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Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

  • By: Jacqui Dibden
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The term genetically modified organism (GMO) is used to refer to plants, animals, and microorganisms whose DNA has been purposefully altered by the direct incorporation (or deletion) of one or more genes to introduce or modify a special characteristic. (Other terms used are transgenic, genetically manipulated, or genetically engineered organisms.) GMOs include pharmaceuticals such as human insulin, which was developed in 1978 and was the first product to show the business potential of the new recombinant DNA technology.

Although the biotechnology industry frequently represents the products of genetic engineering as just the latest stage in a long history of modifications introduced into plants or animals, it is only in recent decades that it has become possible to routinely transfer genes within and across species in ways ...

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