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Genetic modification caused by human activity has been occurring since around 12,000 BC, when humans first began to domesticate organisms.

Genetic engineering as the direct transfer of DNA from one organism to another was first accomplished by Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen in 1972.

Plants were first commercialized with virus resistant tobacco released in China in 1992.

The first genetically modified food was the Flavr Savr tomato marketed in 1994.

Hybridization most likely first occurred when humans first grew similar, yet slightly different plants in close proximity.

Common characteristics that were bred into domesticated plants include grains that did not shatter to allow easier harvesting, uniform ripening, shorter lifespans that translate to faster growing, loss of toxic compounds, and productivity.Hybridization was another way that rapid changes in plant's makeup were introduced.It often increased vigor in plants, and combined desirable traits together.As well as manipulating the DNA, techniques had to be developed for its insertion (known as transformation) into an organism's genome.Griffiths experiment had already shown that some bacteria had the ability to naturally take up and express foreign DNA.

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