Genetically modified foods

Bonjour readers!We are back again with a very new and interesting topic on our segment “Talk Back Thursday”.Our topic which is open for debate is about Genetically modified crops.I know that we all  are aware about this category of crops as they emerged in our Indian market as a hot controversy and then disappeared at the blink of an eye. 😛

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The first question which arises is what are GM FOODS?According to World Health Organisation, genetically modified foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally that is through the introduction of gene from different organism.According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), genetically engineered foods have had foreign genes (genes from other plants or animals) inserted into their genetic codes.

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Now the next thing of concern is how is genetically modified foods made? The answer is that it follows a step-wise procedure which includes:

  • Identify genes with a desired trait
  • make copies of the gene
  • transfer to plant tissue and regenerate
  • analysis and safety testing
  • back cross to generate varieties
  • field testing, approval & commercialization

The techniques by which humans modify food is by Selective breeding, plant breeding, soma clonal variation. Some of the basic things of GM Foods which you should know are:

  1. yes, GMF’s are safe!

Thousands of studies have concluded GMOs are safe. Additionally, the U.S. Drug and Food Administration, American Medical Association, World Health Organization, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, have also reviewed and confirmed biotech foods are safe.

Genetically modified (GM) food products and food ingredients have been evaluated and approved for food and feed import globally, and consumed for 20 years with zero food safety incidents.

2. There are only 9 GMO crops commercially available (apples are coming soon).

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3. Genetic modification in crops is not new

Farmers have been modifying the genetic makeup of crops for thousands of years.

4. GMOs go through extensive research and testing before coming to market.

5. GMOs don’t cause allergies

According to the National Academies of Sciences, GMOs have not caused a single sniffle, sneeze or bellyache. How are GMOs tested for allergies? Before a GMO is created, the desired trait  is screened against all known human allergens to confirm it does not introduce a new allergen.

6. Why do we need GMOs?

Farmers choose to use GMOs to reduce the impact of agriculture on their environment and reduce their costs — by applying pesticides in more targeted ways, for example. Farmers have also used GMOs to save a crop – such as Hawaiian papaya — that was being threatened by a disease.

Benefits of genetic engineering & modifying:

1] higher yielding crops & more efficient use of land

2] can save money and promote higher profits

3] longer shelf life, less waste

4] enhanced taste and quality

5] reduced maturation time

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7. GMO’s help protect our environment

Many misconceptions might fuel the belief that GM crops aren’t environmentally sustainable, but in reality many of the practices often affiliated with sustainable farming are used with GM crops.Fewer pesticide applications, conservation tillage (which reduces greenhouse gas emissions) and water conservation are all practices that can be used with GM crops.

 

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To be sure, GMOs aren’t perfect, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. Hopefully, in 10 years, society will look back on this debate and wonder what all the fuss was about.

The argument over the development and marketing of GMO foods has become a political hot potato in recent years. Opponents in several states and countries continue to push for GMO labels on foods — if not outright bans on GMO foods — but industry and science insists the foods are safe, labels aren’t needed and they’ll just confuse consumers.What do you think about this? Should GM foods be introduced in our markets or are they a bane for us? Only one thing is certain: The battle for and against GMO crops, and the foods containing them, isn’t likely to end soon.

Draft by

Ginu Abraham

 

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