Since 1994, a growing number of foods were developed using genetic modification (GMO). With these products has come controversy, primarily in Europe where some question whether GMO foods are safe. Scientists are now able to use the tools of modern biotechnology to insert a gene into the crop to give it new, advantageous characteristics. Most genetic modifications make it easier to grow the crop. About half of the American soybean crop planted in 1999 carries a gene that makes it resistant to an herbicide (Roundup) used to control weeds.
Risks of GMO food
GMO crops may threaten biodiversity, decrease the richness and variety of foods, and make farmers more dependent on chemical companies, through the purchase of seed or chemicals.
Health concerns include: allergy, gene transfer (antibiotic-resistant genes from GMO to bacteria), and outcrossing (the movement of genes from GMO plants into conventional crops).
The movement against GMO agriculture seems to have exploded recently. European farmers and consumers have forged a formidable alliance calling for a moratorium on genetically engineered crops. Indian farmers have burned fields believed to be planted with GMO cotton. In the U.S. an emerging alliance of consumers, farmers, corporate accountability and fair trade activists has only recently gathered steam. The soy industry reacted with the introduction of the Identity-Preserved (IP) by which suppliers guarantee that their products are GMO-free. The GMO issue resulted in the replacement of some soy ingredients with other materials, some of which are synthetic and have lower functionality. Soy lecthin has been replaced by synthetic emulsifiers. As a response the soy industry can now provide identity-preserved lecithins.