questions + answers
- What is genetic engineering (GE)?
- How does it differ from cross-breeding or other forms of biotechnology?
- Which foods are currently genetically engineered?
- Who is behind GE foods?
- Are GE crops grown in Australia?
- How do GE crops affect the environment?
- What are the health concerns?
- Are GE crops good for farmers?
- Will GE crops feed the world?
- Are GE foods labelled?
- What is organic food?
- Why is animal feed important?
- Does GE food have any health benefits?
Also known as genetic modification or manipulation (GM), genetic engineering is a form of biotechnology that allows scientists to move genes between different species. Using various laboratory techniques, scientists can create life forms that could not occur naturally.
Genes are small lengths of DNA, the living blueprint of life found in the cells of all living things. Genetic engineers use viruses, bacteria and a device called a “gene gun” to randomly move genes from one organism into another.
In the genetic engineering of food, these techniques are used to make crop plants grow differently. The resulting life forms are often known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Currently, genetic engineering is mainly used to produce two types of crops.
- Herbicide-tolerant crops: these are genetically engineered to resist herbicide farmers spray on the crop to kill weeds and represent 80% of GE crops.
- Bt crops: these are genetically engineered to produce their own pesticide to kill certain insect pests and represent 20% of GE crops.