These 3 genetically modified foods will make the world a better place

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wheat field

Are GMOs all bad?

Most of us who are advocates for sustainable agriculture have a negative view of GMO’s, and with good reason – they often come with pesticides, allergies, patent protection, harmful environmental impacts and a variety of other issues. But what if there are some GMO’s that could possibly make our world a better, healthier and more eco-friendly place? Do the positives out-weigh the negatives? Here are three genetically modified foods that have the potential to do a lot of good:

 

1. Orange bananas could save lives

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Photo via flickr

These new genetically engineered bananas place a strong argument in favor of GMOs (or at least, the science behind GMOs) and have been dominating the web in the past week. This new banana is orange in color and is enriched with alpha – and beta carotene that turns into the ultimate source for vitamin A once ingested. The super-banana will be able to meet children’s nutritional needs in developing countries where 300,000 children go blind yearly due to a lack of vitamin A and 650,000 die from the nutritional deficiency.

The project has been given an extensive $10 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its work which is taking place at the University of Technology in Queensland, Australia. After failing to get the results that they needed by combining the Karat fruit with the banana, researchers turned to genetic modification, and its said that the results have been very promising. The human trials for the superfood will take place in the US this year and are expected to continue until the end of the year. The hopes are that the bananas will be ready to grow in developing countries such as Uganda by 2020.

 

Opposition

However, this new breakthrough is not a new story. In the early 2000s  another solution to vitamin A deficiency (VAD) was developed by crop scientists called Golden Rice. Golden Rice is a genetically modified rice that is golden is color and is only beginning to be implemented as a solution to VAD this summer. The genetically engineered rice has been met with substantial opposition from Greenpeace, who claim that these quick-fix solutions causes environmental and health issues.

 

2. Long-lasting tomatoes could reduce produce waste for farmers and supermarkets

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Photo via flickr

40% of the world’s food goes uneaten, according to Natural Resources Defense Council, and with 842 million people in the world without enough food to eat on a daily basis, this is an intensely painful statistic that reveals a lot about our world today.

But what would you say if there was a way to reduce the amount of food waste we produce every year by extending foods shelf life?

That’s exactly what scientists at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research in New Delhi have done. Their researchers have discovered that by suppressing the enzyme A-Man and B-Hex that start to accumulate during ripening, the tomato could double its self-life to over a month long. This could drastically alter the agricultural industry, where farmers regularly lose over half their stock due to early softening before they go to market and would reduce the amount of waste the supermarkets regularly have to throw away. The same technique used on tomatoes can potentially be applied to other fruit such as papayas, bananas and mangoes.

 

3. Mold-less bread could reduce food waste in the home

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Photo via flickr

Researchers have cracked sourdough bread’s fungus-resistant code and think that it can be applied to other bread, too. Sourdough creates acids during one of its fermentation steps that is resistant to fungus, and researchers claims that this information can be applied to other food during malting and plant production that will help extend the shelf life of food.

One Texan company, MicroZap, has developed a technology that uses microwaves of high-energy particles to sterilize the bread, killing mold spores and therefore keeping fungus away from food for longer. This means less bread will be thrown away, both at home and in your local supermarkets – saving potentially millions of dollars.

While GMOs clearly hold a lot of positive possibilities, the other side of the story is the corporations who stand to get rich off of this type of technology and will do whatever they need to in order to do so.

But whatever your opinion of GMOs is, one thing is for sure: There is a lot of positives and negatives to both sides of the story – and both sides deserve to be aired.

Sarah is a graduate of the University of College Dublin. After receiving her MA in Gender, Sexuality and Culture, she taught High-school English and History for three years before moving to Vancouver to pursue a career in writing. In her spare time, Sarah likes to write poetry, go to music festivals and drink wine. Her favorite food is the burrito. She is an avid reader of fantasy novels, an active participant in feminist circles, and will always have an adventure planned in the foreseeable future. Interesting fact: Sarah is fluent in Irish (Gaeilge).