Genetically modified foods — you’ve heard about them, but you probably don’t know whether you’re eating them. They’re produced by splicing genes, those little segments of DNA that code for particular traits, from one plant or animal species and inserting them into another. Biotechnology companies are cooking up all sorts of techniques to engineer organisms in ways that they claim could make crops easier to grow, foods more nutritious, and production more efficient. But the jury is still out on the actual benefits these techniques will bring and there is growing concern about their impact on the environment and the security of our food supply.
Corn, potatoes, and cotton have been made to produce their own pesticides; squash and papaya can fight disease thanks to genes from a virus; and soybeans, corn, canola, and cotton have been rendered immune to certain weed-killing chemicals. Beyond crops, genetic engineering has been employed to make bacteria that produce bovine growth hormone to boost milk production in cows. Canadian scientists have given pigs a mouse gene to reduce the phosphorus in their manure in order to lessen the environmental im... Read more