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The Biotechnology Industry

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The Biotechnology Industry

The biotechnology industry is a multi-million-dollar industry centered on the creation and implementation of genetically manipulated plant and animal products. This industry creates, “superfoods”, containing foreign genetic material, adding or enhancing properties in the original plant or animal. The American consumer is highly skeptical of the actual benefits of these “superfoods.” Fearing foreign genes and protein in staple foods such as corn and wheat, average American consumers shy away at the thought of genetically enhanced foods. As an average consumer these are also my fears but as an engineering student I ask myself if this is a viable career option.

The biotechnology industry has turned its attention to the farmer and the staple crops of corn, wheat, and rice. Biotechnology has been making products for the farmer, not to please the consumer. The American consumer is a staunch group when it comes to the safety of its food supply. Fears of allergic reactions ranging from slight shock to a fatal reaction keep engineered foods from making their way to the dinner table. The only engineered foods you may see will not be the soybeans or potatoes that have more protein or less fat but the herbicide resistant corn or pest resistant wheat. These foods have shown to be profitable for both farmers and corporations.

Consumers have been wary of these modified foods since the Flavr Savr tomato, the first consumer orientated genetically modified organism (GMO), hit the market, prompting biotechnology firms to focus their research on the cash crops: soybeans, corn and wheat. These large corporations are after the profit if there are benefits to society then that is only an afterthought. “Biotechnology executives say it's too complex and costly to create innovative fruits and vegetables that farmers might not plant in large numbers and consumers might not be willing to pay more for, or even accept,”(Fulmer 2). The farmer is the focus of these modified crops. If farmers are unwilling to plant in large numbers the enhanced fruits and vegetables that are more nutritious or have more protein corporations lose money. By focusing on the main staple crops a biotechnology company can make money and help to market another product to compliment the plants.” They were content to focus on a few traits that appealed to farmers and that in some cases helped sell other products Monsanto's Roundup being one example.”(Fulmer 3) Consumers are not welcoming genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with open arms, “study by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that 75% of U.
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