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< Back to question Are GMOs good or bad? Show more Show less

GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are organisms (plants and animals) that have had specific genes from a different species inserted into its own DNA. This results in the crop having new desirable features. Examples include papayas that are virus-resistant or corn that is herbicide-resistant. Our food has been genetically modified since the first GMO tomato (Flvr Svr) in the early 1990s. The acceptance of GMOs has varied between countries; the United States, Argentina, and Canada have quickly adopted GMOs while the EU countries have passed stricter legislation. There is a heated debate over whether GMOs are good or bad for our health, environment, world hunger, and the economy.

GMOs are bad Show more Show less

GMOs come with legal/economic risks (research restrictions and lawsuits against farmers) and health risks (increased amount of toxic herbicide on the crops and unintended DNA changes). The increased use of herbicide and decreased biodiversity associated with GMOs are also harmful to the environment.
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There are health concerns related to GMOs

GMOs are not safe for people to consume. They could transfer antibiotic-resistant genes to the bacteria in our body, produce new toxins, or cause new allergic reactions. Also, a toxic herbicide is used more on GM crops.
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Proponents


Context

Genetically modified (GM) foods contain at least one ingredient coming from a plant with an altered genetic composition. Genetic modification, also known as genetic engineering, often introduces new, desirable characteristics to plants, such as greater resistance to pests. Many U.S. crops are grown using genetically engineered seeds, including a large share of the soybean, corn, cotton, and canola crop. As a result, the majority of processed foods in the U.S. contain at least one genetically modified ingredient. Despite the growing use of genetically modified crops over the past 20 years, most Americans say they know only a little about GM foods. And many people appear to hold “soft” views about the health effects of GM foods, saying they are not sure about whether such foods are better or worse for one’s health.

The Argument

There are several health concerns related to GMOs. First, the consensus amongst the scientific community that GMOs are safe has been exaggerated. The tests on GMOs have resulted in data that is not clear. Analysis of the research has resulted in different conclusions.[1] There are several specific health issues that GMOs may cause. First, GMOs could transfer antibiotic-resistant genes to the bacteria in our bodies. Second, the modifications of the genes of these crops could produce new toxins. Third, these foods could produce new allergic reactions due to their DNA being modified.[2] Finally, GMOs are bad for people’s health because of all the herbicides that are used on GM crops. GMOs result in more herbicide use. A report from 2001-2010 found that herbicide use increased by 26% as weed resistance increased because of GMOs.[3] Glyphosate (a chemical in herbicides) has been characterized as a probable human carcinogen.[4] Glyphosate also can stop plants from absorbing the minerals that it needs which means that GM crops can be lacking in minerals.[4]

Counter arguments

Extensive research and decades of consumption have shown no health risks associated with GMOs. In fact, GMOs have been tested more than any other food. Over the last 30 years, there has been no evidence that GMOs are harmful to people.[5] The safety of GMOs has been widely agreed upon by the scientific community, with more than 275 global science organizations coming to the same conclusion that GMOs are as safe as non-GMOs.[6]

Premises

[P1] The consensus amongst the scientific community that GMOs are safe has been exaggerated. [P2] GMOs could transfer antibiotic-resistant genes to the bacteria in our bodies. [P3] The modifications of the genes of these crops could produce new toxins. [P4] GMOs could produce new allergic reactions. [P5] Toxic herbicides are used more with GM crops.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1-P4] Extensive research has shown no health risks associated with GMOs.

References

  1. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/697749
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408347.2018.1442708
  3. https://modernfarmer.com/2013/12/post-gmo-economy/
  4. https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2018/08/the-gmo-debate/
  5. https://ag.purdue.edu/GMOs/Pages/GMOsandHealth.aspx
  6. https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/FAQ/are-gmos-safe/

This page was last edited on Tuesday, 14 Jul 2020 at 01:20 UTC

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