Genetically modified organism
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using recombinant DNA genetic engineering techniques. In most cases, genes are cut using the escherichia coli bacteria. Other gene sequences are then inserted into the gap created, and the gene parts are reconnected. Cloning is also used to multiply the altered genetic material.
Popular genetically modified foods
- Apples (limited production so far)
- Canola (a hybrid of rapeseed)
- Sugar beets
- Yellow summer squash / zucchini
Genetic engineering of this sort is intended to introduce a new beneficial trait to an organism. Typically, plants are modified to be resistant to the herbicide, Glyphosate. This enables farmers to spray their crops with the chemical, and while it should kill the weeds (except for those which have gained a resistance, either naturally or by acquiring the trait from genetically modified crops), the desired crop survives. This is an easier way of killing weeds that the former methods, such a the rope wick method.
Some genetic modification is also intended to change the product itself, such as apples which do not turn brown from oxidation. Some crops are also modified in an attempt to provide disease resistance. This disease resistance does seem to protect form the intended plan disease, but also tends to make the crops more vulnerable to viruses and certain other diseases. Those who eat such crops are also suspected to have a lower resistance to viruses as well.