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A closer look at gene pollution

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Dear EarthTalk: What is “genetic pollution” as it pertains to the bioengineering of animals, fish and plants, and what happens if they cross breed with their wild cousins?
— R. Ahearn, Rome, N.Y.

Genetically modified organisms are those that have been altered by scientists to include genes from other organisms (known as transgenes) that may impart specific benefits. For instance, crop seeds that have added genes which resist the effects of herbicides can allow farmers to spray their fields liberally with herbicides to kill undesired weeds without the fear of killing their marketable crop along with them.

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