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Genetically modified food

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Interviewer: Critics say, with genetically modified food we could end hunger. We could feed billions of people that we currently are not. What do you respond to that?

Hippie #1: Uhh, yeah, we could feed billions of people, but they might grow four eyes, you know? I mean YOU DON'T KNOOOW, you can't play with nature!
Hippie #2: What kind of people would they be? What kind of people would we be creating, you know? You are what you eat!

Penn Jillette: ...Well, I guess she eats: shallow, hateful, self-centered bullshit! We can't imagine how, but somehow these folks have forgotten that most people don't have the option of hopping on down to the Piggly-WigglyWikipedia and bonding with the produce. When the whole world has plenty of food, we'd love to hear this asshole's advice. But we're certainly not going to mistake it for information.
Penn & Teller: Bullshit![1]

Genetically modified food (more correctly,[note 1] genetically engineered food or transgenic food, and often abbreviated as GM [genetically modified], GMO [genetically modified organisms],[note 2] and GMF [genetically modified food]) is any food derived from organisms which had their genomes modified using the technique of DNA recombination.Wikipedia Via DNA recombination, genetic material is isolated from one organism and introduced into another. DNA recombination has the advantages that the source and target organisms need not be sexually compatible and that transfer of genes can be highly specific (introducing only a single desired trait), unlike conventional breeding, which requires sexual compatibility and results in offspring with a mixture of traits from both parents.

Since the early 2000s,[2] genetic modification has become a subject of intense debate. Opponents of GMF claim that GMF production and consumption could have adverse environmental or health effects, and that for-profit GMF companies (notably Monsanto) are screwing farmers and/or plotting to control the world food supply. Some simply claim that GMF is inherently unnatural. Proponents of GMF claim that GM technology has been the subject of a manufactroversy and accuse opponents of spreading misinformation through the media.[3][4][5] Current scientific consensus is that GMF is as safe for human consumption as organic food,[6] and as such the World Health OrganizationWikipedia only requires standard food safety assessment based on the Codex Alimentarius.[7] While nuanced criticism does exist, opponents of GMF have an unfortunate habit of slipping into pseudoscience.

GMF traits[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Genetic modification

With one exception, all GMFs on the market are plants. (The one exception is the AquAdvantage salmon,Wikipedia a fish modified to grow larger and faster than its non-GMF counterparts. Although this salmon has been approved by the USA's Food and Drug Administration, as of 2018 it has only been sold in Canada.[8]

Since DNA recombination is a very powerful technique that allows for almost arbitrary modifications to be introduced into the genome, GMF can have a variety of traits that are extremely unlikely to occur in nature (but not impossible) and can not be obtained using conventional methods of breeding. It is a way to short-circuit the millions of years of evolution and/or artificial selection which would be required for the desirable traits to arise spontaneously. This includes resistance to pests, viruses, and herbicides, drought tolerance, and improved nutritional value.

The majority of GMFs have one or more of the following traits:

Most common[edit]

The most common GM traits found in commercial crops focus on increasing yields by conferring immunity to pests, weeds, and diseases. These traits translate into easily quantifiable financial gains for the farmer, so they were the first to be commercialized.

  • Herbicide tolerance (HT): This type of trait confers immunity to a herbicide, typically glyphosate (i.e., the main ingredient in Roundup). Spraying with this herbicide kills the weeds without affecting the HT crop, enabling the farmer to control weeds without tillage. This is especially important as tillage would otherwise increase soil erosion and increase agricultural runoff into local rivers, something that's a serious environmental concern with conventional farming. More alarmingly, agriculture is responsible for nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions globally, and tilling the fields represents nearly a third of that,[9] so moving to no-till farming is obviously a huge way to reduce climate change. Corn,[10] canola, soy, and sugar beets[11] are examples of common HT crops.
  • Bt toxin production: Bt toxins are proteins produced by the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis which are lethal to some species of insect pests, primarily moths and beetles. Bt extract is often used as an insecticide in organic farming. When an insect attempts to feed off a plant that produces a Bt toxin, the toxin destroys the digestive system of the insect and it soon dies. Bt crops require significantly fewer insecticides than their traditional counterparts, and more importantly, kill only the insects that feed on the plant, protecting the nearby environment. Note that there are now several different Bt toxin strains, each of which is lethal to a slightly different segment of the insect population and each of which has its own tracking number assigned to it by the EPA.[12] Corn and cotton[note 3] are examples of common Bt crops.

Less common[edit]

  • Virus resistance: By introducing genes coding for viral coat proteins, plants can be made resistant to viruses. The best-known example is the Rainbow variety of papaya, which is resistant to the papaya ringspot virus (Potyvirus sp.) and is credited with saving the papaya farming industry in Hawaii.[13] Unfortunately, the specific variety chosen to receive the ringspot virus resistance transgene turned out to be vulnerable to blackspot fungus (Asperisporum caricae), so now the second round of genetic modification is trying to breed in blackspot fungus resistance. Other virus-resistant GM foods include yellow squash.[14]
  • Rennet production: The chymosinWikipedia used in cheese making can be produced by genetically-modified microorganisms. The gene for rennet production is taken from a ruminant animal (such as a cow or goat) and inserted into a bacterium, fungus, or yeast, which will then produce chymosin as it ferments nutrients. About 80% of cheese worldwide is made with such Fermentation-Produced Chymosin.[15] This has benefits for anyone who might have issues against eating meat or mixing milk and meat, as well as providing another source of rennet if we ever have a need for it.

