Genetically modified food crops are more accurately called genetically engineered foods crops. These food crops have had their DNA altered through genetic engineering.
The genetically engineered foods were first put on the market in the early 1990s and the most common modified foods are soyabean, corn, cottonseed oil. However the first commercially grown genetically modified whole food crop was “the tomato.
Although most of Genetically Modified food crops are grown in North America but in the recent years there has been rapid growth in the area sown in developing countries. These genetically modified food crops are created in laboratory by recombinant DNA technology with aim to design plants with specific characteristics by artificial insertion of genes from the other plants.
These genetically modified crops varieties such as those resistant to drought, water supply, soil acidity, salinity and extreme temperatures could help to sustain farming in marginal areas and to restore degraded land to production. The technology is capable of delivering health benefits to consumers by helping to produce crops with superior quality characteristics and nutrition levels.
The future envisaged applications of genetically modified foods are diverse that include drugs in food, metabolically engineered fish that mature more quickly. The next decade may see exponential increases in genetically modified product development as researcher’s gains increasing access to genomic resources that are applicable to organism beyond the scope of individual projects.
However, there are controversies surrounding GM foods and crops commonly focus on human and environmental safety, labeling and consumer, choice, intellectual property rights, ethics, food security, environmental conservation etc. Though agriculture of any type has an impact on the environment and Genetic engineering may accelerate the damaging effects as conventional agriculture.
The growing genetically modified plants in the field have raised concern for potential transfer of genes from cultivated species to their wild relatives. There is also concern that genetically modified crops may cause reduced biodiversity existing in a long run. The transgenic may be transferred to related species, weed or wild relatives through pollen, leading to the development of so-called super weeds. Transgenic resistant to pests and pathogens may provoke evolution of new and more virulent biotypes. There is also apprehension that genetically modified product may pose a biohazard to man and other organism.