was quickly informed and the practice was halted. Though an
honest mistake, it shows that scientists can indeed make mis-
takes. The fear is that scientists are making a similar mistake
in regard to genetic modification.
Most of this discussion has concerned the United States,
whereas the European Union is far less accepting of GMOs.
This difference seems to be attributable to the greater caution
exhibited by European consumers, perhaps due to food safety
scares in Europe and Britain (especially mad cow disease) that
eroded the public's trust in regulators.
The public response in Europe to GM crops might be very
different if the outbreak of BSE, or Mad Cow disease,
in the United Kingdom had not occurred in the 1980s.
Despite reassurances from the British health officials
that consuming British beef was safe, in 1996 the con-
sumption of BSE-tained beef was presumptively linked
to a variant form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease...the
appearance of BSE in cattle in other European countries
further eroded the European public's trust that govern-
ments were able to assure the safety of food—a trust
that had been damaged by a series of food scandals in
—Karen E. Greif and Jon F. Merz, Current Controversies
in the Biological Sciences: Case Studies of Policy Challenges
from New Technologies (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007).
Most of the corn, cotton, soybeans, and sugar beets in the
United States are GM varieties. Are these really just different
varieties of the same crops, or “Frankenfoods?” It depends on
the trust one places in scientific organizations like the National
Academy of Sciences, and the extent to which one believes that
corporations control regulation. As agricultural scientists, the
authors have considerable esteem for the Academy and place
great trust in the US regulatory agencies, and for these rea-
sons, are supporters of GMOs.