|Genetically Modified Foods|
However, these benefits are countered by food-safety concerns, the potential for ecosystem disruption, and fears of unforeseen consequences resulting from altering natural selection. Humans rely on plants and animals as food sources and have long used microbes to produce foods such as cheese, bread, and fermented beverages.
Conventional techniques such as cross-hybridization, production of mutants, and selective breeding have resulted in new varieties of crop plants or improved livestock with altered genetics. However, these methods are relatively slow and labor-intensive, are generally limited to intraspecies crosses, and involve a great deal of trial and error.
Recombinant DNA techniques, which manipulate cells’ deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), developed in the 1970’s enable researchers rapidly to make specific, predetermined genetic changes. Because the technology also allows for the transfer of genes across species and kingdom barriers, an infinite number of novel genetic combinations are possible.