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Food Biotechnology Ethics

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Presentation on theme: "Food Biotechnology Ethics"— 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

3 Genetic Engineering Genetic Engineering involves manipulating DNA molecules DNA from one species is spliced into the DNA of another species Called: Recombinant DNA Genetically Engineered organisms are called: Genetically Modified Transgenic

4 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

5 Milestones in Food Biotechnology
1990: Recombinant Chymosin Approved by FDA Enzyme for cheese making Originally from calf stomach Bovine gene expressed in GRAS microbes In 80% of U.S. cheese “Vegetarian” cheese in England

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 Bt Corn Natural insecticide from Bacillus thuringiensis
Non-toxic to humans Target insect: corn borer Potential to: reduce insecticide use reduce mycotoxins 40% U.S. Corn crop Bt (2006)

10 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

11 Herbicide Resistance Roundup Ready Soy, Corn, Canola
Allows post-emergence herbicide spraying Increases yield Facilitates no-till farming 89% U.S. Soy crop (2006)

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

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

14 Health and Nutrition Golden Rice
Vitamin A and Iron enhanced Seeds given to the poor for free Improved Amino Acid Balance for Soy, Maize Banana Vaccines

15 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

16 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

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

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

19 Milestones in Food Biotechnology
2005: 222 million acres worldwide Planted in Genetically modified crops 55% in USA Soy Corn Cotton India, China Canola

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

21 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

22 Arguments against Genetically Engineered Foods
Potential safety risk for humans Unintended Consequences Genetic Engineering is playing God Not Natural to move genes between species Potential safety risk for environment Could spread Genetically Engineered label not required in U.S. Benefits multinational corporations not consumers or developing nations

23 Frankenstein Foods: Unintended Consequences?
Random gene insertion Toxicity New gene products? Allergies Eating DNA!

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

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

26 Will it Feed the World? Disease resistance will benefit developing nations Technology requiring increased inputs benefits wealthy, multinationals, plantations Small, subsistence farmers can’t compete, lose land Inequity, poverty increase Thus more food and more hunger Green Revolution unsustainable

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