With technologies like CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), the ability to create and modify species is no longer in the domain of large companies and well funded research laboratories.
A couple of geeks working in their garage lab can now create new species of plants and animals by genetic modification.
We are soon going to see many such species released into the environment with little or no oversight and control. These plant species will contaminate fields and agriculture.
Not all of these species will be harmful to humans but some surely will be.
The burning food safety question that this will create is whether the food you intend to eat, is safe for human consumption. What if it looks like a tomato, tastes like one but is not a tomato? What if it was toxic?
There are clearly two consequences I see –
The first is the emergence of hand held validation tools to tell us that the food we are buying or eating is not contaminated with genetically altered species.
The second, is that it will be difficult and expensive to manage safety across the food supply chain from farm to fork. Only large companies with significant resources will be able to do that.
Here is an article about the technologies and food supply chain audit capabilities that some companies, in this case, Walmart, are building: