Friday, October 7, 2016

GMO: Pros and Cons

                                         Comments due by Oct. 14, 2016  (#5)

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are organisms made with engineered material with the goal of improving the original organism. They can then be used, in some cases, to produce GMO foods.

GMO seeds are used in 90 percent of corn, soybeans and cotton grown in the United States, according to the Center for Food Safety. To avoid eating foods that contain GMOs, look for labels that specify that fruits and vegetables is "organic" or "USDA Organic."
While GMOs come with known benefits to human health and the farming industry overall, there are some controversial negatives.

First the pros:

1. Seeds are genetically changed for multiple reasons, which include improving resistance to insects and generating healthier crops, according to This can lower risk of crop failure, and make crops better resistant to extreme weather.

2. Engineering can also eliminate seeds and produce a longer shelf life, which allows for the "safe transport to people in countries without access to nutrition-rich foods."

3. Environmental benefits. Less chemicals, time, machinery, and land are needed for GMO crops and animals, which can help reduce environmental pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil erosion. Enhanced productivity because of GMOs could allow farmers to dedicate less real estate to crops. Also, farmers are already growing corn, cotton, and potatoes without spraying the bacterial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis because the crops produce their own insecticides, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 

4. Better nutrition. By modifying some GMO foods in terms of mineral or vitamin content, companies can supply more necessary nutrients and help fight worldwide malnutrition, according to The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. For example, vitamin A-enhanced rice, or "golden rice," is helping to reduce global vitamin A deficiencies.

5. The use of molecular biology in vaccination development has been successful and holds promise, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Scientists have engineered plants to produce vaccines, proteins, and other pharmaceutical goods in a process called "pharming."

Here are some negatives:

1. Food allergies in children under 18 spiked from 3.4 percent in 1997-99 to 5.1 percent in 2009-11, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, though it bears noting that there's no conclusive scientific link to GMO foods.

2. GMOs can pose significant allergy risks, according to a Brown University study. Genetic enhancements often combine proteins not contained in the original organism, which can cause allergic reactions for humans. For example, if a protein from an organism that caused an allergic reaction is added to something that previously didn't, it may prompt a new allergic reaction.

3. Lowered resistance to antibiotics. Some GMOs have built-in antibiotic qualities that enhance immunity, according to Iowa State University, but eating them can lessen the effectiveness of actual antibiotics. 

4. Genes may migrate. According to The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, "Through 'gene escape,' they can pass on to other members of the same species and perhaps other species. Genes introduced in GMOs are no exception, and interactions might occur at gene, cell, plant, and ecosystem level. Problems could result if, for example, herbicide-resistance genes got into weeds. So far, research on this is inconclusive, with scientists divided — often bitterly. But there is scientific consensus that once widely released, recalling transgenes or foreign DNA sequences, whose safety is still subject to scientific debate, will not be feasible."
(Newsmax )


  1. I have always had a negative opinion towards GMO foods; primarily because whenever I hear them talked about, their is a negative stigma connected to them. Anything "genetically modified" causes concern amongst people, as it should; changing the genetic structure of an organism is one of the most complex feats accomplished by mankind. One thing that I found surprising was the potentially positive outcomes of growing and harvesting genetically modified organisms. In my opinion, for GMO products to be widely accepted, one thing must happen. The possibility of GMO products leading to any human or environmental harm must be eliminated. Larger and more plentiful plant harvests would have extremely positive effects on world hunger and environmental degradation. Larger harvests at lower costs would allow third world countries access to a plentiful and nutritious food supply, while reducing process-related pollution by cutting greenhouse gas emissions. As long as we can ensure that GMO products will not alter the genetic make-up of humans and other plants alike, increase proneness to allergic reactions, and lower resistance to antibiotics, I believe that genetic modification could be a positive thing.

  2. Admittedly GMOs do have some value in our economy. GMOs are good or bad ultimately depending on who you ask. In terms of efficiency and longevity, GMOs are ideal. As an economics major I should probably agree with he widespread use of GMOs. On the other hand, we are not entirely sure of the environmental effects that using these engineered materials on our crops may have. There are many activists groups that fight the production of GMOs and they will advocate that such chemicals cause disability and disease. While I am not entirely sure what is inherently best for our world, I am inclined to say that GMOs are not natural and our bodies really are not intended to process, digest, and absorb proper nutrition from chemicals. I eat organic and non-GMO products by preference and will continue to support local farmers and non genetically engineered foods.

  3. Years ago, when concerns related to GMOs were first raised, I was given the impression that they were resoundingly negative in terms of health. However, the positive attributes with respect to efficiency in the production of food seem obvious and large. Lately, though, I've been reading more and more about how GMO's are not always necessarily a bad thing. It certainly seems, given many of their uses and the evidence, that there are some massively negative consequences that GMO use can cause. Clearly, that should not be overlooked. I wonder if as time goes on whether or not we will find out more about the consequences/benefits of GMOs. My suspicion is that we will.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I remember when the negative discussions around GMOs emerged a few years back. I have always been very cautious of them when I grocery shop, as I was always thinking about how GMOs were bad for you, even if I didn't actually have information to back that statement up. I was just believing what other people told me. I eventually looked it up for myself and saw there is a large group of people that believe that GMOs are not bad, and that makes for interesting debates.

