When foods containing GE ingredients were first introduced in the 1990s, some members of the public called for banning them based on concerns about their potential to harm human health. In terms of the health and safety of the people consuming them, research repeatedly has found no difference between foods developed with and without genetic engineering. Even so, some consumers remain concerned about genetic engineering, citing health, personal preference, environmental, economic, and other objections.
As such, the views of the scientific community, consumers, farmers and ranchers, and the organic industry on the safety, utility, and ethics of agricultural biotechnology do not always overlap. Society continues to debate these issues, and numerous advocacy and trade organizations promote various sides of the debate.
Disparate global views, consumer acceptance, and legal requirements with respect to agricultural biotechnology and its products have raised global trade concerns. The United States is a leading cultivator of GE crops, and market access for agricultural biotechnology products is a major U.S. trade objective.
While the policies of some global trading partners support access to biotechnology products, other countries’ policies pose a challenge to achieving this objective.