What is bioengineering?
Bioengineering, also known as biotechnology or genetic engineering, is a precise method of plant breeding which allows farmers to take a desirable trait found in nature and transfer it from one plant or organism to another plant. Crops developed through bioengineering are commonly referred to as “genetically modified organisms” or “GMOs.”
What are the benefits of bioengineering?
There are several benefits to bioengineering as bioengineered crops are engineered to achieve specific desirable traits. Some of these benefits are:
- Insect resistance – Allows for reduced use of pesticides
- Drought tolerance – Allows for reduced water usage
- Herbicide tolerance – Allows for targeted and reduced use of herbicides which helps prevent erosion and reduce carbon emissions
- Disease resistance – Helps enable plants to resist certain diseases, such as papaya ringspot virus
- Reduce food waste – Eliminates superficial browning, such as in apples and potatoes, which could prevent products from being thrown away before they spoil
What crops are bioengineered in the US?
There are ten commercially available crops available in the US today which are bioengineered. These crops include alfalfa, apples, canola, cotton, corn (field and sweet), papaya, potato, soybeans, squash, and sugar beets.
Are bioengineered crops and foods safe?
Yes, bioengineered crops and foods are safe. Scientific experts and authorities across the globe agree that bioengineered crops and foods are safe. More than 1,500 studies have been conducted to support the safety of bioengineering. Bioengineered foods have been evaluated and approved around the world and been consumed for more than two decades with no food safety incidents.
Are bioengineered foods as nutritious as non-bioengineered foods?
Yes, bioengineered foods are just as nutritious as non-bioengineered foods and in some cases more so. In fact, some crops are bioengineered for nutritional benefits. For example, some bioengineered crops are developed to have traits which fortify them to be high in vitamins. You may have heard of “golden rice” which is biofortified to help prevent blindness by providing sufficient vitamin A. In addition, certain varieties of soybeans have been bioengineered for high-oleic soybean oils that contain 0g trans-fat and less saturated fats than traditional oils. Crops can also be bioengineered to lower levels of potentially negative components. For example, the Innate potato has lower levels of asparagine, which when heated at high heats, transforms into acrylamide, a potential carcinogen.