Genetically Engineered (GE) Food generally involves combining genetic material from two or more different species, and can also include exchange of genetic material between kingdoms (i.e. plant and animal kingdoms). Synthetic genes from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals, humans, are forced into the DNA of unrelated species in a way that cannot occur naturally. Selected gene traits are inserted using antibiotic markers to ensure the new traits have indeed been transferred into the end product entity, and appear to be contributing to antibiotic resistance.
GMOs are genetically modified organisms whose DNA has undergone gene insertion, and GMO is commonly recognized as a short expression for genetically engineered foods. It may also be used to refer to dsRNA and newer genetic methods. Transgenic crops are another term commonly used to refer to genetically engineered crops.
If a GMO is used for food purposes, or to produce proteins used in food, the ingested product is GM food or GE food, as the terms are often used interchangeably.
The use of genetic engineering is also known as recombinant DNA as it inserts gene sequences into DNA, a process which scientists have found is not always stable. In plants GE can be done via a gene gun or by bacterial infection using agrobacterium. Viruses can be used as promoters to drive the genetic expression such as the cauliflower mosaic virus.
Genetically engineered crops are quite different from crops derived from traditional plant breeding which typically results from selective crossbreeding of desirable individuals within its own species. Traditional breeding is done without employing additional factors such as bacteria, viruses, or antibiotics.
In animals, the first GE salmon application suddenly approved in late 2015 by FDA, combines genetic material from three different species – 2 different salmon and the eel-like ocean pout.
***It should be noted that some of the latest generation of GMO transactions are absolutely escaping any US regulatory agency review, and are types of “Genome Editing”, “Chemical Mutagenesis “, and other new techniques that are running way ahead of regulatory review, leaving world populations unknowingly participating in an unprecedented science experiment.
Many scientists are recommending that these newer gene trait expressions should especially be subject to regulatory assessment on a case-by-case basis because “there is no one size fits all” when it comes to crop approvals and it is more difficult to look at compositional differences in new toxin creation, nutrient availability, allergenic proteins created, or other genome impacts from the new trait and unintended events. Currently these crops are escaping any regulatory agency scrutiny or may only have to conform to voluntary industry testing lacking independent scientist review. In addition, the new crops are ever more dependent upon using more complex combinations of toxic chemicals due to increased pest resistance, including pesticides such as Viet Nam era 2,4-D and dicamba poisons. Synergistic effects from using combinations of such toxic chemicals alongside RoundUp in our food crops, water, and soils are not known to be required.
For more detailed information, please refer to Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith, which extensively footnotes the source material and science behind his books and information on genetic engineering. GMO Myths and Truths, from a British group, earthopensource.org, which was just updated in 2014, has very well footnoted and independent science behind the well organized and very readable subject matter.
Last note: genetic engineering for crops and plants is reviewed differently from medical genetic engineering, and the FDA has just approved a GMO Salmon under a New Animal Drug Application(say what ??!) within FDA’s Veterinary Sciences Division, apparently because there was no other way to approve it under the current regulations.