Transgenic foods

Within every living organism there are genes, functional units that inheritly carry the characteristics of a living being. For example, the human genome will define the color of the eyes, skin and hair, the height and even the temperament of someone. This process occurs with the mixing of the mother’s gene with that of the father, resulting in that of the son. All of this occurs naturally.

In transgenic foods, in turn, this process does not occur spontaneously. On the contrary, the characteristics of the plants are modified in laboratories and some unusual properties are inserted in them. For this reason, there is a controversy surrounding the issue of transgenics. On the one hand, scientists guarantee the benefits, on the other, ecologists fight back with criticism.

What are GM foods?

These are foods that have had their genetic structure (DNA) modified by man, through genetic engineering, which is why they are also called genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In this alteration, modified living beings acquire a characteristic not programmed by nature.

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This technique started to be studied in the 70’s. In 1998, the cultivated areas of transgenic soybeans already exceeded 28 million hectares. Currently, GM crops are soy, corn, cotton and potatoes.

The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) has been studying transgenics since 1981. The first step was to introduce genes from Brazil nuts in beans, in order to increase the nutritional value of this grain. Now, the agency works in the production and genetic modification of soybeans, bananas, cotton, pineapples, potatoes, among others.

What, in fact, occurs is that genes from other species are inserted in the DNA of plants or seeds, which can be plants, animals or even microbes. When we go to a health clinic to get a vaccine, we receive an application of dead viruses, which make us obtain defense antibodies. Similarly, it occurs with the alteration of plant genes, which receive structures of harmful bacteria to some type of insect that one wants to fight.

Positive aspects

  • Increased food production;
  • Pest resistance, with no need for pesticides;
  • More nutritious food;
  • Longer storage time and more economical.

Negative aspects

  • They end up with unmodified plant species, through natural selection;
  • They cause imbalance in nature, since animals such as bees, worms, butterflies and others are dying. A reflection of these modified foods;
  • Increases in allergies or other diseases still unknown to consumers;
  • More natural foods.


It is not yet possible to predict the consequences of transgenic foods. It took scientists almost half a century to discover that chlorofluorocarbon gas (CFC) is harmful to the environment, especially the ozone layer. So what remains is to await future results.

Some environmentalists have created a nickname for transgenics, frankenfood , a mixture of Frankisten  – a monster developed by scientists – and food , food in English. The fact is that currently, countries that have developed this technique, prefer non-GM foods.

Another important fact is that consumers must know what they are consuming and how these foods were produced. For this reason, it is necessary to contain all this information on the label.

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