Genetically modified foods have often been the subject of controversy, which means that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish facts from misconceptions. In this Honest Nutrition feature, we explore the facts and dispel the most common myths.
Despite their long history and widespread use, consumers around the world do not always have access to sufficient and accurate information about these foods.
There is more skepticism surrounding their safety and their impact on the environment and health.
In this Honest Nutrition section, we explain what GM foods are, their importance, and what research has found about their safety and health implications.
Genetically modified foods have undergone
This genetic modification can be done to improve the agricultural characteristics of the crop or improve its nutritional value.
For example, “
Genetically modified foods are a sub-category of
The practice of manipulating the genetic material of crops to obtain desirable traits is not new, with records going back
To answer this question, we need to consider several factors.
With an estimated world population of
It can be argued that conventional agriculture and food production have not been able to maintain a constant supply. At the same time, traditional selective breeding can take at least 10 years before desirable characteristics are consistently represented in domestic cultures.
However, modern biotechnology makes it possible to identify, isolate and insert specific genes in crops of interest to improve their characteristics.
Crop bioengineering and other technological applications for
Agricultural quality and stability
A downfall of traditional agriculture is the vulnerability of the crop to drought, disease and pest infestations, as well as high volumes of pesticide and herbicide use.
Consequently, environmental pressures threaten regular agricultural production.
For this reason, genetically modified foods are modified to support the reliability of the food supply and the consistent quality of the final harvest.
They include, for example:
- Genetically modified corn plants that resist drought and allow increased yields
- Genetically modified soybeans resistant to herbicides and requiring less application to the plant
- GM salmon
(AquAdvantage)that grow twice as fast, allowing for greater uptime
- papaya virus free
- potatoes that do not brown when cut
Improved nutritional properties
Although agricultural improvements have been at the forefront of bioengineering and genetically modified foods, some modifications have focused on improving the nutritional profile of foods.
For example, pink-fleshed pineapples in Costa Rica have high levels of
The increased concentration of the essential amino acid, lysine, in corn and beta-carotene in
These efforts are also of public health interest in making the essential nutrients that are often lacking in the diet widely accessible to the population.
the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service maintains a list of bioengineered foods from around the world.
This list is available to the public and is used to inform food regulators about which to issue disclosure notices.
It is important to note that many of these genetically modified foods are used as
However, according to the
These labels will educate consumers so that they retain their purchasing power and make informed dietary decisions.
Below is a compilation of current GM foods around the world. All of these foods have been evaluated by the FDA and found to be safe for human consumption.
Myth: Genetically modified foods are dangerous
Three regulatory agencies – the FDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the USDA – work together to rigorously test and monitor the safety of GMOs in the United States.
- The FDA maintains strict food safety standards for genetically modified foods.
- The EPA regulates pesticides and
protectors incorporated into the plantthat make GM crops resistant to insects and viruses.
- The USDA ensures that genetically modified foods are not harmful to other plants by monitoring cross-pollination and best planting practices.
Myth: Genetically modified foods cause allergies
Made: Proteins in food are often responsible for food allergies. When genetic material is introduced into the culture, new proteins can form and be interpreted as a foreign threat in the body, triggering an immune response or an allergic reaction.
It’s rare, but a documented case has revealed that
In addition, a
Myth: Cell culture meat (laboratory meat) is genetically modified foods
Made: This is a common misconception.
Meat without animals uses unmodified cells from the animal of interest – for example, cows – and creates a lab environment that can support the growth of those cells in a lab.
This new technology attempts to meet the growing demand of the population for meat while providing an option that reduces the rate of foodborne illness and the environmental impacts of
Myth: Seedless fruits and vegetables are genetically modified foods
Made: Seedless fruits and vegetables are sought after by some for their convenience, but are greeted with hesitation by others.
These foods are not genetically modified but are cross-pollinated, grafted or undergo
Some concerns remain about the potential negative impact of genetically modified foods on the environment. the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations list the following problems, among others:
- Unwanted crossbreeding – when genes from one species pass into a different plant species, which can create problems such as herbicide resistant weeds. Research on the impact of these unwanted transfers remains
- The appearance of harmful mutations, which is under investigation, but here, too, studies remain inconclusive.
- GM crops can end up competing with native plant populations, threatening the biodiversity.
disturbancefood chains or ecosystem cycles through unintentional impact on birds, insects and soil microorganisms.
Genetically modified foods, or bioengineered or transgenic foods, have been surrounded by controversy, but they have proven their benefits for the food supply and demand chain.
These foods have been shown to be safe for human consumption, although more studies are needed to clearly define their overall nutritional value and long-term health effects.
Close monitoring of the possible impact of genetically modified foods on the environment is also an important consideration for the future.