Copyright © Greenpeace Used with permission
Genetic engineering (GE) can be used in an endless variety of ways. Right now one of the most controversial applications is its use in food production. Many foods on the shelves of your grocery store contain ingredients that come from GE crops. The corn flakes you had for breakfast this morning most likely contained GE corn. The margarine you spread on your toast might have contained soy oil created from GE soybeans. Corn and soybeans are common ingredients in a long list of processed foods including oils, margarine, breads, cake mixes, chips, even soda pop. When you consider the fact that more than half of the soybeans and approximately twenty-five percent of the corn grown in the U.S. are GE varieties, the odds are high that you are eating food containing ingredients derived from GE crops.

Opponents of GE in food production strongly object to the foods' availability. They do not believe enough government regulations are in place to control the production and distribution of these foods. Opponents also say there has not been enough research or long-term testing on these foods, that we cannot know what might happen as a result of growing and eating GE foods or how the environment might be affected. Proponents of GE foods say the benefits GE provides, like improved flavor or increased nutritional value, outweighs any potential risks.

Europeans are not sold on genetic engineering in food production. In fact, they commonly refer to the foods as Frankenfoods (from the character Frankenstein, a man created from several different dead people). European consumers demanded that food producers label the foods so consumers can make a choice between GE and non-GE. Here in the United States consumer awareness is growing, due in part to the StarlinkTM corn incident*. Americans are confronting the issues of regulating and labeling GE foods.

*StarlinkTM is a brand of GE feed corn for livestock. It was not approved for human consumption but mistakenly got mixed in with corn used to produce a variety of food products like taco shells.

Explore More: Genetic Engineering
Copyright 2004, Iowa Public Television
The Explore More project is supported by funds from the
Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust
and the USDE Star Schools Program.


To Label or Not to Label ... That Is the Question
One of the biggest controversies brewing in the field of genetic engineering is whether to label foods that use genetic engineering in their production process. More

A Legislator's Argument for Labeling
A bill by Representative Barbara Boxer failed to pass, but here is her argument for labeling. More

What People Think
In "Brave New Farm," James Walsh reports on opposition to GE foods. "What People Think" reports consumer responses to two questions. More

International Food Information Council
The International Food Information Council (IFIC) conducted phone surveys. More

IPTV Market to Market Links

GMOs Dominate 2002 Crop Acres
In no economic sector is the potential of G-M-O's debated more than in agriculture. And there are few advocates who are embracing and utilizing the technology more than American farmers

Starlink Did Not Cause Allergies
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said it found no evidence linking the genetically modified corn variety to reported cases of rashes, diarrhea, and breathing problems.

PBS Newshour Online Links

Food Fight