14.6 – The Effect of New Technologies

Learning Objective

  • Examine the new technologies used in the food industry.

 

As mentioned earlier, new technology has had a tremendous effect on the food we eat and the customs and culture related to food consumption. For example, microwaves are used to reduce cooking time or to heat up leftover food. Refrigerators and freezers allow produce (fruits and vegetables) to travel great distances and last longer. On the extreme end of making food last longer, there is special food for astronauts that is appropriate for consumption in space. It is safe to store, easy to prepare in the low-gravity environment of a spacecraft and contains balanced nutrition to promote the health of people working in space. In the military, soldiers consume Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs), which contain an entire meal in a single pouch.

 

Consumer Info About Food From Genetically Engineered Plants (Otherwise known as Genetically Modified, GM, or GMO)

FDA regulates the safety of food for humans and animals, including foods produced from genetically engineered (GE) plants. Foods from GE plants must meet the same food safety requirements as foods derived from traditionally bred plants. Read more at Consumer Info About Food From Genetically Engineered Plants. In the United States, much of the soybean, corn, and canola crop is genetically modified. The process involves the alteration of an organism’s DNA, which allows farmers to cultivate plants with desirable characteristics. For example, scientists could extract a gene that produces a chemical with antifreeze properties from a fish that lives in an arctic region (such as a flounder). They could then splice that gene into a completely different species, such as tomato, to make it resistant to frost, which would enable farms to grow that crop year-round1

Genetically modified foods fall under the purview of the EPA, the USDA, and the FDA. Each agency has different responsibilities and concerns in the regulation of GM crops. The EPA ensures that pesticides used for GM plants are safe for the environment. The USDA makes sure genetically engineered seeds are safe for cultivation prior to planting. The FDA determines if foods made from GM plants are safe to eat. Although these agencies act independently, they work closely together and many products are reviewed by all three.

1 Foods from Genetically Engineered Plants. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/ingredients…ts/default.htm. Updated January 4, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2019.

 

 Evidence-based REsources related to Genetically Engineered Plants

 

Contributors


University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Food Science and Human Nutrition Program: Allison Calabrese, Cheryl Gibby, Billy Meinke, Marie Kainoa Fialkowski Revilla, and Alan Titchenal