What is genetic engineering or genetically modified organisms (foods)
The words Genetically Modified Organisms(GMO), Genetically Engineered (GE) and Biotechnology are often used interchangeably, but Genetic modification is simply the addition of new DNA to an organism or living thing, thereby modifying its genetic make-up.
It is the use of modern biotechnology (or gene technology) tools to introduce new traits (characteristics) into organisms, either from related and non-related organisms.
For example, a DNA from a plant (Plant X) that has high resistance to pests can be copied and introduced (added) to another plant (Plant Y), so that, the Plant Y will have the pest resistant trait.
Note that the DNA of an organism (e.g fish) can be modified by a DNA from a plant, which is a completely non related organism.
Another example is that, sometimes chemicals used in farming, such as herbicides end up killing lots of the crops planted, together with the weeds. Here, DNA from a herbicide resistant plant can be copied and added to the cells of the food crop so that the food crop will withstand herbicides when they are applied to the crops.
The concept of genetic engineering in not new, in fact it has been used to produce many blood, milk, lab mice types for research and pharmaceutical purposes for many years now. In recent time, the technology has been applied to plants and animals for food purposes, and that is why the argument has heated up.
You may not be able to tell a genetically modified fruit (e.g. strawberry) from its natural counterpart. They may look the same, but their cell DNA make-up will be different. Both fruits come from strawberry shrubs, but the shrub of the GM fruit would have produced fruits in a relatively shorter time period, or the GM fruit may have some toxin DNA in it which made it resistant to pests and diseases.