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Food Biotechnology - What is it and How Does it Help Us?

Today in order to improve the taste and quality of the food we eat and how it is produced we can use food biotechnology; taking what is known about plant science and genetics in order to produce better, healthier crops. Modern food biotechnology methods, which involve using instructions for specific traits and our knowledge of genes, along with traditional breeding techniques like cross-breeding, allow us to improve the quality and quantity of plant species. This also allows scientists to move desirable traits from one plant to another, with increased efficiency and precision.

Since the early 1990s when food biotechnology was first introduced to food production, it has helped to produce fresher, better tasting foods while providing greater crop yields and it has also helped to protect the environment. In the very near future, these techniques may help farmers grow more food on less land, provide healthier foods and help to keep food safe. Foods produced this way have been determined to be safe by the scientific community and they are regulated by three U.S. government agencies. The main crops produced using food biotechnology according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications are; cotton, papaya, alfalfa, squash, corn, canola and soybeans. Among other things, this new biotechnology has enabled the production of fruits and vegetables that ripen on the vine for a better, fresher taste. A few examples of food enhanced this way are:

Cotton, corn, potato, soybeans and canola plants that are tolerant of herbicides or protected from insects.

A type of squash that is more resistant to a virus that often kills the vegetable on the vine.

Tomatoes that ripen slower, remain fresh longer, have a better flavor and survive transport better.

Crop varieties that produce hardier plants and are more resistant to insects and viruses, which results in higher crop yields.

Food biotechnology has also decreased the amount of pesticides used in farming, which contributes to a cleaner water supply, has a positive impact on the health and well-being of wildlife and decreases the exposure of farmers to pesticides. Crops that are more tolerant to herbicides require less tilling of the soil, which means less fuel consumption by farm equipment, lower emissions and reduced soil erosion.

Foods with enhanced nutrition are already on their way to supermarket shelves, and in the future advances in food biotechnology will:

Produce crops that are able to grow in harsh environmental conditions, such as drought or extreme heat. This could result in planting crops on land that was once unsuitable for agriculture.

Foods that may be able to help combat chronic diseases by providing decreased amounts of unhealthy fats while increasing the levels of vitamins and antioxidants, which will be helpful for both humans and animals.

Science may be able to discover a faster way to detect unwanted viruses and bacteria in food which will decrease the risk of food borne illnesses while keeping food safe to eat.

People with food allergies may be able to consume foods that they were previously allergic to because science will be able to target allergy-causing proteins in foods.

Source by Mark Gold

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