Pin It

What Is GM? 

by Cara Gardner

Fish genes inserted into potatoes to make them frost-resistant... jellyfish genes added to wheat to make the crop glow when it's stressed... The stuff of science fiction? No, it's all on the horizon of the wild new frontier of agricultural genetic modification, called "GM" for short.

Scientists who work in genetic modification manipulate the makeup of an organism with the intention of creating something better. But are they better, or is this practice opening up Pandora's box? That's the question being debated worldwide as such foods are added into the food supply.

The line of research that led to GM started with a desire to solve the everyday problems farmers have faced since they first started to sow seeds: drought, weed and pest infestation, and soil depletion. In creating crops that resist these problems, scientists discovered other paths, too, including the possibility of crops that could contain pharmaceuticals for people who need them, such as bananas with vaccines built in them, or "super foods" with extra vitamins and minerals. "Golden Rice," as experts call it, contains higher levels of vitamin A, and may be marketed to the Third World, where many people are malnourished. Genetically modifying foods is also appealing to companies because of the marketing possibilities -- like foods vibrant in color, large in size and long-lasting on supermarket shelves.

But when genes are added to an organism, novel proteins can form. When people are allergic to something, they are having a reaction to the proteins in an organism. Many argue that genetic modification is dangerous because people could have a reaction to a food they thought was safe. They worry that these health impacts may not emerge for decades. Opponents of GM technology also say corporations have no right to play with -- and own the rights to sell -- the building blocks of life.

Publication date: 07/17/03
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Defending North Idaho
  • Defending North Idaho

    Why Heather Scott must go
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • How's That For Respect?
  • How's That For Respect?

    Trail Mix: Trump's respectful groping allegations and WA's minimum wage raise
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Accidents All Over
  • Accidents All Over

    This Congress is perhaps the least productive and worst reviewed since the Civil War; will anybody pay for that?
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Lion's Club Train Rides

Lion's Club Train Rides @ Ione

Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through Oct. 23

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Cara Gardner

  • Pride or Prejudice?

    Jim West may have overcompensated for his closeted sexual identity by voting against gay rights legislation. But how are his fellow Republicans dealing with the news that the powerful conservative has admitted to sexual relationships with
    • Jul 8, 2005
  • Weapon of Mass Doubt

    Scott Ritter has been called "an honest man lost in Washington" by Forbes and "the most famous renegade Marine officer" by the New York Times. A former marine captain and the former chief weapons inspector for Unscom, the agency in charge
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • Plaintiffs Speak

    For many, the current hearings in the Washington Supreme Court regarding marriage equality are interesting side notes in the ongoing battle over the right of homosexuals to marry legally. But for Marge Ballack and Diane Lantz, two plaintif
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • The Do-Over

    After failing to pass a bus service tax hike last year, Spokane Transit Authority has a plan to get you to vote for it again
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • Pants on Fire

    U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers can't see the forest for the trees when it comes to climate change
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


green zone


trail mix

Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Wages or Wellness?
  • Wages or Wellness?

    Why paid sick leave is good for everyone
    • Mar 4, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation