Nutritional and Safety Assessments of Foods and Feeds Nutritionally Improved through Biotechnology: An Executive Summary

ILSI International Food Biotechnology Committee

Task Force #4

Concise Reviews in Food Science. 2004;69(2):CRH62-CRH68

Abstract: The global demand for food is increasing because of the growing world population. At the same time, availability of arable land is shrinking. Traditional plant breeding methods have made and will continue to make important contributions toward meeting the need for more food. In many areas of the world, however, the problem is food quality. There may be enough energy available from food, but the staple foods lack certain essential nutrients. In the developed world, demand for “functional foods” (that is, foods that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition) is increasing. Nutritional improvements in foods could help to meet both of these demands for improved food quality. Modern agricultural biotechnology, which involves the application of cellular and molecular techniques to transfer DNA that encodes a desired trait to food and feed crops, is proving to be a powerful complement to traditional methods to meet global food requirements. An important aspect of biotechnology is that it provides access to a broad array of traits that can help meet this need for nutritionally improved cultivars. The new varieties developed through modern biotechnology have been identified by a number of terms, including genetically modified (GM or GMO), genetically engineered (GE or GEO), transgenic, biotech, recombinant, and plants with novel traits (PNTs). For the present discussion, the term “GM” will be used because of its simplicity and broad public recognition.

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