FSA Explains: Genetic modification

Have you heard of the term GM food? What exactly does it refer to, and what
does it mean for you as a consumer? Let’s look at the facts. GM stands for ‘genetic modification’
or ‘genetically modified’. It’s the process of altering the genes of a living thing to improve or change its character. Genes carry information that is passed
on to living things from their parents. Genetic modification is where an individual gene, or a small number of genes, is inserted
into a plant or animal to make it develop differently than it normally would. Genes can be ‘switched off’ as well, to stop certain characteristics from developing. For example, crops have been genetically modified so that they do not get diseases or to help them grow in places where water is scarce. The gene for softening a fruit can be ‘switched off’ so that although the fruit ripens in the normal way, it will not soften as quickly – preventing it from being damaged
during packing and transportation. You might think genetic modification is new. In fact, people have been doing this for
hundreds of years. But nowadays, science allows us to be far more precise in comparison to traditional methods. There are strict laws that govern the sale
of GM food in the UK. A GM food cannot be sold to the public unless it has gone through thorough scientific testing to check for things like nutritional value and most importantly, that it is safe for people to eat. GM food must also be clearly labelled
wherever it’s sold, so that consumers know exactly what they are buying and to help them make informed choices So there you have it. The FSA explains GM food. For more information visit: food.gov.uk

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