What is Genetically Modified Organisms (GE)

The terms Genetically Modified Organisms(GMO), Genetically Engineered (GE), and Biotechnology are often used interchangeably, but Genetic modification is simply the addition of new DNA to an organism or living thing thereby modifying its genetic make-up.

It is simply using modern biotechnology (or gene technology) tools to introduce new traits (characteristics) into organisms, either from related and non-related organisms.

For example, DNA from a plant (Plant X) that has high resistance to pests can be copied and introduced (added) to another plant (Plant Y) so that Plant Y will have the pest-resistant trait.

Note: the DNA of an organism (e.g fish) can be modified by DNA from a plant, which is a completely non-related organism.

Another example is that sometimes chemicals used in farming such as herbicides, end up killing lots of the crops together with the weeds. To fix that problem DNA from a herbicide-resistant plant can be copied and added to the cells of the crop so that the crops will withstand the herbicides when broadly applied to the farm.

The concept of genetic engineering is not new. It has been used to produce many blood types, milk, lab mice types for research and pharmaceutical purposes for many years now. In recent times, the technology has been applied to plants and animals for food purposes, and that is why the argument has heated up.

You may not be able to tell a genetically modified fruit (e.g. strawberry) from its natural counterpart. They may look the same, but the cell DNA make-up will be different. Both fruits come from strawberry shrubs, but the GM shrub would have produced fruits in a relatively shorter period. Additionally, the GM fruit may have some toxin DNA in it which made it resistant to pests and diseases.