Both Monsanto and DuPont produce and market corn and soybeans that have been genetically engineered to withstand weed killers, while producing an insecticidal protein to fight pests without the need for additional chemical sprays.
The key areas of controversy related to genetically modified food are:
- whether detailed labeling should be required by law;
- what is the role and expanse of government regulators and at what level;
- what are the effects of genetically modified crops on health and the environment;
- what is the effect on pesticide resistance
- is the impact of genetically modified crops positive or negative for farmers; and
- what should be the role of genetically modified crops in meeting the needs of a rapidly growing global populace, particularly in emerging market nations where the health and food safety laws are not as stringent as in the United States.
At present, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration supports voluntary labeling by food manufacturers.
Greenpeace, the Organic Consumers Association and others support labeling efforts due to their contention that current regulatory efforts are anemic and the food derived from genetically modified organisms may be unsafe, threatening other sources.
While labeling efforts may seem benign, there would be a greatly increased legal liability for companies in the industry if the efforts prevail. It would also facilitate greater regulatory expansion for the other aspects of the role of bioengineering and chemicals in the food sector.
Opponents of more laws and regulations on the industry point out that esteemed scientific institutions such as the British Royal Society, the World Health Organization, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and others have determined that genetically modified foods on the market are no riskier than conventional foods.