In honor of the big game this Sunday, I thought we would look at how biotechnology, specifically GMOs, have benefited some of the foods that are sure to be part of many Super Bowl party spreads. Whether you’re rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles or the defending champion New England Patriots, we can all thank biotechnology for ensuring we’re not hungry come halftime.
From nachos to queso dip to cheeseburgers, cheese will be a staple at most Super Bowl parties this weekend. And as we touched on briefly before the Thanksgiving holiday, we can thank GMOs for allowing us to indulge in this popular snack item:
While most people don’t think of GMOs when they think of cheese, much of our cheese is made using biotechnology. Enzymes known as “rennet” are a critical part of the cheesemaking process. Years ago, the only source of that rennet was the lining of calf stomachs; however, biotech stepped in to help make the cheesemaking process more humane. Researchers used biotechnology to create genetically modified (GM) bacterium and yeast cells to produce rennet, which in turn could be used in making cheese. Between 80 to 90 percent of hard cheese made in the U.S. is made using GM rennet!
Unless you plan on extracting rennin from the lining of a calf’s stomach, you’ll are relying on GMOs for that cheese board at your Super Bowl celebration.
What pairs well with any queso dip? Chips. More specifically, tortilla chips. Party guests may claim they’re full by the end of the first quarter, but I guarantee they’ll continue munching on chips until the Lombardi trophy ceremony.
Of course, the main ingredient in tortilla chips is corn, which is one of the most common crops benefiting from biotechnology. To meet demand for the crop, farmers plant corn that has been genetically modified to be resistant to damaging insects and tolerant of commonly used herbicides. What many people don’t know is that genetically modified corn can also be disease resistant. As noted in an article on Livestrong.com, this type of corn may actually be safer than non-GMO corn for human consumption:
Another benefit of GMO corn is described in an International Council for Science, ICSU, report cited by the "Public Library of Science-Biology." Corn bioengineered to carry disease resistance genes from naturally resistant plants contain lower levels of mycotoxins, substances produced by fungi growing on insect-infested, non-GMO corn crops. Myxotoxins are potentially carcinogenic to humans.
Therefore, not only does biotechnology allow for higher yields of the crop, it also safeguards against cancer causing substances.
Hamburgers and Hotdogs
Cheese and chips are good for munching throughout the game, but your guests will start to grow hungry without some type of protein.
Whether you are serving hamburgers or hotdogs, the livestock that led to that burger patty or sausage link most likely fed on some type of GM crop. According to GMO Answers, more than two-thirds of GM corn and half of GM soybeans are used for livestock feed. And much like GM crops, GM animal feed does not pose any risks to a person’s health. Even so, if there are a few people at your viewing party who refuse to eat GM foods, you can assure them that the hamburgers and hotdogs are actually GMO free:
Over one hundred scientific studies have found no difference in the productive performance or health of livestock that have been fed genetically engineered feedstuffs, and they found no presence of genetically engineered DNA or proteins in the milk, meat or eggs from animals that have eaten genetically engineered feed.
So, whether you’re whipping up some Philly cheesesteaks, classic New England Franks & Beans or some simple chips and salsa, remember to thank biotechnology for that super party spread.