The following excerpts are taken from the full FRONTLINE/NOVA
interviews conducted for this report.
Scientists and government regulators maintain that GM food presents no food safety issues at the moment. Biotechnology critics and other scientists disagree, arguing that there's inadequate testing and regulation of GM food, and that we don't really know whether GM food is safe or not.
Scientists maintain that genetic modification of food crops is not new; humans
have been tampering with nature for a very long time. Biotechnology critic
Jeremy Rifkin disagrees.
Here are scientists' views on how GM crops can help the environment
(reducing the need for herbicides, pesticides), the farmer (pathogen
resistance), and make it easier to feed the world (enhanced crops with
vitamins). Critics of agricultural biotechnology say there are other, better
options for solving these problems.
Critics of biotechnology say nature is incredibly complex and that GM
technology is introducing a new genre of environmental and health questions.
They argue that introducing foreign genes from distant species (e.g., a gene
from a fish into a strawberry) increases the risk of allergenicity. Also, the
risk of new toxins must be considered. And they point to lab
research which has revealed possible unintended consequences of GMOs.
Biotechnology critics, U.S. regulators and scientists agree that the StarLink
episode (in which GM corn, approved only for animal feed, was found in taco
shells) revealed flaws in the U.S. regulatory system. But they disagree on the
issue of mandatory labelling of GM food products.