Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 -- What are genetically modified foods and are they safe to eat? Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods that come from organisms, in this case, food crops, whose genetic material (or DNA) has been artificially altered. These modifications are generally used to help different plants resist certain diseases or pests, make them grow larger or faster, or occasionally to alter their taste. These technologies can also reduce the cost of certain foods by creating higher yields and reliability.
However, because these foods are modified in labs, many argue that they may negatively affect human health, either by outcrossing, causing allergic reactions, or transferring foreign genes to the human digestive tract. Some people believe that because the genetic composition of organisms are being changed, it may cause allergic reactions when they try to eat it, but there is no evidence of this being true. Similarly, some believe that when consuming GM foods, foreign genes will be transferred to the human digestive tract, which does not sound good, but there is a very small chance of that happening.
There are also concerns about outcrossing, which means that genes might transfer from foods to other organisms, but there are preventative strategies used in the creation of GM foods. Additionally, all GM foods on the market are thoroughly assessed by professionals and tested by scientists. There has been no evidence of ill effects linked to the consumption of any approved GM crop since the widespread commercialization of said plants 18 years ago. So for all you skeptics out there, worry not while eating a seedless watermelon or a GM apple; there are no negative health effects to be concerned about.
Food, Genetically modified. In: World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/health-topics/food-genetically-modified#tab=tab_1. Accessed 22 Sep 2021
Is it safe to eat GM crops? In: Royal Society. https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/gm-plants/is-it-safe-to-eat-gm-crops/. Accessed 22 Sep 2021
Foreign Genes: genes that do not have a human origin
Outcrossing: transfer of genes from foods to the organism that consumes it