I use the words “biotechnology” and “genetic engineering” interchangeably, along with references to transgenics and to GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms.” In all cases I am referring to recombinant DNA technology, as it is used to breed new organisms by crossing species boundaries. I am not using the term “biotechnology” in its general sense, which can include natural processes.
This analysis focuses exclusively on genetic engineering as it is used in agriculture. Genetic engineering has many other applications, particularly in medicine. Some of the arguments made here may apply to those uses, but only coincidentally.
Last, sometimes I refer to plants and seeds as if they were the same, which of course they are not. In some cases, where I was unable to make a finer point, I resorted to generalizations. Some of these generalizations will rankle experts, and for that I apologize in advance.