New traits[edit]

  • Starch breakdown: A GM corn strain called Enogen contains a transgene for alpha amylase, the enzyme that breaks starch down into maltose. This reduces the amount of processing necessary to turn it into ethanol.[16] As of mid-2014, Syngenta, the company that holds the patent on Enogen, has embarked on an incentive program to encourage farmers to plant it.[17] Theoretically, this trait would also reduce the amount of processing necessary to turn it into corn syrup, but this possibility has not been commercially pursued.
  • Non-browning: The Arctic Apple[18] has the 4 genes that cause browning turned off. Since no transgenes were spliced into the apple's genome, Okanagan Specialty Fruits proudly touts "no frankenfood here!" (implying that they want to distance themselves from all those "nasty" GMF producers). The Arctic Apple was approved for commercial sale in the U.S. by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in early 2015.
  • Improved handling characteristics: Simplot's harder-to-bruise Innate potato[19] was approved by the USDA on 7-Nov-2014[20] and by the FDA on 20-March-2015.[21] McDonald's won't be using it for their French fries or hash browns,[22] but that's because there won't be enough available for McDonald's to even consider using them for some time,[note 4] not because of any executive decision to reject GMOs.
  • Fungus resistance: The third generation of Simplot's Innate™ potato includes a gene for resistance to late blight, the disease that caused the Great Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s. This gene comes from a different variety of potato, and so is considered a cisgenic trait rather than a transgenic one.[23]

In development[edit]

There are also many other possible traits in the research stage or awaiting regulatory approval.

  • Increased intrinsic yield: There is an ongoing research project called C4 Rice, which aims to create rice which uses the more efficient C4 photosynthesis pathway from corn, rather than the C3 photosynthesis native to rice.[24] The C4 pathway requires only ⅓ the water as C3, meaning C4 rice could be grown in hot semi-arid environments and provide a stable food supply even during droughts. C4 plants also fix about an order of magnitude more CO2 than C3 plants, which could offset quite a bit of harm. If it ever proves successful, it may open the door to creating C4 wheat, C4 potatoes, C4 sugar beets, etc..
  • Nitrogen fixation: There is a project to achieve a symbiosis between nitrogen-fixing bacteria and cereals, a feature now restricted to legumes, which would obviate or significantly reduce the need for artificial fertilizer in their cultivation.[25][26]
  • Disease resistance: This ranges from blight-resistant potatoes[27] to bananas resistant to Fusarium wilt.[28]
  • Biofortified food: Biofortified food has increased nutritional value or contains essential nutrients not present in traditional varieties. The best known example is Golden Rice, a humanitarian project to develop rice containing vitamin A (beta-carotene) in order to prevent vitamin A deficiency induced blindness in developing countries.[29] Uganda is similarly developing Golden Bananas.[30] Other biofortified food plants currently under development include tomatoes containing anthocyanin (the antioxidant that makes blueberries blue),[31] and soybeans containing omega-3 fatty acids.[32]
  • Flood tolerance: A swarna rice cultivar incorporates the SUB1 gene from other rice varieties so that it can survive the erratic flooding in India and Bangladesh.[33] This trait wasn't introduced transgenically, though; it was searched for among existing cultivars via marker-assisted breeding. Basically, lots of rice was bred and the marker for the SUB1 gene was screened for in each seed.[34]
  • Drought resistance: Although it's called a "hybrid", the Genuity DroughtGard™ trait involves a transgene from the soil bacterium Bacillus subtilus. Currently under development for corn crops.[35]


  • Sterility: Known as Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURT), or disparagingly known as "terminator genes", this would render the plants sterile. There are two types: sterility, and inactivation of genes if/unless exposed to some chemical. These have been abandoned in agriculture by the biotech companies due to excessive backlash; instead, biotech companies now have contracts requiring farmers to not save seed. Arguably in the event of a national disaster, it's for the best that the supply chain is as simple as possible just in case, however there are some legitimate uses. It's helpful if you need to make sure that the plant doesn't breed with wild cousins, or if you want to make sure your crops don't sprout if they get wet. It does however see some use outside of agriculture; mosquitos can be bred en masse with an intentionally defective gene that only lets larvae survive in a lab. The defective mosquitos are released into an environment and breed naturally with the local mosquitos, and the next generation of mosquitos mostly die off.[36] This will only suppress the mosquito population for a generation or so until it needs to be applied again, but so does spraying with DDT, and unlike DDT, it only harms mosquitoes and there are few—if any—residual effects decades after the first application.[37]
  • Frost resistance: One of the earliest attempts at producing a GMF involved taking the gene for producing "anti-freeze" inside the winter flounder, and introducing it into a tomato. The hoped-for resistance to frost didn't appear (plant sap and fish blood don't freeze the same way), and the experiment was abandoned. This did not prevent legions of anti-GMF activists from using the "fishmato" as their poster child for Frankenfood.
  • Delayed ripening: The now-discontinued Flavr Savr tomato. No fish genes.
  • Improved digestion: The "Enviropig"[38] was engineered to more efficiently digest plant phosphorus, eliminating the need to feed it phosphorus supplements and reducing phosphate pollution from the pigs' manure. It was discontinued in 2012.[39]
  • Altered starch characteristics: A GM potato strain called AmfloraWikipedia has the gene for amylose production turned off. This makes its starch waxier, making it more useful in industrial applications that call for amylopectin such as paper making. It was approved for industrial applications by the European Union in 2010, but this approval was nullified in 2013.[40]

GMF impact on health[edit]

See the more in depth article on this topic at Wikipedia: Genetically modified food controversies § HealthWikipedia

Several health concerns (some justified, some not) have been raised over GMFs.

