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CRISPR Foods: The Rise of Genetic Modification


These days it seems there is no shortage of labels that end up on your food. GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, represent the latest trend facing backlash. Some would argue that it’s for good reason. Many people do not want to put that kind of food into their body. People view GMOs as unnatural since the process involves taking genes from one species and injecting them into an unrelated plant or animal. The very notion makes some people squirm.

Opponents to these modified foods now face a new challenge. Genetic modification is easier than ever thanks to a program called CRISPR. Instead of relying on the extraction and injection of genetic material across species, the program modifies the DNA of the plant or animal itself. Chinese scientists have recently used CRISPR to genetically engineer pigs with less body fat. They hope to not only offer healthier meat, but also seek to ease the burden on farmers since these pigs require fewer resources.

genetic-modification

Despite the alleged safety of the meat, few believe that you can expect to find it on store shelves in the United States any time soon. The Food and Drug Administration has strict rules on such products. Lobbying from environmental and food-safety groups hinders any attempts to pass approvals. Currently, the only modified meat allowed in the U.S. is salmon. Because of the stigma associated with biotechnically altered foods, approval took decades.

Proponents of the more precise method of modification point to advancements in sustainability. Altering genetic characteristics within a species can lead to innovations in food production, resources management, and ecological responsibility.

What are your thoughts on this latest trend in genetic modification? Do you think that modifying the DNA of a species poses serious health risks for human beings? Should regulatory bodies allow companies to use meat from these modified sources? Let us know your thoughts.


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