Now a Genetically Modified Animal

The first genetically modified animal
Credit: Morguefile photo by digitaldundee

What's Wrong with Genetically Modified Food?

Genetically modified foods are very controversial. Right now, it's nearly impossible for Americans to escape eating them. Nearly all of the corn grown in the United States has been engineered to thrive under heavy applications of a popular herbicide manufactured by Monsanto.

The active ingredient, glyphosate, is an endocrine disruptor suspected of causing a variety of health problems, including miscarriage, pre-term birth and possibly birth defects, according to the Permaculture Research Institute.

Most of the soy we harvest is genetically modified as well, as is the rapeseed plant. This is the plant from which canola oil is derived. Increasingly, foreign genes are being inserted into sugar beets as well.

This means that if we purchase a commercially made baked good, it likely contains multiple ingredients not made as God intended. Because of growing health concerns, a number of countries, including Russia and Peru, will not allow American corn within their borders. European Union countries mandate that engineered food be labeled. This means it doesn't sell, so it's not stocked in the grocery stores.

For two decades, people have been eating GM food, but they haven't really aware of what they're consuming. However, this is starting to change as resistance builds. Recently, the State of Vermont passed a landmark bill that will require such foods to be labeled by 2016.

However, at the same time, new products are being developed, with a genetic blueprint never seen before. Here's what's being offered.

Genetically modified apples?
Credit: Morguefile photo by peachyqueen

Genetically Modified Apples

It's possible that grocery stores may, at some point, stock applies that don't turn brown after they are bruised or sliced. These newly developed fruits are known as "Arctic Apples," and trees that will produce these apples are now being sold in the US, according to information posted on the company website.

This product has been developed by a company known as Okanagan Specialty Fruits, which is marketing them, in part, to the food service industry, which may find it beneficial to serve apple slices that retain their original color, according to an earlier report published in the New York Times.

However, the Times article also pointed out that conventional growers are upset that this laboratory creation could damage the reputation of the apple industry, because people think of apples as a healthy food. Associating them with genetic modification could change that view.

GMO Eucalyptus Trees

Although genetically engineered eucalyptus trees aren't a food crop, there are concerns they could wreak havoc in the environment. According to a newsletter issued by the Alliance for Natural Health, a consumer group that promotes natural healthcare, the trees are designed to withstand freezing. Normally, eucalyptus grows only in warmer climates.

The strain of eucalyptus that's been modified is native to Brazil, but it can now thrive in some of the southern states. It also yields more wood than a regular Brazilian eucalyptus.

However, the ANH points out that this comes at a price, as these new trees consume much more water than their conventional counterparts. Also, notes the ANH, modified crops, as we're seeing now with corn, require ever-increasing amounts of pesticide and herbicides. Glyphosate resistant weeds are now a problem for corn farmers.



Genetically Modified Salmon

Believe it or not, a genetically modified salmon has been created in the laboratory. But we're unlikely to see it in fish markets soon, if ever. This is the first genetically modified animal product designed for public consumption, and the Food and Drug Administration doesn't appear ready to approve it, according to an article in the Huffington Post.

Also, a number of US-based chains, including Trader Joe's and Aldi, as well as some larger national retailers, have pledged not to sell this engineered specimen. This fish, known as AquAdvantage, was created by AquaBounty Technologies, a biotech company based in Waltham, Massachusetts.

AquaBounty has also designed a new type of trout and tilapia. The advantage to fish farmers is that these GM fish grow much faster than regular fish, so they are ready for market in about half the time it takes their normal counterparts to mature.