Microbiome/Genomics Synthetic Biology

Bioengineered is not a dirty word!

Most people don’t care if a product is “Bioengineered” or not, that’s good news! We’re faced with feeding 10 billion people by 2050, a growing middle class, climate change and a food system unfit for the purpose. To feed the global population sustainably and equitably we’re going to need every tool in the toolbox. That includes genetic manipulation technologies to produce food products and ingredients.

The Good News

This is good news because as of January 1st 2022 food and beverage products in the US containing GMO ingredients must declare in some way that they are “Bioengineered”. Researchers took advantage of a short lived Vermont state law from July 2016 to test whether this declaration is likely to have a major effect on consumer choices. Basically the effect in Vermont was negligible. As the researchers said “For the people who care about this attribute — GMO versus non-GMO — they have the information on the shelves already to figure out which products are GMO and which products are non-GMO… And for the people who do not care about it, this [mandatory] label is unlikely to change their behavior.” It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out on US wide scale, but it sounds promising.

I very much hope the required declaration has little or no effect on product sales. After all there’s no credible scientific evidence that genetically modified crops have any adverse health effect. The contamination from chemicals applied to some crops is a different matter. But to my knowledge the crops themselves have never been shown to adversely effect human or animal health.

Random mutants?

As an aside, I find it puzzling that those opposed to GMO and gene edited products don’t object to the random genetic mutation methods used for decades to produce many current food crops? Yes, thousands of food crops have been produced by random mutation using things such as X-rays, gamma rays and mutagenic chemicals. You’ve very likely eaten a product produced this way or one of its cross-bred progeny! For more on this read my article here.

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