Course:FNH200/Lessons/Lesson 09/Page 09.4
9.4 Genetically Modified Organisms, Novel Foods and Biotechnology-Derived Foods
Start this part of the lesson by completing the following activity.
|Look at the list of ingredients on a package of Cheddar cheese.
Check out the required additional readings - excerpts from Justice Canada website: Food and Drug Regulations Part B Foods (Links to an external site.), Division 8 Dairy Products, B.08.030 to B.08.033 on cheese and Division 16, Food Additives (Table V Food Additives that may be used as Food Enzymes).
What are GMOs and GEs?
Genetically Modified Organisms ("GMOs") are plants, animals and microorganisms in which there is a change to the heritable trait(s) of the organism by intentional manipulation. This intentional manipulation includes but is not limited to the use of modern gene technologies such as recombinant nucleic acid technology. Genetically engineered organisms are more specific and through this technology, a foreign piece of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is inserted into the genetic material of the host organisms.
Genetic modification may enable the host organism to
- yield a desired product (e.g. bovine chymosin produced by genetically modified bacteria), or
- possess a desired characteristic (e.g. tolerance to a specific herbicide in genetically modified canola plants, insect resistance in corn genetically modified to produce the insect toxin produced by Bacillus thuringensis, Bt; canola plants genetically modified to produce oil with specific compositional characteristics)
Genetic engineering and cheese
- Recent developments have enabled transfer of the gene from calves that encodes for the enzyme chymosin to specific microorganisms selected for enzyme production.
- The microorganisms are cultured in large fermenters and produce the chymosin which is then isolated, purified and sold to the dairy industry for cheese making.
- Microbially produced bovine chymosin is an approved food additive in Canada. Chymosin is the principle milk-clotting enzyme in bovine rennet extracts that have traditionally been used in cheese making.
Genetically engineered starter cultures
- Research is also being conducted to improve fermentative capabilities of lactic acid bacteria and other bacteria and moulds used in cheese making.
- Some of that research involved genetic engineering where genes encoding for increased resistance to bacterial viruses (bacteriophage, a potentially serious problem in cheese making which can cause starter culture failure), improved enzymatic activity (lactose utilization; production of desirable proteinases involved in cheese ripening) are transferred into bacteria used as starter cultures.
- Genetically improved starter cultures produced through genetic engineering must go through thorough testing and evaluation to demonstrate their safety prior to approval for their use in foods (they are classified as food additives).
There is a great deal of public concern and controversy about genetically modified foods and genetically modified organisms (these have been dubbed as Frankenfoods by opponents to the technology and the concept).
|Want to learn more?|
|To make an informed personal decision regarding whether or not you would accept (some or all) GM foods, please visit the following websites: