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Bioegineered Food and Nutrition

            The use of genetic modification in food production has become a very controversial topic. Genetically modified (GM) foods could be the super foods of the future. The possibilities are endless. Some scientists boast of taking known allergy causing genes out of foods, helping produce last longer, pest protected crops, plants that grow in poor soil, and adding vitamins to make some foods more nutritious are just a few of the ideas. Some scientists and consumers have expressed concern that genetically engineered plants could produce unsafe foods, new food allergies, spur the uncontrollable growth of weeds, and they could be harmful to beneficial organisms. These are just some of the issues that will be discussed in the following pages.
             For centuries humans have been using hybridization to create better plants. "Genetic modification is an extension of this. However unlike conventional breeding, in which new assortments of genes are created more or less at random, it allows specific genes to be identified, isolated, copied, and introduced into other organisms in much more direct and controlled ways."" explains Leighton Jones of the British Medical Journal. Through biotechnology scientists are able to insert a specific gene or genes into a plant and give it new advantageous characteristics. This is a more precise technique instead of mixing all the genes from two plants and seeing what comes out. "Once in the new plant, the new gene does what all genes do: It directs the production of a specific protein that makes the plant uniquely different."" explains Commissioner Jane E. Henney, MD in an interview with Larry Thompson a member of the FDA's public affairs staff. It is now possible to introduce foreign genes (Trans-genes) into crop plants and express these in specific tissues. For example scientists can insert a gene that affects only the root and leaves of a plant not the seeds or fruit.

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