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Health and Nutritional Benefits of Food Biotechnology

Modern biotechnology provides farmers and researchers with the latest tools in the search for better, more healthful foods. The ability to identify and encourage beneficial traits in food crops is not new: farmers have crossbred and hybridized plants for generations. What modern biotechnology brings to that process, however, is the ability to target very specific characteristics for enhancement, making the process of providing higher quality foods more precise.

Food biotechnology will allow for a number of health and nutritional benefits:

Grains, fruits and vegetables that contain more nutrients, such as proteins, vitamins and minerals, and have reduced fatty acid profiles.
A new rice under development to counter vitamin A deficiency, the leading cause of blindness in children in the developing world.
Modified potatoes with more solid content, permitting less oil to be absorbed during cooking and making for a healthier french fry or potato chip.
Improved nutrients in strawberries, and vitamin-enhanced sweet potatoes and canola oil.
Allergen-free peanuts.
In addition, researchers have begun developing fruits and vegetables that contain more beta carotene and vitamins C and E, and are working on developing a banana that can be used to deliver vital oral vaccines for diseases such as Hepatitis B.
Biotechnology could make possible crops with extra high vitamin content, or tomatoes with even more naturally occurring antioxidants.
Biotech foods can be better tasting, ripen less quickly after they are picked, are more disease and insect resistant and have an increased tolerance to herbicides.
Slower-ripening fruits and vegetables, for example, have improved flavor and can remain fresh longer.
Grains, fruits and vegetables containing pesticide-resistant and herbicide-tolerant characteristics can require fewer chemical applications. These more resilient plants can tolerate farmers’ application of very specific herbicides for weed control, thus reducing the overall need for chemical applications and stress to our natural resources.

U.S. Food and Drug AdministrationIFICEatright.OrgU.S. Department of Agriculture

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