Lack of independent testing[edit]

Concern exists over the lack of independent testing of GMFs. FDA regulations require new GM strains to be tested for things like allergen potential and toxicity, but these tests are allowed to be conducted by the manufacturers (with FDA oversight), which may lead to biased studies. While the concern is valid (striving for more studies furthers the scientific endeavor, whether GM or non-GM), the common argument that GMFs are not subject to independent testing whatsoever is false.

In 2012, the non-profit organization Biology Fortified began compiling the GENetic Engineering Risk Atlas (GENERA), an ongoing project to catalog peer-reviewed studies regarding GM health risks. Currently, there are more than 2000 studies on the list which confirm GMO safety, and more than one-third of which were conducted from independently funded, non-manufacturer sources, making GMOs one of the most analyzed subjects in science.[41][42][43]

Additionally, there are no regulations requiring the testing of new crop strains produced by non-GM means, such as cross-breeding or induced mutation; thus, non-GM varieties are not tested at all. Historically, this has resulted in the disastrous release into the marketplace of the Lenape potato[44] and celery containing excessive psoralens.[45] To conclude, although testing that is funded by the manufacturers is not ideal (independently funded studies reduce the introduction of many forms of possible biases such as the sunk cost fallacy, confirmation bias, and/or bias blind spots), any testing is better than no testing (also consider that manufacturers have a vested interest in protecting their PR image, which when dealing with GMFs is already poisoning the well, and introducing harmful products could damage that image quickly).

Food allergies[edit]

The rise in food allergies correlates to the rise of GMFs. A 2013 article in the popular world lifestyle magazine Elle claimed that the author's apparent allergy to corn wouldn't have happened if our corn wasn't genetically modified. This premise was criticized by many as being pseudoscientific as it lacked any empirical evidence, and the article has since been called "particularly appalling" by Slate.[46]

All that can be said is correlation does not equal causation. The rise in allergies is a common phenomenon in developed countries, even though the popularity of GMF varies wildly between them. Furthermore, new proteins introduced by genetic modification are required to have short digestion times in order to be found fit for human consumption, precisely because long-digestion proteins are potential allergens. Starlink corn is a famous example of a GMF that was found unfit for human consumption (long before it was brought to market as cattle feed) on this basis.[47]

Transgenic crops containing certain genes from other species can pose a serious food allergy risk if unlabeled. A gene from a cold-water fish to give fruits frost resistance can trigger a reaction in someone allergic to seafood.[48] However, most transgenes code for proteins whose digestion times are too short to trigger an allergic reaction.

A simpler explanation for the rise in food allergies is the increased variety of food available. Centuries ago, people would only be able to eat what was grown locally; if you never saw a peanut in your lifetime, how would you ever know if you were allergic? And if you were allergic to one of the few foods available, well, dead people don't have allergies.

Cross-pollination and health[edit]

For cross-pollination and its relation to law, see Cross-pollination and law.
For cross-pollination and its relation to the environment, see Cross-pollination and the environment.

The health implications of cross-pollination between GMFs and non-GMFs planted on other farms nearby have garnered some attention.

Starlink corn, a Bt corn variety using a different gene from Monsanto's, was declared unfit for human consumption because one of the introduced proteins (Cry9C) had a long digestion time and was thus a potential allergen. Starlink corn was, however, deemed fit for animal consumption, and was grown as cattle feed. Soon thereafter, Cry9C proteins were found in foodstuffs that were deemed fit for human consumption.[49] Pollen containing the Bt genes had apparently hopped the fence into neighboring cornfields. While no cases of allergic reaction to Cry9C have been confirmed,[50] this raises the spectre of other GM traits escaping isolation.

Inherently bad[edit]

This demonstrates how products produced (or partially produced) with genetic engineering are substantially equivalent to the conventional versions. Sugar doesn’t even contain DNA by the time all of the processing is done to make it.

The most prevalent claim is that all GMFs are harmful to health and cause a variety of illnesses and disabilities: cancer,[51] autism,[52] reproductive problems, infant mortality, liver problems and many other things.[53] Some activists went as far as dressing up in Hazmat suits while destroying GMFs to make it look as if researchers needed protection against the plants.[54]

Influence on rodents[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Seralini § "GMO causes cancer" study
See the more in depth article on this topic at Wikipedia: Séralini affair.Wikipedia

Most GMF maize is commodity corn, i.e. corn not meant to be eaten directly but used as source for starch. Although GMF maize is harmless for human and mammal consumption, paranoia in China claimed that several models of Pioneer maize and soy is affecting the reproduction of rats and Chinese pygmy hamsters and thereby affecting the food chain. This was due to a 2010 Russian study.[55]

Another study released in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, conducted by Gilles-Eric Séralini, supposedly showed a link between GM maize and a higher incidence of cancer in the Sprague–Dawley strain of rat.[56] The study was later retracted by the journal after a large number of scientists protested its poor quality and its "inadequate data to support its conclusions" (specifically that the sample size was too small and the type of rat used was already prone to tumors).[57] This latter retracted study is the one most often cited to back the pseudoscientific claim that GMFs cause cancer.

