested and the silk protein is isolated to make a lightweight, ultra-strong silk with a wide range of industrial and medical uses.

Everyday foods like corn, canola, high fructose corn syrup, natural and artificial flavorings, cotton, papaya, soy, yellow summer squash, zucchini, animal products in the supermarket all are known to be GMOs (The Non-GMO Project, 2016). The main concern of GMOs regarding human consumption are allergenicity, gene transfer, outcrossing (World Health Organization, 2016). GMOs are safe for human consumption and are reviewed by the Food and Drug administration.

GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved. Continuous application of safety assessments based on the Codex Alimentarius principles and, where appropriate, adequate post market monitoring, should form the basis for ensuring the safety of GM foods. (World Health Organization, 2016)

In conclusion, genetically modified organisms are plants, animals or microorganism whose genetic make-up has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (The Non-GMO Project, 2016). The purpose of genetically engineering crops and domestic animals is because it presents advantages for either the consumer or the producer (World Health Organization, 2016), GMOs can increase the products an animal produces faster than normal when you insert desired traits into their genes, or for bacteria’s; genetically modifying them produces desired proteins (Powell & Maurer, 2015).

Foods ranging from corn, high fructose syrup, soy, squash, zucchini, cotton, and other animal products in grocery stores you see every day contain GMOs (The Non-GMO Project, 2016) and are safe for human consumption, the major health concerns surrounding GMOs are their allergenicity, gene transfer, and outcrossing (World Health Organization, 2016). The Food and Drug Administration reviews and approves foods containing GMOs and it is required on food labels to be present. GMOs have been and will continue to be a controversial subject because of the way it rearranges an organisms’ genetic make-up.

Cite this page

The Basic Steps in Creating a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). (2023, Feb 18). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7