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.
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.
Some genetically modified varieties are:
- Golden Rice-
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.
- Flavr Savr Tomatoes-
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. 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.
- AquAdvantage salmon-
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.
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.
Key Differences between GMOs and Transgenic Organisms
- Source of Genetic Material: GMOs can have their genetic material altered using various techniques, including selective breeding and mutagenesis. In contrast, transgenic organisms specifically involve the introduction of genes from a different species.
- Scope of Genetic Changes: GMOs can exhibit genetic changes ranging from minor mutations to substantial alterations, while transgenic organisms always involve the introduction of foreign genes with new traits.
- Applications: GMOs have a broader range of applications, including non-transgenic modifications like selective breeding. Transgenic organisms are primarily used in cases where the introduction of a specific gene is required.
-by Devanshi Nigotiya (Content writer Intern)