What are GMOs?
GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are created when a gene from one species is transferred to another, thus creating something that would not occur naturally. It means that a geneticist can isolate a gene for a specific attribute, such as resistance to drought, and implant it into a different species. The newly created plant will then develop drought resistance too. So called ‘frankenfoods’ (a rather clever play on Frankenstein’s monster) are spliced for a number of reasons: taste, texture, durability, nutrition, and many more. The genes don’t just come from other plants either, but have been sourced from bacterium and animals too – in fact, just about any organism that has a gene that may be helpful.
There has been a lot of debate around the issue of GMOs lately, especially as groups continue to lobby for legislation forcing food companies to label foods specifically as GMO. It’s easy to think that this is a topic that doesn’t affect you but actually, around 70% of all the food lining our grocery store shelves are genetically modified, and the US accounts for 63% of all GM crops worldwide. So it seems that unless you eat entirely organic, the chances are that you are eating genetically modified foods – and far from being someone else’s problem, it’s actually an issue that affects us all.