Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 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.