Genetically modified food Renata Zdanowska & Anna Zalewska Siedlce, 2011 Genetically Modified Food and Feed What are GMOs? • Presently, it has become possible to modify the genetic material of living cells and organisms using techniques of modern biotechnology called gene technology. The genetic characteristics are being modified artificially in order to give them a new property (a plant's resistance to a disease or insect, a plant's tolerance of a herbicide, improvement of a food's quality or nutritional value, increased crop productivity. Genetically Modified Food and Feed What are GMOs? • Organisms, such as plants and animals, whose genetic material (DNA) has been altered in such a way are called genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Food and feed which contain or consist of such GMOs, or are produced from GMOs, are called genetically modified (GM) food or feed. Development • The first commercially grown genetically modified food was a tomato (called FlavrSavr), which was modified to ripen without softening, by Calgene and later by Monsanto. It was welcomed by consumers who buy tomatoes at a low price. The Flavr Savr was used by Zeneca to produce tomato paste which was sold in Europe during the summer 1996. The labeling and pricing was made as a market experiment. It proved, at the time, that European consumers would accept genetically engineered food. Growing GM crops • Between 1997 and 2009, the total surface area of land cultivated with GMOs had increased by a factor of 80, from 17,000 km2 to 1,340,000 km2 • Although most GM crops are grown in North America, in recent years there has been rapid growth in the area sown in developing countries. For instance in 2009 the largest increase in crop area planted to GM crops (soybeans) was in Brazil . There has also been rapid and continuing expansion of GM cotton varieties in India since 2002. (Cotton is a major source of vegetable cooking oil and animal feed.) Rules on GMOs in the EU - Labelling • Food and feed must carry a label which refers to the presence of GMOs. However, these labelling requirements do not apply to food/feed which contains, consists of, or is produced from GMOs in a proportion no higher than 0.9 % of the food/feed ingredients considered individually and if this presence is adventitious or technically unavoidable. Labelling • Labelling provides information for consumers and allows them to make an informed choice. In the case of pre-packaged products consisting of, or containing, GMOs, the list of ingredients must indicate "genetically modified" or "produced from genetically modified [name of the organism]". In the case of products without packaging these words must still be clearly displayed in close proximity to the product - such as a note on the supermarket shelf. Food products which must be labelled Food which is a genetically modified organism (GMO) or which consists of GMOs: - genetically modified sweetcorn (in tins)*; - GM tomatoes**; - GM potatoes**; - raw salad from GM chicory** ; - GM salmon**. * = approved in the EU, but not available ** = the respective GM plants or GM animals are not approved in the EU at present Food products which must be labelled Food, ingredients or additives, which are produced from GMOs: At present, possible products include those made from GM soy beans and GM maize: - margarine from GM soy bean - oil from GM soy beans; - cornflakes from GM corn; - starch from GM corn; - bread with GM soy protein or GM soy flour; - glucose with GM corn starch - peanut puff snacks containing GM corn starch. Food product which must be labelled Food, ingredients and additives which contain genetically modified organisms: This category applies primarily to food produced with GM micro organisms, and includes: - wheat beer with GM yeast; - yeast extract from GM yeast; - yoghurt with GM lactic acid bacteria; - salami (raw sausages) with GM lactic acid bacteria; - blue cheese with GM moulds. To date, no GM yeast, GM bacteria are approved in the EU for use in food. These Products Do Not Require Labelling food products from animals fed with GM plants sweetener (aspartame), produced with the help of GM micro organisms dairy products from milk cows fed with GM plants honey containing pollen or nectar from GM plants GMO Health Risks •Genetically modified foods: YES, you are already eating them. NO, they are not safe to eat. •Did you know... since 1996 Americans have been eating genetically modified (GM) ingredients in most processed foods. •Did you know... GM plants, such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, and canola have had foreign genes forced into their DNA. And the inserted genes come from species, such as bacteria and viruses, that have never been in the human food supply. •Did you know... genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not safe. They have been linked to thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals Growing evidence of harm from GMOs • GM soya makes allergic reactions • The level of soya allergen is as much as 7-times higher in cooked GM soy compared to non-GM soya • GM soya also contains an unexpected allergen-type protein not found in natural soya. Controversy While it is evident that there is a food supply issue, the question is: Can GM solve world hunger problems??? Several scientists argue that in order to meet the demand for food in the developing world, a second Green Revolution with increased use of GM crops is needed. Others argue that there is more than enough food in the world and that the hunger crisis is caused by problems in food distribution and politics, not production. Which side are you on?