Perhaps we should be afraid not of Genetically Modified Foods, but instead of unscrupulous uses of genetic engineering technology.
Messing about with viruses without testing could lead to bad things. Equally, Golden Rice seems like a very Good Thing. GM produces both. Should we sacrifice a perfectly safe, useful product because the same techniques have been used in negative ways?
Like Cloning, Genetic Engineering is going to happen, whether or not we want it to. It's much better to have a legal, well-regulated GM industry than an underground one without mandated product testing.
What worries me is people that are biased against GM. GM should undergo the same testing procedure as other foods. Sure, no one has proved that Genetically Modified Organisms are 100% safe. No one's proved that Broccoli is 100% safe, either. I don't see the problem with having GMOs tested like any other food. If they pass the tests, then they are fit for consumption. GM foods are Innocent until Proven Guilty. I haven't been able to find any documented reports of scientific demonstrations of danger from GMOs. It's entirely possible that they're dangerous. It's also entirely possible that widespread exposure to AC for a hundred years will render a species infertile. We can't prove a negative like that.
I do have qualms with Gene patents. Life isn't intellectual property. But that's a social and legal problem, not an engineering one.
Caution is good. The problem is that the sentiment of a large portion of the population goes beyond rational caution. It becomes bias. Caution is assuming that something could be dangerous, and not risking consumption without evidence of its safety. Bias is assuming that it is dangerous, regardless of what evidence is produced either way. GMF should be treated like regular foods, as far as testing goes. If GMFs should undergo more strenuous testing, then public safety would benefit for greater examination of all foods.
Many have proposed labelling as a valid solution. The problem is that the public is not well educated on the benefits and risks of GM. As long as there are herds of activists spouting anti-"Frankenfood" propaganda, it's impossible for the general public to form the knowledge base neccessary to make informed choices regarding GM. If all information on GM was from a neutral perspective, then labeling would be effective. But as long as things are as slanted as they are, labeling would be ineffective.
Ravensong: Canola oil is not carcinogenic, despite its ancestry. Rhubarb leaves are poinsonous, but the stems are tasty, so we make pies out of them.