Cry1Ab protein in blood[edit]

Some anti-GMF advocates have cited a study, "Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada", which found traces of Cry1Ab (a protein from pesticides incorporated into MON810 corn) in 93 per cent of the pregnant mothers and 80 per cent of the umbilical cords.[58][59] However, there are several issues with concluding that this is because of GMF. First, organic crops are often sprayed with Cry1Ab.[60] Second, the recorded levels of the protein would require ridiculous consumption of corn (up to 5.8 kg for the maximum recorded blood level, and at minimum 120 g) every single day, since Cry1Ab does not bioaccumulate.[60] Third, the authors recorded values lower than their minimum detection value, and their detection method is flawed.[60][61][62] And finally, Cry1Ab is not, in fact, harmful.[60]

Scientific consensus[edit]

The scientific consensus says that there are no generic health risks common for all GMFs.[63] Any possible harm can only come from a specific engineered trait. This view is shared by the World Health Organization,[64] the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the European Food Safety Agency, the International Council for Science,[65] the U.S. National Academies of Science,[66] and almost all national scientific bodies. According to one metastudy which included 12 long-term studies and 12 multigenerational studies: "The studies reviewed present evidence to show that GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed."[67]

Scientists with anti-GMF positions are a tiny minority of researchers, many of them with ideological and/or financial conflicts of interest.[note 5]

So far, all evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of safety of GMFs for human consumption.[68][69] A wide variety of reputable organizations have stated that GMFs are safe to eat, including the US National Academies of Sciences,[70] the American Association for the Advancement of Science,[71] the European Commission,[72] and many more.

After years of cultivation, there seem to be no adverse health impacts associated specifically with them, and in some cases they can confer possible health benefits (e.g. Bt corn contains less carcinogenic fungal toxins than regular corn, Golden Rice has beta carotene which normal rice lacks, etc.). The continued insistence of anti-GMF activists that the science is uncertain is simply moving the goalposts.

Additionally, anti-GMF activists use the precautionary principle argument which states that as there is negative proof of the harm of GE foods (i.e. there is no absolute, ultimate proof that GMF is safe), GMFs should be opposed.[73][74] Arguments of this nature are invalid, as any given technology cannot be proven to be safe in every possible imagined circumstance.

Some anti-GMF proponents have taken up the creationist tactic of listing supporters,[75][76] who often are legal experts rather than scientists.

Below is a partial list of well-respected organizations that have commented on genetically modified crops from GMO Answers’ website.

GMO impact on environment[edit]

See the more in depth article on this topic at Wikipedia: Genetically modified food controversies § EnvironmentWikipedia

Environmental concerns over GMOs also exist. The scientific consensus over GMF crops and the environment is not as clear-cut as the consensus on GMF and health.

Environmental impact of GM herbicide resistance[edit]

If GM crops have contributed significantly to the development of herbicide resistant weeds, we would expect the number of unique instances of these superweeds to increase following adoption of GM crops. … In the eleven-year period before GM crops were widely grown, approximately 13 new cases of herbicide resistance were documented annually. After GM crop adoption began in earnest, the number of new herbicide resistant weeds DECREASED to 11.4 cases per year. [...] Almost any way you look at the data, it appears that GM crops are no greater contributor to the evolution of superweeds than other uses of herbicides.
—Andrew Kniss, Associate Professor of Weed Biology and Ecology, University of Wyoming[77]

What is the impact on the environment where GM resistance leads to increased use of herbicides? So far, there is very little data suggesting the increase in the use of GM plants have led to a major increase in herbicide use, and this completely ignores how glyphosate is far less toxic than many alternative herbicides (such as atrazine)—meaning that increases in the mass of herbicide used do not always translate to an increase in environmental impact. Sustained glyphosate use and poor management practices have led to some weeds becoming resistant to the herbicide.[78] Proper weed management practices and careful use of selective herbicides can help mitigate this resistance.

The number of reported new cases of herbicide-resistant weeds has actually slightly decreased after the introduction of GMFs. Out of the 24 known glyphosate-resistant species, 13 were actually first documented in non-GMFs. As such, "superweeds" are a problem related to herbicide use and not directly to GMF use.[79]

It's important to keep in mind what a "superweed" is. A "superweed" is a plant that's resistant to the herbicide in use, allowing it to grow in the fields we'd rather use for crops, rather than a green monster that will overwhelm the whole world. Much like "superbugs" in hospitals, acquiring resistance to an herbicide is generally harmful to the plant if the herbicide is not present, as it requires the plant to spend additional energy and materials producing the proteins or other chemicals it uses to endure the herbicide, meaning "superweeds" are actually slightly weaker and less invasive than the, umm, garden variety. Indeed, glyphosate-resistant crops themselves produce somewhat less than non-resistant varieties in ideal conditions,[80] but "a field full of weeds" is kind of the opposite of ideal.

Most scientists dislike the use of the word “superweeds” arguing that it polarizes the issue. Superweeds are not ‘super’ in any real sense of the word; they are weeds that have evolved to evade a particular weed management strategy.[81] A dandelion that is so short that it has almost no stem could be considered a superweed. Its super power is crouching beneath the blades of lawnmowers.

