This article is from the Food Science FAQ, firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul E. J. King) with numerous contributions by others.
Genetic modification has been used for countless years and
applies to all the food we eat. Traditional breeding methods to
improve animals and plants are genetic modification by slow,
hit-and-miss means. Science now enables it to be done systematically
and more rapidly. What is different, and could not be done by
traditional breeding, is the purposeful copying of genes from one
species to another.
Professional food scientists are concerned to serve the public
interest by furthering the application of science and technology to
all aspects of the supply of safe, wholesome, nutritious and
attractive food, nationally and internationally. The newer kinds of
genetic modification can provide immense benefits in human well-being
world-wide, especially in medicine, agriculture and food. Yes, like
every bit of mankind's progress from being a cave-dweller, it is a
form of interference with nature. Of course any new technology has
potential hazards. If these frightened mankind off all new
technologies we would still be living in the Stone Age. The answer is
for scientific effort to be made to foresee hazards and eliminate
them, for example, to avoid the risk of loss of genetic diversity.
That is why, for example, the introduction of any new
genetically-modified food is controlled in the UK in accordance with
the stringent assessment and recommendations of the UK Advisory
Committee on Novel Foods and Processes.