GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are organisms that have undergone some changes to their DNA through genetic engineering. GMO foods are foods in which these alterations have been made in order to add some beneficial traits to the food or to increase control over its genetic structure.
Using genetic engineering techniques, scientists add or alter specific genes in an existing plant. Genetic modification is generally carried out in laboratories and is aimed at a particular trait or set of traits. Once the desired result is achieved, seeds are grown in large quantities, and the company applies for regulatory approval.
GMO food crops are generally designed to be resistant to pests and herbicides. Papayas grown in Hawaii, for example, have been genetically modified to resist the ringspot virus. Corn, too, has been genetically modified to resist many herbicides.
There have been many controversies and debates surrounding GMO foods. There have been demands for stringent regulations and labeling of GMO foods. There is a perception among the general population that genetically modified food can be harmful for human health. However, there has been no report suggesting the same, and there is a broad consensus among scientists that GMO food does not cause any more harm than conventional foods.