Feature Archive

Engineered for Controversy

Putting genetically engineered foods under the microscope.

WebMD Feature

Depending on whom you listen to, genetically modified foods are either an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen or the salvation of the world. Critics warn that tinkering with genes could introduce toxins and other harmful chemicals into our food supply. Proponents say biotechnology will create more healthful fruits and vegetables and reduce our dependence on pesticides and herbicides.

There isn't an easy answer. While the potential benefits of genetic engineering can seem alluring, some experts think those benefits may not be worth the risk.

Making Healthful Foods Even More Nutritious

Imagine an orange that contains all the nutrients found in a multivitamin. Or a tomato brimming with high levels of potent cancer-fighting substances. How about a handful of nuts with less saturated oil and none of the allergy-provoking substances that prevent many people from enjoying foods like cashews or almonds?

Welcome to the brave new world of agricultural biotechnology, where scientists are using the latest genetic engineering tools to create foods unlike any seen before. For centuries farmers have created new varieties of fruits and vegetables by crossbreeding plants with desired traits. The difference today is that genetic engineering vastly speeds up the process and gives scientists exquisite precision.