The regulation of genetic engineering concerns the approaches taken by governments to assess and manage the risks associated with the use of genetic engineering technology and the development and release of genetically modified organisms (GMO), including genetically modified crops and genetically modified fish. There are differences in the regulation of GMOs between countries, with some of the most marked differences occurring between the USA and Europe. Regulation varies in a given country depending on the intended use of the products of the genetic engineering. For example, a crop not intended for food use is generally not reviewed by authorities responsible for food safety.
One of the key issues concerning regulators is whether GM products should be labeled. Labeling can be mandatory up to a threshold GM content level (which varies between countries) or voluntary. A study investigating voluntary labeling in South Africa found that 31% of products labeled as GMO-free had a GM content above 1.0%. In Canada and the USA labeling of GM food is voluntary, while in Europe all food (including processed food) or feed which contains greater than 0.9% of approved GMOs must be labelled.
Although there is now broad scientific consensus that GE crops on the market are safe to eat, some scientists who work at institutions such as the University of Texas and Cornell University, and advocacy groups such as Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund have called for additional and more rigorous testing for GM food. See genetically modified food controversies for discussion of these issues.
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