Genetically Modified Foods are becoming increasingly popular these days. In fact, about 80 percent of the total corn crop produced in the United States is genetically modified.
Whether or not these special type of foods are safe for health is a major source of debate across the world. Genetically Modified Organisms, according to the EU, refers to any plant or animal in which its genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally through mating or a natural combination.
This simply means taking a gene that decodes for a desired trait from a plant or organism and then using it for another.
The central purpose of genetically modifying a crop is to increase its yield. This may be done by targeting the trait responsible for withstanding certain herbicides, to grow quickly, repel pests or reduce fungus.
While some argue that GMO will help to improve the world’s food production thereby helping to feed the poor and bringing an end to hunger in the world, others are more skeptical about its safeness and claim that greater food yield means more profit for large agro corporations that are involved in the production of GMO.
According to the Non-GMO Project, there is strong evidence linking GMOs to health problems and environmental damage, including violation of farmers and consumers rights.
There are more than 300 regions in the world with an outright ban on GMO, while 60 countries including Japan, Australia and all the countries in the European Union require that GMO be labeled.
Below are ten of the most popular Genetically Modified Foods in the world;
The Corn is the most common genetically modified foods.
More than 80 percent of corn grown in the United States is genetically modified. The main reason producers modify corn is to make them resistant to the herbicide glyphosate which is commonly used to kill weeds.
2. Soya beans:
This is the second most common genetically engineered food in the United States. The main reason behind its modification is to increase its capacity to contain more oleic acid; this is a type of unsaturated fat which is also found in olive oil.
Oleic acid is known to lower the level of bad cholesterol in the body.
3. Canola Oil:
Canola Oil is gotten from the Rapeseed plant. Typically, wild Rapeseed is known to contain a high level of Erucic acid which is known to cause health challenges.
A genetically modified version of the plant which produces lower levels of Erucic acid was created to act as a source for the oil that is more usable.
4. Hawaiian Papaya:
As far back as 1999, genetically modified papaya has been grown in Hawaii. The rationale behind their modification is to make them naturally resistant to Papaya Ringspot virus and also to delay ripening.
By delaying ripening, these crops don’t get bad before reaching consumers on the mainland.
The cultivation of genetically modified alfalfa was approved in 2011. The genetically engineered version of the crop carries a gene which makes it resistant to the herbicide Roundup.
This allows farmers to easily spray this chemical without the fear of damaging the alfalfa crop.
6. Sugar Beets:
This is one of the most controversial of all genetically engineered crops. It was initially approved for cultivation in 2005 but was banned in 2010 and later officially deregulated in 2012.
Half of the total US sugar production comes from genetically modified sugar beets. This modified version makes up 95 percent of the country’s sugar beet market.
Cows are often injected with Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) which helps to increase the quantity of milk they produce. However, this hormone is banned in the European Union as well as in other countries such as Canada, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.
As far back as the early 1990s, genetically modified tomatoes have been sold in markets.
Genetically modified potatoes are quite common. India is currently experimenting with a variety of genetically modified potato nick-named ‘protato’. This variety is known to contain a higher level of protein than the regular variety.
10. Cotton oil:
Cotton is another crop that has been genetically modified so as to improve its yield and resistance to disease.
Genetically modified foods are increasingly flooding the market and although food authorities deem them as safe for consumption, many scientists and experts don’t completely agree.
Therefore, it is advisable that you approach these foods with caution.