There’s also the remote possibility, often cited by anti-GMO proponents, that modified crops can pass on their engineered tolerances to closely-related weeds growing nearby.[82] However, there have been no documented cases of this, and is unlikely.[83] The real problem came from the increased reliance on glyphosate by farmers who plant GMO seeds and by those who use it for weed control around their fields. The pairing of glyphosate with GMO crops since 1996 has led to a steady increased in its use.[84]

Would getting rid of GMO crops halt the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds? The data do not support claims that GMO herbicide resistant crops, as a whole, have made the weed resistance problem worse. The European Academies Science Advisory Council contends: “Cultivating a GM crop variety with increased herbicide resistance … may prove detrimental to the environment if the farmer over-uses that herbicide. But the same would be true of herbicide resistance introduced by conventional breeding.”[85]

Herbicide resistant weed development is not a GMO problem, it is a herbicide problem.[86][87]

Cross-pollination and the environment[edit]

For cross-pollination and its relation to health, see Cross-pollination and health.
For cross-pollination and its relation to law, see Cross-pollination and law.

What might happen if modified genes cross-pollinated (or, worse, transferred laterally) to other organisms? For example, herbicide resistance could transfer to related weedy species, producing herbicide resistant weeds—obviously an undesirable outcome. Occurrence of this gene flow has been confirmed in field studies,[88] but so far it's uncertain whether this is a serious concern or not.[citation needed] It should be noted that herbicide resistance is not unique to GMFs (for instance, imidazolinone-resistant canola was obtained using radiation breeding), nor does herbicide resistance in weeds require gene flow to occur.

There are technologies available to prevent the spread of transgenes in the environment by making the second-generation seed of GM plants sterile, but they are not used due to public opposition (see "Terminator seed technology" below).

There is also a misconception about potential "superweeds", where a wild cousin acquires a trait and the whole world is choking on canola/rapeseed. "Superweeds" are weaker than regular weeds as herbicide resistance is a detriment to most plants; it causes the plants to use up energy to survive under specific conditions, specifically when herbicide is present. Without the herbicide present, the tolerant plants tend to be pushed out by the intolerant plants.

On the other hand, the newly introduced traits might disrupt the ecosystem surrounding a GMF field, particularly when GMFs interbreed with wild relatives. This is not a problem unique to GMF crops; any crop with a new trait could potentially spread to the wild, whether it arose through random mutation or creation in a lab. There exists technology to prevent interbreeding, but it is not used due to its negative public perception.[note 6]

Lack of biodiversity[edit]

When a GMF is first introduced, the seeds are usually derived from a single strain. If this crop becomes immensely popular, you'll end up with multiple farmers planting one and only one strain of the crop, leaving all of these new crops vulnerable to disease. This happened with the Rainbow papaya: the strain chosen to receive the transgene for ringspot-virus resistance turned out to be vulnerable to the blackspot fungus. The problem can be avoided by breeding the GM trait into several varieties using conventional methods.

GMFs are not the only crops lacking biodiversity, nor is lack of biodiversity a new concern. The Great Irish Potato Famine occurred largely because Irish farmers planted only the "lumper" strain of potatoes; when the Potato Blight struck, it struck 'em all. McDonald's has long been criticized for its reliance on the Russet Burbank strain of potatoes for its French fries, to the exclusion of other strains.

This would likely be less of a problem if more GMF companies were able to enter into the market providing more variety of crops, or if the GMF crops could be allowed to hybridize with other strains. In other words, it's a problem caused by the restrictions on GMF crops.

"Terminator seeds" and the environment[edit]

For "terminator seeds" and their relation to moneymaking, see "Terminator seeds" and profit.

A common myth is that the crops use "terminator seed" technology (technical name Genetic Use Restriction Technology, GURT) which causes the crops to yield sterile seeds. However, while testing has been conducted on GURT, there is actually a moratorium on its commercial use due to public opposition.[89] Monsanto has also pledged not to use the technology.[90]

Despite all the propaganda, GURT has the potential to be a good thing because it stops planted GMFs from expanding into the wild—one of the few realistic concerns about GMFs. Seeds that cannot be saved for replanting are nothing new. Plants grown from traditional hybrid seed, in wide use since the 1920s, do not produce true copies in the second generation due to the existence of hybrid vigor. Therefore, new seed must be bought every year from a plant breeder to keep its desirable characteristics.[91]

One of the few dangers of GURT would be in those rare cases if it were to fail. GURT is engineered as a genetic trait, which means it can and will mutate, and a germline mutation that deactivates the GURT geneplex would mean the seeds would be fertile. Were GURT actually implemented in real farms, the farmers would have to maintain the same vigilance they do today against GM seed or pollen escaping into the wild, just in case one of these deactivating mutations were to arise.

Vandana Shiva has claimed that GURT may somehow spread to wild plants and cause the total destruction of the Earth's biosphere.[92] This is complete lunacy, since by definition sterility is not inheritable.

Environmental benefits of GMF[edit]

Crops which are genetically modified to poison pests (such as Bt corn) reduce the need for pesticides to be sprayed on them (up to 37 percent), which benefits the environment.[6] According to a decade-long study conducted in China on Bt cotton, since its introduction in 1997, pesticide use was reduced by half and the population of natural insect predators doubled (this is because the non-Bt insecticides that would have otherwise been used kill harmful and helpful insects without discretion).[93] Another study, published in 2005 found that using GMF that poison pests reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for pesticide spraying.[94] Additionally, GMF which is modified for no-till or reduced-till farming systems (herbicide resistant crops) result in the soil retaining more carbon as well as reducing the energy use in soil cultivation, massively lowering overall greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA has required some insect resistant crops be regulated like chemical pesticides.[48] Developing countries see greater benefit to yields, and reductions in pesticide use, from using genetically modified crops, giving complaints about them just a touch of classism.[6]

Some articles argue that the repression of GMF by the environmental movement is the real problem.[95] At least one high-profile environmentalist has changed his anti-GMF stance as a result of learning the actual science.[96] (Did he simply sell out to Monsanto? A lot of anti-GMF bloggers and sites at the time thought so,[97] but evidence has not been forthcoming.)

