OUR PRIMER on gene technology describes two examples where GM crops will provide direct benefits to consumers. One is the use of gene silencing to modify the oil content of canola. The other involves the precise transfer of genes for disease resistance from wild relatives to crops without bringing along unwanted genetic material.

Do you know what's in your tomatoes now?

Conventionally, tomato has been crossed to a wild relative found in Peru to transfer a number of genes conferring resistance to common diseases of tomato. A concern with this strategy is that the wild relative is poisonous and the crosses to transfer beneficial disease resistance genes also result in the transfer of roughly another 200 genes of unknown function. Gene technology provides the precision to transfer only those genes that are wanted, reducing the risks of unwanted problems.