Biotechnology is Revolutionizing Food - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/18/04

Biotechnology is Revolutionizing Food

Biotechnology is revolutionizing the foods we eat. At the University of California at Davis, they've found a way to produce tomato plants containing three times the normal level of Lycopene, a known cancer fighter. They're also working on a method they think will reduce the fat content in cows.

One more project is in the works, developing bananas that could actually carry vaccines to third world countries. But while some are thrilled at the prospect of bioengineered foods, critics insist that scientists shouldn't mess with mother nature. Among those questioning this genetic engineering are the Organic Consumers Association.

"The genes they're adding to these vegetables and tomatoes, they have no idea where they will land in our genetic sequence, so that could wreak havoc on the actual workings of the plant from nutrition to creation of new toxins to new diseases," says Ryan Zinn of the Organic Consumers Association.

"The reality is we've been messing with mother nature for at least 10,000 years. Any crop plant that you eat today is not natural. It is being the subject of major selection and cross breeding," says Martina Newell of McLoughlin/UC Biotech Research.

Researchers at UC Davis say they are studying the possible risks, but they are convinced that the benefits of these breakthroughs are just too promising to ignore. Even so, the government must first approve altered foods before they can be available in stores. So most of the major advances are still at least five years away.

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