Genetically Altered Plants: Superweeds!




What are genetically altered foods?

You may have read that Genetic Modification has infiltrated our food supply. Nearly all processed foods have some derivative of a Genetically  modified crop.

Here is the list:

There are  specific fruits and vegetables that have approved by the FDA to be sold as GM, and they do not have to be labeled as Genetically Modified.  This includes foods such as corn chips, corn cereal, cornmeal, corn flour, corn meal, soy bean oil and soy flour.

The main complaint against altering our food supply is that we are endangering our wildlife, human safety from altered foods, and superweeds become a problem.

Farmers choose these new biotech seeds for many reasons-including that they will prevent crop-damaging diseases and provide a higher yield.

Designer foods can cause allergies:  When our food supply changes, allergic reactions remain the top concern of Genetically Altered foods.

On the pro side, consumers may be willing to accept genetic engineering if it helps with reducing the amounts of chemicals pesticides are put on plants.

The problem for the farmers?

For crops such as soy and corn, the farmers now have more of a problem controlling weeds, not insects. So pesticides are less of an issue as herbicides, which kill weeds but not the plant.

The negative side: Biologist believe that beneficial insects rely on many of the weeds that glycophosphates kill for survival and without them, the eco-balance is disrupted.

Another downside is that the overuse of herbicides can create a superweed that is immune to chemicals. Weeds fight back!

So what about the organic farmers who choose to grow non-GM plants?

The biggest obstacle is called gene flow which is the passing of GM traits drifting or creeping  into the non-GM crop from wind and insect pollination, sometimes traveling as far as 12 miles.

If you want to avoid genetically modified grains, you need to buy certified organic products that are labeled, ” We do not use ingredients that were produced using biotechnology.”( non-GMO)

There continues to be much debate on whether we should be  tampering with nature.

In an article on WebMD, the main concerns are allergies. Many people who were not allergic to corn or soy, have problems with the altered products. What are we stirring up with these new products?

Produce that is altered

Advocates of bioengineering insist that allergic reactions are very unlikely with genetically engineered produce.  Genetically altered varieties of produce go under testing and analysis that is not required of traditional crops. According to University of Edinburgh’s biologist Anthony Trewavas, bio-engineered foods are safe for consumption.

Ongoing Research

More research is needed to secure the future of genetic altered foods. Soon, consumers will have a chance to cast their vote on altered foods. The FDA is expected to require labels that spell out very clearly when a food contains genetically altered ingredients.


Taken in part from: Stewart, K. ( 2007) . Eating Between the Lines.  New York, NY. St. Martin’s Griffin.

http://www. WebMD. Cultivating  Debate. ( April, 2012).