cooking? A big batch of biotechnology. Breakthroughs in the field
of genetic engineering are changing the way our food is produced.
Explore More about what you're eating now and what's on the table
for the future!
is the use of living organisms or other biological systems in the
manufacture of products or for environmental management.
Traditional biotechnology has always been a part of food production.
The use of microorganisms like yeast and bacteria to create food
and drink is traditional biotechnology. Gasses from yeast make bread
rise and are used to ferment beer and wine. Bacteria contribute
to creating yogurt, and enzymes assist in making cheese.
and crossbreeding are also techniques of traditional biotechnology.
Those methods create stronger and higher yielding crops, and result
in more desirable traits in livestock. Traditional biotechnology
uses the natural biological functions of organisms to help create
crops and livestock, and food and drink.
engineering - a modern biotechnology - is competing with traditional
biotechnology. Genetic engineering allows scientists to replicate,
improve or even completely change the natural functions of the organisms
we rely on for food.
Why would food producers turn to science instead of relying on nature?
Efficiency, effectiveness and cost.
engineered version of an enzyme or a protein can often be produced
more efficiently than its natural counterpart. For instance, genetic
engineering is used to produce mass quantities of an enzyme important
to making cheese, .
The traditional method of obtaining chymosin can't produce the large
quantities that genetic engineering can, making the new method more
provides a more potent version of a natural enzyme or protein. And
cost almost always factors into the equation when deciding whether
to use genetic engineering in food production.
Right now the most common uses of genetic engineering in food production
focus on traits that benefit producers of food, not consumers of food.
engineered traits like disease and insect resistance are now common
in crops like corn and soybeans. That means many foods wind up with
ingredients that were genetically engineered, instead of the whole
food being genetically engineered. (Margarine made with soy oil
made from soybeans genetically engineered to tolerate pesticides.)
The very first whole food genetically engineered was the Flavr Savr
The biggest changes for food could come when genetic engineering
focuses on consumer traits. Foods could be genetically engineered
to have fewer calories, increased vitamins and minerals, or have
allergens removed - making peanut butter safe for everyone!
is a lot of debate over whether genetic engineering should be used
in food production at all. What do you think?
Do You Think?
What kinds of traits would you like to see engineered into food?
Should food production use GE? For more information visit the article
on Frankenfoods in the Issues section.
New York Times Online. Genetically Modified Organisms.
(Online.) September 2002. http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/health/gm-index.html
Food and Drug
Administration. "Genetic Engineering Fast Forwarding to Future
Foods." (Online.) http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/CONSUMER/geneng.html
Flavr Savr tomato was designed to ripen on the vine, and then stay
is a key ingredient in cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products. More
Market to Market Links
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
From nutrition labels on food to crop verification software, information
is becoming a big part of the food sector of the economy.
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.