A Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is a living thing whose genetics were manipulated in a lab for specific results. Genetic engineering in plants increases desirable characteristics such as resistance to insects, heat or drought. Examples are fruits and vegetables engineered to be seedless, or to have more protein content.
People who are very careful about what they eat wonder whether eating Genetically Modified foods is healthy. There are federal policies overseeing GMO development; the World Health Organization requires testing GMOs for any ability to cause negative health side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, no GM foods currently on the market have been found to have allergenic effects, and the American Cancer Society states more research is needed to accurately determine any long-term health effects of GM foods.
Supporters point out the heartiness of some GMO crops, allowing food to be grown in environments that never produced well, or in areas that due to a changing climate no longer produce as they had. GMOs also allow sustenance farmers in developing countries to successfully feed themselves.
There are 10 genetically modified crops available in the U.S.: alfalfa, apples, canola, corn (field and sweet), cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash and sugar beets.