General Article The science behind GM crops

Topic Selected: Biotech and Bioethics
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What is GM?

‘GM’ stands for genetic modification. A gene is an instruction and each of our cells contains tens of thousands of these instructions.
For thousands of years farmers have selected plants with the characteristics they want, such as extra seeds in a pod or the ability to survive in the cold. By crossing the best plants, they hoped to produce even better varieties. But this approach is a bit like playing a fruit machine: you hit the jackpot only very occasionally.
On the other hand, GM allows chosen individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, including genes between non-related species. Such methods can be used to create GM crop plants. The technology is also sometimes called ‘modern biotechnology’, ‘gene technology’, ‘recombinant DNA technology’ or ‘genetic engineering’.

How is GM tested?

The testing process is rigorous and prescribed by law – initially, genetic modification is carried out in laboratories, growth chambers and greenhouses. This pre...

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