What is Genetic Modification (GM) or Genetic Engineering?
The process of taking a gene from one organism and inserting it into the genome of another unrelated organism to give it certain new traits is called GM. Genes can be found in the nucleus of every cell in all living organisms and are the very building blocks of life. They decide the characteristics, structure, growth and behaviour of all organisms, including us. They play the critical role of passing on genetic information from one generation to the other. If you are tired of people telling you how you resemble your parents, you can blame genes for that. In the 1970s, some clever scientists figured out that they could transfer genes of one species into the genome of another and that got them excited. What if we were to insert spider genes into the genome of goats? May be the goat milk would contain spider web protein? What if we were to insert cow genes into the genome of pigs? May be they would develop cowhides? And that’s how the whole genetic experiment began.
'The ability to introduce alien genes into a genome is an impressive technological manipulation but we remain too ignorant of how the genome works to anticipate all of the consequences, subtle or obvious, immediate or long-term, of those manipulations'.
David Suzuki, Geneticist, Author of more than 30 books, Awarded UNESCO prize for science