Genetic engineering of food crops has the potential to affect the biodiversity of a region in effectively two ways. First, wild populations of weed may be replaced by GM crop/weed, due to the GM crop spreading outside the crop field and interacting with natural weed and slowly becoming GM weed. Since GM crops are produced to be resistant to pesticides and herbicides, there is the possibility that they could invade wild grasslands and other places and prosper because of these special characteristics. If this happened, the native grasses would be unable to compete and biodiversity would be lost in these regions. Also, many genetically engineered crops contain anti-viral genes and there is the potential that these genes could combine to form new and dangerous strains of viruses, which could destroy specific crops. Although, to date, there is no direct evidence of these occurring naturally, the potential is clearly increasing (UK Agricultural Biodiversity Coalition. What is happening to Agricultural Biodiversity?). The second way in which the biodiversity of a region is potentially affected is by the decreasing crop varieties that are being planted. This is a problem already existing in agriculture today, and results in a loss of genetic variety within crop cultures. Farmers being forced to use only patented seeds are an example of a potential decrease in biodiversity. If traditional seed varieties are used, farmers will be at a financial disadvantage due to better tasting, better looking crops produced by farmers using GM seeds. In the U.S., and some other countries, laws have been passed and are currently in effect stating that the use of non-patented seeds is prohibited. This will restrict the crops to a few species, leaving them more at risk to new pests that may form (UK Agricultural Biodiversity Coalition. What are the underlying causes of the Losses of Agricultural Biodiversity?).
The European community is by far the most anti-GM, so to speak, when it comes to the retail of GM food in their supermarkets (Tackling Food Safety Concerns over GMO's, Consumer attitudes and decision-making with regard to genetically modified food products). Regulations are being imposed on the European Parliament, individual European nations, and some stores themselves have all imposed restrictions on GM foods. Manufacturers must label all foods that might have genetically altered ingredients. This includes food with genetically manufactured organisms, food with an intentionally modified molecular structure, and food that has been isolated for microorganisms, fungi, and algae. Furthermore, the genetically altered food must not mislead the consumer, present any danger to the consumer, or differ from the food