What are genetically modified (GM) organisms and GM foods?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination. The technology is often called “modern biotechnology” or “gene technology”, sometimes also “recombinant DNA technology” or “genetic engineering”. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between nonrelated species. Foods produced from or using GM organisms are often referred to as GM foods.
Are GM foods safe?
Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods.
GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved. Continuous application of safety assessments based on the Codex Alimentarius principles and, where appropriate, adequate post market monitoring, should form the basis for ensuring the safety of GM foods.
For more answers to frequently asked questions on GMO foods, click here.
Genetically modified food
Genetically modified foods or GM foods, also genetically engineered foods, are foods produced from organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering techniques allow for the introduction of new traits as well as greater control over traits than previous methods such as selective breeding and mutation breeding.
Commercial sale of genetically modified foods began in 1994, when Calgene first marketed its unsuccessful Flavr Savr delayed-ripening tomato. Most food modifications have primarily focused on cash crops in high demand by farmers such as soybean, corn, canola, and cotton seed oil. Genetically modified crops have been engineered for resistance to pathogens and herbicides and for better nutrient profiles. GM livestock have been developed, although as of November 2013 none were on the market.
There is general scientific agreement that food from genetically modified crops is not inherently riskier to human health than conventional food, but should be tested on a case-by-case basis. However, there are ongoing public concerns related to food safety, regulation, labeling, environmental impact, research methods, and the fact that some GM seeds are subject to intellectual property rights owned by corporations.
Learn more from Wikipedia:
Image credit: (lower left) 3 views of the Sunset papaya cultivar, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1050717