As I mentioned in an earlier post, one major concern with the “food” we eat is genetic modification. To put it simply genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose genetic material has been artificially altered or replaced with genetic material from other organisms, often genetic material from a different species such as the exaggeration below.
Plants and animals are genetically modified to increase productivity. Animals are sometimes modified to make them grow faster or to enable them to eat and digest certain foods that they might not otherwise be able to consume. GMO plants are manipulated to survive certain conditions including exposure to weather and chemicals, to last longer before they go bad, or to have certain nutritional or aesthetic qualities, among other reasons.
Genetic modification might sound a lot like selective breeding, which has been done for thousands of years and is widely accepted. Without selective breeding, we wouldn’t have the domesticated species we enjoy today as pets, foods, sources of textile fabrics, and more. Selective breeding has been used to breed cows that produce more milk and grasses that produce larger grains (i.e. corn).
However, there is a huge difference between genetic modification and selective breeding. Selective breeding works within natural mechanisms to emphasize characteristics already present in species over several generations. Genetic modification, on the other hand, involves the unnatural introduction of genetic information into the biological makeup of an organism. For example, genes from a species of fish can be inserted into the genetic code of a vegetable.
But fruit with fish DNA? That doesn’t sound like food to me…