This is a question we are getting
The terms GE and GMO are being used more now and sometimes they are used to refer to the same thing, but they are not. We sell seeds and are getting a lot of questions about them, so here are a few answers.
GE (Genetically Engineered)
GE seeds, plants and animals are created via high-tech methods where genes are directly implanted into an organism. There is no natural way for these genes to be transferred, other than by using recombinant DNA methods. These organisms do not exist naturally and never will. They are “genetically engineered” by humans. Examples of these include “Bt-corn” and “Round-up Ready” soybeans. There are also cotton, alfalfa and canola on this list. They are used on large commercial farms. Although the benefits of these GE products is great (disease resistance and herbicide resistance), there are questions about the safety of them. There is now a huge stink about these types of organisms, since they are patented. There are NO retail packages of GE seeds available at this time in any catalogue or retail nursery seed racks. You should not worry about these in your own garden at this time.
GMO (Genetically Modified Organism)
The US Department of Agriculture defines a GMO as any organism produced through ANY type of genetic change, whether it is GE OR through a traditional breeding program. Humans have been selecting various plants to grow and propagate for hundreds (maybe thousands) of years, based on characteristics. When we realized that we could pollinate one plant with another and get the best characteristics of both, the field really took off. People were breeding new varieties all over the world. All of these are GMO. That Angus steak you love is a GMO and so is a seedless watermelon. We all know what broccoli looks like (personally, I agree with President Bush on this vegetable) but, the broccoli we eat today looks nothing like the original. How about those Clemantine oranges we all look forward to in the fall…GMO. We get new flavors (Plumcots), bigger, better crops, natural disease resistance, natural pest resistance and crop uniformity (which is what we want to see in the grocery stores…you never see deformed fruits and veggies unless you go to a farmers market). All these selected traits are benefit us. GMO is not a bad thing.
This is a movie about GE seeds https://www.hulu.com/watch/67878/the-future-of-food (Yes there are commercials). It will make you think and is great material to start an interesting conversation (or maybe an argument) over. You need to decide for yourself.