Consumer Acceptance of Genetically Modified Food

gm foodA lot of biotech companies have been strongly driving the industry to be accepted by more and more consumers. A lot of them has been saying that genetically modified foods would be the next big thing and that would help curb world hunger.

Biotech food products are the result of research and studies done by scientists in trying to develop ways in trying to combine the favorable characteristics of different plants. The experts try to do this through gene transfer wherein genes from different plants are being added into a host plant in order to come up with a new plant presumably with better characteristics. With this technology, scientists have been able to develop drought and pest resistant plants, better nutrient enriched plant strains as just among the many products of genetic modification.

This technology has already been used in the food industry, mostly by way of agricultural production of genetically modified crops as well as animals. At present, there are now a substantially growing number of genetically modified plants that are being cultivated for food use. Not everyone may know about it, but some of the foods available in the market may have used or contain, in one way or another, some kind of genetically engineered food ingredient.

The three major genetically engineered crops being grown today are soybeans, maize and cotton. According to statistics, circa 2005, in terms of world production output, GM soybeans make up 60 percent of the total soybeans being produced worldwide. GM maize take on about 24 percent of the total output while GM cotton takes in about 11 percent of the total world output.

In the US on the other hand, about 89 percent of the soybeans being cultivated are GM soybeans. GM cotton takes in 83 percent of all the cotton being produced in the US while GM maize takes the 61 percent of the US maize production pie. The main reason why these GM crops are being cultivated is their enhanced capability to resist weed-killing chemicals as well as their abilities to make their own insecticides, thanks to genetic engineering. This allows farmers to produce more and gain more from every harvest.

With this statistics in mind, it won’t be too hard to imagine that most of the food products that are available in the market today may contain, in one way or another, GM food ingredients. Take for example a number of processed foods. Such food products may contain at least certain amounts of soy lecithin or corn syrup. With US production of such crops today come from GM soybeans and corn, almost everyone in the US today may have at least consumed some type of gene-altered food.

In the past, no one would have bothered about such things. But certain high profile problems have cropped up concerning genetically modified plants recently that it has taken some people to look a bit more closely at the safety of consuming such products. Concerns are growing at whether GM food may be that safe to eat. It seems that more consumers today are in the dark concerning the food that they put on the table. Now whose responsibility would it be to enlighten them?

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