The hottest buzzword in food production is an abbreviation: GMO, which stands for genetically modified organism. The undisclosed use of GMOs has generated a good deal of controversy, regulation, and litigation.
What is a GMO, in lay terms? If you take a desired gene from one plant product and insert it into another plant that you want to reflect the desired gene or trait, then the resulting plant is a genetically modified organism. Why would this be desirable? Generally, the desired borrowed or introduced traits are to enhance insect, drought, or disease resistance, herbicide tolerance, or even adding beneficial nutritional content. Certain additional benefits could include reducing food waste (inhibiting fruit from spoiling as quickly), adding vitamins or minerals, or removing allergens.
In this regard, it is important to note that a GMO is not an ingredient, and it does not make the modified food “processed,” as that term is generally used in food sales. Neither is the creation of GMOs equivalent to cross breeding or hybridization, which do not involve modification through gene transplanting (e.g., seedless watermelons).
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“Misplaced Modifiers?” by Jeffrey Richter was published in the DRMA Voice, a property of Response Magazine, on July 12, 2016. Reprinted in part with permission.