Arguments Against GM Food

List the arguments 'for' and 'against' GM (genetically-modified) crops?

Expert Answers
lfawley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major argument for genetically modified foods is that through modification it becomes possible to grow suoer-sized varieties of certain foods as well as to grow those foods in areas that otherwise would not be able to produce them because of challenges from environmental factors. Genetically modified foods can also be created to offer more nutrients in smaller portions. All of these factors are critically important when we consider the degree to which starvation affects a large portion of our planet. Creating large quantities of nutrient rich food easily is something that scientists see as a potential answer to world hunger.

On the negative side, however, we don;t really know what genetically modifying food products is doing to our bodies when we consume them or to the environment itself. It;s like the butterfly effect - what we do to one thing may have ramifications that are felt thousands of miles away or a century later. Genetically modified foods seem safe NOW but we don;t know what effects they might produce later on down the road - babies with birth defects, land that is no longer able to support intended growth, unintentional cross pollination that destroys existing plant life. The list of negatives is as long, of not longer, than the positives. However, as with any growing science, it comes down to whether or not it seems safe enough to be worth the risk of some potentially negative outcome that we have no way of predicting.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The arguments for and against GM crops are as follows:

In favor:

  • They help produce cheaper food, quicker
  • They could be manipulated to have less calories, less fat, and sometimes more nutrition
  • They can be mass produced to save on man labor
  • The more it is made the less people would have to pay for them.
  • Foods that are hard to grow, or harvest, will be readily available.

The arguments against could be as follows:

  • GM foods might affect pollination as bees and other animals which depend on regular, native crops for their own survival.
  • GM crops may be altered, but the alterations may not mix with people. What if, in the process of changing part of the crop humans begin to develop new allergies?
  • Manlabor might be precisely what we need in times when the economy is not doing well- GM crops will make machines take the place of humans.
  • GM crops might be felt to be something like playing God with what was already made well. Some might feel a breach with morality, or even with nature itself.
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, one reason for genetically altered crops is that they may be able to grow in harsh conditions--for instance, hydroponic plants don't need soil, other genetically altered crops don't need as much water, or can grow in shady areas instead of full sun.  This would help these plants grow in parts of the country which may not be conducive to crop growing.  Some genetically altered crops may not even need the space that it takes to grow massive crops. 

However, genetically altered plants may cause allergies or have other side effects for those who eat them.  They may not be as nutritious as the original plants.  Most altered plants do not produce seeds that will grow plants the next season.

Check out the links below for more points.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major arguments in favor of genetically modified crops are that they offer the potential of increased yields while reducing the amount of chemical pesticides and herbicides needed.  For example, some GM crops are "Roundup ready" so that they can be sprayed with a common herbicide which will then kill only the weeds and leave the desired crops alive.

The major negative is that many people see them as excessively risky.  For example, studies show that there are weeds that are coming to be more resisant to the chemicals.  Some people also think that the modified genes will transfer to other species.

user2874021 | Student

what is the positive side of GM food?

firekeeper | Student


Most of the "for" arguments for GMOs are false.  Still;

GMOs can make a plant or animal manufacture a pharmaceutical product.

 Against it;

Cross-pollinations have accidentally introduced drugs into the food supply

Cross-pollinations have spread GE genomes into neighboring fields and into the wild, not only injuring the capacity or farmers to choose non-GMO crops but even to injure the genetic variety in the native and wild fields.

GMO seeds can't be saved and thus engineer a form of crop-based feudalism or share-cropping

GMO food crops are restricted to those that can be shipped for a market, thus they tend to supplant local food systems.  This has lead to dislocated farm families and workers, aggravating famine;

Also unemployment, poverty, homelessness and illegal immigration.

BT crops engineer pesticide to be IN the food instead of "on", where we could at least wash some of it off.

Modifications cause us to eat things that cause unknown reactions, not just allergies but there are disturbing and not fully pursued evidence of causing sterility, genetic changes in the consumer, birth defects and other as yet unrecognized syndromes;

Glyphosate ready crops enforce mono-cropping.  Intercropping produces more "product" per acre and tends to maintain soils, while monocropping depletes soil rapidly

Heavy herbicide and pesticide rounds injure both soil and those men and women who work the soil

GMOs reduce crop diversity, which makes crops more vulnerable to disease

GMOs reduce crop diversity, which are critical in finding crops suitable to survive marginal locations and weather extremes

Heavily damaged soils associated with this type of growing simply do not have anything left to impart strong nutrient values to our food.  This has led to an overall reduction in food value for every calorie we eat. <scroll to “Myth Two”

GMOs are causing activation of super weeds both by the rampant use of one kind of pesticide and by the intra genetic transfer of pesticide-resistant genes or simply pollens

GMO sourced drugs and anti-biotics are accelerating drug-resistant germs

While GMOs promise lowered use of chemicals and the ability to rely on a single set of equipment expensesv, in truth after a couple of years, use of external chemicals rise and overreach the original levels fairly rapidly. 

Now the superweeds, both with GE genes and those which have emerged from the wild, are forcing farmers to re-purchase equipment they had had prior to glyphosate dependence