Genetic engineering in its simplest form is using techniques to modify genetic material - the DNA - of living organisms. Genetic modification is not new. Random mutations in genetic material occur spontaneously or under the influence of mutagenic substances. For centuries, selective breeding has been an indirect way of genetic engineering. These are not normally considered genetic engineering. Rather genetic engineering is genetic recombination under artificial circumstances under laboratory conditions. It consists of isolating and then splicing together DNA molecules in isolation from their cellular environment, although for certain species genetic material can be transferred between cells of the same type or different type.
Terminator technology, the genetic engineering of plants to produce sterile seeds, has been widely condemned as a dangerous and morally offensive application of agricultural biotechnology, because over 1.4 billion people depend on farm-saved seeds. During the UN Biodiversity Convention meetings in Nairobi in May 2000, the delegates agreed to a moratorium on all field testing and commercialization of Terminator and other similar technologies. Many countries requested an outright ban on Terminator, and others expressed the concern that Terminator could be used as a trade weapon to force them to obey US trade and patent laws. Some countries even see Terminator as a form of biological warfare since poor farmers could become dependent on seeds that they are prohibited from saving.