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Genetically modified foods

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Genetically engineered crops appear to be safe to eat and do not harm the environment, according to a new analysis by the advisory group the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. It is unclear whether the technology has actually increased crop yields. The report from the influential group, released on Tuesday, comes as the federal government is reviewing how it regulates biotech crops and as big packaged food companies like Campbell Soup and General Mills are starting to label products as being made with genetically engineered ingredients to comply with a new Vermont law. Genetically engineered foods are reported to be high in nutrients and contain more minerals and vitamins than those found in traditionally grown foods. Other than that, these foods are known to taste better. Another reason for people opting for genetically engineered foods is that they have an increased shelf life and hence there is less fear of foods getting spoiled quickly.

GM foods are helpful in controlling the occurrence of certain diseases. By modifying the DNA system of these foods, the properties causing allergies are eliminated successfully. These foods grow faster than the foods that are grown traditionally. Because of this, the increased productivity provides the population with more food. Moreover, these foods are a boon in places which experience frequent droughts, or where the soil is incompetent for agriculture. Genetically engineered food crops can be grown in places with unfavorable climatic conditions too. The report also says that new techniques, like a way to make small genetic changes in plants using genome-editing, are blurring the distinction between genetic engineering and conventional plant breeding, making the existing regulatory system untenable. It calls for a new system that pays more attention to the attributes of the crop, as opposed to the way in which it was created.

Genetically engineered crops pose no additional risks to humans and the environment when compared to conventional crops, according to a new report. The research, published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, is the result of a sweeping review of nearly 900 publications on the effects of genetically modified crops on human health and the environment. Genetic engineering has helped agricultural producers in the U.S., including small farmers, thrive, according to the report. But genetic modification is not all good news, the report suggests. Widespread use of genetically modified crops, which are often engineered to resist the effects of pesticides, has contributed to concerning levels of pesticide resistance in weeds and insects. Pests improve in their ability to resist pesticides every time the chemicals are sprayed, creating a vicious cycle of increased spraying and more resistance.

Genetically modified foods consist of plants and animals whose genes have been altered. The principal ingredients of GM foods currently available are derived from genetically modified soybean, maize, and canola. GM foods are classified into one of three generations. First-generation crops have enhanced input traits, such as herbicide tolerance, better insect resistance, and better tolerance to environmental stress. Second-generation crops include those with added-value output traits, such as nutrient enhancement for animal feed. Third-generation crops include those that produce pharmaceuticals, improve the processing of bio-based fuels, or produce products beyond food and fiber. GM food was developed to increase the yield of growing crops to beat hunger. The goal of genetic modification is to create crops and livestock that have beneficial effects on health and do not occur naturally in a given species. Scientists Say GMO Foods Are Safe. Genetically-engineered crops are as safe to eat as their non-GE counterparts, they have no adverse environmental effects, and they have reduced the use of pesticides. Genetically modified foods have been available since the 1990s. Genetic modification can be used to assist food manufacturers and to improve on the storage capacity or nutritional value of foods. The first commercial food product developed from gene splicing.

The potential for GM foods to cause allergic reactions is the most obvious health concern associated with these products. Specific proteins in milk, eggs, wheat, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans, and shellfish cause over 90% of food allergies. If a protein from one of these food types were to be incorporated into a food that normally would not have this protein, people who are allergic to these proteins could unknowingly consume such a food and suffer allergic reactions. The FDA has put measures into place to prevent such a scenario by requiring that each producer of a GM food product present scientific evidence that they have not incorporated any allergenic substance into their product. If this evidence cannot be produced, the FDA requires a label to be put on the product to alert consumers.

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