GMO Battle Ground
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the issue of GMO foods and labeling are back in the spotlight after they approved the sale of AquaAdvantage Salmon (An Atlantic Salmon whose genome includes a borrowed growth hormone gene & additional DNA from an eel-like fish that keeps that gene turned on). The modifications made to the DNA spliced AquaAdvantage Salmon cause the fish to reach market size twice as fast as farm-raised salmon.
The FDA states that the genetically modified Salmon (as well as other GMO foods) present no danger to the consumer, the environment, or the fish itself.
GMO vs. Genetically Engineered Organism:
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism.
Plant/food breeding in traditional times has involved selective breeding methods to improve it in some way (color, taste, pest resistance, longevity, size). Over time this can change a single gene, or alter an entire suite of genes in the plant or food. Food raised this way is still technically considered Genetically Modified.
Genetically Engineering Food:
Instead of selectively breeding for preferred traits over many generations, scientist can make direct, specific changes to DNA in the lab. They will inject the wanted genes directly into cells or use spliced viruses that will transfer the genes.
Laws Currently Governing the US:
The FDA can’t require engineered foods to carry a label describing them as such.
Companies may label their products voluntarily.
The FDA says it is concerned with the word “organism” because some foods do not contain entire organisms.
FDA states it would like foods/products to be labeled “not bioengineered” (genetically engineered) instead of the term currently being used (Non-GMO).
It is against the law to say one type of product (Non-GMO vs. bioengineered) is more nutritious, safer, or has different attributes than other comparable products.
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Remember that this information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before making any changes to your healthcare.
LA Times “The Dish On GMO Foods” – Karen Kaplan