Key Difference – Genetic Engineering vs Genetic Modification
Genetic engineering and genetic modification are two very closely related terms, although they can be distinguished based on their applications. These two terms are widely used in agricultural biotechnology and plant breeding technologies. Genetic engineering refers to the process where a plant or an organism’s genetic composition is modified in a specific manner. Thus, in genetically engineered organisms, the traits introduced via recombinant DNA technology methods are known prior to its introduction. Genetic modification is the process by which the genetic composition is altered by several methods in order to achieve the desired trait. This can be a natural phenomenon and is widely used in plant breeding. The key difference between Genetic engineering and Genetic Modification is its process. During genetic engineering, the gene containing the desired trait is introduced into an organism via recombinant DNA technology. During genetic modification, the organism is modified by several methods to obtain the desired trait.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Genetic Engineering
3. What is Genetic Modification
4. Similarities Between Genetic Engineering and Genetic Modification
5. Side by Side Comparison – Genetic Engineering vs Genetic Modification in Tabular Form
What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering is a completely artificial process, where an organism’s genetic composition is modified via recombinant DNA technology. During the genetic engineering process, the gene introduced to alter the natural genetic composition is known. The gene of interest is cloned on to a compatible vector. Vectors can be plasmids such as pBR322, Ti plasmid of Agrobacterium tumerfaciens or viruses such as Tobacco Mosaic Virus and Cauliflower Mosaic virus etc. Gene transformation methods such electroporation, biolistic gene gun method and PEG-mediated gene transfer are also used to introduce the foreign DNA to the respective host organism.
Upon completion of the transformation process, the transformed and the non – transformed cells or plants are selected using special reporter systems such as the GUS assay. By this manner, genetically engineered organisms or plants are produced.
Genetically engineered organisms and plants are important mainly for commercial purposes. Organisms or plants capable of producing different beneficial products such as amino acids, proteins, vitamins and antibiotics are produced through genetic engineering. Further, Genetically engineered organisms are also used as food sources such as herbicide-tolerant tomatoes, etc.
Although genetically engineered food products will be a positive approach for the increasing global food demand and the population rise, genetic engineering of crops or organisms is a much-concerned topic and involves a lot of social and ethical concerns that are debated across the scientific community.
What is Genetic Modification?
Genetic Modification is a broad terminology that involves a wide variety of techniques involved in introducing modifications to organisms or plants over successive generations. Genetic modification has been practised by farmers and plant breeders for many centuries. The genetic modification involved altering the hosts’ genetic composition by introducing different techniques to the host that would result in a new modified variety.
Genetic engineering is a form of genetic modification. Genetic modification involves the union of gametes, and the modifications are passed from one generation to the next. Some common genetic modification techniques among plants include hybridization, selection and induced mutation. In plant breeding, crossing disease-resistant varieties with diseases susceptible varieties over few generations will ultimately produce disease-resistant varieties. Plant breeding techniques used since many thousand years is a classic example of obtaining genetically modified foods.
Genetic modification can take place in the natural environment and can happen under natural conditions. Therefore, it is completely not artificial or in vitro. During genetic modification, recombinant DNA technology molecular biological methods are not involved.
Thus, over the years most of the food consumed by man are genetically modified food. The process of genetic modification cannot be stopped as it also involves the principle of survival of the fittest. Over the generations, modifications in plants or organisms have enabled them to survive while not causing harm to each other.
What are the Similarities Between Genetic Engineering and Genetic Modification?
- Both Genetic Engineering and Genetic Modification processes give rise to genetically altered organisms.
- Both Genetic Engineering and Genetic Modification processes are used to introduce positive characteristics to the host organism.
What is the Difference Between Genetic Engineering and Genetic Modification?
Genetic Engineering vs Genetic Modification
|Genetic engineering refers to the process where a plant or an organism’s genetic composition is modified by introducing a gene of interest.||Genetic modification is the process by which the genetic composition is altered by several methods in order to achieve the desired gene.|
|Gene of Interest|
|The known gene of interest is involved in genetic engineering.||Gene of interest is unknown in genetic modification.|
|Vector-based methods are used to transfer genes in genetic engineering.||Vector-based methods do not necessarily have to be used in genetic modification.|
|Plant Breeding Techniques|
|Not used in genetic engineering.||Plant breeding techniques are highly recommended methods to introduce modifications to a plant or an organism in genetic modification.|
Summary – Genetic Engineering vs Genetic Modification
Genetic modification is the natural process of modifying the original DNA constitution over successive generations through breeding techniques or evolution. Thus, genetic engineering is one of the most recent methods added on to the genetic modification. In genetic engineering, the desired gene is introduced into the plant or organism through various vector or carrier systems using recombinant DNA technology. The genetically engineered organisms or plants require many legal and scientific procedures before its implementation to the market.
1.Foundation, GRACE Communications. “Genetic Engineering.” GRACE Communications Foundation. Available here
2.“The Difference Between the Terms “GE” and “GMO”.” The Delicious Truth. Available here
3.“What Is the Difference Between Genetically Modified Organisms and Genetically Engineered Organisms.” NC State Extension News. Available here
1.’Genetically Engineered Animals’ by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration via Flickr
2.’Genetic modification of Influenza A virus’By Albert.caballeria – Own work, (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia