"Organic" Food Term Definitions
|ˈkəltəˌvär| noun Botany
a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding. Cultivars are usually designated in the style Taxus baccata "Variegata." See also variety (sense 2).
ORIGIN 1920s: blend of cultivate and variety.
Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM)
Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, is the direct human manipulation of an organism's genome using modern DNA technology. It involves the introduction of foreign DNA or synthetic genes into the organism of interest. The introduction of new DNA does not require the use of classical genetic methods, however traditional breeding methods are typically used for the propagation of recombinant organisms.
An organism that is generated through the introduction of recombinant DNA is considered to be a genetically modified organism. The first organisms genetically engineered were bacteria in 1973 and then mice in 1974. Insulin-producing bacteria were commercialized in 1982 and genetically modified food has been sold since 1994.
The most common form of genetic engineering involves the insertion of new genetic material at an unspecified location in the host genome. This is accomplished by isolating and copying the genetic material of interest using molecular cloning methods to generate a DNA sequence containing the required genetic elements for expression, and then inserting this construct into the host organism. Other forms of genetic engineering include gene targeting and knocking out specific genes via engineered nucleases such as zinc finger nucleases or engineered homing endonucleases.
Genetic engineering techniques have been applied in numerous fields including research, biotechnology, and medicine. Medicines such as insulin and human growth hormone are now produced in bacteria, experimental mice such as the oncomouse and the knockout mouse are being used for research purposes and insect resistant and/or herbicide tolerant crops have been commercialized. Genetically engineered plants and animals capable of producing biotechnology drugs more cheaply than current methods (called pharming) are also being developed and in 2009 the FDA approved the sale of the pharmaceutical protein antithrombin produced in the milk of genetically engineered goats.
Genetically Modified (GM)
|jəˈnetik(ə)lē ˈmädəˌfīd| (abbreviation: GM) adjective
(of an organism or crop) containing genetic material that has been artificially altered so as to produce a desired characteristic : genetically modified viruses to insert new genes into growing plants.
Genetically Modified Food
Genetically modified foods (GM foods or GMO foods) are foods derived from genetically modified organisms, (GMOs). Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques. These techniques are much more precise than mutagenesis (mutation breeding) where an organism is exposed to radiation or chemicals to create a non-specific but stable change. Other techniques by which humans modify food organisms include selective breeding; plant breeding, and animal breeding, and somaclonal variation.
GM foods were first put on the market in the early 1990s. Typically, genetically modified foods are transgenic plant products: soybean, corn, canola, and cotton seed oil. Animal products have also been developed, although as of July 2010 none are currently on the market. In 2006 a pig was controversially engineered to produce omega-3 fatty acids through the expression of a roundworm gene. Researchers have also developed a genetically-modified breed of pigs that are able to absorb plant phosphorus more efficiently, and as a consequence the phosphorus content of their manure is reduced by as much as 60%.
Critics have objected to GM foods on several grounds, including safety issues, ecological concerns, and economic concerns raised by the fact that these organisms are subject to intellectual property law.
Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)
A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms which have inserted DNA that originated in a different species. GloFish was the first genetically modified animal to be sold as a pet.
A local cultivar or animal breed that has been improved by traditional agricultural methods but has not been influenced by modern agricultural practices.
In the Mexican countryside there are fifty-nine corn ‘landraces,’ distinct cultivars that have been carefully developed over millenniums by indigenous farmers for different attributes: growth at high altitudes, early or late maturation, the ability to withstand drought or heavy rain and utility for particular dishes or shamanic rituals.
Mexico’s landrace corn is consumed locally, but because it benefits from 9,000 years of breeding for diverse conditions, it represents a reservoir of genetic adaptability that many consider essential to the future of the world’s commercial crop.
American industrial farmers treat corn as a simple commodity that grows in the soil; not much thought is given to the local ecosystem, water supplies, climate, soil quality, etc. The corn seed is a simple genetic, biological "machine" whose output can always be manipulated with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic modification, goes the thinking. That’s one reason that the genetic diversity of corn grown in the U.S. has narrowed down to seven inbred lines of seed – a development that makes the U.S. corn crop highly vulnerable to pests and a potential collapse of the corn crop.
1 of, relating to, or derived from living matter : organic soils.
• Chemistry of, relating to, or denoting compounds containing carbon (other than simple binary compounds and salts) and chiefly or ultimately of biological origin. Compare with inorganic.
• (of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
2 Physiology of or relating to a bodily organ or organs.
• Medicine (of a disease) affecting the structure of an organ.
3 denoting a relation between elements of something such that they fit together harmoniously as necessary parts of a whole : the organic unity of the integral work of art.
• characterized by continuous or natural development : companies expand as much by acquisition as by organic growth.
DERIVATIVES organically |-ik(ə)lē| adverb
ORIGIN late Middle English : via Latin from Greek organikos ‘relating to an organ or instrument.’
|vəˈrīətē| noun ( pl. -ties)
Biology a taxonomic category that ranks below subspecies (where present) or species, its members differing from others of the same subspecies or species in minor but permanent or heritable characteristics. Varieties are more often recognized in botany, in which they are designated in the style Apium graveolens var. dulce. Compare with form (sense 3) and subspecies.
• a cultivated form of a plant. See cultivar.
• a plant or animal that varies in some trivial respect from its immediate parent or type.