Ever since 1990s when transgenic crops are first introduced, the pros and cons of GMOs has always been a hotly debated topic. Advocates for GMOs claim that genetically modified food can lower food production cost, increase crop yield, and reduce the use of pesticide. But on the other hand, many are fearful of the potential damage this new organism will do to our body and environment. There is evidence that new breeds of herbicides-resistant crops gave rise to “superbugs” and “superweeds”.
But first of all, what are GMOs? UN defines Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as “organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.” Foods produced by genetic engineering are often referred to as GM foods.
Genetic splicing or engineering might sound like science fiction, but GM foods are very common in our daily lives. Most certainly you have consumed a few of them without being aware, since it is not required to label GMO in the US and Canada. Almost 85% of corn in the US are genetically modified. Other common GM foods include soy, papaya, Zucchini, squash, canola, sugar beets, milk, among others. A few other transgenic foods under development and not yet commercially released include rice with high level of carotenoid for production of Vitamin A (e.g. golden rice) and bananas with vaccines.
Despite all the controversy around the potential health threats posed by GMOs, globally the production of genetically modified or transgenic crops sees 16 years of uninterrupted upward growth. To better prepare yourself for a GMO-infiltrated future, we compiled below infographic on the basic facts and knowledge about genetically modified foods.