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What is Genetically Modified (GM) food?

GM food has been creeping onto our plates since 1996, but what is it?

The international food standards body, CODEX, calls it ‘modern biotechnology’.

Modern Biotechnology means the application of:

  1. In vitro nucleic acid techniques, including recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles, or OR
  2. Fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family, that overcome natural physiological reproductive or recombinant barriers and that are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection

But what does that mean?

There are two main types of GM crops. The first is ‘herbicide tolerant’ or HT. It is designed to survive being sprayed with a weedkiller.

The second type of GM crops is ‘insect resistant’ or IR. These produce proteins that destroy the guts of certain insects that eat them, so they die.

How Does GM breeding differ from normal plant breeding?