What is a genetically modified organism (GMO) and what is the technology used for? A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism in which the genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified genes.
Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms which have inserted DNA that originated in a different species. Genetically modified bacteria are used to produce the protein insulin to treat diabetes. Similar bacteria have been used to produce clotting factors to treat hemophilia, and human growth hormone to treat various forms of dwarfism. The drug, ATryn, is an anticoagulant which reduces the probability of blood clots during surgery or childbirth. It is extracted from goat’s milk. The GMOs are used in biological and medical research, production of pharmaceutical drugs, experimental medicine (e.g. gene therapy), and agriculture (e.g. golden rice).
Gene therapy uses genetically modified viruses to deliver genes that can cure disease into human cells. Although gene therapy is still relatively new, it has had some successes. It has been used to treat genetic disorders such as severe combined immunodeficiency, and treatments are being developed for a range of other currently incurable diseases such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and muscular dystrophy. (Voted best answer in Yahoo Answers.)