GE versus GMO – What’s the difference?

Concept photo of modified fruit. Source:
Concept photo of modified fruit. Source:

I read an interesting article titled EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide To Avoiding GE Food. I have to admit I am confused about the difference between GE and GMO, so I decided to do a little research on the matter.

Click here to check out EWG’s Genetically Engineered Food Guide.

Why should I care if the food my family eats are from GE, GMO, Hybrid, Organic or Heirloom seeds?

Well just look a the conceptual photo from and maybe you’ll care. Eating crops from a petri dish is just disturbing. I’ll admit I’m not well versed in farming but I don’t think tamperings should be done with fruits and vegetables. God, yes I said God, created a banana to have a removable peel and a strawberry to have a edible surface.

Here are my findings:

GE (Genectically Engineered)

According to the FDA*, “Genetic engineering refers to certain methods that scientists use to introduce new traits or characteristics to an organism. For example, plants may be genetically engineered to produce characteristics that enhance the growth or nutritional value of food crops.”

The Home Garden Seed Association gives a little more detail. “The only way scientists can transfer genes between organisms that are not sexually compatible is to use recombinant DNA techniques. The plants that result do not occur in nature; they are “genetically engineered” by human intervention and manipulation.” Click here to visit HGSA’s website and learn more about GE foods.

The FDA additionally differenciate GE from GMO, “since people have been modifying plants for thousands of years through breeding and selection, FDA uses the term ‘genetically engineered,’ or ‘GE’ to distinguish plants that have been modified using modern biotechnology from those modified through traditional breeding.”  Click here to read more from the FDA’s website.

As I understand it, genetic modification through traditional breeding will fall under the category of GMO not GE.

GMO (Genetically Engineered Organisms)

The USDA defines a GMO as “an organism produced through any type of genetic modification, whether by high-tech modern genetic engineering, OR long time traditional plant breeding methods.” 

The Home Garden Seed Association expands further. “For hundreds of years, genes have been manipulated empirically by plant breeders who monitor their effects on specific characteristics or traits of the organism to improve productivity, quality, or performance. When plant breeders, working with conventional or organically produced varieties, select for traits like uniformity or disease resistance in an open-pollinated variety or create a hybrid cross between two cultivars, they are making the same kind of selections which can also occur in nature; in; other words, they are genetically modifying organisms and this is where the term GMO actually applies.” For more on hybrids, organics, and heirlooms check out HGSA’s website

In conclusion, I’m okay with GMO foods produced through traditional plant breeding methods, but to scientifically try to outwit God’s design for what is food, I care not to participate.

What are your thoughts? 

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