What is genetically modified food? TOBB ETU Hospital Created: 2016-03-17 14:46:52
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What is genetically modified food?

Genetically modified organism" implies viable organisms which are obtained by modifying gene arrangement or gain a character totally different from inherited one, and it is abbreviated as GMO.

What is genetically modified food?

Current legislation in our country….

It is claimed in Turkey that a significant part of locally manufactured raw material, which is delivered to local market, and a substantial part of imported product has content of GOM. It is particularly suggested that a part of maize and soy bean is imported from U.S. and Argentina and they are totally genetically modified.

Why is GOM required?

Those high-technology procedures are carried out in plants in order to enhance product quality, resistance to hazardous organisms and to improve unique structure of the food. Genetic modification aims resistance against pests in plants such as maize, cotton and potato, while it aims resistance against herbicides in plants such as soy bean, cotton, maize, rapeseed, rice plant and resistance against viral diseases in potato, rice plant and maize and to increase quality of vegetable oil sunflower, soy bean and peanut, ultimately, the technique is used to delay maturation in tomato and strawberry, resulting with longer shelf life and to enhance aromatic features of tomato.

Genetic modification is also used in animals in order to increase yield of meat, increase of milk in cows by transferring a gene, which promoted synthesis and release of growth hormone, and to increase concentration of casein to enhance cheese production. There are some other benefits of the technology, such as removing lactose content of the milk for consumers, who have lactose intolerance. In addition, one may obtain fowls that produce low-cholesterol eggs.

What are potential benefits/advantages of foods with genetically modified organism (GMO)?

It is believed that foods with GMO facilitates access to nutrients since world's population is rapidly growing.

In addition, it is also believed that plant and animal products with enhanced taste, safety, yield and better nutritional features and longer shelf life will result with potential industrial benefits.

Enhancing Food Quality and Health Benefits

Quality and amino acid content of foods can be enhanced using gene transfer technology. Lysine content of cereals can be increased, which is normally found at low concentrations, resulting with quality protein content in cereals. It is possible to enrich amino acid content of some foods, when meat and dairy products are manufactured. Meanwhile, it is also possible to promote organoleptic features (functional characters also including taste and quality), since protein is widely used in foods.

Fish is an important source of protein and fish can be grown better in short time, resulting with lower growth costs.

Genetically modified organisms can be used to enhance carbohydrate content in tomato, which is used for processed foods such as catch-up and tomato paste and dressing. Potato with less starch content can be obtained using GMO, resulting with shorter cooking time, less oil consumption and lower cost in production of potato chips.

GMOs are also used to enhance health benefits in addition to food quality. Lycopene, an important anti-oxidative substance, is found at substantial amount in genetically modified tomato, tomato products and pepper.

Oil with low saturated fat ratio and high unsaturated fat ratio is advantageous for health and this type of oil is resistant to high temperature. For this purpose, genetic modification can be carried out in canola, soy bean, sunflower and peanut in order o increase level of unsaturated fat in oil, which is obtained from such plants.

What are potential hazards originating from genetically modified foods?

For foods consumed by human, it is believed that Genetically Modified Organisms may lead to some adverse outcomes. In addition, characteristics of new gene, which is transferred to the organism, may lead to allergic reactions or worsen already diagnosed allergic conditions.

Transgenes may unpredictably change nutritional values of foods by increase some nutritional values on one side and by decreasing some other values on the other side. This results leads to difference in genetically modified foods and conventional equivalents. There is no clear information on long-term effects of genetically modified foods on health. Therefore, it is believed that considering possible health-related risks of GMOs, consumers should be informed about this content on labels of products.

When food safety of genetically modified foods is considered, DNA of genetically modified organism is transferred to human and it may have serious adverse outcomes on human health. Currently, we have no idea how genes transferred in food products will locate in intestinal micro-flora of human, whether it will lead to any change in genetic structure and what possible implications will be.

Agricultural products, which carry risk of GMO, are foods including carbohydrates, such as glucose syrup, sucrose and fructose, as indicated by food labels of oil, flour and starch which are manufactured from maize and soy bean, as well as biscuits, crackers, puddings, vegetable oil, infant formulas, candies, chocolates and wafers and foods obtained from chickens and other animals that consume maize and soy bean as feed. Short- and long-term effects of those products on human health are not clearly known. Moreover, if such products threaten genetic variability, an irreversible process will be induced.


- Rice, one of principal food stuff, is not rich in vitamin. If beta carotene (provitamin A) gene is transferred, color of rice will be yellow - bright green and this product is named as "golden rice".

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