The past twenty years have seen rise to a new burgeoning scientific field: genetically modified foods. During the plant breeding process, geneticists interfere with the reproduction and modify the genes of the new seedling by introducing a fragment of DNA from another organism that possesses the desired trait. With genetic modification, scientists can increase the pest, herbicide, cold, and drought tolerance so that the crop can survive in harsher climates. In some cases, the nutritional value can even be increased (Ulrich 9). Despite the obvious benefits of more nutritious foods and crops that are hardier and more resistant to harsher climates, there are some concerns surrounding GM foods. Each new alteration can cause an unforeseen
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Regulation is only done on a voluntary basis because of the GRAS status (Deal 18). The FDA is not required to approve or reject GM foods, but only provide consultation with the biotech company producing the product. The consultation process itself is only a “risk assessment based on information provided” by the company in question. Products are evaluated on a case by case basis and only the end product is considered in the risk assessment, not the actual alteration process itself (Chetty 270). But despite these somewhat fallible safety procedures, the U.S. public continues to voice little to no opposition to genetically modified foods. This can be attributed to the large amount of trust that the public places in the FDA (Taylor 853).
Across the Atlantic, however, the European populace has quite the opposite response. GM crops unfortunately debuted amidst the mad cow disease crisis in Europe and thereby tainted the image of GM foods. The risk analysis of GM foods in the US was considered too lenient and unacceptable (Taylor 852). In 1998, the European Union placed a moratorium on all GM food imports because the regulatory processes in the U.S. were considered incomplete. In response, U.S. farmers began rejecting newly introduced GM crops for fear that they would be shut out of the European market. This halt was not lifted until 2004 after the World Trade Organization, prompted by the United States, intervened (Falkner 104). Europe works on a different risk