GMOs are a controversial topic with many people taking a firm stance against genetically engineered foods. Check out our article on the controversy surrounding GMOs here (insert link), but controversy or not, GMOs are making some big promises for the future of food. Here at Dr. Foodle, we’re going to scratch the surface of this exciting new technology and take a look at three examples of GMO superfoods.
British scientists have recently produced a tomato that contains resveratrol, a compound found in grapes that helps with cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and diabetes. Currently, one of the best sources of resveratrol can be found in red wine, but just one of these tomatoes contains more resveratrol than 50 bottles of red wine. The real benefit from these super tomatoes isn’t in consuming the tomato itself, but how scientists extract these compounds from the plant in order to produce medicine. Growing compound dense plants is a tricky business; the plants need a lot of care and take a long time to grow. By genetically modifying a tomato, researchers can extract vast amounts of the needed compound in just a fraction of the time, making medicine cheaper and research quicker. It’s really a win-win.
As the world’s population continues to grow, water use is expected to explode and create a very real problem. Currently, over 75% of global water consumption is used for agricultural, and as there are more mouths to feed, our water stores are going to be seriously taxed. Wheat, corn, and rice crops use a tremendous amount of water to produce, and yields are negatively affected by droughts. With these crops being the backbone of modern food production, we need a real solution to solve this problem. Drought-resistant crops offer the best solution to date. Not only do they consume less water overall, crop failures become rarer and these crops can be grown all over the world. Not only will this make these products cheaper to produce and buy, it will allow many countries to maintain agency over their own food production.
Thanks to some heavy funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, researchers have been hard at work at creating a new type of banana. The population of Uganda is heavily reliant on bananas in their diet. Whenever a population becomes reliant on one particular food source, it often leads to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which results in high rates of malnutrition. In Uganda, vitamin A deficiency is a very real concern that affects a large percentage of its population. Thanks to some genetic engineering, researchers have created a banana that is rich in beta-carotene, a nutrient that is key to producing vitamin A in the body, and are currently testing crops of these super bananas. The philosophy behind this is to fight malnutrition by altering current food staples to help poorer nations who have access to limited food varieties. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to solving malnutrition. As genetic engineering becomes more viable, thousands of nutrient-dense foods can be created to provide adequate nutrition to countless people.
While, the controversy surrounding GMOs is thick, there is no doubt that we’re on the cusp of some very real food and water problems. The current system of agriculture is hitting its cap on production, and demand is only going to increase. The world needs very real solutions to these encroaching problems, and GMOs seem to offer the most pragmatic solution.