Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate June 2001

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How has science created better quality foods, better tasting foods, even better looking foods, while increasing crop output and nutritional benefits of the foods? Well, it begins with a concept that is not very new. The idea of crossbreeding crops has been around for thousands of years. It involves taking two crops and cross pollinating them and hoping for a desired outcome.

More recently, since the discovery of genes in the 1950's, biotechnology or "genetically engineered" food has emerged. Biotechnology utilizes our ability to selectively use one desired trait (or one isolated gene type) and inserting it into another plant to give it a new characteristic. The inserted gene or genes is called a trans-gene and most likely come from an unrelated plant.

Sometimes a trans-gene may come from bacteria, viruses, or animals.

The first food produced using modern biotechnology was a tomato in 1994. The Food and Drug Administration determined that the tomato was just as safe as any other tomato.

Since then, the food industry almost fully stands behind the development of biotechnology. The Federal Government and Congress support these new developments and have formed required regulations for the biotechnology industry. The Congress in both houses has formed a bipartisan coalition to promote and support the industry. President Bush launched a National Technology Initiative in February, which includes support for research in biotechnology.

Most of the major agencies in the government support biotechnology including the FDA, USDA, APHIS, HHS and the EPA. Some of these agencies follow up on safety concerns with biotechnology. The APHIS, the EPA, which also regulates herbicides, also has authority over crops that are insect and disease resistant under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). World organizations such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the...