Summary of Genetically Engineered Food Legislation

Genetic engineering, the ability to insert a novel gene into an organism, is a developing science that offers possible benefits and hazards. Genetic engineering is defined as something that has been altered at the molecular or cellular level by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes. This technology is totally different from traditional breeding techniques. Genetic engineering is a powerful technology. The ability to insert any gene into any organism breaks scientific barriers and creates new ethical quandaries.

Genetic engineering is having a serious impact on the food we eat, on the environment, and on farmers. To ensure we can maximize benefits and minimize hazards, Congress must provide a comprehensive regulatory framework for all genetically engineered products (plants, animals, bacteria, and other organisms).

Current laws, such as our food safety and environmental laws, were not written with this technology in mind. These laws were not structured to deal with a new paradigm created by the novel scientific capabilities made available by genetic engineering. Therefore, clearer laws are necessary to ensure that these new scientific capabilities and the associated impacts are closely monitored.

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