Home > Basics of GM Foods > Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons

Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 16 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
Gm Foods Benefits Disadvantages Food

With all of the controversy around genetically modified (GM) foods, sorting through huge volumes of information can seem like a daunting task. Many members of the public are asking questions about GM foods and they are also raising concerns about the effects these foods may have on their health or the environment. There are different advantages and disadvantages of GM foods, although to what extent they can help or harm humans and the environment is a debatable aspect of this technology.

Benefits Of GM Foods

A proposed benefit of GM foods is that they can potentially produce higher crop yields, which could help by feeding more people in developing countries. They are also cited as more economical, despite the initial higher cost of the seeds. The rationale is that they reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides as well as reducing the manpower needed to successfully grow the crops, which should translate into improved financial gains.

Improved food quality is another benefit associated with GM foods. A tomato, for instance, can be engineered to stay fresher for longer, thereby extending its shelf life in the supermarket.

Yet another benefit that is believed to occur from GM technology is that crops can be engineered to withstand weather fluctuations and extremes. This means that they can provide sufficient yields and quality despite a severe, poor weather season.

Another benefit is that GM foods can be engineered to have a high content of a specific nutrient that is lacking in the diet of a local population group. The vitamin A rich 'golden rice' is one example of a GM food that has been engineered to have high levels of a nutrient.

Issues With GM Foods

A worrisome issue in GM foods is the ability of a food to trigger an allergy in humans. Some of the genes used in GM technology might be taken from a food that causes allergies in some people. Inserting that gene into another organism could cause the host organism to express that allergen as a trait. Alternately, a new allergen could be produced when genes are mixed across different species.

Another potential downside to GM technology is that other organisms in the ecosystem could be harmed, which would lead to a lower level of biodiversity. By removing one pest that harms the crop, you could be removing a food source for an animal. Also, GM crops could prove toxic to an organism in the environment, leading to reduced numbers or extinction of that organism.

Given that some GM foods are modified using bacteria and viruses, there is a fear that we will see the emergence of new diseases. The threat to human health is a worrisome aspect of GM technology and one that has received a great deal of debate.

Using The Fact Sheet To Make An Informed Choice

There are many other potential benefits and risks to GM foods, which you will likely learn about as you investigate the topic further and decide whether or not you want to support or avoid GM foods and related technology.

Reading a brief fact sheet is a good way to familiarise yourself with the purported benefits and issues related to GM foods. In this way, you can equip yourself with an overview of the knowledge needed to make an informed decision about GM foods and how they will affect your life.

What Next?

Find out more about GM foods by reading our articles about the Development and History of GM Foods and also find out the Types of Techniques Used to Genetically Modify Food.

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[Add a Comment]
this site is freakin dumb bubs i only eat the best gosh dang veggies around town
clyde - 9-Mar-17 @ 3:18 PM
Ultimately, my head is about to pop off of my body because I'm in crazy land right now. If I don't calm myself down soon, some naughty words are going to start flying out of my mouth. Cayden McCarville
Diabeto - 1-Mar-17 @ 7:07 PM
potatos are potatos and thats that
sesameseed24 - 10-Feb-17 @ 7:18 PM
this stuff here is problem good for you dying pet or something but i think that GMOs have made my 29-year-old son have breast because he's not really fat but he has big boobs even bigger than my little girland hers are huge
floppy - 10-Feb-17 @ 7:08 PM
K for Kindness is too!!!!!!!!!!!!
A for Awesome - 7-Dec-16 @ 9:24 PM
GMOs are the best things since sliced bread
super sanin - 7-Dec-16 @ 6:05 PM
well I believe that no matter what we say or do the government is still going to create and keep producing GMO'sbecause they believe that by doing that we will have a better world
FcRevolution - 1-Dec-16 @ 6:28 PM
Jesse St. James - Your Question:
THis site helped me! More detail would be good though.

