What is a GMO?

Genetically Modified Organism or GMO are living things that have been genetically altered using biotechnology. The exact point at which something becomes a GMO with this definition is a little tricky in part because it relies on the use of technology. What you define as biotechnology can significantly impact what is considered a GMO. Some thought questions:

  1. Is breeding a biotechnology and offspring of breeding a GMO?
  2. Is selection of offspring or sperm and egg based upon genetic screening that shows you the offsprings traits produce a GMO?
  3. Is mutating a organism by exposing it to radiation then genetic screening to see any new traits acquired from the radiation a GMO?
  4. Does DNA methylation, (when adding CH4, one carbon and 4 hydrogen to DNA can inhibit a gene from being expressed) produce a GMO?
  5. Is adding an additional copy of a gene to inhibit a trait (iRNA, a form of knockout) produce a GMO?
  6. Is taking out a gene (CRISPR) produce a GMO?
  7. Is inserting a gene from another organism produce a GMO?
Photo from: Idaho National Laboratory (flickr.com)

As you can see there is a gradient to what we might consider to be a GMO. The point of this is not to confuse you into thinking a GMO is what it isn’t, but to understand it better. If you are dying to find out the answer; most countries and people would say a GMO would be everything after 3 or 4.

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