aquadvantage salmon

anonymous asked:

What are considered Gmos? My friend says that they have to be manipulated in a lab, but many biology blogs say that a selectively bred animal or plant is a gmo.

Hey! I can understand your confusion, and I apologize for being one of those people who purposefully muddies the water around the definition of what exactly is a genetically modified organism.

The best description I could find was the one legally defined by the European Union: “An organism is genetically modified if its genetic material has been changed in a way that does not occur under natural conditions through cross-breeding or natural recombination”

These would include things like, in agriculture, introduced resistances to things that crops would normally be susceptible to - either natural pathogens (fungi, parasites, bacteria, viruses, etc), or something like an artificially-created herbicide to facilitate weed management (“Roundup Ready” crops that are resistant to the glyphosate herbicide Roundup). Ideally, it is used to enable more sustainable and efficient farming.

This would also include genetically engineered animals - a phrase that likely sparks fear into the majority of people, but, like in the plants mentioned above, boils down to just the addition of recombinant DNA (essentially a controlled version of DNAs natural reproductive process of genetic recombination) that produces the desired trait. For example, AquAdvantage Salmon that reach adult size faster due to an introduced growth hormone gene being controlled by an ocean pout gene promoter; VERY good news for the fishing industry, and as a result, the environment - since this means less demand on wild-caught sources. Science is so cool, you guys.

On the other hand, you’ve probably heard terms like artificial selection or selective breeding bandied about - and this is essentially the pre-labs, extremely long-game version of GMOs. Not to mention the version that is usually touted as being better since it’s “natural”, as though anything produced in a lab is sent straight from the ninth circle of Hell itself (looking at you, anti-vaxxers)

These are things like most of our basic food crops and domesticated animals, where humans have affected the evolution of the target organism to get the desired trait over hundreds and thousands of years. Such as how the extinct aurochs became more meat-heavy cows, wild teosinte became higher-yield corn, and Brassica became literally everything else, to a point where I wouldn’t even be surprised if dogs had some B. oleracea in them. 

So, artificial selection and GMOs overlap in a lot of ways, but I hope I clarified the subject a little bit better. Enjoy your Brassica oleracea canis