Genetically modified crops
are plants used in agriculture
, the DNA
of which has been modified using genetic engineering
techniques. In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait
to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. As of 2015, 26 plant species have been genetically modified and approved for commercial release in at least one country. The majority of these species contain genes that make them either tolerant to herbicides or resistant to insects. Other common traits include virus resistance, delayed ripening, modified flower colour or altered composition. In 2014, 28 countries grew GM crops, and 39 countries imported but did not grow them.
Regulations regarding the commercialisation of genetically modified crops
are mostly conducted by individual countries. For cultivation, environmental approval determines whether a crop can be legally grown. Separate approval is generally required to use GM crops in food for human consumption or as animal feed.
GM crops were first planted commercially on a large scale in 1996, in the US, China, Argentina, Canada, Australia, and Mexico. Some countries have approved but not actually cultivated GM crops, due to public uncertainty or further government restrictions, while at the same time, they may import GM foods for consumption. For example, Japan is a leading GM food importer, and permits but has not grown GM food crops. The European Union
regulates importation of GM foods, while individual member states determine cultivation. In the US, separate regulatory agencies handle approval for cultivation ( USDA
) and for human consumption ( FDA
Two genetically modified crops have been approved for food use in some countries, but have not obtained approval for cultivation. A GM Melon engineered for delayed senescence
was approved in 1999 and a herbicide tolerant GM wheat
was approved in 2004.
Genetically modified crops cultivated in 2014
References and notes