questions + answers
- What is genetic engineering (GE)?
- How does it differ from cross-breeding or other forms of biotechnology?
- Which foods are currently genetically engineered?
- Who is behind GE foods?
- Are GE crops grown in Australia?
- How do GE crops affect the environment?
- What are the health concerns?
- Are GE crops good for farmers?
- Will GE crops feed the world?
- Are GE foods labelled?
- What is organic food?
- Why is animal feed important?
- Does GE food have any health benefits?
Claims from the GE industry about potential health benefits of GE food are often based on spurious research. While crops genetically engineered to offer nutritional benefits are tested, none of these are commercially available and essentially are used by the GE industry in a desperate attempt to sell GE foods to consumers.
Genetically engineering crops to raise the levels of certain nutrients may affect their complex metabolic pathways and result in unexpected effects. Scientists have raised concerns that the current methods for assessing the safety of GE foods may not detect the production of unexpected and potentially harmful substances in crops genetically engineered in this way.
Other techniques are available to increase the nutrient levels of crops that don’t pose the same unacceptable levels of risk to human health and the environment as GE crops. For example, using selective breeding, in India and tropical Africa, scientists have been breeding staple crops with high iron content in an attempt to tackle micronutrient malnutrition. High-iron pearl millet and common bean are already on the fast track for release in Asia and Africa.
Ultimately, however, the only way to eat healthily is to have a varied and balanced diet, which is dependent on nutritional food security. Together with a sustainable agriculture, this can ensure benefits to human health and biodiversity.