    While there typically seem to be two sides to this argument, GMOs are bad or GMOs are okay, I feel I am somewhere in the middle. This article posted above helped in outlining both the positive and negative sides of GMOs, which shows why there is such a controversy over them. I feel that there needs to be more extensive research conducted before any final decision can be made about GMOs. For example, can research be conducted to eliminate allergic reactions and risks that would allow for GMOs to be safe? The discussion and debate over GMOs is not over yet, but hopefully with more research and more time, there will be a definitive conclusion on whether or not they should be accepted.

  6. It's already a fact that GMOs are used widely, and not only within the United States. As the article states scientists will not agree on the use of GMOs. Despite this they have already been implemented and it will fall on the shoulders of future generations to pay for whatever negative effects result. On the positive side however GMOs are bustling. More product per unit of effort, per unit of cost and so on makes it a highly desirable not only for people associated with producing but for those consuming them as well. The matter of the fact is that GMOs are out there, and even products stamped as non-GMO products are not genetically tested for their lack of GMO involvement. The question to ask yourself really is, if you're already spending more money buying produce than something like McDonalds for dinner, are you going to go the extra mile and buy produce advertised as GMO-free that costs even more when there is a dismal amount of regulation in regards to what constitutes and how to identify a GMO?

    My case in point is that tic-tacs, while primarily made of sugar are advertised as sugar free. Why? Because a serving size of tic-tacs by regulations can be advertised as having no sugar. I promise that there are business people out there that would jump at the opportunity to do, and they probably already have, to make profits with methods such as this for GMO products.

  7. It has been already many years since the GMOs debate started. As many thing in the world, GMOs are good for some reasons and not as good for some other reasons. As of me, I have never took into consideration the fact of GMOs when going to shopping. It is not something I really care about, but I feel like I should carry more about. GMOs have proved that can be good in many examples like growing better, growing with more vitamins etc. but I do not know to which point all of this Genetically Modified Organisms are good for consumption.
    Many studies have been made by scientists to keep proving that GMOs are bad for us to consume, that can bring allergies as other vitamins or proteins are added to organisms that originally do not posses those.
    In general, when I hear about GMOs I have a bad thought about it because as the name itself states, it is a genetically modified organism which means it is not natural grown. That is why there has, there is and there will be a debate wether GMOs are good or not for us.

  8. I think people naturally have a negative reaction when they hear the term genetically modified foods. That being said, I think we can all benefit a lot by growing and consuming these genetically modified foods. Our world faces a huge problem of malnutrition and these GMO foods are a great way to combat this problem. Genetically modified foods have a longer shelf life and are more resistant to insects which makes the crop failure risk lower. Engineering can also eliminate seeds and allow the food to be preserved longer, enabling the foods to get to places the lack nutrition rich foods. While this can be a great tool for combatting widespread malnutrition, I also think there is a lot of side effects we do not know about. One thing that was particularly alarming was the spike in the rate of allergies in children under 18. Although this was not proven to be an effect of GMO foods, it is a possibility, and we may find other side effects as we study more.

  9. This short and concise article on GMOs has broadened my perception of GMOs. However, it has not confirmed or denied the stigma against GMOs. I work at a small, all-organic, locally-grown grocery store. Everything in stock is non-GMO. I have customers constantly asking me to confirm of certain produce is GMO free. I always had a negative perspective towards GMOs but I never really knew why. All I thought I knew was that they are bad for human health but I never had any evidence to back that up. This article explains the positives and negatives of GMOs but if I had no prior knowledge about GMOs, I would lean towards their pros. All of the cons appear to be “inconclusive.”

    But, regarding our agricultural economy, I have heard that GMOs often fall under monopolized corporations. There are apparently very few companies that hold genetically modified seeds, often forcing farmers to either compete and fail or suffer the ridiculously high prices and buy their seeds.

  10. GMO crops and animals has always been a controversial subject. Some people believe the pros outweigh the cons because of how little research has been done on the negative effects of GMOs. GMOs have helped improve crop resistance to insects and have resulted in healthier crops. They also help produce a longer shelf life. GMOs have great benefits when it comes to the environment. They use fewer chemicals, require less time, machinery, and land to grow these crops and raise GMO animals. However, I do wonder about how GMO crops affect people when we eat and digest them. A lot of the negatives focus on how those who consume GMO crops and animals may have caused changes in our bodies. The food allergies are very concerning because combing proteins may cause a serious reaction in a person that didn’t know about the genetic enhancement. I’m also concerned about the effect GMO’s can have on our resistance to antibiotics. Lowered resistance to antibiotics makes it harder to treat a variety of diseases. We have already seen many bacteria become resistant to certain strains of antibiotics which, is why doctors will often prescribe another antibiotic if you have reoccurring strep throat. None of these negative effects have been proven or studied extensively enough in order to draw a proper conclusion. I think it is important to study how GMOs affect us as well as animals, other plants, and our ecosystems. If we want to continue reaping the benefits of GMOs then we should be sure we aren’t also causing more harm than good.

