Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Food

The Debate Over GMOs

The debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is fierce and ongoing. On the one hand, proponents argue that genetically modified foods, in addition to being perfectly safe, can make us healthier and reduce the reliance on pesticides. Opponents contend that not enough research has been done and that the long-term safety effects aren’t known.

This article will go over some of the common points of debate and discuss the claims that both sides make.

1. GMO Safety Research Has Been Limited

Proponents of bioengineered foods claim that there is a scientific consensus that such foods are safe. They point to a recent study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Animal Science, which reviewed over 30 years of livestock feeding studies to show no comparable health differences between livestock fed GE feed and livestock fed conventional feed. Similarly, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Medical Association, National Academies of Sciences, and Royal Society of Medicine have released statements declaring no link between genetically engineered foods and bad health outcomes in humans.

However, opponents point to a recent statement signed by over 300 scientists and published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe, which disputes that consensus view. They point out that pro-GMO advocates often overstated both the support they received from organizations like the WHO and the results of studies claiming to prove GMO safety. One other thing to keep in mind: Prior to 2010, scientists were unable to conduct independent research on GM plants or seeds because of restrictive licensing practices. Many scientists also complained that, as a result, seed companies blocked the publication of any studies that showed results hostile to their business.

2. Genetically Modified Ingredients Are Carcinogenic

The claim that GMOs are linked to cancer comes from a 2012 study by Gilles-Eric Seralini. This study fed rats a diet of corn that had been genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup.

According to the study, rats fed this diet were more likely to develop tumors than others. This study was very controversial and was criticized by many other scientists for its statistical analysis, its experimental design, and even the kinds of rats that were used as test subjects; the species of rat used is highly likely to develop tumors when fed an unrestricted diet, and there were too few rats in the control group for a meaningful comparison.

Eventually, the journal that published the study retracted it, and a number of national health and regulatory agencies concluded that the study was insufficiently rigorous to justify any change in policy.

3. GMOs Cause Allergic Outbreaks

One of the risks of GE food is that it could contain genes from foods that are known allergens and that consumers may not know what they’re eating. Imagine someone with a peanut allergy going into anaphylactic shock after eating an apple that contained peanut genes in it! In fact, something like this happened with a batch of soybeans that contained protein from the Brazil nut.

Opponents of GMOs claim that events like these show how unsafe GMOs can be. Proponents, however, point out that the company discovered the allergen during the testing phase and immediately stopped production on it, which shows that the current regulations and safety procedures work.

There have been a number of studies that show that GM crops have a potentially harmful effect on the immune system. These effects could cause autoimmune disorders and make consumers much more prone to allergies than they otherwise would be. Indeed, reports show that allergic reactions to soy shot up dramatically in the UK after the introduction of a genetically modified soy bean.

4. Dependency on Corporations Is Bad for Farmers

Many GMO supporters believe that bioengineered foods are a godsend to developing countries: that farmers using transgenic seeds use less synthetic pesticides that are harmful to the environment and have higher crop yields and more nutritious foods. In other words, GM crops offer farmers in developing countries an environmentally sustainable way to improve food security.

Opponents point out that introducing GE seeds to developing countries makes local farmers dependent upon large multinational corporations like Monsanto who could push those farmers into a cycle of debt, which is bad for food security and local farmers.

5. The Practice Can Results in Frankenfoods!

Genetic engineering allows introducing animal products in plants, which could raise issues for those with dietary restrictions, like vegetarian or vegans, or those who refrain from eating certain foods for religious reasons.

6. Bioengineered Foods Are Bad for the Environment

There will always be unknown long term effects to the ecosystem and biodiversity when inducing change in the natural traits of crops through unnatural means. Many worry that the pollen of genetically modified foods could have unintended consequences for animals that interact with the crops, such as monarch butterflies. They also worry that the introduction of GMOs may be bad for the genetic diversity of certain crops, as the "superior" GM strains crowd out other ones on the market, or that genes from a genetically modified crop could pass to another organism, which raises the possibility that weeds and other invasive species could get the same resistance to pesticides and herbicide that GMOs enjoy.

