combine harvester There are dozens of genetically engineered crops approved for sale in many parts of the world. Most are foods like soybeans, corn (maize), squash, sugar beet, papayas, tomatoes and potatoes. These are now part of the food supply for most people and are the so-called first generation. They have benefitted the companies that produce them and the farmers who grow them but had no particular benefit for the public who are eating them. Also GM cotton has become a very important non-food crop around the world, both boosting yields and reducing pestcide use. But there is still a lot of argument about how good these cotton crops are.

There are many more GM crops in the pipeline. These second generation plants should have many more benefits for the people who eat them as well as for the farmers. They will be more nutritious with more protein, vitamins or minerals. An example is cassava, a vital food for 600 million people in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America.