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Food Biotechnology Ethics

Food Biotechnology Ethics

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Food Biotechnology Ethics

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  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 GMcorn, 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 http://www.isaaa.org/kc/bin/briefs34/es/index.htm http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/archive/2483/24833301.jpg

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

  21. 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 Arguments for Genetically Engineered Food --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