GMF can of course be misused, and for this reason need oversight. However, after years of cultivation, there seem to be no adverse impacts associated specifically with them, and in many cases they confer significant environmental benefits. The continued insistence of anti-GMF activists that the science is uncertain is simply moving the goalposts.

Influence on bees[edit]

There are also claims that Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) crops are responsible for bee deaths and colony collapse disorder (CCD). This is false.

Bt toxin is harmful to some Lepidoptera (butterflies / moths) and Coleoptera (beetles) which feed directly on the plant, though several strains are becoming resistant to Bt toxin—and even then, the effects on butterflies is not significant and quite negligible.[98][99] Beetles and certain species of butterflies tend to be pests themselves, after all, and were the target of the Bt toxin in the first place.

Bt toxin is not at all harmful to bees, which are in the order Hymenoptera. A meta-analysis of 25 studies found that there is no detectable harm to bees arising from the use of Bt crops.[100] In fact, imidacloprid, a pesticide used on corn crops, is toxic to bees; and the whole point of Bt corn crops is that they need to be sprayed with less pesticide. And a meta-analysis has confirmed this.[101][better source needed]

Note that traditional pesticides also kill butterflies and beetles, and that the Bt toxin is also used as a pesticide on both conventional non-GMF crops and organic crops. Some evidence however, has shown that Bt maize does cause slight learning disturbances in bees.[102] However, this effect has only been detected with concentrations of Bt toxin at 5000 ppb, and it's unlikely for this effect to show in natural conditions.[103]

GMF and herbicide use[edit]

A 2012 study by Chuck Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, has concluded that the proliferation of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops led farmers to increase herbicide use to combat weeds resistant to Roundup.[104][105][106][107] Furthermore, before the introduction of genetically modified crops, farmers had to carefully use herbicides in order not to kill the plants. People are still concerned with herbicide residue in their food, but both GM and organic farms use herbicides in the United States. However, GM farms have seen a reduction in pesticide use.[108] Research done by scientists from the Georg-August-University of Goettingen discovered, "On average, GM technology has increased crop yields by 21%. These yield increases are not due to higher genetic yield potential, but to more effective pest control and thus lower crop damage. At the same time, GM crops have reduced pesticide quantity by 37% and pesticide cost by 39%."[6]

Gene drives and GMOs[edit]

GMO gene drives are currently in an experimental stage, with none yet released into the wild. Gene drives rely on insertion of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene into an organism, which has the potential to insert a gene into an entire breeding population.[109] Potential applications of gene drives are:[109]

  • Immunizing animals that carry human disease (e.g. malaria mosquitoes)
  • Controlling insect-borne diseases
  • Spreading pest-specific pesticides and herbicides
  • Reducing populations of rodents and other pests
  • Controlling invasive species
  • Aiding threatened species

But unforseen ecosystem consequences could also arise.[109]

GMFs and politics[edit]

See the more in depth article on this topic at Wikipedia: Genetically modified food controversies § LawsuitsWikipedia

Even if GMFs are relatively safe to humans and the environment, it's possible that their use might harm someone legally or financially; such risks exist but are routinely overblown.

"Terminator seeds" and profit[edit]

For "terminator seeds" and their relation to the environment, see "Terminator seeds" and the environment.
Anti-GMO crusaders think Monsanto is so powerful that it owns everything and everyone. From supreme court justices to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, they see Monsanto everywhere. For the record Clarence Thomas worked there for only a couple of years in the late 1970s, and he hated it so much he went running to the public sector. Clinton’s campaign, as revealed by Wikileaks, actually had close ties to the organic movement. Gary Hirschberg, Stonyfield exec and founder of Just Label It, was quite influential with her attempt to move back in to the White House.

Anti-GMF activists often say that GMF seeds are infertile.[110] This refers to Genetic Use Restriction Technology, dubbed "terminator seed", which renders the second generation seed of a plant infertile. (See "Terminator seed technology" above.) This would prevent the farmer from saving seed, which currently is a requirement enforced using legal means.

GURT was never commercialized and work on it was abandoned in 1999,[111] largely due to public backlash instigated by the anti-GMF campaigners. Ironically, it would solve one of the few real problems with GMFs, namely the transfer of GM traits into wild relatives. It would also enable the safe use of GM plants to produce pharmaceutically active compounds.[112]

Cross-pollination and law[edit]

For cross-pollination and its relation to health, see Cross-pollination and health.
For cross-pollination and its relation to the environment, see Cross-pollination and the environment.

What are the legal implications of cross-pollination between GMFs and non-GMFs planted on other farms nearby? While activists commonly claim that biotech companies (like Monsanto) will sue farmers for accidental contamination via cross-pollination, such lawsuits have not happened. In 2012, a group of organic farmers preemptively sued Monsanto for this very reason, but their case was thrown out when they were unable to present any evidence that supported their claims.[113] It is unlikely that any judge would rule in favor of Monsanto in such a case, because the farmer would not obtain any undue benefit from the patented seeds.

