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  • GM: genetically modified. What does that mean?

  • Banana with eyes, or more soy in your bean?

  • Let's stop for a second and back up a bit, and let's see what's a gene and where does it

  • fit?

  • All stuff is made up of small chemical atoms, stacked up together in grandiose

  • patterns.

  • But life is more complex and built to strict plans, from chemical recipes in

  • DNA strands.

  • Genes are sentences which describe functions and traits, like the shape, size

  • or stegosaurus plates.

  • Ten thousand years back at the very start of farming, humans picked the traits

  • that we found charming.

  • Selective breeding took these best variations, refining over and over

  • generations. Whatever the characteristic or colour, cause determined by genes in

  • one way or another.

  • Today we can use enzymes to snip DNA, so genes can be cut, pasted, moved any

  • which way.

  • Boost a gene, block a gene, bring a gene from elsewhere,

  • animal, bacteria, or plant you can share.

  • No, no, not quite like that. It requires more precision to make a genetically

  • modified organism.

  • Using a virus, gene gun or tiny needle, we change canola, or pig and

  • cure people.

  • Human insulin producing bacteria or clotting factors to treat hemophilia.

  • Transgenic plants can be made far more persistent, pest, weed killer and harsh

  • condition resistant.

  • Oil crops, corn and rice are being made more nutritious,

  • virus resistance squashes, no less auspicious.

  • In research, jellyfish genes act as markers in mammals, we tweak model

  • fruit flies like tiny control panels.

  • Ok, ok, dicing genes is undoubtedly clever, but has anyone asked about the why's or

  • the whether's?

  • The pros: advanced science and

  • improve all the crops. The cons: unforeseen issues and stumbling blocks.

  • So are we cautious or Luddites if we stand in the way,

  • perhaps missing advancements

  • that might save the day.

GM: genetically modified. What does that mean?

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