Societies have always been concerned with a safe and abundant food supply. Many scientists see biotechnology as a natural progression from traditional breeding techniques, and believe that the fundamental issues are the same, whether food is produced with or without biotechnology. Is the food safe and nutritious? Does it taste good? How does its production affect the environment and the economic well-being of the public? What regulatory policies are needed to ensure the safety of foods? It is most important that scientists and the public at large discuss these issues. With less than 2% of the American public now directly involved in agricultural production, many may feel left out of the dialogue about the issues involved in agricultural biotechnology. Food production systems are complex whether they are conventional, organic, or involve biotechnology. They entail questions of technology and society, and fundamental values for each of us. It is important to understand the issues and become engaged in the dialogue.
A considerable amount of misinformation exists on these issues. Land Grant Universities such as Cornell were established to work for the general public good. Therefore, it is vital that they play a central role in helping the public understand the scientific and social issues involved in agricultural biotechnology.