Talk about genetically modified (GM) foods causes angst for some people who’re concerned about eating healthily because they worry that too little is known about the long-term effects of modified foods to label them safe.
But others say that controlling our food’s characteristics is nothing new, having been practiced in agriculture for hundreds of years. For example, being selective about the fruit and vegetables we propagate means that we now have products that are larger, are more resistant to natural elements and taste better.
The Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Website explains that “today’s techniques use new ways of identifying particular characteristics and transferring them between living organisms”. For example, the site explains that it’s now possible to make a copy of a particular gene from the cells of a plant, animal or microbe, and insert the copy into the cells of another organism to give it the same characteristic.
What are the health concerns?
Some of the health concerns that have been brought up since the inception of GM foods range from the possibility of new diseases being spread among crops or transmitted to humans, to an increase in allergic reactions.
In 1996, a study found when desired genes from a brazil nut were transferred to a soybean, the allergenic properties were too. While this prompted a ban on using gene modification on allergenic there have been cases of genetically modified foods escaping into the wild.
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