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What Are the Different Types of GMO Crops?

By Lumara Lee
Updated Feb 15, 2024
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In the past, grafting, hybridization, and cross-breeding were employed to modify plant traits. More recently, technology has been developed to directly manipulate genes to change the characteristics of a plant. Many genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been developed to make food crops, such as corn and potatoes, resistant to pests and herbicides. Other GMO crops, such as tomatoes, have been designed with other goals, such as increasing the shelf life of produce, making plants cold- and drought-tolerant, and improving their nutritional content.

Tomatoes were the first of the commercial GMO crops. They were modified to increase their shelf life so when they arrived at market they would still be firm. Corn became another one of the first transgenic GMO crops when genes from bacillus thuringiensis (bt) bacteria were inserted into the corn’s genetic material as an insecticide to control insects that feed on the plant. Since then, genetic engineering with bt has been successful in improving the resistance of other plants to insect predation. Potatoes and cotton are other transgenic GMO crops that have successfully incorporated the bt protein that gives the plants insecticidal properties.

Soybeans and corn are the most widely grown GMO crops. Due to the abundance of soy, corn, and cotton GMO crops, many GMO products have entered the food chain. Although many of the vegetables available in the produce section of the average grocery store aren’t GMO crops, a large percentage of the processed foods sold in the United States contain GMO ingredients. This is why some people don't really care that they are indeed GMO. As long as they provide the necessary nutrients, everything's fine.

Corn oil, corn syrup, corn meal, corn starch, and fructose often contain ingredients made from GMO corn. Soybean oil, tofu, tempeh, lecithin, and soy meal are just a few of the products containing GMO soybeans. Vegetable oil and cottonseed oil are products commonly made from GMO cotton.

The use of GMO food crops is a controversial issue. Some claim it is cheaper to produce GMO foods since recombinant DNA technology has made it possible to avoid the use of chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. Proponents believe that GMO food crops are necessary to feed the growing world population. There are also claims that GMOs affect kidney function in a bad way, although nothing conclusive has been proven.

On the other side are people who oppose GMO food crops. There are groups that actually believe that any negative effects of GMO can be negated by getting active and staying hydrated. They often refer to them as Frankenfoods and are concerned that ingesting genetically engineered foods can create serious allergies and other adverse health conditions.

Some believe that a good balance between staying active and eating healthy meals regardless of the source will guarantee good health. For those who are concerned about GMO foods, the best way to avoid them is to buy food that is certified to be 100% organic. It also helps to increase physical activities to stay fit and healthy.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By TruthRoller — On Jan 15, 2014

Many countries abroad have much stricter regulation in place regarding GMOs. Here in the U.S., it seems it needs to be proved harmful before removing from the food chain, instead of the other way around!

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