What is an antonym for "genetically modified" or "genetically engineered" in the context of biomedical research? Is there a good adjective to describe cells or organisms that were not genetically modified?


genetically modified and ??? mice  
??? and genetically engineered yeast

The word "wild-type" comes to mind but might be misleading, because it excludes naturally occurring mutations. Maybe "native"?

Since "non-GM" comes up - this is for a publication, so an abbreviation has to be explained. And I try to avoid the phrase "genetically modified and non-genetically modified mice".

  • .........non-GM. Jun 20, 2018 at 14:04
  • You should probably see how other people in your specific field do it. We're probably only going to give you ideas in general use. In the general use direction, I don't see what's wrong with 'non-genetically modified'. Are you looking for its abbreviation? What's wrong with explaining an abbreviation?
    – Mitch
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:26
  • @Mitch I had a look at various texts, and authors usually try to use other constructs, like starting a new sentence to separate the two entities. And if you only use an abbreviation once in a text, it is imho a no-no to introduce it.
    – Mr. T
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:29
  • except for mendel and all before him ... untouched and untainted by mankind! This GM, non-GM, organic etc ... is all tripe!!!
    – lbf
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:38
  • 1
    and to some 'non GM' means no pesticides, only shit for fertilizer and only hoes ( the farming tool) used on weeds.
    – lbf
    Jun 20, 2018 at 17:23

3 Answers 3


I think you used a good word yourself (emphasis mine):

The word "wild-type" comes to mind but might be misleading, because it excludes naturally occurring mutations. Maybe "native"?

The definition of natural has many different senses, but here are some that come closest:

8 a : occurring in conformity with the ordinary course of nature : not marvelous or supernatural · natural causes · died a natural death

10 a : growing without human care; also : not cultivated · natural prairie unbroken by the plow

b : existing in or produced by nature : not artificial · natural turf · natural curiosities

13 a : closely resembling an original : true to nature

  • There are indeed some instances in the databases, where people used "natural" as an antonym to "bioengineered". Good suggestion.
    – Mr. T
    Jun 20, 2018 at 17:07

"Non GMO" (Consumer Reports/ Greener Choices)

the “non-GMO” claim means animals were not fed a diet containing genetically engineered crops.

See also:
The Non-GMO Project website.

  • Thanks for this suggestion. I have edited the question and added context that it is in the field of biomedical research. The O in GMO stands already for organism, but the text specifies the organism, therefore this cannot be used.
    – Mr. T
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:00


adjective. Not changed in form or character

  • 2
    Other forms of modification are possible, even in biomedical terminology. Jun 20, 2018 at 14:27
  • @EdwinAshworth True, but it covers at least a wide variety of situations. Upvote for this, and you can use it together with the twin "genetically engineered".
    – Mr. T
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:32

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