What is Genetic Modification?

Advances in molecular biology made in the mid 1970s enable the genetic material of an organism (either DNA or RNA) to be altered using methods that do not occur in nature. These alterations are known as genetic modification (GM) and plants, animals or microbes resulting from such modifications are known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GM covers a variety of techniques which have been applied worldwide in human and veterinary medicine, horticulture, agriculture, biotechnology and for research purposes.

GM raises important safety issues for human health and protection of the environment. European, Scottish and UK GM legislation requires that these are addressed at every stage of a GMO’s (or GMO product’s) development, starting in the laboratory through to commercial production (see the GM Regulatory Framework page).