Everett Griner talks GMO in today’s Agri View. The fight to control or ban GMO’s continues. Despite every study done that shows GMO’s are safe, companies and even entire countries are still battling to do away with them. Now we are learning that GMO’s are not just in food products. They are widely used in medicines that help us stay healthy and live longer. They are used in insulin and compounds to fight cancer and even polio.
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e. genetically engineered organism). GMOs are the source of medicines and genetically modified foods and are also widely used in scientific research and to produce other goods.The term GMO is very close to the technical legal term, ‘living modified organism’, defined in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which regulates international trade in living GMOs (specifically, “any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology”).
A more specifically defined type of GMO is a “Transgenic Organism”. This is an organism whose genetic makeup has been altered by the addition of genetic material from another, unrelated organism. This should not be confused with the more general way in which “GMO” is used to classify genetically altered organisms, as typically GMOs are organisms whose genetic makeup has been altered without the addition of genetic material from an unrelated organism.
GMOs are used in biological and medical research, production of pharmaceutical drugs, experimental medicine (e.g. gene therapy), and agriculture (e.g. golden rice, resistance to herbicides). The term “genetically modified organism” does not always imply, but can include, targeted insertions of genes from one species into another. For example, a gene from a jellyfish, encoding a fluorescent protein called GFP, or green fluorescent protein, can be physically linked and thus co-expressed with mammalian genes to identify the location of the protein encoded by the GFP-tagged gene in the mammalian cell. Such methods are useful tools for biologists in many areas of research, including those who study the mechanisms of human and other diseases or fundamental biological processes in eukaryotic or prokaryotic cells.