Benefits of Biotechnology

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


Are Foods Developed from Recombinant DNA Safe to Eat?

The National Academy of Science has concluded that these foods pose no new or unique risks.

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.

Will Foods Produced by Biotechnology be Regulated?

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.

What Products of Biotechnology Are in U.S. Supermarkets Now?

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.

Papaya is one of several fruits that is currently sold in the markets. Please see this link for more information

Several plant products are currently grown and sold in some areas.

Genetically Engineered Corn For The Production of Hepatitis B Vaccine (Apr 2004)

An article titled "GM maize could produce hepatitis B vaccine" was posted on April 7 on the web site of the Science and Development Network,, which is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA), International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada, and Rockefeller Foundation and which is supported by the scientific journals Nature and Science - The article notes that

Brazil Maps Arabica Coffee Genome To Improve Quality (Apr 2004)

Reuters - 20-Apr-2004 - Peter Blackburn
(c) 2004 Reuters Limited

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, April 20 (Reuters) - Brazilian scientists finished mapping the arabica coffee genome with the aim of raising the tree's resistance to disease and harsh weather and improving quality, a research leader said on Tuesday.

A coffee genome is made up of 11 chromosomes which are packed with genes and form a blueprint for the beverage's taste, texture, flavor and other qualities.

New Sugar Beets Sweet for Birds (Jan 2003)

New sugar beets developed with the help of modern biotechnology are more benign to wild birds than their conventional relatives, according to British researchers. The scientists studied the impact of the introduction of genetically modified sugar beets on the bird population. They found that the herbicide-tolerant sugar beets, which require less frequent spraying against weeds, allowed the nesting of wild birds that are generally not found in conventional fields.

EPA document explains agency's confidence in Bt crops (Jul 2000)

A 107-page document prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives a detailed explanation of how insect-protected crops are regulated and assessed for safety. The document was prepared in response to a petition by activist groups, which had challenged EPA on the safety of crops that contain an insect-resistant gene from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) a common soil bacterium. Bt cotton, corn and potatoes have been developed through biotechnology to provide in-plant protection against targeted harmful insects.

U.S. Farmers Are Rapidly Adopting Biotech Crops (Jan 1999)

Within the last few years farming of genetically modified crop varieties has dramatically increased in U.S. agriculture among crops such as corn, soybeans and cotton. Farmers have responded positively to this new technology. Since their commercial introduction only three years ago, acreage has soared to 50 million acres. These new crops feature resistance to pests and the ability to tolerate herbicides. The increased farming of these crops have been encouraged by the potential cost savings, including reductions in input use.