Examples of Genetically Modified Foods

Crops may be modified to increase resistance to pests and disease, increase adaptability to environmental conditions, improve flavor or nutritional profile, delay ripening, or increase shelf life. Many common crops are genetically modified, such as corn, canola, flax, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, and soybeans. Corn and potatoes may be modified with a gene to produce an endotoxin that protects them against the corn-borer pest and the potato endotoxin: toxic substance produced beetle, respectively. A soybean can be genetically modified with a gene from and stored within the p|ant tissue a bacterium to make it herbicide resistant. By inserting two genes from daffodil and one gene from a bacterium, rice can be enriched with beta-carotene.

In the early 1990s, genetically modified tomatoes (Flavr Savr by Calgene, Inc.) were deemed safe by the U.S., Canadian, and British governments and introduced into the market. These tomatoes were bred to stay firm after cancer: uncontrolled cell growth allergic reaction: immune system reaction against a substance that is otherwise harmless protein: complex molecule composed of amino acids that performs vital functions in the cell; necessary part of the diet toxins: poisons antibiotic: substance that kills or prevents the growth of microorganisms harvest so they could remain on the vine longer and ripen to full flavor. However, the tomatoes were so delicate that they were difficult to transport without damage, and the product was pulled from the market in 1997.

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), also known as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), is another example of a product that has not been very successful. Recombinant BGH (Posilac by Monsanto Company) is a genetically engineered version of a growth hormone that increases milk output in dairy cows by as much as 10 to 30 percent. In 1999 the United Nations Food Safety Agency unanimously declared the use of rBGH unsafe after confirming reports of excess levels of the naturally occurring insulin-like growth factor one (IGF-1), including its highly potent variants, in rBGH milk and concluding that these posed major risks of cancer. Health Canada also banned the use of rBGH in milk production in 1999, but the hormone is still permitted in the U.S. milk supply.

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