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Genetically Modified Foods

Regulatory Concerns

Whether a new variety of crop plant presents a hazard to human health depends upon the nature of the trait, not how the plant received that trait. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that a variety of potato obtained through conventional breeding was very toxic, and so it was never developed as a food. However, a potato developed through genetic modification at about the same time did not contain the toxin and was apparently safe to eat. This is why U.S. government regulatory agencies do not evaluate crops on how they were developed, but on their effects on the digestive tracts of animals.

Even after government agencies approve the marketing of a GM crop, consumer acceptance is crucial to its success. The FlavrSavr tomato, for example, was introduced in the 1980s. It ripened later, while in the supermarket, which extended its shelf life while providing an attractive product. However, the developers had focused only on this characteristic, and the tomatoes just did not taste very good. Consumer objection to GM foods also contributed to the FlavrSavr's failure. However, a high-solids GM tomato sold in England before the anti-GM movement began was popular with consumers, largely because it was priced lower than other tomatoes.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 2Genetically Modified Foods - Genetic Modification In Animals And Plants, Regulatory Concerns, The Technique Of Genetic Modification, Gm Beyond The Laboratory