What are the advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified food?


Quick Answer

Genetic modification of foods can lead to better-tasting foods that are more nutritious, but there is the potential that the modification may have undesirable side effects on humans and animals that consume them. The modification can reduce the use of pesticides but make the plant more susceptible to other pests.

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Full Answer

Genetic modification of food involves placing the genetic code for one species of plant into another. With genetic modification, science is able to speed up the process of genetic changes that sometimes occur naturally. However, the process leads to concerns over possible risks, such as allergies. For instance, if the modification involves adding part of the genetic code of peanuts, which are a common allergen, to lettuce, some consumers fear the lettuce could cause a peanut allergy.

Another potential disadvantage of genetic modification of foods is that the modified plant or animal has the potential to breed with a nonmodified organism. Such breeding has the potential to lead to the extinction of the original or affect the environment.

Genetically modified foods are generally safe, according to MedlinePlus, but require further testing to establish complete safety. As of 2015, there have been no reports of injury or illness due to these foods. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulate bioengineered foods. The FDA maintains information on these foods on its website.

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