  11. It is not denied that GMO foods are a controversial topic. Some people support it because GMO crops are more resistant to insects and extreme weather. However, some people think GMO foods have negative impacts, because GMO foods have more food allergies risk and maybe change people's bodies. Thus, GMOs not only have positive aspects, but also have negative aspects. In daily life, my family always buy non-GMO foods, which shows that they do not believe GMO foods.My family members think that GMO foods does not naturally grow up so that they have bad effects on people's health.For me, I think GMOs negative aspects are more than positive aspects, so I support non-GMO foods.

  12. GMO's are for sure interesting. The science and technology in this century has revolutionized the way we farm. I did not realize the extent of GMO usage before reading this article. The pro's cannot be disputed as it is proven that it benefits farmers and our economy by producing crops more efficiently.

    The real question is whether it marginally benefits us. That question will be something we need to wait for an answer. We need to analyze the long term effects of usage to determine the harsh effect. Due to the power behind the industry it will be difficult to allocate funding for research on the negative effects. similar to challenges that came from going against big tobacco.

  13. I have always thought that food without GMOs were always healthier than food with GMOs. When we think of food, we usually don't want to have genetically modified organisms associated with what we eat. Even though I thought the food with out GMOs is better, I was not too careful about buying organic foods. I think that almost everything we eat is modified one way or another. Reading the pros and cons of GMO crop made me realize the exact reasons why they are important for the food industry. Also, the important role they play when it comes to malnutrition.
    I never knew that they could actually help the environment by decreasing the use of machinery, chemicals and land. I was surprised to read the cons of GMOs. I thought there would be a lot more negative affects on human health. Even though it may have link between food allergies and lower resistance to antibiotics, I always thought there was more to it. As I have stated previously, I believe that all foods are modified one way or another and it is close to impossible to consume totally natural food unless we grow them ourselves. I also do not trust every label I see when it says organic, specially in the U.S( there is a great documentary about this called "Fed Up)".
    In Turkey, the food industry is very different to the one in the U.S. We generally always buy local foods and know where they come from. Growing up there, I have never seen any label on any type of food which says organic, because everything was already organic. One simple example of this is in American markets it is possible to find which ever fruit or vegetable you want in any season of the year. Where as in Turkey, certain fruits and vegetables only naturally grow in certain times of the year. Although the food industry in Turkey seems to honest, in the recent years, we are all realizing the change it is going through. It is becoming more profit based using chemicals and hormones to grow faster and more in quantity.

  14. I think that the intention behind GMOs is good and can actually be very beneficial to us and the environment. Agriculture puts a strain on the environment and a lot of the pollution we see actually comes from the agriculture industry. GMOs can actually lessen the impact agriculture has on the environment. However, most people would prefer to know that the food that they and their family consume are not genetically altered. The negatives of GMOs can be dangerous and life threatening in almost every case. And this is the issue I think that makes so many people have with GMOs. Sooner or later a new study will come out and will discuss all the negative health benefits and claiming that GMOs increases your risk of cancer. Personally I am tired of not being able to trust what I eat and I don't think the environment takes precedence over. Not enough conclusive research has been done to show the long term effects that GMO food has on health. I think that too many times corporations have taken the cheaper or "cost-effective" route that I do not trust that GMO food is the best solution to our environmental issues and is the just a profitable solution that will in time turn around and bite us.

  15. Today, most of the food we consume whether it be from super markets of local markets contain GMOs. From this article, we can see the break down of both the pros and cons of GMOs. Even though I personally prefer organic foods compared to non-organic foods, it imposes a challenge for me, and other consumers; the affordability. If we want to avoid eating foods which are genetically modified, we have to buy organic foods. As we all know, organic food is more expensive than regular foods that are on super market shelves. Even when we compare markets such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe's to more price efficient shops, we can clearly see the price differences. This proves that not all consumers have the ability to avoid purchasing foods with GMOs. If we consider organic food to be healthier, then we can say that not everyone has the ability to eat healthy due to the prices.
    All in all, we depend on GMOs. If we want the whole world to be able to have sufficient food supply, we must use GMOs. The more we exploit the Earth's resources, the more we need to genetically modify all types of foods. With the rise of the population, the demand for food of course increases. To be able to meet this demand, the use of GMO will increase even more. From where the world is headed, we can confidently say that GMOs will stay within our food industries.