The European Union may ban genetically modified (GM) foods. GM crops contain genes from other organisms. These genes might give a crop the ability to produce its own insecticide, for example, or the ability to withstand freezing. European consumer advocate groups have spoken out against the safety of GM foods, saying they are inadequately tested on people and may impact the environment.

Scientists say, however, that the process is safe. Industry scientists say Bt breaks down in days to harmless amino acids. In the case of the Bt gene, the entire gene sequence is known.

To make Bt corn, a Bt gene is extracted from the bacteria in which it occurs naturally. The Bt gene is linked to a common antibiotic resistance gene, and then this combination is inserted into the corn. The corn now has the Bt gene.

American farmers planted 50% of their corn and soy fields with GM seeds last year. Most processed foods contain GM soy or corn ingredients. A European ban will greatly affect American farmers.

As yet, Americans are accepting GM ingredients in their foods but are starting to demand more labelling. At present, foods containing ingredients from GM crops in the U.S. do not need special labels.


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