Difference Between GMO and Selective Breeding

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and selective breeding are two techniques that are commonly used in the agricultural industry to improve crops and increase yields. Although both methods aim to achieve similar outcomes, the processes and outcomes of each method are fundamentally different. This essay will explore the differences between GMOs and selective breeding, highlighting their processes, outcomes, and potential impacts.

What is GMO?

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are the result of a laboratory method known as gene splicing, which involves the artificial combining of different genes. Animal, human, insect, viral, and bacterial DNA might all be potential sources. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are ubiquitous in the processed food industry, so it's likely that you've eaten them previously. Squash, canola, cotton, and soy are just some of the genetically modified crops grown in the USA.

In 1973, Herbert Boyer, a researcher and entrepreneur, and Stanley Cohen, a biologist and Stanford professor, developed the first genetically modified organism. The antibiotic kanamycin- resistant bacteria was created by genetic engineering. In 1974, a scientist at MIT named Rudolf Jaenisch created the first genetically engineered mouse. First genetically modified plant was developed in 1983, and by 1994, the first commercially available genetically modified tomato had been introduced.

Because GMO production is more scaleable, the price per unit is lower. The change also reduces the number of pests that attack these crops. While genetically modified organisms have been beneficial economically, they have also been dubbed "Frankenfoods" because to their association with serious health problems including allergies and cancer. Also, other studies find that GMOs do not pose any health hazards to people, thus it's important to know that there are contradictory findings addressing the positives and negatives.

What is Selective Breeding?

Selective breeding is a traditional method that has been used for thousands of years to develop desirable traits in plants and animals. This method involves choosing the best individuals in a population with desirable characteristics and breeding them together to create offspring with similar traits. This process is repeated over many generations, and the resulting offspring eventually become a new variety of the original plant or animal. This process has led to the development of many popular crops and livestock species, such as wheat, corn, and dairy cows.

Selective breeding is a slow and time-consuming process, but it has several advantages. One of the most significant benefits of selective breeding is that it works within the natural boundaries of a species' genetics. The resulting offspring are still natural and have the same genetic makeup as their parents, albeit with a greater concentration of desirable traits. Furthermore, selective breeding is generally considered to be a safe and sustainable method of crop improvement, as it relies on natural genetic diversity to create new varieties.

In the intentional selective breeding, the breeder sets a goal and draws up a plan to achieve it. The plan includes several important points −

  • Determining the characteristics to be obtained.

  • Excluding the individuals which apparently do not exhibit the desired characteristics.

  • Selection and breeding of individuals with the desired characteristics.

For effective selective breeding, the following conditions have to be met −

  • A large number of individuals subject to selection;

  • Selection of the most appropriate individuals for breeding.

Through selective breeding were obtained cows with high-quality milk, different breeds of dogs and horses, numerous varieties of fruits, vegetables, cereals, fiber, and ornamental plants.

Differences: GMO and Selective Breeding

Unlike selective breeding, GMOs do not rely on natural genetic diversity to create new traits. Instead, scientists can introduce traits from other species that would not normally be possible through natural breeding. This ability to introduce new genes has led to the development of crops that are resistant to pests, diseases, and herbicides, as well as crops that can tolerate extreme weather conditions.

However, the creation of GMOs has been controversial for several reasons. One of the primary concerns is the potential for unintended consequences. Because genetic modification involves the direct manipulation of DNA, there is a risk that the modified organism may have unintended effects on the environment or human health. There is also concern that GMOs may reduce biodiversity by dominating the market and displacing natural crops. Furthermore, some people argue that the creation of GMOs is morally wrong, as it involves tampering with the fundamental nature of life.



Selective Breeding


GMO is an organism which is subject to an artificial genetic modification, i.e. a modification which has not occurred under natural conditions.

Selective breeding is breeding of plants or animals in order to selectively develop particular characteristics in the offspring by selecting males and females with the desired characteristics for reproduction.

Time range

The results of genetic engineering are detectable rapidly.

A number of generations are necessary to obtain the desired results of selective breeding.

Involved organisms

Genes from one species can be inserted in other, non-related one.

The individuals have to be from the same species.

Combination of genes

In GMO the scientists create new combinations of genes.

In selective breeding, genes combine on their own.


The first GMO was engineered in 1973.

Various forms of selective breeding have been used since the dawn of human society.


In conclusion, while both selective breeding and GMOs aim to improve crops and increase yields, they are fundamentally different processes. Selective breeding relies on natural genetic diversity and is a slow but sustainable method of crop improvement, whereas GMOs involve the direct manipulation of an organism's DNA to introduce specific traits.

The creation of GMOs has been controversial due to concerns about unintended consequences, reduced biodiversity, and ethical considerations. Ultimately, the choice between these two methods of crop improvement will depend on the specific needs and goals of individual farmers and consumers.

Updated on: 18-Apr-2023

1K+ Views

Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started