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Do genetically modified foods cause allergies?

GMOs are becoming an increasingly popular item among consumers.

Genetically modified foods have been around for a while now, but debate is still surging around them.

Some have claimed that GMOs led to an increase in allergies – gluten allergy is a particularly hot topic in the GMO debate – and wonder whether these foods are less safe than foods that aren't scientifically engineered.

But most of the scientific evidence says that genetically modified food is just as safe as other food. These foods have been blamed for an increase in allergies because their introduction into the mainstream coincided with a rise in allergies in children, according to Refinery 29. 

GMOs also go through an intense regulatory and review process, which makes it highly unlikely that these foods would be the culprit behind a rise in allergies in the U.S., Forbes explained.

"When scientists consider genetically modifying a plant, they first review a large database of food allergies and the protein sequences that are known to be allergenic," Jennie Schmidt, a farmer and registered dietician, told Forbes. "[...] If there is a resemblance, the scientists do not continue to use that sequence(s) and stop the development of the GMO."

There are many different ways for scientists to genetically modify a plant, including simple cross-breeding between two different seeds to more complex procedures such as protoplast fusion and genome editing. Some popular foods that are a result of genetic modification include honeycrisp apples and seedless watermelons.

Instead of introducing allergies, food scientists are hoping to improve GMO technology to the point where they can eradicate certain food allergies such as peanut allergy, according to Forbes. To do this, experts are researching ways to remove the protein that causes the allergic reaction without compromising the food itself, the source noted.

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