A GMO is a plant or animal that has been genetically modified through the addition of a small amount of genetic material from other organisms through molecular techniques. Currently, the GMOs on the market today have been given genetic traits to provide protection from pests, tolerance to pesticides, or improve its quality. Examples of GMO field crops include Bt-potatoes, Bt-corn, Bt-sweet corn, Roundup Ready soybeans, Roundup Ready Corn, and Liberty Link corn.
There has been a profound increase in genetic modification since the dawn of settled agriculture until now. Just as we breed dogs and horses and cattle, we breed plants. Genetic engineering is a new and different way to do that. Genetic engineering means modifying the DNA of a crop such as corn, soy, or cotton or moving genes between organisms that do not usually breed.
Scientists now go beyond the traditional method of cross breeding, and that is where genetic modification comes in. They move genes between plants that would not normally do that.
The estimate in the U.S. is that 60-70 percent of our supermarket foods contain ingredients that came from a genetically engineered variety,” Dr. Margeret Smith, a professor at Cornell University’s Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, said, referring to highly processed foods made with corn, soy, or cottonseed. She said 90 percent of the soy and corn fields in the U.S. are devoted to genetically engineered varieties of those crops.
“Fresh produce, it’s very, very limited. About the only thing we’d find perhaps in a grocery store, or on a farm stand around here, would be insect-resistant sweet corn. But once you start moving to refined ingredients, like syrups, flours, oils, these are highly refined. They don’t carry genetic material, and they don’t carry protein. Corn syrup is sugar and water. That’s all that’s in there. There’s no protein, there’s no DNA. So you can measure the chemistry of corn syrup from a genetically engineered variety, and the corn syrup from a non-genetically engineered variety, and they will be identical.”
Smith described how some of the safety testing works. She said, “What they actually do, is take the new protein, and test it in a petri dish with human digestive enzymes. And measure how long it takes to break down. And if it takes any longer than standard proteins would take, that raises a red flag. So these proteins and this DNA — it’s not like it’s building up somehow. Your digestive system is meant to break those things down. You then absorb them as small molecules, and your body builds the things you need out of it.”
"... has that genetically engineered corn been tested for food safety?’ Well, no. We tested the protein the BT gene makes. We tested the protein that the herbicide tolerance gene makes.” (In Bt corn, the donor organism is a naturally occurring soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, and the gene of interest produces a protein that kills Lepidoptera larvae, in particular, European corn borer. This protein is called the Bt delta endotoxin.)
Which is to say, if you can digest it, it probably is ok?