Genetically Modified Foods

By Olivia Driscoll

According to Mansato, over eighty percent of processed foods contain genetically modified foods. Genetically modified foods have had specific changes added or taken from their DNA.

Genetic engineering techniques are more accurate than mutagenesis techniques (when an organism is exposed to radiation or chemicals to create a change). Selective breeding and somaclonal variation are other ways food is modified by people.

In the 1990s, the first genetically modified foods, the first being Flavr Savr tomatoes, were introduced to the market. In the United States, there were ninety three percent of soybeans, eighty six percent of corn, ninety three percent of cotton (for cottonseed oil), ninety percent of canola and thirteen percent of squash.

Genetically modified rice is expected to be on the U.S. market in 2012. Genetically modified alfalfa and sugar beets were on the market but were ordered to stop being farmed by court order.

People now have to make the choice whether or not they wish to consume these products. Genetically modified foods are usually transgeneric plant products such as soybean, canola, cottonseed oil and corn.

Benefits of genetically modified foods are that they have built in pesticides; they can be manipulated to carry certain vitamins they wouldn’t normally. They reduce soil erosion, which farmers loose twenty five million dollars worth of crops to every year.

Having plentiful crops can keep people from starving all over the world. Genetically modified foods are drought, pesticide, herbicide and frost resistance. Criticisms of genetically foods are spread of antibiotic resistance and unintended effects.

The biggest possible health risk is allergenicity, or people being allergic to genetically modified foods. People also have economic concerns because too many people would be trying to grow the same crop.

From 1996 to 1999 worldwide acreage of genetically modified crops rose ninety percent. Thirty six percent of genetically modified food producers disagree that there are potential risks to health and environment, five percent agree and twenty eight percent don’t know.

Proposals have been made to the government to require genetically modified foods to be labeled, but the proposal is not yet required.