Genetically Modified Foods

Katherine Hart

Introduction and Procedure

Genetically modified foods (GMOs)- good or bad? You may not realize it, but you may be eating foods everyday that have been genetically modified. Corn, Soy, Squash, Zucchini, Milk, and Tomatoes just to name a few! To modify crops for the specific gene, there is a certain process the farmers perform.

Here it is:

1) Isolation of gene(s) of interest

2) Insertion of gene(s) into a transfer vector

3) Plant transformation (old cells mixed with new plant)

4) Selection of the modified plant cells

5) Regeneration into whole plants from tissue culture

6) Verification of transformation

7) Testing of plant performance

8) Safety assessment

Government Regulations

In the U.S. there are three regulatory agencies in charge of regulating genetically modified foods. The EPA, FDA, and USDA all see the transgenic crops from different perspectives.

  • EPA: Regulates the pesticides. This means that they require developers who include genes for Bt toxins in their food to go through a food-safety analysis.
  • FDA: Regulates the safety of the modified crops for human and animal consumption.
  • USDA: Regulates the pests that may cause disease, injury to plants, virus, bacteria, etc. (under the Plant Protection Act of 2000)

Benefits and Risks

So what's the purpose of genetically modifying a crop? Well, if you ask a farmer they may say it adds extra vitamins and/or nutrients, provides a shorter growth period, creates plants that are resistant to weeds, pests, other diseases, bigger yields, and foods with a longer shelf life. Those are just a hand full of the many benefits. Sounds great, doesn't it? Although there are many positives to modifying are food, you have to think about the risks as well. These may include: cancer, loss of nutrition, allergic reactions, and antibiotic resistance.