Our ancestors first cultivated plants some ten thousand years ago. They domesticated animals later and then selectively bred both plants and animals to meet various requirements for human food. Humans discovered natural biological processes such as fermentation of fruits and grains to make wine and beer, and yeast for baking bread. Manipulation of foods is not a new story, therefore. The latest agricultural discovery uses genetic engineering technology to modify foods.
Farmers and plant breeders have been changing crop plants to improve characteristics such as size, resistance to disease and taste. Plants which grow well, have a higher yield or taste better are selected and bred from. This is still the most widely used technique for developing new varieties of a crop, and is limited by natural barriers which stop different species of organisms from breeding with each other. Genetic modification is very different to these traditional plant breeding techniques.
Genetic modification is the insertion of DNA from one organism to another, usually by molecular technologies. Genetically Modified Foods (GMF) are animals or plants that have had genetic modification. This changes the characteristics of the organism, or the way it grows and develops.
Jim Maryanski from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, had the following to say in an interview published on the FDA's website.
ÃÂÃÂThere are hundreds of new plant varieties introduced every year in the United States, and all have been genetically modified through traditional plant breeding techniques--such as cross-fertilization of selected plants--to produce desired traits.ÃÂÃÂ (Robin)Current and future GM products include:a)Food that can deliver vaccines - bananas that produce hepatitis B vaccineb)More nutritious foods - rice with increased iron and vitaminsc)Faster growing fish, fruit and nut treesd)Plants producing new plasticsIn so many respects, genetic modification is perfect for today's society. It would help agriculturalists overcome all headaches...