Genetically Modified Foods
GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS
Some genetically modified foods found on supermarket shelves include:
- Tomato puree
- Vegetarian cheddar cheese
- Soya beans
- Rapeseed oil
- Some brands now contain genetically modified ingredients.
- Some brands contain a genetically modified enzyme that replaces traditional animal rennet.
- Processed foods such as ready meals, baby foods, biscuits, bread, ice-cream, chocolate and many vegetarian products may contain genetically modified soya.
- Several strains of genetically modified maize, intended for use in crisps, confectionery, snack foods and animal feed, have been developed.
Genetic modification may seem like a modern scientific phenomenon but in fact it is nothing new. Simple forms of it have been practised in animal husbandry since the 19th century, when scientists experimented with crossing different breeds of pig in order to produce new and larger species. This Remarkable Animal, copied by John Whessel from an 1808 engraving by Benjamin Gale, depicts a prize specimen that was used to illustrate the so-called agrarian revolution.
Intensive farming became widespread in the latter half of the 20th century in an effort to increase crop yields and standardize the methods of production. But it has often had a devastating effect on the countryside in terms of the loss of habitat for small animals, birds and insects. Although chemicals and pesticides may improve the quantity and appearance of foods in the short term, the long-term consequences of disturbing the natural environment have yet to be determined.