Friday, August 19

Genetically Modified Foods

What is a bioengineered food and why do some food packages now have that label?
Genetically Modified Foods

What is a bioengineered food and why do some food packages now have that label?

You may have noticed a new label on some foods from the grocery store with a word that some people are finding disconcerting or at the least confusing — “bioengineered.” So what is a bioengineered food ingredient and why are those labels suddenly showing up on food packaging? In 2016, Congress passed the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standardrequiring food manufacturers, importers, and certain retailers to disclose foods that have been bioengineered, and Jan. 1, 2022, was the date for mandatory compliance. You may be more familiar with the terms “genetically modified,” or “GMO.” The new standard replaces those terms with “bioengineered,” or “BE.” Are bioengineered foods safe? A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committeeexamined in-depth the potentia...
New GMO labeling rule takes effect, but food anxieties remain
Genetically Modified Foods

New GMO labeling rule takes effect, but food anxieties remain

On Jan. 1, the long-running public debate about labeling genetically modified foods entered a new phase. A U.S. federal rule went into effect mandating that food companies disclose whether their products contain a detectable amount of recombinant DNA — genetic material from multiple sources combined through lab techniques to confer desired traits. The new policy requires that those foods be labeled as "bioengineered," or carry a QR code and phone number that customers can use to find that information. Since the law requiring the rule change was passed in 2016, it has sparked a predictable backlash. Groups like the nonprofit Center for Food Safety and a coalition of advocates known as Citizens for GMO Labeling have pushed against the regulation, arguing it doesn't do enough to protect cons...
How much do you know about GMOs?
Genetically Modified Foods

How much do you know about GMOs?

Many people are concerned about consuming genetically engineered (GE) foods, more commonly known as GMOs (genetically modified organisms). While GM/GE technology is well understood by science, misinformation and a lack of public understanding can leave consumers feeling skeptical. What is GM/GE foods? Humans have been modifying the genetics of crops and livestock through selective breeding since the dawn of agriculture. Recent scientific advances have allowed modern agriculturalists to target more precise genetic changes than is possible through selective breeding. Using GE technology, scientists can insert genetic sequences from one organism into another or alter existing DNA by deleting or silencing genes. A genetically engineered (or genetically modified) organism is defined as an...
Genetically modified food a step closer in England as laws relaxed
Genetically Modified Foods

Genetically modified food a step closer in England as laws relaxed

The prospect of genetically modified foods being grown and sold in the UK has come a step closer after changes to farming regulations that will allow field trials of gene edited crops in England. Companies or research organisations wishing to conduct field trials will still have to notify the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the government announced on Wednesday, but existing costs and red tape will be removed so more trials are likely to go ahead. The immediate change is small, and affects only England, but the government says it will be followed by plans for new primary legislation that will allow far greater use of gene editing in crops in the UK, and a redefinition in law of genetic modification. Keep reading at The Guardian.
GM foods: Our suspicion and fear may be a thing of the past
Genetically Modified Foods

GM foods: Our suspicion and fear may be a thing of the past

A plant biologist, Professor Martin has spent almost two decades studying tomatoes, and I had travelled to see her because of a particular one she created — a lustrous, dark purple variety that is unusually high in antioxidants, with twice the amount found in blueberries. At 66, Martin has silver-white hair, a strong chin, and sharp eyes that give her a slightly elfin look. She has long been interested in how plants produce beneficial nutrients. The purple tomato is the first she designed to have more anthocyanin, a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compound. “All higher plants have a mechanism for making anthocyanins,”  Martin explained when we met. “A tomato plant makes them as well, in the leaves. We just put in a switch that turns on anthocyanin production in the fruit.” Keep r...
Philippines Approves Golden Rice
Genetically Modified Foods

Philippines Approves Golden Rice

The golden rice saga began in 1999 when researchers developed a genetically modified version of rice that produces beta-carotene (hence the yellow or “golden” color), which is a precursor to vitamin A. Finally, last month the Philippines approved golden rice, which is now cleared to be planted by farmers. The reason for the two-decade delay was mostly regulatory, and caused by ideological opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), not based in science or evidence. The story reflects some important basic principles in public health. Golden rice was developed to fight vitamin A deficiency, which remains a serious problem in many parts of the world. The prevalence of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is about 140 million worldwide, with 250,000 – 500,000 children going blind every year fr...
It makes business sense to be GMO-free
Genetically Modified Foods

It makes business sense to be GMO-free

OPINION: Are we on the brink of doing the wrong thing for all the right reasons? I fear that there is an alliance developing, almost by stealth, that will foist genetically modified organisms (GMO) on New Zealand. The impetus appears to be the need to develop solutions for predator control, or for climate change – through the creation of sterile genes to wipe out, say, possums, or of crops that can resist drought conditions or reduce methane emissions. Silver bullets to provide easy solutions, so we can go on our merry way without changing our behaviours too much. This dangerous short-term thinking needs to be challenged. Physics has taught us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, delicate ecosystem balances should not be toyed with lightly. Look at the damag...
What are GMOs — and do I really need to avoid them?
Genetically Modified Foods

What are GMOs — and do I really need to avoid them?

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, tend to have a poor reputation. Play a word association game with GMOs and people often think along the lines of gross mutations, unhealthy food, and overall garbage stuff. To put it simply, in many people's minds, GMO is just another way to refer to "bad" food. But are GMOs really as evil as we think? When it comes to GMO, there's this idea that you need to be either completely for or completely against them. Problem is, most people don't realize what makes something genetically modified, or just how common GMOs are. Fun fact: Unless you're eating certified organic foods exclusively, you're probably consuming GMOs of some kind. And if you look at the big picture, most of the "domestic" forms of food that we eat — like watermelon — don't look at al...
Not ready to eat GMO animals? Then you might not want to order the salmon
Genetically Modified Foods

Not ready to eat GMO animals? Then you might not want to order the salmon

Recently, I did something I had not done in a long time. I ate in a restaurant with my family. Actually, we ate on the outdoor patio, since my kids are too young to be vaccinated and we are somewhat more squeamish than average about COVID, but it was nevertheless a refreshing return to normality and a welcome rest from battling traffic on the way to the Delaware seashore.  I ordered a salad with blackened salmon. If we make the trip again, I will make a different choice.  That’s because last week, biotech company AquaBounty Technologies Inc. announced that it is harvesting several tons of genetically modified salmon, which will soon be sold at restaurants and other “away-from-home” dining retailers around the country. Keep reading at Food Safety News.
Genetically modified foods: Myths vs. facts
Genetically Modified Foods

Genetically modified foods: Myths vs. facts

Genetically modified foods have frequently given rise to controversy, which means that it can sometimes be difficult to tell fact from misconception. In this Honest Nutrition feature, we explore the facts and dispel the most prevalent myths. Genetically modified foods (GM foods), often called “bioengineeredTrusted Source foods” or “transgenic foods,” continue to be a controversial topic of discussion. Despite their extensive history and widespread use, consumers worldwide do not always have access to sufficient and accurate information about these foods. There is further skepticism surrounding their safety and environmental and health impacts. In this Honest Nutrition feature, we explain what GM foods are, their importance, and what research has discovered about their safety and health...