Food for Thought: Bioengineered Foods

By Yahaira Hernandez

We have all heard of “bioengineered foods” or “genetically modified foods”, and we have surely also heard some hot debates on the topic. Many continue to ask themselves what exactly these foods are and does it do more harm than good?

Bioengineered foods are foods that have been engineered to contain foreign genes from either bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals to make desired traits more common and more pronounced. Genetically engineered plants are also resistant to certain insects or diseases, making them more likely to remain healthy, grow into their full-size, and require fewer pesticides.

Some benefits of bioengineered foods are the following: they are more nutritious foods, they contain fewer insecticides, they grow faster and become tastier, and they can increase food supply. Not much research has been done on potential long-term risks towards humans because scientists claim bioengineered foods are safe. However, some risks and concerns include genetic changes in plants or organisms that can produce allergic reactions to allergenic proteins (like peanuts or wheat), they can potentially create new allergens, bioengineered foods are not as healthy as eating organic foods, and there have been many health problems that have been found in animal studies.

Experts say that more than 70 percent of processed foods sold in the United States have genetically modified ingredients. Some common genetically modified foods are corn, soybeans, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, rice, oils, animal feed and salmon.

More than 60 countries have already banned or set restrictions on selling bioengineered foods. However, many companies around the world have been labeling their products to inform people that their products are non-genetically modified foods or “Non-GMO” if you choose to avoid eating bioengineered foods.