GM/GE Definition

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Genetic modification (GM) is the introduction of new traits to an organism by making changes directly to its genetic makeup, e.g. DNA, through intervention at the molecular level. It’s also called genetic engineering or GE. With genetic engineering, scientists can change the traits of plants and animals by inserting DNA pieces, whole genes, or long stretches of DNA segments from many different organisms. These genetic sequences can also be taken from the same species or be newly made up. Scientists can also delete or swap DNA sequences in organisms or introduce genetic material to silence genes. Unlike conventional breeding and hybridization, genetic engineering is a laboratory technology that enables the direct transfer of genes between organisms in different species or kingdoms that would not breed in nature, and the introduction of new sequences that do not even exist in nature.
The Canadian government does not regulate this technology in a category of its own but under regulations for “Novel Foods” and “Plants with Novel Traits”

For example, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides the following definitions:

“Biotechnology” means the application of science and engineering in the direct or indirect use of living organisms, or parts or products of living organisms, in their natural or modified forms. This term is very broad and includes the use of traditional or conventional breeding, as well as more modern techniques such as genetic engineering.

“Modern biotechnology” is used to distinguish newer applications of biotechnology, such as genetic engineering and cell fusion from more conventional methods such as breeding, or fermentation.

Most often the term “biotechnology” is used interchangeably with “modern biotechnology”.

“Conventional breeding” or “selective breeding” means propagating plants or animals sexually, selecting for certain traits. Using selective cross-breeding, people can produce different varieties of plants and breeds of animals.

GM stands for “genetically modified”. An organism, such as a plant, animal or bacterium, is considered genetically modified if its genetic material has been altered through any method, including conventional breeding. A “GMO” is a genetically modified organism.

GE stands for “genetically engineered”. An organism is considered genetically engineered if it was modified using techniques that permit the direct transfer or removal of genes in that organism. Such techniques are also called recombinant DNA or rDNA techniques.