What are GM Foods?

Many people are frightened by the idea of eating food that has been genetically modified.
What are GM Foods?
March 20, 2013

GM foods have been in the news quite a lot. This is especially true since the state of California in the US recently passed a law indicating all GM foods have to be labelled as such
. This may make you wonder what they are and if they pose a threat.

What Does GM Stand for?

The letters, “GM” stand for genetically modified. A modification is used to breed out certain concerns and to breed in desirable features. The process is used in both plant and animal-based foods. Essentially, scientists find genes in plants and animals that are desirable and then copy those genes into the next generation of the food product. Here are a few examples of GM foods:

  • Corn that is more resistant to insects
  • Soybeans that have lower levels of bad fatty acids and higher levels of the good types of the acid
  • Beans that produce oil that will work better and be healthier when deep frying foods

Scientists have recently indicated that they will soon be able to genetically modify whole crops to make them more tolerant to drought-like conditions.

Are these Foods Dangerous?

Many people are frightened by the idea of eating food that has been genetically modified. It does seem like something dangerous. However, with careful regulations in place, the foods are constantly monitored for safety. In Australia, GM foods are watched and regulated by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator. When any food has been genetically modified, it is not allowed on the market until it has been carefully tested and proven to be zero risks for human consumption.

There is a mandatory pre-market approval system in place according to food regulation standard 1.5.2. This means if you find any genetically modified foods on the shelves at your supermarket, they are completely safe for you to eat based on careful regulation by the Australian government.

Who Tests the Foods?

All GM foods must go through two testing phases. The manufacturer of the products is required to run their own preliminary tests and provide those results when they present the items for approval. Then, the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator will perform their set of tests before giving approval on any product.

GM foods are relatively new to the market, and that is why many people have never even heard of them. However, as new laws are placed in effect in Australia and in other countries, there will be more consumer awareness. You can learn more about food safety here.