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Food Biotechnology Ethics Clark Ford, Ph.D. Food Science and Human Nutrition Iowa State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Food Biotechnology Ethics Clark Ford, Ph.D. Food Science and Human Nutrition Iowa State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Food Biotechnology Ethics Clark Ford, Ph.D. Food Science and Human Nutrition Iowa State University

2 What is Food Biotechnology? Food technology based on biology –Ancient food biotechnology: Fermentation by microbes –Cheese –Beer –Wine –Bread –Modern food biotechnology Tissue culture Genetic engineering –Different from plant and animal breeding 1752.jpg

3 Milestones in Food Biotechnology 1953: Structure of DNA discovered 1973: First gene cloned –in microbes 1977: Asilomar Conference in USA –Recombinant DNA safety –Regulation –Risk assessment –Containment

4 Who Regulates Food Biotechnology? FDA –Food and Drug Administration Determines safety for human consumption USDA –U.S. Department of Agriculture Determines safety of GMO agriculture EPA –Environmental Protection Agency Determines environmental safety NIH –National Institutes of Health Sets guidelines for Recombinant DNA experiments

5 Milestones in Food Biotechnology 1990: Recombinant Chymosin Approved by FDA –First biotech product for human consumption –Enzyme for cheese making –Originally from calf stomach –Bovine gene expressed in GRAS microbes Generally Recognized As Safe –In 80% of U.S. cheese

6 Other Products from Genetically Engineered Microbes Food enzymes –Bread –HFCS Sweeteners Amino acids Peptides –Nutrasweet Flavors Organic acids Polysaccharides Vitamins

7 Milestones in Food Biotechnology 1994: FDA approves “Flavr Savr” Tomato –Prolonged shelf life –Improved quality –Voluntarily labeled

8 Other Genetically Engineered Plants Agronomic traits –BT Corn –Roundup Ready Soy –Disease Resistance Food quality Nutrition Metabolic products Vaccines

9 GMO crops in the USA HT = Herbicide Tolerant; Bt = Bt insecticide

10 Bt Corn Natural insecticide protein from Bacillus thuringiensis Non-toxic to humans Target insect: –Corn borer, root worm, ear worm –Boll worm reduces insecticide use –reduces mycotoxins in corn 80% U.S. Corn crop Bt (2014) 84% U.S. Cotton crop (2014)

11 Bt Concerns Bt pollen harms non- target species? Bt crops select for resistant insects Bt pollen can drift to organic fields Food system failed to keep BT Starlink corn out of human food products Monarch butterfly: endangered?

12 Herbicide Resistance Roundup Ready soy, corn, canola, cotton Allows post-emergence herbicide spraying Increases yield Facilitates no-till farming 94% U.S. Soy (2014) 91% U.S. Cotton (2014) 89% U.S. Corn (2014)


14 Herbicide Resistance Concerns Encourages herbicide use –Groundwater contamination –Kills beneficial soil microbes Cross-pollinates weeds Fosters dependence on Agrochemcial companies

15 Disease Resistance Canola Cantaloupes Cucumbers Corn Rice Papaya Potatoes Soybeans Squash Tomatoes Wheat Genetically engineered papaya resistant papaya ringspot virus

16 Health and Nutrition Golden Rice –Vitamin A and Iron enhanced –Seeds given to the poor for free Improved Amino Acid Balance –Soy (needs Methionine) –Maize (needs Lysine) Banana Vaccines

17 Metabolic Products Idea: use crops to produce inexpensive –Pharmaceuticals AIDS vaccine in corn –Metabolic products Problems: –Containment Cross pollination Accidental mixing into food supply

18 Genetically Engineered Animals - not approved for food - Transgenic Fish –Salmon Grows 4-6 times faster Environmental concerns May escape, outcompete natural species Transgenic Mammals –Cows, Sheep, Goats Pharmaceutical production in milk

19 Milestones in Food Biotechnology 1999: GM corn and soybean products are present in 80% of processed foods in USA –Corn: starch, high fructose corn syrup, oil –Soy: oil, Lecithin, protein

20 Milestones in Food Biotechnology 1999: European Union requires GM labels –blocks import of GM corn, beans Ban lifted 2004 –but no change in anti-GM sentiment in Europe –Affects African export crops Paternalism

21 Milestones in Food Biotechnology 1999: Gerber and Heinz baby foods GM-free 2000: Mc Donalds and Frito-Lay products GM-free

22 Milestones in Food Biotechnology 2000: USDA Organic Foods Standards –Must be GM-free

23 Milestones in Food Biotechnology 2002 Zambia refuses GM maize as food aid –To help 2.5 million in food shortage –Calls GM food “poison” –Heavily influenced by European attitudes about GM Zambian President Mwanawasa

24 Milestones in Food Biotechnology 174 Million hectares acres GM (2013) –Soy (79% of global soy) –Corn (32% of global corn) –Cotton (70% of global cotton) India, China –Canola (24% of global canola) 18 million farmers –90% are small farmers in developing countries Growing cotton in India, China Adoption of GMOs Worldwide

25 GMO-Free Zones in Europe GMOs Banned –8 Countries –Many Regions, –Municipalities

26 Milestones in Food Biotechnology 2008: Cloned Animals approved by FDA –For human consumption Goal: quality meat, milk Best animals cloned Not transgenic –Is that next? –Label not required Considered same as normal meat, milk Not in stores yet –Not certified organic (USDA)

27 Controversy over Biotech Foods Debate pits consumer and ecology groups –against Multinational Corporations Many farmers, scientists, government agencies – caught in the middle

28 Arguments for Genetically Engineered Food Potential to: –Increase productivity –Increase purity –Increase safety –Improve nutrition –Improve food quality –Improve sustainability –Benefit ecosystem Process not inherently harmful Similar to traditional Plant and Animal breeding Unless misused, outcome expected to be beneficial –Is a powerful technology that could help humanity Bad ideas weeded out by the market, regulation, lawsuit --Paul Thompson

29 Arguments against Genetically Engineered Foods Food safety risk? –unintended consequences Safety risk for environment –could spread Genetically Engineered label –not required in U.S.A. Playing God –not natural Benefits multinational corporations –not consumers –not developing nations GMO vs normal Salmon of same age

30 Frankenstein Foods: Unintended Consequences? Potential GMO food safety problems: –Random gene insertion –Unknown toxins? –New gene products? –Unknown allergies? No evidence of GMO food safety problems

31 Food Allergies 90% of Food allergies: –Eggs –Fish –Shellfish –Milk –Peanuts –Soybeans –tree nuts –wheat GM foods avoid genes from these sources Peanut proteins can cause severe food allergies!

32 Arguments for Labeling Not equivalent to non-GM Must use Precautionary principle Is uncertainty in risk assessment Labeling indicates process used Consumer right to know and choose Country’s right to know and choose

33 Arguments against labeling Suggests non-existent hazard Expensive to segregate crops and change labels FDA labels required if change in: Allergenicity Nutrition Food Quality

34 Will GM crops feed the world? Yes: –GM crops are size neutral Small growers can benefit –Don’t need large combine –Reduced inputs Herbicides, pesticides –Lower costs –Increased yields Disease resistance Reduced weeds –Increased profits Insect resistant maize, Kenya

35 Will GM crops feed the world? No: –Biotech from companies targets the wealthy Intellectual property expensive Public research in developing countries –must develop GMOs for the poor Poor that cannot compete driven from land –undernutrtion –Poor really need Land Water Roads Education Credit –Green revolution agriculture unsustainable Monoculture Erosion Fertilizer and pesticide runoff pollution Neocaloric (requires fossile fuels) International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, India GMOs for developing countries

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