Percy Schmeiser's case is often used as an example by activists—but the court found that he intentionally selected for GM traits in canola pollinated from a neighboring field by spraying his own field with glyphosate, which killed off all of his plants but left the pollination-planted ones intact, and then used the seed on his farm, planting a total of approximately 1,030 acres with the seed. Schmeiser attempted to claim that he was innocent and that the glyphosate-resistant crops appeared on his fields via pollination or from a passing truck's spillage, but the judge pointed out that all 1,030 acres were planted with glyphosate-resistant canola at a purity of 95-98%, far beyond the 0.5-2% typically seen from accidental contamination. Furthermore, the fact that Schmeiser intentionally sprayed glyphosate on his crops betrayed his knowledge of the seed, since glyphosate will kill any non-resistant plants. Monsanto won the lawsuit, but Schmeiser mounted a massive misinformation campaign online, which has led to a great many people being unaware of the true facts on this case.[114]

GM traits are usually patented. While this draws a lot of criticism, this situation is in fact not any different from conventional breeding, where novel traits are also patentable.[115] "Plant patents" have been protected by U.S. law since 1930. Several patents on first-generation GM traits have run out, or are due to run out in the near future; the patent for first-generation RoundUp Ready soybean seeds, for example, expired in 2015.

GMF labeling[edit]

Laws exist, and have been proposed, which require foods containing GM ingredients to be labelled in some manner. The proponents of such labeling laws are mostly anti-GMF activists for whom labeling laws are but a first step.[116] The opponents assert that such laws would make "no GMFs!" labels into selling points for a gullible public (much like "all natural!" labels do today), and would give no useful information about which genetic modifications are and aren't present. The forced labeling in and of itself will also carry a negative stigma associated with GMF; think about the difference in sub-conscious perception it would make if there was a label denoting that the food was packaged by immigrants. An unexpected irony is that, in two studies from Vermont, GMO labeling actually increases consumer trust in GMO food products, perhaps because familiarity breeds fondness.[117]

It would seem that many Americans would support the idea of GM labeling. That said, when asked, 80 percent of Americans said they wanted food to be labeled if it contained DNA.[118] As virtually every ingredient other than "salt" originated from something with DNA, this tends to suggest that the pro-label lobby is perhaps not the most scientifically literate.

In the U.S.[edit]

Until July 2016, there were no mandatory labeling requirements for GMFs at the federal level in the United States. There were, however, state laws in Vermont,[119] Maine,[120] and Connecticut, which would have imposed labeling requirements on GM foods sold in those states if and when they went into effect.

In response, a bill called the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act" was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in July of 2015, which would have prohibited individual states from imposing their own GM food labeling requirements.[121] GM food opponents called this bill "Denying Americans the Right to Know," or the DARK Act.[122] It passed the House, but was blocked by the Senate.

A later compromise to the above bill, titled only "S. 764", passed the House and Senate and was signed into law on 29 July, 2016. This law, christened "the DARK Act 2.0" by its opponents, mandates GMO labels but allows the information to be contained in QR codes (2-D bar codes that can't be read without the aid of a smartphone or similar device). It may also permit some loopholes for certain classes of GM food,[123] and voids all state-level GMO labeling laws.

In Canada[edit]

There are no requirements for GM foods to be labeled as such in Canada. Furthermore, non-GM foods can only be labeled as non-GM if GM versions of their ingredients exist on the market, or an accompanying statement is made saying no GM version exists.[124] (This is similar to how the U.S. FDA regulates the statement "cholesterol-free.") This law should also apply to "The Non-GMO Project" certification logo, but is only sporadically enforced.[125]

In the European Union[edit]

European Union has very strict GMF labeling laws, mandating that every ingredient of the product that was produced from genetically modified organisms must be labelled, even if it contains no DNA and is chemically indistinguishable from its non-GMF counterpart (e.g. oils, lecithin, and sugar). Labeling is also mandatory in restaurant menus. Combined with the very high level of anti-GMF activity in Europe and the fact that only two GM traits have been approved for local cultivation (one variant of Bt corn, and [formerly] the Amflora potato), this results in GMF being basically impossible to buy.

Labeling in Europe is not required for the meat, eggs and milk of animals fed with GMFs. Most European poultry and pigs are in fact fed GM cereals imported from the United States, as this is significantly cheaper than feeding them locally grown non-GM grain.

A common claim about European labeling laws is that cultivating GMFs in some area would automatically require honey produced in the same area to be labeled as genetically modified, because honey contains trace amounts of pollen (less than 0.5%). Given the anti-GMF hysteria, the label would make such honey potentially unmarketable in Europe. However, this is no longer true, as the rules were recently clarified; pollen is now considered as a "natural constituent" rather than an "ingredient" of honey, and so it only needs to be labelled if the honey contains more than 0.9% of GM pollen.[126] Previous ruling from the European Court of Justice stipulated that pollen is an "ingredient" and therefore needs to be included on the ingredient list, and a label must be included if more than 0.9% of the pollen is genetically modified.

Deliberate Misinformation[edit]

Misinformation on the subject is harmful. People who would otherwise be fed are starved, being deprived of food being destroyed just because it is GMF.[127][128][129] Destroying otherwise edible food when there are starving people is morally questionable, at best.

