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

Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons

Author: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 20 August 2015 | commentsComment
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]
They look pretty, keep their color for a month, make your nose glow in the dark and taste like cardboard.
GMOPONENT - 2-Aug-15 @ 11:32 PM
Has anybody noticed that all the PROS. are concrete FACTS and all the CONS. Are just worries and possibilities!
really - 10-Jul-15 @ 2:11 PM
anybody else know some pros and cons on GMO's? I could really use some more than what was stated
anon - 8-Jul-15 @ 3:54 AM
I agree soal poo hi jermey here again if anyones interested in pokemans i would be happy to battle you ok thanks for your time
The Fun FUNG - 18-Jun-15 @ 12:10 AM
Soal P00 - 17-Jun-15 @ 2:48 AM
my new studies have shown that genetic modification is good
bobby - 19-May-15 @ 12:01 AM
thats gross they should be sued big time you know what i mean???
magpie - 29-Apr-15 @ 3:05 PM
whats up how are you doing im doing a thesis on this topic too cool huh!????
magpie - 29-Apr-15 @ 3:01 PM
If gmo foods cause new diseases to kill us humans early this is all scientist fault ! This is some bull ! If I could do something I would ! Gmo foods are made up of viruses and bacteria !
Gm foods will kill u - 23-Apr-15 @ 6:09 PM
Thanks for the help! really helped a lot!!
Zap - 17-Apr-15 @ 12:14 AM
This has given me just enough information thank you
Karmz - 17-Mar-15 @ 12:47 PM
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libra - 24-Feb-15 @ 2:59 PM
Hey my friend is in AP human geography & needs help on her assignments please kik her @ thatgirlnamedjade Thank you
libra - 24-Feb-15 @ 2:57 PM
Very helpful in research for Science! Awesome report! Anyone know of another site?
KatGoMeow - 27-Feb-14 @ 5:17 PM
This was soo helpful I got a 100 on my paper!!!
teddy - 18-Feb-13 @ 7:15 PM
This fact sheet is nowhere near comprehensive enough. look into Monsanto's policies when dealing with pollen pollution (when GM pollen blows from one crop to a neighboring crop that is non-GM and how the farmer whose crops have been infected is held legally accountable for theft. Monsanto has sued and won thousands of cases this way), or how suicide among Indian farmers is rampant, or ask yourself why the UK (and Europe in general) is so against GMOs, and what serious health defects have been found in mice and rats who have been tested on with GM foods.The American consumer is the human test subject for the GM/pesticide monopolies that run the entire industry. This is but the tip of the iceberg. I encourage you all to research further, in-depth. Google scholar, type in "Genetically Modified food health effects". Nothing will come up."Judging by the absence of published data in peer-reviewed scientific literature, apparently no human clinical trials with GM food have ever been conducted." - Food Safety: Contaminants and Toxins By J. P. Felix D'Mello (page 347)
needmoreinfo - 6-Dec-12 @ 3:16 AM
Sammich- so you think your God would like us playing His role? Have you ever read about the Tower of Babel and understood the implications? Have you ever read the Bible? Do you believe in cloning? This is definitely along those same lines. I am not sure why you would think your God would NOT allow you to get a "disease" (those are proven to be real.. even the bible has disease- without quotations around it- littered in its stories). Have you looked around at what your God has done to innocent babies with down syndrome or cancer? What about the heroes of 9/11 who have crippling and life threatening diseases (again, no quotes) because they inhaled toxic debris while saving lives, not to mention those who have already died a long and painful death. I don't understand your reasoning and it makes no sense. There are plenty of God-fearing people with disease. If you belong to a church, please look around- is everyone healthy? There is no disease? Maybe you should pull your head out of the sand and realize you're representing your faith here and doing a good job of disproving it.
DaniK - 31-Oct-12 @ 9:24 PM
It is not a bad idea ,it is the new face facts of food and livestocks.People in Africa whould really need it because it can save lives and also provide vaccines.It can give more food benifits than an unlike a natural food crop whould give.
raul gonzalex - 4-Jul-12 @ 5:50 PM
I only ever eat GM food, as i strongly believe that no matter what, god will love me and protect me from any possible 'diseases' thus i have no fear and shall continue eating these foods.
sammich - 25-May-12 @ 2:52 AM
This has really helped me with my science assignment, has 99% of all the answers i needed. Thank You!
preetikaur - 7-May-12 @ 7:36 AM
I'm doing a debagte on this topic. What other websites will you recommend?
highschool123 - 1-May-12 @ 6:16 PM
Wow, extremely useful for a science project coming up and totally unbias!
Georgeporge - 28-Nov-11 @ 6:25 AM
This was perfect for my essay on GMO for Miss Bell!
wendy.darling - 31-May-11 @ 10:34 PM
John!! That's great!! I look forward to seeing it. When is it released?
darlarose69 - 31-May-11 @ 2:41 PM
How do i know if this is correct?
wootter63 - 31-May-11 @ 2:36 PM
This was very helpful for my Biotechnology Movie!!!!!
John Mcsexyboi - 31-May-11 @ 2:34 PM
I am using this topic for my CBA.
kitkat - 18-Apr-11 @ 3:40 AM
One of the most helpful websites I found yet thats related to this topic!
monkeyc - 5-Apr-11 @ 6:18 PM
Helped me a lot with my Biotechnology scrapbook!
Vanecko - 25-Mar-11 @ 4:53 AM
i am writing a thesis paper on this topic this semester!
sangnams - 23-Mar-11 @ 8:47 PM
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