chapter  4
18 Pages

Foods derived from genetically modified crop plants

INTRODUCTION Food producing plants have been continuously genetically modified and improved for centuries. Initially these improvements were achieved by selecting seed from superior plants and reproducing them with continual selection and breeding. Traditional breeding methods have resulted in significant increases in productivity, with corn and wheat yields approximately doubling over the past 40-50 years. More recently, the ability to introduce DNA directly into crop plants has enabled the very specific and selective genetic modification of plants through techniques commonly referred to as plant biotechnology, genetic engineering or recombinant DNA methodology. Numerous traits are being assessed for their potential to yield products with the ability to: (a) protect plants against insect damage, fungal, viral or bacterial diseases; (b) provide selectivity to preferred herbicides; (c) directly enhance crop yields; (d) increase nutritional value; (e) reduce naturally occurring toxicants or allergens; (f) modify the ripening process and provide fruits or vegetables with superior flavor; (g) use plants as factories to make pharmaceutical products or to produce foods containing human vaccines; and many others.