GMO, which is short for Genetically Modified Organism, is an organism that has been changed through genetic engineering.
While many people think this may sound like science fiction, the fact is this technique is being used in many of today's most common foods. Whether it's a tomato that has been altered to withstand cold temperatures or an apple that has had its genes altered to keep it from bruising, there is little doubt genetically modified organisms play a very important role in many aspects of modern life.
Genetically Modified Foods
What many consumers don't realize is that many of today's most edible foods have probably been altered genetically. In addition to tomatoes and apples, the United States Food and Drug Administration recently approved genetically modified potatoes that cannot be bruised or become brown, due to their enzyme levels being reduced. Along with this, those who love to eat pork will be happy to know that scientists have now used genetic modification to create pigs that glow in the dark, which was done by inserting genes from a jellyfish into their DNA. Just how this will impact eating pork is not quite clear, but those who want glow-in-the-dark pork chops may have something to look forward to in the years ahead.
Benefits of Genetically Modified Foods
Despite many being wary of genetically modified foods, scientists state there are numerous benefits to these new types of foods. Among the most common benefits include better taste, foods that are more nutritious, and ones that are much more resistant to diseases and droughts. Because of this, scientists also believe that as more and more foods become resistant to diseases and droughts, food prices will become lower since there will be few if any shortages in the years ahead.
Risks of Genetically Modified Foods
While many tout the benefits of genetically modified foods, others believe the risks outweigh the benefits. Some of the risks that are most commonly cited include potential harm to those who eat these foods, as well as the modified organisms inbreeding with natural organisms, which could lead to the unexpected extinction of the original organism.
Widespread Use of Genetically Modified Foods
While there may be many risks and benefits associated with genetically modified foods, what may surprise consumers is just how widespread this agricultural technology is used today. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 90 percent of soy, corn, canola, and beets sold in grocery stores have been genetically altered, while 89 percent of farm acreage in the United States has crops that have been genetically modified. While these numbers may sound staggering, most experts agree that these numbers will increase tremendously in the next decade, with virtually all foods being genetically modified in some fashion.
As more research continues to be conducted on genetically modified organisms, there is little doubt scientists will find many more ways to implement GMOs in ways never seen by anyone. Whether it is trying to create an apple that will stay fresher longer, a tomato that will taste great no matter where it has been grown, or developing ways to make foods resistant to poisons, there are numerous ways in which GMOs can assist in these efforts.