Genetic Engineering

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This page is about Genetic Engineering, also sometimes called Genetic Modification, which refers to the direct modification of the genome of an organism. Genetically engineered organisms are often referred to as GMO's. These terms are not usually used to refer to genetic modification through selective breeding and/or hybridization alone...here we use the terms "genetic engineering" and "GMO" only to refer to organisms that have had their genomes directly manipulated.

Why This Way includes participants with a range of views on genetic engineering and GMO's. As a group we have two agreed upon stances or practices regarding genetic engineering, but beyond these stances, participants do not necessarily agree on every point. These stances can be summed as protecting against GMO's entering the wild in self-sustaining populations, and labelling of GMO foods.

Protection against GMO's entering the wild in self-sustaining populations

At our current level of scientific understanding of impacts of such releases, we oppose the use of any genetically modified organisms in such a way that organisms with modified genomes could be released into the wild in a self-sustaining population.

This is related to our belief about sustainability--our concern is the possibility of causing irreversible damage to ecosystems if GMO's are released in such a way that they can sustain themselves.

As examples, the use of GMO's that are engineered to be sterile would not be in conflict with our agreed-upon practice, so long as great enough care is taken to ensure that they actually are sterile and there is no risk of them reproducing.

Labelling of GMO foods

We support labelling of foods containing any GMO ingredients, as our own practice. This does not necessarily mean that all participants support mandatory labelling imposed by a government body (although some participants may take this stance), but rather, that for a business or organization to follow the practices of Why This Way, it would need to label GMO's. We are also developing our own system of food certification, and it requires the labelling of foods with GMO ingredients as well as animal products produced from animals that have been fed GMO ingredients.

We also believe it is dishonest to label products with labels like "natural", "all natural", or "no artificial ingredients" if they contain GMO ingredients, because of the way these terms are defined and used in society at large.

We also have agreed that our GMO labelling would not require labelling in the case of trace amounts of contamination with GMO ingredients, due to non-deliberate contamination, such as if a small amount of GMO ingredients seed into a farmer's field without the farmer's consent.