The abbreviation GMO stands for “genetically modified organism.” GE, which stands for genetically engineered, is another term in this sphere that you can come across. In its most basic form, the term refers to any form of life that has had the DNA structure of its cells purposefully modified from the inside out.
If we want to go more exact, we can say that it is the contemporary, scientific technique of introducing genes from one species into another species that is not related to the first species. Both the giver and the receiver might be a virus, bacterium, plant, animal, or fungus. Any living entity that has DNA has the potential to either donate or receive DNA.
How Does GMO Differ From Traditional Breeding?
One may make the argument that over the course of thousands of years, several plant and animal species have been developed and chosen for certain characteristics. How, therefore, does genetic modification of organisms compare to more conventional methods of plant or animal breeding? The manipulation of the genes is ultimately what will determine the outcome.
Traditional methods of breeding include choosing as parents for subsequent generations only those people who already possess the qualities that are sought for. Farmers and herders are only able to view the ways in which a particular gene’s expression manifests itself physically. They cannot see the genes themselves. If you want a carrot that is sweeter, you should breed the following crop from people that already have sweetness in their genetic makeup. The next step is to evaluate all of the offspring, choose the most desirable ones, ensure that they reproduce only with their own kind, and store the resulting seed. Continue doing this season after season until you have the really delicious carrot you’re looking for.
It’s possible that I’ve simplified things too much, but the core concept is still there. Foster the reproduction of people with favorable traits while reducing the population of those with negative traits. Everything revolves around the things you notice about them.
The creation of new characteristics is approached quite differently when using genetic engineering to create them. You need a tomato that can withstand being transported to markets, don’t you? Injecting a jellyfish gene into the tissue would strengthen its structural integrity, allowing it to better withstand the jarring that occurs when being transported in trucks. Do you want to be able to apply pesticide to a whole field of corn so that you may eradicate the weeds but spare the grain? Introduce a gene into the maize that confers resistance to the herbicide that was mentioned before.
An instance of what occurs with certain features and the genes that correspond to them in the process of reproduction in pea plants. This graphic illustrates the likelihood that future generations will inherit certain qualities (color and smootheness). Long before humans discovered DNA, we were already controlling genetic recombination by choosing people for specific features and eliminating others that were undesirable. This was done by selecting individuals with certain traits and eliminating others who were undesirable. This does NOT constitute genetic engineering; rather, it is genetic alteration.
Where To Find Non-GMO Seeds
By law, non-GMO status must be ascribed to any seeds bearing the USDA Organic seal. The National Organic Program requires that any seed, feed, or inputs (any item that is applied to fields and crops) not have their genetic material altered in any way via the use of artificial means.
The one and only exemption to this rule is when an organic farmer simply cannot obtain certified organic seed for their farm; in this case, the farmer is required to record their search for organic seed as well as their failure to discover any. It is possible for this to occur if a farm want to experiment with a new (non-GMO!) kind of vegetable but discovers that no one offers it in a certified organic form. In spite of this, the farm cannot make use of any GMO products.
The good news is that there are becoming more places where non-GMO seed may be purchased for home gardeners. The following list includes some of the sources I was able to locate in 2015:
Send us an e-mail if there are any more items that should be on this list that you think we should include.
What About Heirloom Seeds?
Plant kinds that have been grown by humans for an extended period of time, ranging from hundreds to thousands of years, are referred to as “heirloom.” Heirloom veggies (as well as fruits and grains) are those whose seeds are consistently conserved so that they may be transplanted by subsequent generations. This practice is analogous to the concept that family heirloom antiques are handed down from one generation to the next.
The genetic makeup of heirloom types has been influenced over the course of time by individuals who value certain qualities. On the other hand, many of these kinds are now hard to find or have fallen out of favor since they are not suited to the current, mechanical methods of food production. The taste of heirlooms may be exceptional shortly after they are harvested, but they have poor transportability, which makes it impossible to send them over long distances or across rugged terrain.
Tomatoes of a certain kind, known as heirloom tomatoes, are an excellent example of a food that, over the course of many centuries, has been bred into a wide variety of scrumptious types yet is not often seen in supermarkets. Cherokee Purple is one kind in particular that I have cultivated and really like. What a wonderful, perfectly ripe tomato! However, due of its size and its delicate construction, it simply cannot be sent across the nation and have the expectation that it would reach in a state that is suitable for sale. Additionally, the hue may be off-putting to certain individuals, particularly those who are unaware that tomatoes may be found in colors other than red. Tomatoes, according to the great majority of people, HAVE TO BE red.
Therefore, food plants that are considered to be heirlooms are non-GMO by definition. These variations are so ancient that they date back to a period that is far before the time when genetics could be modified by direct manipulation of DNA. You should not be concerned since growing heirlooms will solidly place you in the non-GMO camp.
Are There Any Good GMO’s?
This, as you may have guessed, is an issue that is receiving a lot of attention right now. As a result of the enormous sums of money that are put into the production of new GMO varieties by large agricultural corporations, their motivation (also known as a business motive) is to portray the research in a positive light.
And since so many people are able to detect the “spin” of deceit in the material that is coming from these firms, there is a significant amount of skepticism among people about the possibility that GMOs have any positive aspects. This is perfectly comprehensible on every level. Big Ag? Money? Profits? What possible good could come from something like this? It’s a valid question.
If, however, we are able to take a step back and allow ourselves to consider the potential that there may be some good that results from this, then we will be able to unearth some intriguing facts. Rice with a golden hue comes to mind. People whose diets mostly consist of rice were able to get a greater quantity of vitamin A as a result of an experiment that began in the middle of the 1980s and included the introduction of beta-carotene genes into white rice.
When one considers the past of Golden Rice, it is difficult to identify any negative aspects associated with this product. A few minor drawbacks, to be sure (like propietary ownership of the genes). But, completely depraved? Investigate the problems associated with golden rice, and then let us know what you think about it.