In recent years, genetic engineers have been splicing genes from one species to another species for the benefits of producing hardier crops.

The Torah forbids sowing one type of seed with another in one's vineyard and grafting one type of tree with another is also forbidden.

The only way I know for sure that the food supply of which I eat is free of genetic alteration is to eat all organic foods, but this is difficult. Am I to concern myself with this?

Thank you,


You've brought up a great point.

First the basics:

The prohibition against sowing together seeds of different plants only applies to crops planted in the Land of Israel. The exceptions to this rule are the prohibitions against planting the seeds of a vineyard together with other seeds, and the actual grafting of trees, both of which apply outside of Israel as well.

However, even in Israel, it is permitted to eat the — albeit unlawfully — grown product, with the fruit of the vineyard planted together with another seed constituting the only exception.

Now, while there is much discussion amongst contemporary Halachic authorities regarding the laws which apply to genetic engineering, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel ruled that produce grown via genetic grafting, including the fruits of the vineyard, is not forbidden by the above rules.

Their reasoning is that the prohibition only applies to seeds which on their own could have grown into a unique plant, as opposed to the grafted gene alone, which could not have grown on its own.

All the best,

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson