People have been modifying plants, animals and microorganisms for specific uses for centuries. Today, there are newer, more precise methods of genetic modification that are being used to introduce diverse beneficial characteristics including:
Better tasting fruits or vegetables
Fruits and vegetables that retain their flavor and texture longer
Fruits, vegetables, grains or oils which enhance health
Although any food can be mishandled, the food in the market is considered safe. New food developed through recombinant DNA is considered easier to evaluate for safety compared to those developed through traditional breeding because the new method is more precise.
Instead of randomly combining all the traits of the two parent organisms, recombinant DNA permits identification and transfer of only desirable traits.
State and federal agencies currently regulate this area.
As with conventional breeding, foods traditionally eaten and considered safe will not need special review. If a food's nutritional value is changed, the effect on the diet must be evaluated. Any change that raises a safety question, such as incorporating a natural pesticide or a protein known t o cause allergies, requires a full evaluation of human and environmental safety.
In the past, cheese was made using the enzyme rennin, extracted from a calf's stomach. Now a purer rDNA-derived enzyme preparation, Chymosin, is used in the production of more than half of the cheese in the market.