however, in light of incidents such as the recent discovery that Taco Bell taco shells contained grain from genetically modified corn that the Food and Drug Administration had not approved for human consumption. Organized interest groups typically use such incidents as fodder for their continued efforts to ban genetically modified foods. Even in some rural areas of Texas, individuals participating in a national campaign run largely through the Internet have brought petitions to county courts asking that the commissioners support a declaration against genetically modified foods. The regulation and labeling of genetically modified foods will clearly be the subject of continued public debate. Given this environment, the agricultural industry, educational institutions, and the scientific community must work diligently to inform citizens about the safe and appropriate uses of biotechnology.
In a land of plenty and in prosperous times, U.S. citizens and their counterparts in Europe have had difficulty understanding why we must pursue advances in biotechnology. I doubt that the billions of people in developing nations have the same concern. It is incumbent upon agricultural scientists and engineers to provide the benefits we know can be realized through biotechnology and to persuade our governments and citizens to support this endeavor. For what is at stake may very well be the future of humanity.
Borlaug, N. 1999. Speech given at Texas A&M University during the dedication of the Norman E. Borlaug Center for Southern Crop Improvement. October 6, 1999.
NRC (National Research Council). 2000. Genetically Modified Pest-Protected Plants: Science and Regulation. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
NSTC (National Science and Technology Council). 1995. Biotechnology for the 21st Century: New Horizons. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.