How Are GMOs Made?


Quick Answer

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are made by cutting a desired gene from one organism and inserting the new DNA into the cells of another organism. The organism with the new gene is then bred to produce offspring that can pass down the new gene.

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Full Answer

One method of inserting the new gene involves using a gene gun. Once the desired gene from the donor organism is mapped and cut, it is inserted into a vector. The vector allows scientists to insert the genetic material into a cell. Scientists load particles coated with the DNA into a Teflon bullet. A gene gun shoots the particles into a sample of the target organism's cells. Scientists also insert an extra marker gene to later help them determine if the target plants contain the new gene.

Scientists grow out the cells, then perform a special color test to determine if they contain the new gene. The color test indicates the presence of the marker gene. The plants are bred to check that the offspring have inherited the gene. The process of genetic engineering relies on the natural process of cell replication. However, traits that are formulated by the presence of many genes working together are typically not transferable from one organism to another by genetic engineering.

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