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can eating genetically modified crops expand ones life expectancy?

Submitted by: Lata Tumba


Expert response from holmquist1x

Monday, 06/25/2018 15:32

I think the answer for this question is – it depends….

In the developed world where we have access to a wide variety of foods, I think that eating a food derived from a genetically engineered crop it unlikely to expand one’s life expectancy in and of itself.  However, certain components of those crops can certainly contribute to improved health. High oleic soybeans produce a monounsaturated fat that is trans-fat free. Trans-fats can contribute to an increased LDL cholesterol, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. By substituting high oleic oil in place of hydrogenated oils thereby removing trans-fat from the food item, certainly the health profile of that food item improved. However eating that exact food will not “expand one’s life expectancy,” simply help contribute to the possible improvement of health outcomes.

In the developing world, foods such as Golden Rice would most certainly lead to expanding one’s life expectancy. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2013 State of the Food and Agriculture report, “In social terms, child and maternal malnutrition continue to reduce the quality of life and life expectancy of millions of people. Vitamin A deficiency is most prevalent among young children and pregnant women and lactating women as they have increased needs for important nutrients. Studies have shown that providing adequate amounts of Vitamin A can reduce overall child mortality from common illnesses (including measles, severe pneumonia, and persistent diarrhea) by 23-34 percent.” Supplying additional Vitamin A in the diet through a staple food such as rice, can contribute to expanding life expectancy where the diet is otherwise deficient and sufficient food is a daily struggle.

For me, the future is about using the technology for the potential benefits that help improve health outcomes such as Golden Rice, or which reduce the environmental impact of agriculture such as Bt crops significantly reducing insecticide use. I’m looking forward to the new innovations in plant breeding that will help improve nutrition worldwide while reducing the environmental impact of food production.