In my opinion, what is missing from the conversation are discussions of agricultural sustainability, and nutritional outcomes.
That is precisely why I think that the focus by the Pope on corporate excesses and environmental justice are so significant.
There is always distance between technology and the policy decisions as to how it is applied, and the underlying science.
I believe that a small scale version of how this plays out is demonstrated by the current "gluten free" craze. First, we started with a small group of families who had members suffering from celiac disease. They started using the internet to network with other such families, first to exchange recipes, and then to build small businesses based on their baked goods and other such products. Then, other people noticed that eating such foods made them feel better. This is understandable, since, after all, eating less refined white flour and more wholesome foodstuffs ought to make one feel healthier. The next thing that happened was Big Food stepped in. And chemists and food scientists in laboratories are busy working away to turn non wheat materials, such as tapioca starch into gluten imitations. So now most supermarkets have "gluten free" food sections with the same sort of crappy food choices as found elsewhere in the store.
The same sort of thing happened with the "organic" label, when it was scaled up to supply vendors such as Wal Mart or Costco. It no longer represents measures used on small scale family farms. Big Food entities spend considerable effort on creating loopholes as to what is allowable.
In the case of the science of plant genetics, the list provided by +Eugene Y
is valid. But in my opinion, this highlights the need for even greater transparency and disclosure on the part of Big Ag and Big Food. Certainly no credibility points can be made by pointing out: "gee you object to GMOs but you've failed to notice all of the even worse things that we've been doing." Certain GMO crops have enabled agricultural processes, which through monoculture practices and/or high water consumption, or tilting of our agricultural system towards promotion of substances (like corn syrup) which are unhealthy and unsustainable. This has nothing to do with the importance and validity of the underlying science itself, which could have been used for such things as to make products that were hardier, like weeds, rather than simply resistant to a Big Ag corporations already existing herbicide products.
My point is that we should recognize that the focus on a few extremists is the result of positioning being created by the corporations and their supporting media outlets. It is a mechanism of shutting down conversations that might actually help our society redirect applications of these important scientific breakthroughs in ways more beneficial to society at large. The corporations to blame here would include "natural" food purveyors such as Whole Foods, or supposedly wholesome Fast food providers such as Chipotle. They, along with conventional Big Food entities such as General Mills, with it's heavily advertised "GMO Free" Cherrios, are, IMHO, doing great harm to public understanding of food science.
Don't blame the people being deluded. Go to the source. That is why I believe that the Pope's encyclical, focusing on corporate power and social ethics is potentially very powerful.