Genetically modified (GM) foods are simply foods that have had their DNA changed via genetic engineering. Genetic engineers (the people who genetically modify food) take DNA from a plant or animal and transfer it to crops. Here is an example of how it might work…
Strawberries are not very resistant to frosts. Hence, genetic engineers can take a frost resistant gene (part of the DNA) out of a plant that is frost resistant and transfer it to the strawberry genome.
Genetic engineering can also can also make crops that are resistant to insects and herbicides. This increases the yield of the crops (that just means that you get more food out of the crop).
Did You Know? Facts about GM Foods
- 89% of soybeans and 83% of cotton grown in the United States are produced by genetic engineering to make them resistant to herbicides and pesticides. For soybeans, a herbicide resistant gene is taken from bacteria and transplanted into the soybean DNA.
- The United States produce the most genetically modified foods.
- Some people refuse to eat genetically modified foods as they feel that they may be dangerous to their health. There is still much debate over the safety of GM foods.
- Some studies have shown that genetically modified plants do not produce higher yields than normal plants. The main purpose of growing GM foods is to increase the yields of the crops and reduce the use of herbicides and pesticides.
- McDonald’s and Burger King have both stated that they will not purchase GM foods.
- The Grocery Manufactures of America have estimated that 75% (three quarters) of all processed foods in the United States contain at least one genetically modified ingredient.
- Many critics of genetically modification argue that yields can be increased using conventional crossbreeding rather than genetic modification.
- Scientists are one day hoping to genetically engineer animals, such as fish, so they grow faster.
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