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Genetically Modified Organisms

Food and feed generally originates from plants and animals grown and bred by humans for several thousand years. Over time, those plants and animals with the most desirable characteristics were chosen for breeding the next generations of food and feed. This was, for example, the case for plants with an increased resistance to environmental pressures such as diseases or with an increased yield.

These desirable characteristics appeared through naturally occurring variations in the genetic make-up of those plants and animals. In recent times, it has become possible to modify the genetic make-up of living cells and organisms using techniques of modern biotechnology called gene technology. The genetic material is modified artificially to give it a new property (e.g. a plant's resistance to a disease, insect or drought, a plant's tolerance to a herbicide, improving a food's quality or nutritional value, increased yield).

Such organisms are called "genetically modified organisms" (GMOs). Food and feed which contain or consist of such GMOs, or are produced from GMOs, are called "genetically modified (GM) food or feed".


New: Commission proposes changes allowing Member States freedom to restrict or prohibit use of Authorised GMOs.