Genetically engineered food is not a new concept. Increasing number of farmers and poultry owners are resorting to genetically modify the crops and animals to get a better and superior quality yield. In simpler terms Genetic engineering modifies the DNA of plants, animals or bacteria by injecting a gene of another plant or animal. What it results into is a crop or meat that is of a better quality. You must have often come across food products that have GE mentioned on them. This is nothing else but an indication that the product is derived from genetically modified crops or animals. It is estimated that 80% of the processed foods in US contain at least one ingredient which is sourced from a genetically engineered crop. This means that you are exposed to a lot more genetical modification than you think.
Why is Genetic Engineering Required?
We live in a world where the population is increasing day by day and there is not enough food for all. Add to that the growing climatic change and increase in global warming which has not only affected the growth of plants and animals but the quality as well. The breakthrough has stemmed through this need for having abundant supply to feed the population.
As per the estimates from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization about 795 million people in the world are starving due to lack of adequate food supply. Scientists believe that a large part of this number can be brought down by using genetically engineered crops and animals. GMO food also claims to have the best quality and can be used to give certain of your favorite ingredients/foods a healthier approach than before. About 92% of the USA corn 94% of soybean 94% of cotton 95% of sugar beets is genetically modified.
The biotech industry has been successful in creating a variety of bacteria which when infused into the genes of the desired plant have given astounding results. One of the best outcomes has been herbicide tolerance genetic modification. This protects the crops from damage when insecticide is sprayed on them. Genetic Engineering can also mean that crops can be grown in areas with scanty rainfalls and less fertile soils.
Genetic Engineering can speed up the process of harvest for the crops which means we can have abundant and increased supply overall. However the subject of genetic engineering is not without its share of doubts. There are some who believe that genetic engineering is basically tampering with the nature and may have its own perils. Basically introducing a completely different gene in the DNA can also lead to health hazards. Thankfully the US Food and Drug Administration have stringent quality checks for genetically modified food products before it reaches the food supply chain.
What kind of food do we consume?
The core ingredients of a majority of our products are Corn, soybeans and cotton. As a majority of these crops are genetically engineered, it can be safely assumed that almost 75% of our food is genetically modified. However the good news is that up till now there have been no reported harms of consuming these GMO products.