Our Response:
You can access the rest of the pages across the site (listed in the left-hand topic column), which will give you more detail and information.
GeneticallyModifiedFoods - 17-Nov-16 @ 2:29 PM
THis site helped me! More detail would be good though...
Jesse St. James - 15-Nov-16 @ 8:08 PM
hey farmer joe do you mean to type GMOs
superman - 26-Oct-16 @ 3:08 AM
i think the square root of 14 is 192.12312 becuase of the quadalateral of 3 is 91.154 so that rounds up to being 192.12312
yeahhhhhhhhhhh buddy - 24-Oct-16 @ 5:18 PM
Fearful of our child- Genetically engineered food has been around since 7,800 BCE. The fruits and vegetables that you ate when you were a kid, probably were genetically engineered. But when you were a kid many didn't care about genetically engineered foods. "Issues" arising from genetically engineered food started in the 1980s, partially from people being uneducated about what genetically engineered food is. Children maturing at a younger age isn't from the genetically modified food they eat, but from the genes that are pasted on. Evolution of the human population is bound to happen. That is just an example how. If golden rice didn't exist many women, men, and children would be blind and/or be extremely malnourished in developing countries. The golden rice will could reduce blindness (500,000 children per year) and deaths (2-3 million per year) from malnutrition.I understand that you don't support GMOs. But why would you not use science to help those who need it. I think that is "crap". I understand that you are unsure about GMOs. But please remember the good that they are capable of. With our population projected to reach 9 billion by 2050 we need to start look at ways to feed that many people. Farm land is decreasing, farmers age is increasing, and people are currently going hungry/ being malnourished and our population is 6 billion.
Just a friendly remi - 26-Sep-16 @ 10:28 AM
I honestly think that in today's day and age there is so much garbage poisoning this world already, why do they have to create more. When I was a kid we lived of off delisous fruits and veggies,that my mom didn't have to worry about it possibly causing us allergies or our breasts to grow before we were 10 yrs old. This crap needs to stop. And of course it won't. So the least that could happen is cheaper organic foods
Fearful of our child - 17-Sep-16 @ 7:46 AM
I dont know about potential human threats. Do do believe there should be labels so people can choose for themselves
Scott - 12-Sep-16 @ 3:59 AM
First of all a real farmer wouldn't be saying that GM's are bad as it makes them more money. Also it is highly stereotypical that all farmers are southerners. GM's have a chance to eliminate World Hunger and prevent disease through pharming crops. Anti allergenic crops could also be produced taking allergies out of the problem. The only con that is a real threat is that the GM crops could reproduce with harmful plants therefore causing a spread of unwanted biological material.
Why da hate - 2-Aug-16 @ 10:22 PM
Izzy - Your Question:
Although genetically modified foods are good and have many positive and beneficial impacts we don't know what kind of effect they may have in the future. I think it's sort of unnatural because we're tampering with nature and don't know what kind of side effects it has or may have. I feel like they haven't been experimented or researched enough to be used, eaten or given out to the public.

Our Response:
Many thanks for your interesting comments.
GeneticallyModifiedFoods - 7-Jul-16 @ 11:15 AM
Although genetically modified foods are good and have many positive and beneficial impacts we don't know what kind of effect they may have in the future. I think it's sort of unnatural because we're tampering with nature and don't know what kind of side effects it has or mayhave. I feel like they haven't been experimented or researched enough to be used, eaten or given out to the public.
Izzy - 6-Jul-16 @ 11:33 AM
Charles xzayviar - Your Question:
I reckon it's best to just continue the way we live

Our Response:
Many thanks for your comment.
GeneticallyModifiedFoods - 8-Jun-16 @ 2:50 PM
I reckon it's best to just continue the way we live
Charles xzayviar - 7-Jun-16 @ 11:23 PM
I worry about any information on the labeling of a box that is in very small print.On a box of "cereal", in very small print at the bottom, it said, "partially produced with genetic engineering".Mmmmm.....what exactly does that mean?Anyone?
CWC - 21-May-16 @ 1:33 PM
WaldundWiesen - Your Question:
Thank you for this good article. I'm searching for information for my oral examination and it was realy helpful.Before I was only against GM food, but now I started to think more about the advantages.

Our Response:
We are glad the site has been able to educate you about GM foods.
GeneticallyModifiedFoods - 11-May-16 @ 12:55 PM
Thank you for this good article. I'm searching for information for my oral examination and it was realy helpful. Before I was only against GM food, but now I started to think more about the advantages.
WaldundWiesen - 10-May-16 @ 4:02 PM
why do these comments make no sense?!
audzz - 9-May-16 @ 3:23 PM
lol im just here for lolz and stuff, gmos are good and bad but i think there are more cons and stuff, cya guys later ad=nd stuff dudes aight, cya good night
sdfhhsgh - 28-Apr-16 @ 8:36 PM
howdy partners its farmer joe here y'all gm crops are bad news y'all hear? stay safe y'all eat good crops stay nice nd helfy
Farmer Joseph Jr. - 28-Apr-16 @ 7:01 PM
I would also like to use this website for my research paper. I have found it very helpful, but I am confused about one thing. In your 2013 article "pros and cons of genetically modified foods", one of the cons was that there is no economic value in genetically modified foods. In this article it is stated that there is economic value. What has changed this statement from three years ago?
ktwin - 27-Apr-16 @ 9:04 PM
GROCERY STORES FEAR HIM thats the only ad that pops up on this website
woo hoo 10 10 - 22-Apr-16 @ 10:14 PM
Hello, I noticed a comment by PLZ READ asking about how to cite this page and I have a similar question. I am planning to reference this site for a Science project I am working on for school but my teacher wants me to use three non-website sources. However, sources that were not originally published on the web but can be found there count as these "non-website sources". Therefore, I would like to know what type of source this counts as and if you would provide the information, it wouldbe very useful. Furthermore, I'm afraid I am unable to properly understand the writer's name that has been provided on the site. The site says "By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc" but I have no idea what I should put for the citation. I hope you would be able to reply as soon as possible. Thank you very much for your time.
Ren - 9-Apr-16 @ 2:14 PM
I think gmo are good for you just like apples and other fruits. It helps me get sooooo fast and run 5 400m. I'm really bad at math though so maybe gmo do have some side effects.
DLewis6969 - 22-Mar-16 @ 11:58 AM
Nic-nak - Your Question:
Im doing research at school and this has really helped me

Our Response:
We are glad this page has helped you.
GeneticallyModifiedFoods - 17-Mar-16 @ 10:47 AM
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