Genetic Technology: GMO vs Gene Editing vs Genetic Engineering

The goal of this article is to provide some basic insights into genetic technology by proving clarity on the terminology. We’ll start with the very basics and make sure to conceptualize these concepts using real world analogies.


Basic Intro to DNA

Your body contains trillions of cells which make up the physical you. Each one of these cells has a blueprint that is completely unique to you, called your DNA. Your DNA is just a long ladder-shaped molecule that looks like this:

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The DNA is shaped liked a long ladder. Source: Wikipedia

Basically, your DNA is this big set of instructions which explains how you turned out. Every single physical attribute you have is contained within that set of instructions. There is even speculation that your DNA can help explain your intelligence.......


Reading DNA or “Gene Sequencing”

In order to read all that information on your DNA, we use machines that do “gene sequencing“. (A gene is a distinct stretch of DNA that determines something about who you are). “Gene sequencing” is where we can go through and laboriously read every single character in your DNA and then store it in a big file....

Now we’ve actually reached a price point where we can sequence your entire genome (a genome is your complete set of genes).

Now, if we take a strand of DNA and cut it into a bunch of segments, each segment is called a gene....

When we say people have good genes, it means that all those segments gave them the best attributes (or what each society sees as the best attributes)....


Gene Editing

Now that we know that a gene dictates certain attributes about you, what if we could change genes in order to start changing your attributes? This is now possible using a technology called “gene editing”.....

You may have read about something called CRISPR which is one popular method used for gene editing...


GMO vs Gene Editing

Genetic engineering is the direct manipulation of an organism’s DNA using any number of methods. GMO (genetically modified organisms) is the genetic modification of organisms. It’s been around for a while and uses imprecise methods of genetic engineering. Gene editing is now a more precise method of genetic engineering which hopes to avoid any bad associations with GMO.

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