This is a simple explanation of genetic modification and the ethical questions it gives rise to.
This one minute animated video from TVNZ aims to demystifies commonly used, but little understood scientific and technological jargon.
What is genetic modification?
Genetic modification – or GM – is the scientific alteration of genetic material in a living organism.
Genes dictate the characteristics of all living things – so transferring a gene from one creature to another can transfer certain characteristics, too. Resistance to pests or disease can be transferred from one type of plant to another. Hardy GM plants could help feed our growing population – but some worry about the implications of making living things to our own design.
Modifying genes in other organisms can produce proteins that will treat human diseases.
Scientists have inserted a human gene for growth hormone into a goat. The goat’s milk is then used to treat growth disorders in humans.
Modifying our own genes – gene therapy - is an experimental field that has raised high hopes - and many ethical questions.
And that’s genetic modification.