Difference Between Crossbreeding and GM

Crossbreeding vs GM

Both, Crossbreeding and GM, are techniques to produce genetically improved species, but there are a number of differences between  them in their processes. Crossbreeding and GM are two techniques invented by humans and need human involvement. These two processes have both pros and cons. However, these two techniques are widely applied in livestock animals and plant crops to produce new species or varieties that have great advantages over their parent individuals.

What is Crossbreeding?

Over many decades, scientists and farmers have used cross breeding techniques to produce genetically improved species of livestock animals and crops. Hence, cross breeding is considered as a conventional technique of genetics. This technique is a very slow process and takes many years to get final results. In crossbreeding, humans intentionally select two organisms for their specific traits, which have definite advantages and make crosses between the selected parent organisms that may never have crossed naturally. So the offspring or hybrid can have important traits of both parent organisms. Superior traits that the hybrid is gained by crossbreeding are called hybrid vigor or heterosis. The animals like cattle and swine are highly subjected to crossbreed in order to obtain more meat. Many crop producers also use crossbreeding techniques to enhance their crop yields and disease resistivity of crops. However, the major disadvantage of crossbreeding is that we cannot control the transferring of bad traits like disease traits to hybrid from parent organisms. This drawback can be reduced by backcrossing the same hybrid with its parents.


Crossbred Norwegian Red Cow

What is GM?

GM (Genetic Modification) is the process of altering an organism’s genetic material by addition, deletion , or changing the segments of its DNA. The resulting organism is known as genetically modified organism (GMO). These GMOs are bred to produce hybrids that have very definite advantages to humans. This is a modern advanced breeding technique used in genetic engineering and it enables scientists to obtain organisms with desirable traits and also to transfer genes between different species that would never breed in nature.

Difference Between Crossbreeding and GM

These transgenic plums called C5 contain a gene that makes them highly resistant to plum pox virus

GM is faster and able to do genetic changes that would never expect to occur in conventional methods. U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) has found that at least 80% of all the food products in U.S supermarkets are genetically modified or contain genetically modified ingredients. Bioengineers have applied GM techniques in livestock animals to enhance their meat, milk, and egg production. In addition, they were also able to develop various GMO verities of crops resistant to high heat, cold, drought, salt, and pest and viral diseases. Moreover, they have developed crop plants that grow faster and survive with less use of agrochemicals.

What is the difference between Crossbreeding and GM?

• Crossbreeding is the process of breeding two organisms for their specific traits with the involvement of humans, whereas GM is the technique of modifying genetic materials of an organism by gene splitting.

• Crossbreeding is a conventional technique used by farmers over many centuries. But GM techniques are a modern technique and recently invented by the scientists.

• Crossbreeding technique does not require modern and advanced equipment where GM technique does.

• Crossbreeding does not always require laboratory facilities, whereas GM always requires well-established laboratory facilities.

• Crossbreeding is a slow process and takes a long time to get final results. But GM is a fast method, and the results can be obtained in a short period.


Images Courtesy: 

  1. Crossbred Norwegian Red Cow on pasture by Maribjorke (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Genetically modified plums via Wikicommons (Public Domain)