Scientists create GMO foods by introducing genetic material, or DNA, from a different organism through genetic engineering.
Most of the currently available GMO foods are plants, such as fruit and vegetables.
GMO foods are likely to become a crucial tool in feeding the world’s growing population, especially in areas with harsh climates. However, there have been concerns about possible risks.
How to identify GMO foods
In the U.S., the FDA does not require special labeling for GMO foods. This is because they must meet the same safety standards as other foods, and there should be no need for additional regulation.
However, a GMO food needs a special label if it is “materially different” from its conventional counterpart. For example:
- A GMO canola oil with more lauric acid than traditional canola oil will be labeled “laurate canola oil”
- For a GMO soybean oil with more oleic acid than non-GMO soybean oil must be labeled “high oleic soybean oil”
- A GMO soybean oil with a high level of stearidonic acid, which does not naturally occur in the oil, must be labeled “stearidonate soybean oil”
However, the 2018 National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard states that all foods containing genetically engineered ingredients must now carry the label “derived from bioengineering” or “bioengineered.” Specific symbols show whether a food has been bioengineered.
How to find non-GMO food
Foods that are bioengineered and products that contain bioengineered foods must carry a specific label. If a product does not have this kind of label, it does not contain bioengineered ingredients.
Foods that are likely to be GMO include:
- sugar beet, as 99.9% of sugar beet in the U.S. is GMO
- canola products, as 95% of them are GMO in the U.S.
- soybean products, since 94% of soybean in the U.S. is GMO
- corn, as 92% of corn planted in the U.S. is GMO
- cottonseed oil, since 94% of cotton is GMO
Many GMO crops also become ingredients in other foods, for example:
- corn starch in soups and sauces
- corn syrup used as a sweetener
- corn, canola, and soybean oils in mayonnaise, dressings, and bread
- sugar derived from sugar beets
How do scientists make GMO foods?
Genetic modification is when scientists insert new DNA into the gene pool of an existing plant.
For this to happen, the following needs to take place:
- Scientists transfer new DNA into plant cells.
- They grow the cells in tissue culture, and a plant develops.
- The new plant produces seeds.
- A person grows plants from the new seeds.
The new plants will have genetic features that make them, for example, more nutritious or resistant to pests, disease, or climate factors.
For thousands of years, people have used processes such as selective breeding or crossbreeding to produce more viable crops. However, changes took a long time to achieve, and it was hard to make specific changes.
In recent years, developments in genetic engineering have allowed scientists to make specific changes more quickly. The crops produced in this way are called GMO crops. The first GMO food to appear on the market was a tomato, in 1994Trusted Source.
Types of GMO foods
The following are the most common GMO crops produced and sold in the U.S.:
- sugar beet
- summer squash
Derivatives of these foods, such as cornstarch and sugar, also feature in other manufactured foods. It is worth noting that 99.9%Trusted Source of all sugar beet harvested in the U.S. is GMO, as well as over 90% of all canola, corn, soybean, and cotton.
What common foods are GMO?
The likelihood that any food derived from corn, cottonseed, soybean, canola, or sugar beet will be GMO food in the U.S. is 90%Trusted Source or higher.
Which GMO foods to avoid?
There is no specific GMO food to avoid. GMO foods undergo strict testing before they can be commercialized. Moreover, this could make them safer than other foods, which do not undergo testing.
Is GMO food safe?
Currently, there is no evidence that GMO foods cause cancer, allergies, or any other health conditions. However, research is ongoing.
What are the risks of GMO foods?
Health authorities vet all GMO and other foods for safety before manufacturers can sell them, and research is ongoing.
So far, scientists have found no evidence that commercially available GMO foods are dangerous for health. Environmental concerns include the risk of altered genes entering wild species.
Genetic modification can make plants resistant to disease and tolerant of herbicides, and therefore, the process can increase the amount of food that farmers can grow. This in turn can reduce food prices and contribute to food security.
GMO crops are relatively new, and researchers are still investigating their long-term safety and health effects, but no evidence has yet emerged that currently available GMO foods are harmful to human health.
For more information about pros and cons of GMO food.. click here..