Have you ever seen pictures of those great, spotless farms with rows and rows of perfect produce? It’s difficult to believe that this image is anything other than delicious food, right? But despite our efforts to produce the cleanest, healthiest food possible, sometimes things go wrong. One way this can happen is through contamination from bioengineered organisms. But what are bioengineered organisms? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at bioengineering.
What Is Bioengineered Food?
Bioengineered food is food that has been genetically modified to enhance certain traits or characteristics. It’s sometimes called genetically modified food, but that’s more of a general term because it can apply to crops like sweet corn, which haven’t been altered.
While bioengineered food has the potential to improve the availability and nutritional value of our food supply, it also has its risks. Bioengineered organisms are often designed to repel insects that damage crops or carry diseases. Unfortunately, bioengineered organisms can sometimes interact with other organisms in ways we don’t completely understand, and the result is something like the “superweed” pictured above.
Bioengineered food also has several subtle differences from organic food. For example, many bioengineered fruits and vegetables are different from their organic counterparts. The bioengineered fruits and vegetables have been altered to enhance certain qualities, such as increased resistance to pests or reduced bruising during shipping.
How Is Bioengineered Food Made?
There are several different methods used to develop bioengineered food. One of the most common is selective breeding, which means that plant breeders have selected desirable characteristics in their crops since Neolithic times. The result was a steady accumulation of beneficial traits over time, giving us modern-day versions of ancient staples like wheat, corn, and rice.
Another method is genetic recombination. This occurs when plant breeders cross different varieties of the same species to produce a new type with desired characteristics. For example, creating a red-fleshed apple variety requires apple trees that are genetically programmed to express red pigmentation in their flesh.
While the idea of bioengineered food may seem like it comes out of a science fiction novel, the truth is that it already exists. From an objective perspective, there’s nothing inherently wrong with bioengineered food. However, we need to keep in mind that every new technology has risks and costs.