What Are Genetically Modified Foods

Genetically Modified (GM) Foods are food, typically crops, that have been created by altering their DNA with various organisms to engineer the plant to avoid some kind of pest or disease. The plants that are most likely to be GM are soybean, corn, canola, and cottonseed oil. But, there is also GM livestock coming on the market soon.

The very first GM plant was the tobacco plant, which was created to make tobacco resistant to antibiotics. Then they started using recombinant chymosin for cheese making in the 1990s. Later came the GM tomato which was called the Flavr Savr tomato, approved for sale by the FDA in 1994. This tomato didn’t start getting ripe until after picking, allowing farms to lose fewer crops to the natural ripening process. Later, canola used in oil production was modified, as was cotton to resist herbicides. Finally came potatoes, soybeans, and golden rice.

At the time most people widely believed that GM foods were not dangerous to the population. People did have concerns that the GM food, once created, became the intellectual property of the corporation which produced it. Meaning, you cannot save the seeds from GM crops to use in a future crop. You have to buy the seeds all over again. Plus, due to the nature of plants, the GM plants can theoretically invade other plants nearby, and a farmer may end up with GM crops without meaning to.

We have GM papaya, created to save Hawaii’s crop from the ringspot virus. Also, we have zucchini, potatoes, apples, and more (all grown in the USA) that are genetically modified to resist various pests or herbicides. The largest GM crop is corn, which is produced as human food and made into many different products, and finally, the waste is used for livestock food. Soy is more likely to be GM than corn, with 90 percent being GM. From soy, many other products are made, including food for human consumption as well as food for livestock. The largest GMO crop in the USA is sugar beet.

While GM cattle and salmon exist, they still do not have approval for sale as human food. But some GM animals are used in the production of medicine and drugs. With the current climate around the world being against GM foods, there is little likelihood that GM animals will be legalized for sale anytime soon. However, they do exist and the corporations would like to get approval to put them on the market.

Corporations like Monsanto Company spend a lot of money, over 5.3 million dollars in one year, on lobbying the government to get their crops and livestock approved. Also, ex-Monsanto executive Michael R. Taylor has served in the following capacities. On July 7, 2009, Taylor returned to the government as Senior Advisor to the FDA Commissioner. On January 13, 2010, he was appointed to another newly created post at the FDA, Deputy Commissioner for Foods. On March 8, 2016, Taylor notified friends and colleagues that he would be departing the FDA as of June 1, 2016.

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