Overview and Objectives - Overview of Genetic Engineering

Lesson one is a general description of the overall process of genetic engineering. A basic explanation of the five steps for genetically engineering a crop is provided. Details for each step are given in later lessons of this course. The five steps are:

  1. Locating an organism with a specific trait and extracting its DNA.
  2. Cloning a gene that controls the trait.
  3. Designing a gene to express in a specific way.
  4. Transformation, inserting the gene into the cells of a crop plant.
  5. Plant breeding to get the transgene into an elite background.

At the completion of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Define genetic engineering.
  • List and briefly explain the five basic steps in genetic engineering. Describe why each is necessary.
  • Identify the fundamental differences between genetically engineered crops and non-genetically engineered crops.
  • Explain the limitations to traditional breeding that are overcome by genetic engineering.
  • Identify the approximate length of time required to obtain a marketable transgenic crop line (complete the entire crop genetic engineering process).

Development of this lesson was supported in part by Cooperative State Research, Education, & Extension Service, U.S. Dept of Agriculture under Agreement Number 98-EATP-1-0403 administered by Cornell University and the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC). Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.