Nigerian Journal of Nutritional Sciences

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Genetically modified foods: challenges for the future

U.M. Yunusa, H.M. Maimuna, I. Yunusa


Genetically modified (GM) foods are produced from organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA via genetic engineering, a technique of biotechnology. Transformation, phage introduction, and nonbacterial transformation are the processes of genome manipulation employed in the production of GM foods. The ability of scientific knowledge to contribute to public debate about societal risks of GM foods depends on how the public assimilates information resulting from the scientific community. Factors used to explain the attitudes of citizens include perceived risk and/or benefit, consumer trust, autonomy and labelling, knowledge, role of science and technology in agriculture, naturalness, as well as other moral concerns. Scientific consensus proved available foods derived from GM crops poses no greater risk to human health than conventional foods, but that each GM food needs to be tested on a case-by-case basis before introduction. Currently, GM crops approved for cultivation are all products with improved agronomic traits so-called first-generation traits that mainly benefit farmers in the developed and developing world, rather than consumers. Since their first commercialization in 1996, the popularity of GM foods is growing by the day, with increased yearly area of cultivation.It therefore will depend upon government approval and market uptake, as well as the extent to which the public accepts or rejects either side of the debate. Labeling is mandatory to avoid unintended commingling of GM and non-GM crops, thus providing assurance to the consumer.

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