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#NationalNutritionMonth: "Put Your Best Fork Forward"

March 8, 2017
"So whether you are planning meals to prepare at home or making selections when eating out, Put Your Best Fork Forward to help find your healthy eating style."

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

The theme for 2017 is "Put Your Best Fork Forward," which acts as a reminder that each bite counts. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest starting with small changes in order to make healthier lasting changes you can enjoy.

To celebrate #NationalNutritionMonth, BIO wanted to illustrate how foods can be genetically modified to be healthier and more nutritious  than their conventional counterparts.

First, the reader should know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes guidelines related to the safety and nutrition of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Over 20 years of scientific research have firmly established GM and non-GMO crops have the same levels of nutrients and vitamins.  Food developed through biotechnology are digested in the same manner as other foods and therefore provide the same nutrition, or in some cases more nutrition (if the goal of the biotechnology was to enhance nutrient content).This is why organizations such as the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Dietetics Association have declared that GM crops are as safe and as wholesome as conventional crops.

One GMO Answers expert illustrates how GM Papaya is nutritionally equivalent to non-GM Papaya. Papaya is an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene (the precursor of vitamin A). In a 2010, the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis release an independent study showing that the levels of vitamins and other nutrients in GM and non-GM papayas are the same:

nutrition papaya

Biotech can also be used to help fight obesity. Fats and oils are essential parts of our diet. Agricultural biotechnology has been used to develop soybean varieties that have a healthier fatty acid profile. Some contain more oleic acid – a monounsaturated fatty acid found in olive oil. Another has an increased level of omega-3 fatty acids, which are the oils in fish thought to be associated with heart health.

 “Golden Rice” is a great example of biotechnology being used to enhance the nutritional value of a highly consumed crop in the developing world. Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness in the developing world and is particularly prevalent among children. Scientists have fortified rice grains with beta-carotene (provitamin A), which is found naturally in carrots, sweet potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables. Putting it into this staple grain which serves as the primary food of billions of people will greatly improve the nutritional value of their diet. Golden Rice is currently awaiting approval in the Philippines.

Ag biotech can be used to improve fruits and vegetables. Scientists have done work that could, in the future, lead to fruits and vegetables that cost less, offer better nutrition, and maintain post-harvest quality longer, which would be a boon to people in under-served neighborhoods and food deserts.

For example, Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) has successfully modified North America’s top three apple varieties and improved them with the nonbrowning trait, resulting in Arctic® Golden, Arctic® Granny, and Arctic®Fuji apples  Arctic® Apples have shown to be more appealing and convenient, so more apples get eaten and fewer are wasted. And yes Arctic® apple varieties have the same nutritional value as their counterparts. Lastly, while the browning typically reaction “burns up” healthful content such as antioxidants when an apple is bitten, sliced, or bruised, this is not the case with Arctic® apples!