QHow many years has genetic modifications been taking place?

How many years has genetic modifications been taking place?

AExpert Answer

Nature is the master of genetic shuffling and is constantly sorting and resorting DNA, causing both subtle and profound changes in all living things. People first began their own DNA management thousands of years ago, when they began crossbreeding plants to produce better foods or fiber. In 1953, scientists discovered the structure of DNA, and in 1973, researchers developed a method for cutting and splicing DNA. That method became known as recombinant DNA, or rDNA, because it enabled scientists to cut and recombine segments of DNA. Since then, researchers have learned how to move genetic material in the form of DNA from one plant or animal to another.


Genetic modification is much more precise than selective breeding. By transferring only certain genes from one plant or animal to another, researchers can introduce one specific trait without also transferring dozens of unwanted traits, as often occurs in selective breeding. And genetic modification is the only existing tool available for producing certain vaccines, drugs and diagnostics. Genetic modification in plants has been going on since the early 1980s.  In 1986, EPA approved commercial growing of the first genetically engineered crop - tobacco plants resistant to a tobacco virus.


For more info go to the explore section of GMO answers, scroll down to "History of crop modification" and you will find the history and a link to a food biotechnology timeline.

Posted on January 31, 2018
Thank you for your question. There are various aspects of your question. I assume your question refers to the use of Agrobacterium rhizogenes by scientists to intentionally transfer genes from the bacterium to plants. Infection and DNA transfer from this bacterium occurs in nature all the time to cause disease. Such transformed plants are not classified as GMOs since transfer occurred naturally. If this is done by scientists then it would be classified as a GMO. Rules and... Read More
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Posted on March 1, 2018
I’m a Monsanto scientist who has more than 20 years of experience with genetic modification of plants. I will try to answer your question, even though I don’t ever do experiments on animals, certainly not on humans, of course! Can humans be genetically modified…but a much bigger question is should humans be genetically modified? There are two ways to think about genetic modification of humans (or any animal). One way is modification of somatic cells, and the other is the... Read More
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Posted on May 10, 2017
The simple answer is that 20+ years of composition assessments of GMO crops have demonstrated that crop composition is not appreciably affected by the GM process (1). In addition, data collected through that time have indicated that general factors such as the growth environment can contribute to notable variation in component levels (2). Plant agglutinins (or lectins) and amylase inhibitors are examples of anti-nutritional compounds that may be present in crops. The relevance of such a... Read More