So what exactly is a GM seed?
GM seeds (also called ‘GMO’ – genetically modified organisms – and ‘transgenic’) are often confused with hybrid seeds. In fact, some people claim that hybridization is just another form of genetic modification. Not exactly. In a nutshell, here’s the difference:
- Non-hybrid seeds (think: heirloom or open pollinated varieties) can be saved and replanted from year to year and the resulting fruit remains “true to seed.” In other words, that funny little tomato you remember from grandma’s garden? If you planted seeds saved from that tomato, you’d get the same fruit today.
- Hybrid seeds are the product of cross-breeding two varieties of one type of fruit or vegetable in order to improve yield, pest and disease resistance, flavor, or shelf life. It’s kind of like breeding a Labrador retriever with a poodle to get a Labradoodle. Hybrid seeds generally do not grow true to seed.
- Genetically modified seeds are altered by inserting DNA from outside of the species into a plant seed. Kind of like trying to breed a cat and a dog. Mother Nature doesn’t allow such a thing to happen, but the miracle of modern technology lets scientists cross that barrier. GM seeds are patented and it’s actually illegal to save and replant some of these seeds.
For the rest of the story check out the link: Genetic Modification: A Primer.