An introduction to GM seeds: why they’re so different to what we know
What is genetic modification (GM)?
Genetically modified (GM) seeds have been created in a laboratory. The process of creating them is completely new and does not happen in nature. Since farming began people have worked with nature to breed plants and animals to suit human needs. Usually this breeding can only happen within the same ‘species’ or family. For example, we breed a tomato with a tomato but we cannot breed a tomato with maize or with a pig. In the last 30 years, scientists have used genetic engineering (GE) techniques, also known as genetic modification, to create plants and animals with novel (new and unique) characteristics. In genetic engineering, the ‘genes’ responsible for a specific characteristic (called traits) are taken from one organism and forced into the DNA of another organism. In this way the characteristics of one species can be unnaturally bred into a completely unrelated one? across the boundaries between species and even plant and animal kingdoms. The resulting new species is called a genetically modified organism (GMO). Genetic modification allows scientists to mix the genes of unrelated species.