What is Genetically Modified organisms vs Transgenic Organisms-Erakina

People often get confused while using both these terms because there is a very slight difference between them. Let’s get a closer look to understand what these terms exactly mean.

Scientific Research(organisms)                                                         Researching and Testing for developing Genetically Modified Organisms.                                                                       

Genetically Modified Organisms

  • Using genetic engineering techniques to alter the genes of an organism, these organisms are known as genetically modified organisms.
  • Those organisms which possess an artificially altered genome are known as GMOs. Scientists alter their genomes at the DNA level by genetic engineering.
  • When a gene is identified with the code for an important or desired trait, those genes are recombined and transformed into desired host organisms. The host expresses the inserted gene and creates the desired trait. 


  • Legislation enacted worldwide to regulate the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in crops, foods and ingredients, necessitated the development of reliable and sensitive methods for GMO detection.


                                                                                                     genetically modified organisms

  • In this article, protein- and DNA-based methods employing western blots, enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay, lateral flow strips, Southern blots, qualitative-, quantitative-, real-time- and limiting dilution-PCR methods, are discussed.
  • Where information on modified gene sequences is not available, new approaches, such as near-infrared spectrometry, might tackle the problem of detection of non-approved genetically modified (GM) foods.
  • The efficiency of screening, identification and confirmation strategies should be examined with respect to false-positive rates, disappearance of marker genes, increased use of specific regulator sequences and the increasing number of GM foods.

Some genetically modified varieties are

  • Golden rice is a genetically modified crop. It is a biofortified crop, the biofortification increases the nutritional value of any crop. Golden rice is developed to produce beta-carotene, which normally does not present in rice.
  • The human body converts theis beta-carotene into vitamin-A which is very useful for healthier skin, vision and our immune system.

Golden Rice(organisms)                                                                                                   Golden rice in a sac

  • Golden Rice is a variety of rice (Oryza sativa) produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the edible parts of the rice.
  • It is intended to produce a fortified food to be grown and consumed in areas with a shortage of dietary vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency causes xerophthalmia, a range of eye conditions from night blindness to more severe clinical outcomes such as keratomalacia and corneal scars, and permanent blindness.
  • It also increases risk of mortality from measles and diarrhea in children. In 2013, the prevalence of deficiency was the highest in sub-Saharan Africa (48%; 25–75), and South Asia (44%; 13–79).
  • Although golden rice has met significant opposition from environmental and anti-globalisation activists, more than 100 Nobel laureates in 2016 encouraged use of genetically modified golden rice which can produce up to 23 times as much beta-carotene as the original golden rice.


  • Research for development of golden rice began as a Rockefeller Foundation initiative in 1982.
  • In the 1990s, Peter Bramley discovered that a single phytoene desaturase gene (bacterial CrtI) can be used to produce lycopene from phytoene in GM tomato, rather than having to introduce multiple carotene desaturases that are normally used by higher plants.
  • Lycopene is then cyclized to beta-carotene by the endogenous cyclase in golden rice. The scientific details of the rice were first published in 2000, the product of an eight-year project by Ingo Potrykus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg.
  • The first field trials of golden rice cultivars were conducted by Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in 2004. Additional trials were conducted in the Philippines, Taiwan, and in Bangladesh (2015).
  • Field testing provided an accurate measurement of nutritional value and enabled feeding tests to be performed. Preliminary results from field tests showed field-grown golden rice produces 4 to 5 times more beta-carotene than golden rice grown under greenhouse conditions.
  • These are the first genetically modified food, produced by Californian company Calgene. Tomatoes have a short shelf life and because of that, they get rotten quickly in the process of transferring from one place to another.


                                                                                            shorten flavr savr’s shelf of life

  • To overcome this, Calgene developed these genetically modified tomatoes which take time in ripening, preventing them from getting soft to retain their natural colour and flavour.
  • Flavr Savr (also known as CGN-89564-2; pronounced “flavor saver”), a genetically modified tomato, was the first commercially grown genetically engineered food to be granted a license for human consumption.
  • It was developed by the Californian company Calgene in the 1980s. The tomato has an improved shelf-life, increased fungal resistance and a slightly increased viscosity compared to its non-modified counterpart. It was meant to be harvested ripe for increased flavor for long-distance shipping.
  • The Flavr Savr contains two genes added by Calgene; a reversed antisense polygalacturonase gene which inhibits the production of the aforementioned rotting enzyme and a gene responsible for the creation of APH(3′), which confers resistance to certain aminoglycoside antibiotics including kanamycin and neomycin.
  • The product was submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1992.
  • On May 18, 1994, the FDA completed its evaluation of the Flavr Savr tomato and the use of APH(3′), concluding that the tomato “is as safe as tomatoes bred by conventional means” and “that the use of aminoglycoside 3′-phosphotransferase is safe for use as a processing aid in the development of new varieties of tomato, rapeseed oil, and cotton intended for food use.”
  • It was first sold in 1994, and was only available for a few years before production ceased in 1997. Calgene made history, but mounting costs prevented the company from becoming profitable, and it was eventually acquired by Monsanto Company.

It is a genetically engineered Atlantic salmon developed in 1989 by AquaBounty technologies. It was regulated by a growth hormone gene from pacific chinook salmon. This gene increases the speed at which fish grows in 16 to 18 months rather than 3 years.

Aqua Salmon                                                                                                Different species of Aqua Salmon

  • These are a few examples of genetically modified varieties with the help of genetic engineering, other than these varieties mentioned above, there are a lot of others such as Bt Maize, GM Potatoes, Dolly Sheep and many more.
  • The slight difference between Transgenic organisms and the GMOs we were talking about is, that we can say that transgenic organisms are all genetically modified organisms but all GMOs can not be said as transgenic organisms.
  • Transgenic organisms are modified at the genomic level by using DNA from an organism other than the altered host.   
  • Technology never fails to surprise us. No one would have imagined years ago that techniques like genetic engineering will exist and prove to create wonders.
  • Altering natural substances and developing new substances is something beyond imagination. This technology has given us several crops which are designed to provide more nutrients like vitamins or minerals. 
  • For example, the modified form of African Corn contains 6 times as much vitamin c and 169 times more Beta Carotene than traditional crops. People suffering from nutritional deficiencies can take high advantage of these foods.
  • But everything comes up with a balance of advantages and disadvantages. 
  • Despite developing such wonderful creations, experts are still worried that these GMOs can cause health hazards, as well. Containing the DNA from other organisms, it might be possible that the new DNA can trigger allergies in people. 
  • Well, technology keeps changing, we never knew something like genetically modified organisms will come into existence but it does exist now and is creating wonders. Just like this, experts may come up with solutions to overcoming the disadvantages of this technology and keep developing unimaginable creations.


Tags: life science

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