If one regularly watches the news on TV or reads a newspaper it would be difficult not to have noticed the controversy surrounding the introduction of agricultural biotechnology in recent years. The biotechnology industry and research scientists have claimed these new crops provide benefits to consumers, producers and the environment. The potential of the technology to improve nutritional value and promote food security for the hungry has been emphasized. US regulatory agencies have approved 50 applications of biotechnology to the development of new plant varieties in the US.
Numerous food and environmental advocacy groups have expressed concerns about crops developed via biotechnology because they view these crops as distinctly new and different organisms that are being injected into our food supply. Consumers are doubtless confused about who and what to believe concerning this new technology and these new varieties. One point of view among some consumers, probably more in Europe than in the United States, is that these foods are extremely dangerous. Activist critics call them "Frankenfoods." These critics have carried out an active media campaign designed to frighten consumers, and this has caused some grocery stores and restaurants to guarantee their customers that their products are free of "genetically modified" foods. This is, of course, very difficult to do in the US since 70% to 85% of all processed/packaged foods contain one or more ingredients that are ultimately derived from what their detractors call "genetically modified organisms" or GMOs. This is largely due to the fact that biotechnology is the most rapidly adopted technology in the history of agriculture; approximately 70% of the soybeans and 25% of the corn planted in the US this year came from biotechnology-derived seeds. At the same time, there can be little doubt that some consumers are sincerely concerned because they fear that biotechnology is unsafe and that products developed via biotechnology are so different than conventional foods that they should be avoided.