General Article GM - the facts

Topic Selected: Biotech and Bioethics
This article is 9 years old. Click here to view the latest articles for this topic.

By Susan Tomlinson

What does GM mean?

These are foods that have had specific changes directly introduced to their DNA. This is different from plant breeding, or cross-pollinating – which has been happening for centuries. GM uses genetic engineering to create extremely precise changes to the actual cellular structure of the plant.
These changes include creating plants that are, for example, herbicide resistant, so farmers can spray as much herbicide as necessary to kill other pests and plants without damaging the plant. Another example of a GM seed is known as ‘Bt’, where the seed itself has been genetically altered to express a bacterial toxin, which is poisonous to insects and pests. So, this particular seed is basically systemically altered to include its own pesticide.
Initially, these GM ‘Bt’ plants seemed to resist pests and insects – allowing for larger yields but in the past few years, some pests have already become resistant to the plant. For the first time, in November 2009...

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