GM Foods


Genetically modified (GM) Foods

GM foods are foods made from genetically modified organisms (GMO) that have had their DNA altered through genetic engineering. The process of producing a GMO used for GM Foods may involve taking DNA from one organism, modifying it in a laboratory, and then inserting it into the target organism’s genome to produce new and useful genotypes or phenotypes. Such GMOs are generally referred to as transgenics. Other methods of producing a GMO include increasing or decreasing the number of copies of a gene already present in the target organism, silencing or removing a particular gene or modifying the position of a gene within the genome.


No field of science has changed more, or changed the world more, in the last 50 years than genetics – the study of how our physical and behavioral traits are inherited. The field’s crowning achievement may have been the spelling out of our genetic secrets by the human genome project, but scientific and technological advances in genetics have forever transformed agriculture, biology, medicine, zoology, and even fields such as anthropology and forensic science.


Modern genetics, however, is rarely taught in Arab colleges and universities. To compound consumer problems, none of the Food Labs or institutions that are responsible for consumer products runs programs to verify whether food stuff on local shelves have any GM products or even raw material. Unlike EC (where GM foods are still illegal), Arab countries have no regulations regarding GM foods.


GM Organisms:

By far the most common genetically modified (GM) organisms are crop plants. But the technology has now been applied to almost all forms of life, from pets that glow under UV light to bacteria which form HIV-blocking "living condoms" and from pigs bearing spinach genes to goats that produce spider silk.


GM tomatoes, as puree, first appeared on British supermarket shelves in 1996 (a different fresh GM tomato first appeared in the US in 1994), but the consumer furor that surrounded GM technology did not erupt until February 1999. This was because a controversial study suggested that a few strains of GM potatoes might be toxic to laboratory rats. Those experiments, subsequently criticized by other experts, were carried out in Scotland by biochemist Arpad Pustzai.


The following are some relevant topics; good to read:
Monkey engineered to develop Huntington’s disease
EU bans GM-contaminated rice from China
‘Artificial cell’ can make its own genes
Killer wheat fungus threatens starvation for millions
Gene pioneer signs his synthetic DNA creation

Craig Venter has coded his name, and those of key researchers, into the sequence of the synthetic bacterial genome his lab created

News – 31 January 2008

Super-wine might boost lifespan
Concerns raised over Venter patents

Scientists at the Venter Institute have applied for two more US patents that would grant rights to synthetic biology’s basic techniques

News – 14 December 2007

Modified crops ‘silence’ insect pests for good
‘Designer’ toxins target resistant bugs
Genetically modified yeast can sniff out explosives
Editorial: Human genes fine in medicinal crops
Rice with human genes to be grown in US
Modified salmon aren’t so tough out of the tank
Most citizens are ignorant of genetically modified diet
Edible cotton breakthrough may help feed the world
EU stems US imports of genetically modified rice
GM bacteria churn out ‘microdiesel’ fuel
Killer tomatoes attack human diseases
Allergen-free cats – a breed apart
Controversy over claims in favor of GM corn
This transgenic little piggy boosts your brain
Genetically modified crops: a decade of disagreement
Editorial: No genetically modified peas please
GM pea causes allergic damage in mice
Critic of GM organisms barred from Canada
Non-approved GM maize sold in US
New ‘golden rice’ carries far more vitamin
Unapproved GM corn found in US food chain
Will low-fat foods sway biotech sceptics?




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