“Genetically modified,” and “genetically engineered.” These are the terms often heard when referring to certain foods. What do they mean for you as a consumer?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, foods that have been genetically modified, like fruits,
vegetables, oils, cereals, etc., were introduced to the market in the 1990s.  Since then, they’ve been sold in stores and supermarkets.

What is generic engineering?

It’s a scientific method in which the DNA genes of one organism are transferred to another organism. In the case of crops, this method helps foods by:

1) Improving their growth and nutritional profile.

2) Enhancing their flavor and shelf life.

3) Allowing them to survive during droughts and extreme weather.

4) Making foods more resistant to insects, thereby reducing the need for pesticides.

Evaluating genetically modified foods

The Food and Drug Administration regulates and evaluates genetically modified foods. During the evaluation process the Food and Drug Administration:

1) Identifies new features and genetic traits in the food.

2) Assesses whether the food is toxic or contains allergens.

3) Compares the nutritional value of modified foods with foods grown traditionally, including fibers, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals.

4)  Analyzes the results to declare which foods comply with safety laws.Determines if the modified foods may have long-term health effects.

When the Food and Drug Administration determines that genetically modified foods are safe to eat, the manufacturers can begin to distribute their products to the market. Certain foods may include nutritional labels indicating that they’ve been genetically modified, but it’s up to the manufacturer to include such information.

If you have questions about genetically modified foods or wish to report problems related to food consumption, call the Food and Drug Administration at 1-888-463-6332.