March is National Nutrition Month!

Farmer Gene

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 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” which encourages everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives. How, when, why and where we eat are just as important as what we eat!

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

First, the reader should now that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes guidelines related to the safety and nutrition of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The Agency confirms that 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). The science also indicates that these foods are safe for consumption and that they are not contributors to increased allergies.

Take for example “Golden Rice” and Provitamin A Enrichment. 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.

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.

Another great example of the benefits of ag biotech is how it 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 underserved neighborhoods and food deserts.

In fact, this was recently achieved by Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF). OSF has successfully modified two varieties of apple so that they are nonbrowning.  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 nutrition as other apples. They have been been rigorously analyzed to prove they are just as healthy as their counterparts. And, 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!

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