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2.7.4. Transgenic foods

Transgenic foods

The transgenic foods are foods made from living organisms whose genetic information has been modified, or containing an ingredient that comes from such organisms.

At genetically modified organisms (GMOs) they have joined them genes beings from other species that give characteristics not exhibited.

Obtaining process

To obtain transgenic corn, for example, these steps are followed:

1. DNA is extracted from a maize chromosome.

2. The gene is extracted from another living being that is interested in implanting in the DNA of the maize.

3. The gene from the other organism is introduced into the DNA of the maize.

4. The modified corn (transgenic) is finally obtained.

Characteristics implanted in genetically modified organisms

Carrying out the above process allows:

  • In plants:
    • Greater resistance to droughts.
    • Greater resistance to frost.                   
    • Greater resistance to pests (viruses, fungi).
    • Larger size of the fruits.
    • Sweeter taste
    • Longer delay in ripening.
  • In animals:
    • Larger size.
    • Higher milk production.
    • Greater meat production.
    • Lower cholesterol content in eggs.

Among the transgenic plant species are corn, tomatoes, soybeans, rapeseed, peas, cotton, potatoes, rice, lettuces, etc.

Among the genetically modified animal species are salmon, cows, etc.

Normative

The use of transgenic food is authorized by the European Union if it has been previously shown that it does not harm the health of organisms or the environment.

It is mandatory that food labels report that it has been created from genetically modified organisms if the content of this is from 0.9%. If the content is inferior, it is not required to appear on the label.

Advantages of Genetically Modified Organisms

  • Higher productivity and quality are obtained in the crops, which means a lower cost of production.
  • Creation of new foods and incorporation of new nutritional characteristics to foods, with foods with better texture, flavor, protein or vitamin content.
  • Crops more resistant to pests and other adversities, reducing the use of pesticides, thus producing a lower environmental impact.
  • Creation of new species from the combination of genes from several existing ones, such as tomatoes with fish genes.
  • You can achieve reducing hunger in the world, for example by adapting crops to desert areas or increasing production.
  • Creating organisms that make proteins, such as insulin, useful to humanity.

Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Organisms

  • Some people believe that not enough studies have yet been done to guarantee that genetically modified organisms are not harmful.
  • Possibility of creating new allergies.
  • Possibility that genes can be transferred to microorganisms becoming resistant to antibiotics .
  • As GMOs are resistant to herbicides, it may be necessary to use more herbicide and may affect other species.
  • Disappearance of natural seeds.
  • Pollen from transgenic species can fertilize non-transgenic crops, obtaining hybrids.
  • Very few companies ( Monsanto or Dow Chemical Company) control the market for transgenic seeds, so there is an oligopoly risk.
  • The seeds that are obtained in each harvest cannot be used by the farmers, but are forced, by contract, to continue buying seeds from the companies that control the market.
  • For there to be no hunger in the world, we do not need more food, but rather that it is better distributed.
  • Consumers reject transgenic products.

Answer in your notebook

2.9.- What is a transgenic food? What do you think about transgenic foods?