7. Pesticide-Resistant GMOs Can Lead to "Super" Pests

It’s not a joke: modified genes in engineered crops that resist pesticides can transfer to insects and pests, making them pesticide resistant. These super-organisms cannot be controlled easily, which will create problems in managing their numbers and for crop production in future.

More troublingly, pests and weeds have evolved and adapted to GM crops so that now they are stronger than ever, requiring farmers to use harsher and harsher pesticides—the very problem that GM crops were supposed to solve!

8. The Effects Are Irreversible

All the disadvantages mentioned above are probably irreversible, especially the harmful effects on the environment and human health that are inevitable outcomes to the fast-paced development of biotechnology and genetic engineering. Consuming nutritious food is the best option for a healthy lifestyle that can even reverse the adverse effects of GM food. This may come from organic food as well as supreme supplements that provide quality nutrients and antioxidants.

Comments 35 comments

cloverleaffarm profile image

cloverleaffarm 4 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

There are so many disadvantages, how did you ever get it down to 10. This, and many other reasons is why I grow my own food...heirloom style

RSamuel92 profile image

RSamuel92 4 years ago from Greece

Thank you for posting this! People have no idea what is on their plate and believe that if it is FDA approved everything is fine. While there are probably more adverse effects to GM foods, you managed to summarize the basic issues that directly affect us. No one cares about human health, as long as it is profitable big corporations and governments approve without thinking of the future results.

Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

Voted up and awesome!

Too bad we don't have to be notified when foods do use GMOs. Also awesome is that new, modified salmon that eats corn is just as good for you as feedlot beef. Hooray.

pioneerio profile image

pioneerio 4 years ago from UK Author

Thanks a lot for for your comments and for reading this piece :). I enjoyed writing this topic as I believe the long term effects of GM are yet to be discovered, and NO; genetic engineering is NOT the answer to food starvation in developing countries, rather it is equal distirbution of resources between rich and poor countries! GM will only make rich countries grow richer and poor countries delve deeper in poverty.

RSamuel92 profile image

RSamuel92 4 years ago from Greece

Awareness is the best thing we can do for now. Tweeted it to enlighten others! ^^

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

I loved the topic and what you wrote, very good and important subject, but I just suggest you might want to change the photo used for this hub. The reason I suggest this is because orange or purple cauliflowers are not normally genetically modified crops, and are frequently higher in antioxidants than normally coloured ones, (this also applies to may other unusual coloured vegetables). I would hate people to be put off from buying, eating or growing such coloured vegetables because they 'assume' the odd colour means they must be genetically modified.

Otherwise a great informative hub article :) (spoken as a keen prizewinning vegetable grower myself).

pioneerio profile image

pioneerio 4 years ago from UK Author

Thanks mistyhorizon2003 for your comments. I changed the cauliflowers picture to something more related to GM. Thank you so much for taking the time and reading this post :)

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Brilliant pioneerio, I actually like the new picture better anyway, far more relevant to the topic. I loved your article regardless and urge you to keep up the great writing :)

Tibetan 4 years ago

please write more about this topic.

Melis Ann profile image

Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

All excellent points. I have written many hubs on the side effects of GMOs and how to avoid them. The thing I really like to tell people is that there is a difference between natural genetic modification (the kind that mother nature decides makes sense) and the kind where humans are playing with DNA.

Bill Miller 4 years ago

I totally agree, we are taking y too many risks nowadays with our foods! Just go back to the good old days where they were fresh from the ground and plants!

