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Viewpoint: Despite what you might hear, food irradiation is safe—and necessary

| | July 27, 2018

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Take a good look at those crisp lettuce leaves in your salad, or consider the barley that has gone into making your favourite beer or whisky. What these two foodstuffs have in common is that they have both been altered by the process of food irradiation…

Food irradiation is the process by which seeds and foodstuffs are exposed to ionising radiation. While this may sound rather Frankensteinian, the procedure has been studied for decades and is well understood. One use for food irradiation is in the creation of new crop varieties…radiation acts on seeds to reorganise the cells’ genetic sequence and produce crop plants that either express certain traits…or suppress certain traits..More commonly, radiation is applied directly to foodstuffs…to arrest or combat pests and stop foodborne illnesses from spreading…

Related article:  Pesticides and Food: It’s not a black or white issue, Part 4: How do organic pesticides compare to synthetic pesticides?

[F]ood irradiation has a contentious history. Nature, primarily the sun, acted as the first known source of radiation; for millennia, plants underwent mutations due to exposure to solar radiation. But the discovery of X-rays in 1895, and that of spontaneous radiation the year after, changed all that…scientists began learning of the capabilities of radiation — that it could destroy insects and produce high yield crops.

Despite the numerous regulations and rules in place, there are nevertheless many outright sceptics or naysayers regarding food irradiation…critics who peddle straight up falsehoods through their websites and blogs, blatantly spreading misinformation about food irradiation and the technologies involved.

Read full, original article: There’s nothing radical about food irradiation

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