What is genetic engineering? Many people are not sure about what it is. Genetic engineering is the process of inserting the gene of one species into another species. Ever since the latter part of the 19th century, when Gregor Mendel discovered that characteristics in pea plants could be inherited, scientists have been improving plants by changing their genetic makeup. Not until recently though have scientists figured out how to genetically alter a plant. This research has led to extreme changes in today's crops.
In today's crops scientists have altered several things to make them sturdier. About half of the American soybean crop planted in 1999, for example, carried a gene that made it resistant to an herbicide used to control weeds. Also about a quarter of U.S. corn planted in 1999 contained a gene that produced a protein toxic to certain caterpillars, eliminating the need for certain conventional pesticides. Research has also made extreme impact on how easily plants can grow.
Through genetic engineering, scientists have been able to do this.
Genetically engineered foods have been on the rapid uprising since 1992. Now about 60% of processed foods have at least one genetically engineered ingredient in them. These ingredients are usually corn or soy derivatives, since they are the most widely planted genetically engineered crops. This has led to some activist groups to lobby for the labeling of foods with genetically engineered ingredients.
These activist groups are arguing that the genetically engineered ingredients in foods are bad for a human's health along with bad for the environment. They also argue that the corporations developing the technology control the research. These companies also conduct all safety testing and are not required to report negative findings. This one issue has a lot of people questioning the safety of eating genetically engineered foods.