This article is from the Food Science FAQ, firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul E. J. King) with numerous contributions by others.
The process of making changes to the genes of an organism
(whether an animal or plant organism or a microorganism). Genetic
changes occur spontaneously in nature over a long period of time, but
they may be produced intentionally either by traditional methods of
selective breeding of animals and plants, or by modern methods of
removal or insertion of genes. The latter method involves four basic
1. the DNA of a cell of the donor organism is broken down and
the pieces separated;
2. the desired gene is selected;
3. that gene is copied many times; and
4. nth generation laboratory copies (not the donor's original
genes) are then inserted into the DNA of the receiver organism.
'Within-species' genetic modification is essentially similar to
traditional breeding methods (except that it is much speedier and
much less haphazard). Through 'trans-species' modification, results
are obtainable that could not be obtained by traditional breeding
methods. In relation to food, the potential scientific benefits of
genetic modification are:
* Improved agricultural performance (yields) with reduced use
* Ability to grow crops in inhospitable environments (e.g. via
increased ability of plants to grow in conditions of drought,
salinity and extremes of temperature
* Delayed ripening, permitting improvements in quality and
* Altered sensory attributes of food (e.g. flavour, texture, etc.)
* Improved nutritional attributes e.g. combatting anti-nutritive
and allergenic factors, and increased Vitamin A content in rice.
* Improved processing characteristics leading to reduced waste
and lower food costs to the consumer.
Some forms of trans-species modification may give rise to ethical and
See also FAQ in section V (including within-species and
trans-species) Part 2, Q 7, 8, and 9
Genetically modified-See FAQ same sections as above
'Genuine' in connection with foods means an authentic type or
source. It serves to distinguish ingredients which might otherwise be
synthetic (e.g. 'vanilla ice cream, made with genuine vanilla') or it
may establish the origin or type of a food (e.g. genuine Manzanilla
olives, genuine Italian olive oil).
'Good manufacturing practice' (GMP) is that part of a food control
operation aimed at ensuring that products are consistently manufactured
to a specified quality appropriate to their intended use. It thus has
two complementary and interacting components; the manufacturing
operation itself and the control system and procedures. Reference should
be made to the IFST publication 'Food and Drink - Good Manufacturing
Practice: A Guide to its Responsible Management'. (3rd Edition, 1991).