Genetically modified foods are foods whose genetic make-up has been modified through the use of biotechnology. In contrast to natural selection or selective breeding, with genetically modified foods, scientists inject the DNA of one organism into another with the hope that the recipient will benefit from the traits included in the new DNA.
According to the World Health Organization, chemical companies initially developed the technology in order to create pest and disease resistant crop seed like soybeans and corn. Currently, whole foods are being developed that would inoculate consumers with vaccines against Hepatitis B, for instance.
Benefits of this developing technology may include better food security for growing or troubled populations, enhanced taste and nutritional quality, and increased resistance to pests and disease.
But, some consumer interest groups say the genetically modified food products may be harmful for consumption and lead to increased allergenicity and unknown effects to human health, although no studies have found that genetically modified foods have caused adverse health effects in humans.
Also, the chemical companies who develop these products are patenting them and they are protected by intellectual property rights. Involuntary cross pollination has created legal problems for farmers whose crops cross-pollinated with a genetically modified strain grown by neighboring farms.
Connecticut legislators are considering HB 5117, which would require food producers to label food products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) that are sold in Connecticut but there’s a lot to consider.
Would the consumer be willing to pay for the costs associated with labeling foods containing GMO? And, is there an acceptable amount of GMO contamination that could occur during food processing? Who will detect and enforce those limits? Will consumers be willing to pay for that too?