What are Transgenic Foods?

What Does Alimentos transgénicos Mean

We explain what transgenic foods are and what genetic modifications are for. In addition, its advantages and criticisms.

These genetic alteration techniques are applied, among others, to corn and soybeans.

What are transgenic foods?

Transgenic foods are plant organisms modified by genetic engineering and other bioengineering techniques , in order to give them new properties and achieve more resistant, abundant crops and / or with larger products.

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Transgenic foods are obtained as part of species improvement projects , only not through traditional methods of natural selection or hybridization (whose products are usually sterile), but by inserting genes from another similar species into the species, to introduce concrete changes in the reproduction of the species.

The first transgenic plant produced was born in 1983 and three years later the multinational company Monsanto was already marketing it. It was a tobacco plant that had a gene inserted to make it resistant to the antibiotic Kanamycin. In 1994 the Calgene company began marketing the first transgenic product : Flavr Savr tomatoes.

This type of genetic modification techniques are currently applied to corn and soybeans , among other vegetables for mass consumption , through the sale of transgenic seeds "manufactured" by large agrotechnology corporations. The five countries that produce the highest amount (almost 95%) of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are Canada, the United States, Brazil, Argentina and China.

See also: Nutrition

Criticisms of GM foods

The GM food industry has often been accused of marketing unsafe, higher allergenic or toxic foods . The 1999 investigation by Exwen and Pustzai was famous in this regard , in which they fed two groups of rats with natural and transgenic potatoes respectively, showing a greater deterioration in the case of the latter. However, flaws in experimental procedures and designs made by these scientists discredited their results.

The results regarding the possible long-term toxicity of genetically modified foods are contradictory and inconclusive. However, this is not the only concern in this regard .

A controversial point regarding transgenic foods has to do with the gradual replacement of natural strains by those intervened by man , whose artificially induced resistance would give it unfair advantages to compete with wild strains. This would eventually lead to the impoverishment of the genetic pool and, furthermore, involves complicated intellectual property issues, which would force farmers to pay royalties to the company that supplies them with the transgenic seeds.

Advantages of transgenic foods

The genetically induced advantages of this type of food have to do not only with the achievement of species with a larger size and greater profitability , which could serve to combat hunger in a world with an increasingly human population ; but also with obtaining plants that are more resistant to pests and other substances for agricultural use.

This would allow the intensive cultivation of plant species and the increase in production and distribution in local and regional markets . The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that because of climate change the productivity agriculture would decline by between 9 to 12% by 2050. GM foods could constitute a form of combat against the coming famine.

Continue with: Biotechnology

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