GM FOODS IN OUR DAILY ROUTINE

Have you ever wondered why Genetic Modified (GM) foods are indulging in our daily life?

 Genetically modified (GM) foods are carried out using genetic engineering technology, in which some alteration or modifications are done in genetic material and such foods are also called bioengineered foods. Mainly, genetically modified organisms are responsible for production of genetically modified foods such as potato, brinjal, cotton, oil, ready to eat foods and much more. The phenomenon of genetic modification is done to get desired traits or selective genes into the plants to obtain final food as per requirement where foreign genes used to insert into the cell, a plant or an animal i.e. transgene. 

This technique helps in discarding undesired traits and addition of desired genes for new food products. Gene transfer is used to change the physical, chemical make-up and nutritional profile of desired food. The genome editing helps in generating new varieties of crops and animals. There are numerous benefits of genetic engineering like enhanced nutritious composition and tastier food, more desirable characters in food, reduced costs with increasing shelf life, medicinal properties, less use of pesticides and fertilizers, crops grow intensively etc., gained drought intolerance and also developed pest resistance ability. According to several reports, the highest GM crops are grown in the US and other large producers of GM foods are Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada, China, Pakistan and so on. In simple words, GM food production is an artificial method cultured by altering some gene sequences (addition or deletion of genes) of the natural food products.

There you get the list of super GMO foods!

Corn:

Corn is the most commonly grown GMO variety grown in the US. It is mostly GMO for the purpose of resisting insect pests or tolerating herbicides. GMO BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) corn, which produces certain proteins that can turn out harmful or toxic for pests or other animals. It also helps in reducing dependence of using spraying insecticides and provides prevention against insect infestation without causing any harm to beneficial insects such as ladybugs. Additionally, GMO corn is used to make processed drinks and other food products. Also used to feed livestock, like cows, and poultry, like chicken.

Papaya:

It has been seen that ringspot virus disease destroyed Hawaii’s papaya crop yield. So finally GMO papaya came into existence in 1999 in Hawaii to prevent papaya from ringspot virus and proved safe for consumption. For this, a viral capsid protein was transferred into papaya fruit which activates immune response in the papaya fruit. These capsid proteins saved fields and farming from vanishing.

Soy beans:

GMO Soy bean with improved amino acids’ composition. Most of the soy crops are used to grow in several parts of the US. Mainly Bt soybeans were developed to protect leaves of soybeans which were usually infested by the action of velvet bean caterpillars. Scientists worked to resist pests or insects by incorporating the Bacillus thuringiensis gene into the soy. Soy is used for feeding animals, poultry and livestock. Soy is an ingredient for making soybean oil and other processed foods.

Canola Oil:

The GMO canola oil is used to make cooling oil and margarine. The high euric acid levels are believed to be harmful for the human heart. Therefore, genetically modified canola oil is a mutated version of rapeseed oil that must have less than 2% of euric acid content, so it is regarded as Canola oil. Canola oil has a low level of monounsaturated fats which can replace saturated fatty acids, helping in reducing risk of heart diseases. 

Apple:

 The primary reason for developing GMO apples was to prevent apples from getting brown after cutting. However, brown apples do not give a pleasant look to consumers, they tend to think that browned apples are spoiled. The genetically engineered (GE) apple is called an arctic apple which does not turn brown after cutting or bruising. Basically, polyphenol oxidase (PPO) is an enzyme responsible for causing browning in apples. By gene modification technology the activity of an enzyme is disabled which in turn ceased browning mechanism. This technique truly beneficial for preventing food wastage occur due to browning in apples.

Potato:

The basic purpose of growing GMO potatoes was to prevent insects, pests and disease. Gm potatoes were transformed with a high level of calcium and protein content. Moreover, GMO potatoes are capable of resisting bruising occurring while packaging, transportation and storage. Sometimes, browning occurs in potatoes after cutting might affect consumers’ preferences. Generally, browned potatoes are considered as spoiled potatoes, but the reality is converse because browning does not affect the quality of potatoes.

Sugar beet: 

GMO sugar beets are usually selected to make granular sugar. Genetically modified sugar beets are resistant to herbicides and control weeds in the field, which is helpful for farmers. Several studies suggested that genetically engineered sugar beets are Glyphosate-resistant (GR) and effectively work against certain weeds. The residue of GR prevents weeds growth and helps in major sugar beets crops production. Additionally, the amount of sugar present in GM sugar beets is the same as in non GR beetroots.

Golden rice: 

Normal traditional or convection rice contains beta-carotene in leaves and stem region but is unavailable in the kernel. By applying bioengineering with slight modifications, it became possible to generate beta-carotene (pro vitamin A) in the edible portion of endosperm. In general, the two beta-carotene biosynthesis genes inserted in formation of golden rice are psy (phytoene synthase) and lye (lycopene cyclase). Therefore, genetically modified golden rice is a rich source of vitamin A, which is considered as beneficial for public health aspects. According to a report, the wider public suffer from vitamin A deficiency and golden rice has proved to be an effective food source against VAD.

Tomato:

Genetically modified tomatoes were introduced with high content of beta-carotene, which act as a precursor for vitamin A synthesis in the human body. Hence, color gene incorporation enhances color, appearance, vitamin A level and overall quality of tomatoes.

How GMO crops positively impacted our lives?

It enhances farming production rate.

Pest control and prevent other diseases.

Developed increased tolerance against droughts.

Favourable traits or genes are introduced to modify properties of natural foods.

Improve sensory properties of foods with food safety assurance.

GM foods can help in reducing malnutrition cases in the world.

Less agricultural land or area is sufficient for farming with less labor input. 

The following gene editing technology raised up profitable markets.

 Negative impacts or traits of GM foods:

Genetic engineering affects the ecosystem and biodiversity, which could lead to soil and water contamination. 

GM crops are potent in creating undesirable weeds. Therefore, the consequences have arisen from production of Herbicide intolerance (HR) crops that some sort of weeds are now glyphosate resistant (GR).

This technique might cause allergies to some consumers and could lead to harmful effects on human health. 

This engineering could create antibiotic resistance due to the effectiveness of antibodies slowing down in the human gut area and chances of infectious diseases increasing. Furthermore, the foreign genes extracted from animal sources to insert into the plant foods could raise social & ethical or religious issues. 

Read our latest article on: By-Product Utilization in Meat Industry

References:

Genetically Modified Foods  (GMOs) – How safe are we?   – Daily Nation (dailynationzambia.com)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3791249/

https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/agriculture/genetically-modified-gm-crops-techniques-and-applications-0-710/#:~:text=Genetic%20modification%20(GM)%20technology%20allows,insect%20resistance%20or%20herbicide%20tolerance.https://www.fda.gov/food/agricultural-biotechnology/gmo-crops-animal-food-and-beyond

https://www.bestfoodfacts.org/what-foods-are-gmo/

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