For at least 10,000 years, humans have been cultivating plants and selectively breeding them for fast growth, pest resistance, long-term survival in storage, and bigger and better fruit. We’ve been domesticating animals for just as long, selecting for traits that suited our needs, such as size, appearance, or even personality. For a few decades, we’ve also had genetic engineering methods for getting the characteristics we want in plants, animals, and microorganisms.
Genetic engineering, genetic modification, and recombinant DNA technology often refer to the same process: isolating specific pieces of DNA from one cell’s chromosomes and transferring them to another cell to create a GMO (genetically modified organism). The transferred pieces of DNA often contain genes that confer a trait, such as pest resistance in plants.
In this photo collection, explore how random mutations, human selection, and genetic engineering have affected living organisms. Consider the effect of these elements of change on society, and the benefits and potential harms of genetic engineering.