What are Genetically Modified Organisms?
A genetically modified organism, or GMO, is an organism in which one or more changes have been made to its genome. These changes are typically done using high-tech genetic engineering that promotes certain characteristics of an organism by inserting a selective gene to produce a desired trait. GMOs are primarily used to help farmers prevent crop loss and control weeds.
By modifying their genomes, scientists have produced plants with higher yields, lower pesticide consumption, better drought resistance, and longer post-harvest stability. Scientists have also made fruits and vegetables more resistant to insects and diseases by altering their genetic characteristics, which has helped farmers use fewer pesticides. Additionally, genetic engineering allows certain foods to have a longer shelf life.
Biofortification is the process of improving the nutritional quality of staple food crops through genetic engineering. This process can boost essential vitamins in various foods. One example of a biofortified crop is golden rice, which is regular rice modified with a compound called beta-carotene. Once digested by a human, the beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A. Vitamin A has many benefits, such as improved vision and a stronger immune system.
The pink pineapple is another biofortified crop that has been approved by the FDA. Compared to regular pineapples, pink pineapples contain higher levels of lycopene, an organic compound essential for health that may even help slow the spread of cancer cells in the human body.
GMOs have caused controversy among the public over concerns about safety. Evaluations conducted by regulatory government agencies conclude that GMOs are safe to consume. However, there is still much to be investigated about the risks of genetically modified organisms, and ongoing research remains necessary.
Tamika Sims, P. (2018). One of Our Food System’s Helping Hands: GMOs. Food Insight. https://foodinsight.org/one-of-our-food-systems-helping-hands-gmos/#:~:text=GMO%20crops%20have%20significantly%20increased,the%20farmers%27%20end%2C%20too
GMO Nutrition. GMO Answers. (2023). https://gmoanswers.com/gmos-and-nutrition
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Genetically Engineered Foods. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002432.htm#:~:text=Increased%20supply%20of%20food%20with,as%20vaccines%20or%20other%20medicines
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). GMO crops, animal food, and beyond. FDA. https://www.fda.gov/food/agricultural-biotechnology/gmo-crops-animal-food-and-beyond
Macrovector_Official. (2020, December 16). GMO food. Freepik. https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/gmo-food-isometric-composition-turquoise-background-with-dna-molecule-genetically-modified-corn-apple-illustration_10479148.htm