Such processes will facilitate deploying these crops to those world areas with large numbers of people who need them. This document describes 5 case studies of crops with improved nutritional value. These case studies examine the principles and recommendations published by the Intl. Life Sciences Ins. One overarching conclusion that spans all 5 case studies is that the comparative safety assessment process is a valid approach.
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They are also researching ways to use genetically engineered crops in the production of new medicines, which may lead to a new plant-made pharmaceutical industry that could reduce the costs of production using a sustainable resource. Genetically engineered plants are also being developed for a purpose known as phytoremediation in which the plants detoxify pollutants in the soil or absorb and accumulate polluting substances out of the soil so that the plants may be harvested and disposed of safely. In either case the result is improved soil quality at a polluted site.
Biotechnology may also be used to conserve natural resources, enable animals to more effectively use nutrients present in feed, decrease nutrient runoff into rivers and bays, and help meet the increasing world food and land demands. Researchers are at work to produce hardier crops that will flourish in even the harshest environments and that will require less fuel, labor, fertilizer, and water, helping to decrease the pressures on land and wildlife habitats.
Are foods made using biotechnology safe to eat?
In addition to genetically engineered crops, biotechnology has helped make other improvements in agriculture not involving plants. Examples of such advances include making antibiotic production more efficient through microbial fermentation and producing new animal vaccines through genetic engineering for diseases such as foot and mouth disease and rabies. The application of biotechnology in agriculture has resulted in benefits to farmers, producers, and consumers.
Biotechnology has helped to make both insect pest control and weed management safer and easier while safeguarding crops against disease. For example, genetically engineered insect-resistant cotton has allowed for a significant reduction in the use of persistent, synthetic pesticides that may contaminate groundwater and the environment.
In terms of improved weed control, herbicide-tolerant soybeans, cotton, and corn enable the use of reduced-risk herbicides that break down more quickly in soil and are non-toxic to wildlife and humans. Herbicide-tolerant crops are particularly compatible with no-till or reduced tillage agriculture systems that help preserve topsoil from erosion.
Agricultural biotechnology has been used to protect crops from devastating diseases. The papaya ringspot virus threatened to derail the Hawaiian papaya industry until papayas resistant to the disease were developed through genetic engineering. This saved the U. Research on potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and other crops continues in a similar manner to provide resistance to viral diseases that otherwise are very difficult to control.
Biotech crops can make farming more profitable by increasing crop quality and may in some cases increase yields. The use of some of these crops can simplify work and improve safety for farmers. This allows farmers to spend less of their time managing their crops and more time on other profitable activities.
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Biotech crops may provide enhanced quality traits such as increased levels of beta-carotene in rice to aid in reducing vitamin A deficiencies and improved oil compositions in canola, soybean, and corn. Crops with the ability to grow in salty soils or better withstand drought conditions are also in the works and the first such products are just entering the marketplace.
Such innovations may be increasingly important in adapting to or in some cases helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. The tools of agricultural biotechnology have been invaluable for researchers in helping to understand the basic biology of living organisms. For example, scientists have identified the complete genetic structure of several strains of Listeria and Campylobacter, the bacteria often responsible for major outbreaks of food-borne illness in people.
Are foods made using biotechnology safe to eat? | HowStuffWorks
This genetic information is providing a wealth of opportunities that help researchers improve the safety of our food supply. The tools of biotechnology have "unlocked doors" and are also helping in the development of improved animal and plant varieties, both those produced by conventional means as well as those produced through genetic engineering. Breeders have been evaluating new products developed through agricultural biotechnology for centuries. In addition to these efforts, the United States Department of Agriculture USDA , the Environmental Protection Agency EPA , and the Food and Drug Administration FDA work to ensure that crops produced through genetic engineering for commercial use are properly tested and studied to make sure they pose no significant risk to consumers or the environment.
Crops produced through genetic engineering are the only ones formally reviewed to assess the potential for transfer of novel traits to wild relatives. When new traits are genetically engineered into a crop, the new plants are evaluated to ensure that they do not have characteristics of weeds. Where biotech crops are grown in proximity to related plants, the potential for the two plants to exchange traits via pollen must be evaluated before release.
Crop plants of all kinds can exchange traits with their close wild relatives which may be weeds or wildflowers when they are in proximity. In the case of biotech-derived crops, the EPA and USDA perform risk assessments to evaluate this possibility and minimize potential harmful consequences, if any. Other potential risks considered in the assessment of genetically engineered organisms include any environmental effects on birds, mammals, insects, worms, and other organisms, especially in the case of insect or disease resistance traits.
Testing on many types of organisms such as honeybees, other beneficial insects, earthworms, and fish is performed to ensure that there are no unintended consequences associated with these crops. With respect to food safety, when new traits introduced to biotech-derived plants are examined by the EPA and the FDA, the proteins produced by these traits are studied for their potential toxicity and potential to cause an allergic response.
Tests designed to examine the heat and digestive stability of these proteins, as well as their similarity to known allergenic proteins, are completed prior to entry into the food or feed supply. To put these considerations in perspective, it is useful to note that while the particular biotech traits being used are often new to crops in that they often do not come from plants many are from bacteria and viruses , the same basic types of traits often can be found naturally in most plants.
These basic traits, like insect and disease resistance, have allowed plants to survive and evolve over time. NASS conducts an agricultural survey in all states in June of each year. The report issued from the survey contains a section specific to the major biotechnology derived field crops and provides additional detail on biotechnology plantings. The USDA does not maintain data on international usage of genetically engineered crops.
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The independent International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications ISAAA , a not-for-profit organization, estimates that the global area of biotech crops for was More than 90 percent of farmers growing biotech crops are resource-poor farmers in developing countries.
ISAAA reports various statistics on the global adoption and plantings of biotechnology derived crops. Please note: These descriptions are not a complete or thorough review of all the activities of these agencies with respect to agricultural biotechnology and are intended as general introductory materials only. For additional information please see the relevant agency websites. The Federal Government developed a Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology in to provide for the regulatory oversight of organisms derived through genetic engineering. The approach taken in the Coordinated Framework is grounded in the judgment of the National Academy of Sciences that the potential risks associated with these organisms fall into the same general categories as those created by traditionally bred organisms.
Products are regulated according to their intended use, with some products being regulated under more than one agency. All government regulatory agencies have a responsibility to ensure that the implementation of regulatory decisions, including approval of field tests and eventual deregulation of approved biotech crops, does not adversely impact human health or the environment.
APHIS regulations provide procedures for obtaining a permit or for providing notification prior to "introducing" the act of introducing includes any movement into or through the U. Regulated articles are organisms and products altered or produced through genetic engineering that are plant pests or for which there is reason to believe are plant pests. The regulations also provide for a petition process for the determination of non-regulated status.
Once a determination of non-regulated status has been made, the organism and its offspring no longer requires APHIS review for movement or release in the U. The USDA also helps industry respond to consumer demands in the United States and overseas by supporting the marketing of a wide range of agricultural products produced through conventional, organic, and genetically engineered means.