KellyMediaBest profile image

KellyMediaBest 4 years ago from Tampa, Florida

I think if more people looking into what actually makes up the food they are eating, they would be shocked into eating more whole, clean foods. I honestly believe the reason there are so many diseases and cancer cases out there is because of the chemicals pumped into some of the most popular food products on the market. Just like people never knew about the dangers of smoking until they were demonstrated, the same can be attributed to genetically modified food.

my name is doof and you'll do what i say 3 years ago

ok this was pretty helpful for my project

writingkilie profile image

writingkilie 3 years ago from Iowa

I can't wait for the day when more foods in the supermarkets are labeled as GMO or Non-GMO! Coming from a small town, our farmer's market isn't very big nor do we have much to choose from. I would love to grow my own food someday and become more independent of GMO foods and companies like Monsanto, but for now I only have a one-bedroom apartment! What a great article!

pramodgokhale profile image

pramodgokhale 3 years ago from Pune( India)


In India we grow BT cotton and fetching high price and government is promoting these seeds.There is no forum to discuss and media is hired by companies ,then whom we trust?

GM food or similar food how to resist them. The topic is interesting. I keep on reading and tell my friends who are engaged in farming that is their livelihood.

Thank you for the hub.

pramod gokhale

Vijay 3 years ago

It is very difficult to link GM foods with Cancer or any other ailments so the Bio tech companies get away promoting deadly stuff.Today these companies themselves have directly or indirectly promoted crop diseases, viruses etc. to promote their chemicals and products so much that there is no plant in the world that does not need pesticide / fertiliser if you want to tackle the hunger Government should de hoard and distribute, the simple Biblical truth is the more you give out the more will grow will it become a reality. For those who are having a pipe dream that they can live off their home grown garden soon these companies will come knocking at the door step for royalty or face lawsuit for the crops in your backyard may well have been contaminated.The only way is to clip their powers by saying no IP rights for food items.In the case of BT cotton it came in because it was not direct food crop but it has caused havoc and took the lives of poor farmers who paid for it with their lives-the harvest was poor, the resistant to other diseases were poor added to the fall in cotton prices.

Amamini 3 years ago

great information's for my work

Thank you !!

teqqqie 2 years ago

thanks for the info! I am writing a paper on GM foods; very good starting point

Risky 2 years ago

I think we are killing our selves for money and power. This is just equal to murder but this murder is approved by the authorities of a nation. Scientist must create their own seed and not to utter the seeds nature has given. people must think positive stop being greedy.

kiobby 2 years ago

wrong is wrong

2 years ago

when did u post this info?

Daniel 2 years ago

Interesting and unexpected :)

tina 2 years ago

great information for my holiday homework.

caitlin 2 years ago

hehehe (;

caitlin 2 years ago

great information for my spring homework . hehehe (; meow

Blank 2 years ago

You do make some great points, I must admit.

But some things just don't add up or haven't been proven, for example; that Genetically Modified Foods cause cancer. Although, it's true that the long term effects have not been tested or looked out for. The testing of GMO foods has not been done enough. You make some great points, thank you for this because it really helped with my assignment.

Although I am still sitting on the fence about this subject.

M.l 2 years ago

this is all speculations and opinions. none of these tou posted has scientific concensus to suppost it. You should educate youself more.

John 20 months ago

You are using discredited information for GM foods to cause cancer. This is still unknown and no definite links have been found so stating that it 'can' is completely incorrect. You should source your material properly and read peer reviews of reports and not just blatantly believe what you read and misinform the public.

Shashan shukla 14 months ago

its aswome;

very helpful for me

Shobhit shukla 14 months ago

it is very helpful for my debate

Shruti Shah 14 months ago

i had really given up hope of finding anything on this topic but here i am! this is SO helpful. although, you stated that it can cause cancer.i dont think that anything that may or may not be should be used for stating the disadvantages.

regardless, this is awesome. keep it up and i'll be looking out for more of your articles :)

Wale Cletus of Papua New Guinea... 14 months ago

Genetically modified food is forcing people to die on the spot.... That's not a naturally products that will sustain our life longer... It has more bad effects of GM

Veratau. wariraki 13 months ago

Brilliant points discussed there ;)

Genetically modified foods may sustain food security but is it really?.When u think globally not everybody is secured with food. Even there's a great number of people feeling hungered in their own developednation yet they are called citizens ..well that's in sustained economic countries, just imagine how life is in some of the African nations.. To conclude, truly genetically modified foods do not sustain health...

Aparna Ramesh 11 months ago

thanks for posting this article

Djisei 6 months ago


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