Genetic modification engages the insertion of genes from other organisms (within or between species) into host cells to select for desirable qualities. Potential benefits of GM foods include amplified nutritional value; reduced allergenicity; pest and disease-resistance; and improved processing value. Possible detrimental outcomes include producing foods with novel toxins, allergens or reduced nutritional value, and expansion of antibiotic resistance or herbicide-resistant weeds. Benefits to individuals or populations need to be weighed against adverse health and environmental risks, and may vary between developing and Westernized countries. Whether testing and monitoring should exceed requirements for conventional foods is under dispute. Dissatisfied consumer advocacy groups are calling for all foods involving GM technology to be labeled, inappropriate of whether the final product contains novel protein. Goals to improve the quantity, quality and safety of foods are laudable; however, the primary intend of the bio-food industry is financial gain. GM foods may be as safe as conventional foods but public distrust runs high. It is critical that discussion is informed by science and that claims of both benefits and risks are evidence-based, to make certain that the process is driven neither by the vested interest of the bio-technical multinational companies on the one hand, nor ill-informed public fears on the other.
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