If the ubiquity of biotech crops is any indication, this futurey Thanksgiving is likely only the beginning. Any day now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the sale of genetically modified salmon
— the first GM animal approved for human consumption — and it might not require a special label.
Scientists are also working on genetically modifying cattle to feel no pain, and pigs are being engineered to excrete less phosphorus
Alongside high oleic acid and omega-3 soybeans, biotech firms are enhancing the nutritional value of staple crops like cassava and golden rice. By 2012, Syngenta is expected to release its vitamin A-enhanced "golden rice"
to the world's poorest farmers, though environmental advocacy groups argue it will not solve vitamin A deficiencies in the developing world. And sometime in 2012, Monsanto aims to introduce a new strain of corn altered to resist drought.
All this work requires some pretty advanced technology, and biotech firms are always coming up with new automated procedures, planting devices and robots. In this photo, robots help Bayer scientists in Monheim, Germany, search for new active ingredients.
Eventually, it may be impossible to distinguish between modified foods and those grown the way nature intended. No matter your opinion, genetic modification— enhancing crops with genetic traits that would be unlikely to evolve naturally — is the future of food.