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7 Facts about Genetically Engineered Food

Updated: Apr 11

Fact No. 1: Genetic engineering (GE) is a laboratory technique.

Genetic engineering is a laboratory created seed technology that

was commercialised for farming in 1995. It is an artificial process

that is totally unnatural.

  • Transgenics: is where a cell has been altered by the random insertion of DNA from another species through laboratory engineering.

  • Gene Editing: (CRISPR, TALENS, ZFN, dsRNA) an RNA enzyme cuts the chromosome and either deletes a gene/s or inserts an artificial gene.

  • Gene drives force harmful genes through the whole population of a species posing major risks to ecosystems as they can't be recalled. These may spread to native relatives, and could make keystone species extinct.

GE usually employs bacterial and virus DNA/RNA to smuggle in

the inserted genes. These altered genes are present in every cell

of the plant.


Fact No. 2: Genetic engineering is imprecise and uncontrollable

Gene editing tools like CRISPR can create unintended alterations (off target effects). The random insertion of foreign genes, even a single amino acid, into the genetic material may cause unexpected changes in the functioning of other genes. Existing molecules may be manufactured in incorrect quantities, at the wrong times, or new molecules may be produced. GE foods and food products may therefore contain unexpected toxins or allergenic molecules that could harm our health or that of our offspring.

Nature has developed a complex and resilient way to ensure that their genes in the seeds are adapted to the next generation. Genes do not operate in isolation rather they interact in a complicated way, changing their behaviour in response to influences from other genes.

Although a gene can be cut out from the DNA of an organism, its insertion into the DNA of another organism is entirely random. This results in the disruption of the order of the genes on the chromosome and may result in random and unexpected changes in the functioning of the cells.