GM and Cloning: what is the difference?

Cloned animals are different from Genetically Modified (GM) animals, even though they are all results from the tools of biotechnology.

Genetic Modification (GM)

GM introduces new genes into an organism. The recipient organism’s genes are now different from its parent’s genes (or from its original genes). When that new organism has offsprings, they are NOT clones. They are offsprings that will carry the new genes that were introduced to the parent. The new offsprings will also pass on that gene to new generations of offsprings. The entire line of generations from the originally modified organism will all be called GM animals.


Cloning is very different. To clone something means to duplicate (or make an exact copy of something). Genetically, cloning is the creation of an exact copy of an organism. It means that the DNA or genes of the cloned organism are the same as the original.

For example, a scientist can take the female egg cell of a pig and fertilize it with a male sperm cell of a pig. At the fertilized-egg (zygote) stage, he can duplicate the zygote into 5 or 6 zygotes and place them into different female pigs to carry until they are born. All six piglets would have the same DNA even though they will be birthed by different mothers. All six piglets can be called clones.

Cloning is a common process in plants too. For example, if you plant from the cuttings of a crop, you are reproducing by asexual means. With cloning, no new genes are added. It is important to remember that a cloned animal was born by asexual reproduction, not sexual reproduction.