The authors have files bulging with press cuttings relating to biotechnology in general and genetically modified food in particular. Much of this material comes from the years 1998 and 1999 when public attention in the UK was much taken with a number of scares about the environmental and health consequences of so-called ‘Frankenstein foods’. Even royalty, in the person of HRH the Prince of Wales, has become involved and the story has been headline news in a way rivalled only by ‘mad cow disease’ in the recent history of food and agriculture in the UK. We feel that a chapter on this area of the food debate is amply justified by this level of interest.