To begin, a brief distinction among the terms “genetically engineered,” “genetically modified organism,” and “genetically modified food” will be made. Quite frequently, these terms are used interchangeably despite having different meanings. Genetic engineering (GE) refers to scientific methods (the actual process) in which deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) genes from an organism are introduced directly into another (regardless of sexual compatibility) for a desired outcome (Maghari & Ardekani, pg. 109-117, 2011). The plants, as a result, are not naturally occurring; hence, they have been genetically engineered. On the other hand, the term genetically modified organism (GMO) refers to an organism produced by means of any genetic modification technique (Maghari & Ardekani, pg. 109-117, 2011). Whether these are modern techniques or traditional plant breeding methods, the resulting organisms are classified as genetically modified. Furthermore, the term genetically modified food (GMF) simply refers to food that has been processed with ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (Maghari & Ardekani, pg. 109-117, 2011).
Genetic modification processes are very controversial and leave consumers asking important questions that deserve to be answered. Questions like: How long have we been genetically modifying our food? How are our foods genetically modified? Why are they genetically modified? How much of our food is genetically modified? And more importantly, what affects are genetically modified foods having on our health and the environment? Plenty of research was conducted to thoroughly answer these questions, particularly concerning the latter one.
According to conducted research, genetically altering our food has been in existence for a long period of time (Dona & Arvanitoyannis, pg. 164-175, 2009). In fact, for thousands of years, farmers have genetically modified their crops by breeding and crossbreeding different species to enhance characteristics (taste or size for example) (Dona & Arvanitoyannis, pg. 164-175, 2009). Although these traditional methods have existed for millennia, genetic engineering via recombinant DNA techniques is fairly new and very different. However, the purpose remains the same: introduce genes with a specific trait from an organism (referred to as the “donor”) into another organism that does not have that trait naturally (Morris & Adley, pg....