Farmer suicide in India[edit]

Some anti-GMF activists, like Vandana Shiva, claim that Bt cotton in India ruins small farmers and drives them to suicide. Bt cotton in India is not a substantial factor in farmer suicides,[130] which started rising 5 years before its introduction.[131] In fact, a long-term study on the economic impacts of Bt cotton in India showed that Bt cotton has increased yields, profits, and the living standards of smallholder farmers.[132][133][134]


The most controversial instance of opposition to GMF is probably the case of Zambia. In 2002, the Zambian government opted to let its people starve in the midst of a region-wide crop failure by turning down a vast quantity of food aid in the form of GM corn, rather than feed them "GM poison".[135][136]

In February 2016, a similar crisis was shaping up to happen in Zimbabwe.[137]

In a nutshell[edit]

Positions on GMO[edit]


  • Aaron E. Carroll — Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Dean for Research Mentoring at Indiana University School of Medicine, and the director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research. And more. A damn good doctor, in other words.[138] Dedicates an episode of Healthcare Triage to debunking GMO fears.[139]
  • Ben Goldacre — Doctor, skeptic and science writer.[140]
  • Bill Nye — Credits good science with proving to him that a pro-GMO stance is the rational option.[141]
  • Brian Dunning — Skeptic, podcaster and regular debunker of woo as the host of his YouTube sceptic show, inFact.[142] Dedicates an episode of inFact to debunking GMO fears.[143]
  • Brian Cox — British particle physicist and science communicator.[144]
  • Kevin Folta — Professor of botany who gives biotech talks to lay audiences.
  • Calestous JumaWikipedia — Internationally recognised authority in the application of science and technology to sustainable development worldwide.[145]
  • Hank GreenWikipedia — Science popularizer with a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from Eckerd College and a M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana.[146] Dedicates an episode of SciShow to debunking GMO fears.[147]
  • Mark Lynas — British environmentalist, journalist, and author. Formerly anti-GMF, he has since switched his position, 'cause science.[148]
  • Michael Shermer — Author and skeptic extraordinnaire.[149]
  • M.S. SwaminathanGeneticist and the father of India's Green Revolution. The first person to be awarded the World Food Prize.[150]
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson — "[Utilizing genetic modification] is what all organisms do when they can, or would do, if they could. Those that didn't, have gone extinct."[151][152]
  • Norman Borlaug — Credited as the father of the Green Revolution. Specifically via GMF, he is widely credited with having saved a billion lives.[153][154]
  • PZ Myers — Associate professor of biology, blogger and scientist.[155]
  • Patrick Moore — not that one, the one that co-founded and now criticizes Greenpeace.[156]
  • Penn & Teller — Famous illusionists and avid sceptics. Pro-GMO because saving lives, nevermind by the billions, is not bullshit.[157]
  • Richard Dawkins — Evolutionary biologist.[158]
  • Steven Novella — Senior Fellow and Director of the JREF’s Science-Based Medicine project.[159]
  • The Royal SocietyWikipedia — Learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society still in existence.[160]
  • Yuan LongpingWikipedia — Chinese agronomist and the father of hybrid rice.[161]


  • Food Evolution — documentary directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy and narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson tackling the schism that has arisen between scientists and consumers over how to feed our expanding population safely and sustainably.
  • Science Moms — documentary film about mothers who advocate for science-based decision-making concerning the health and nutrition of children covering vaccines, autism, celebrity-endorsed health fads, cancer, allergies, organic food, GMOs, homeopathy, and the appeal to nature fallacy. Per the Science Moms director, the film "focuses on providing a science and evidence-based counter-narrative to the pseudoscience-based parenting narrative that has cropped up in recent years".


  • Massimo Pigliucci — Philosopher, author and skeptic.[162]
  • World Health OrganisationWikipedia - Specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health.[163]
  • Oxfam - Believes a 'simple technological fix' is unlikely to solve world hunger. A farmer's lack of access to food or power over food production are seen as more pressing concerns for food security.[164]


  • Bioscience Resource Project’s biosafety analysis of genetic engineering techniques[180][181] challenge two key assumptions that underlie both current GMO regulation in the U.S.[182] and the claims of proponents of genetic engineering worldwide:[183] (1) that genetic engineering is a precise and predictable technique and (2) that unintended consequences resulting from the genetic engineering process are highly unlikely.[184]


External links[edit]


  1. The genomes of nearly all important crops are heavily modified with respect to their wild ancestors through the process of selective breeding and in many cases also by other techniques such as hybridization and mutation breeding, so using the term "genetically modified" specifically to label recombinant organisms is something of a misnomer.
  2. GMO can also include organisms genetically modified for purposes other than food, such as laboratory animals used in clinical research or non-food crops, such as cotton and poplars. [1]
  3. And yes, cotton is a food crop as well as a textile crop. Its seeds are expressed to make cottonseed oil.
  4. McDonald's uses 3.4 billion pounds of potatoes per year in the U.S. alone, according to this article. To keep their product uniform from one restaurant to the next, they have to use the same potato variety everywhere in the country.
  5. Gilles-Eric Séralini, tied to a Big Placebo company and funded by anti-GMF organizations, is a notable example.
  6. Namely, Variety GURT, which renders sterile all seed produced by the plant. Sterile seeds can't crossbreed with anything. Called "terminator seed technology" by its opponents, it attracted so much misguided outrage that it has been abandoned, as described in the Controversy section later in this article.


  1. Penn & Teller: Bullshit! — "Eat this!" (S01E11)
  2. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety Convention on Biological Diversity
  3. Kloor, Keith GMO Opponents Are the Climate Skeptics of the Left Slate
  4. Gorski, David More bad science in the service of anti-GMO activism Science-Based Medicine
  5. Labels for GMO Foods Are a Bad Idea Scientific American
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops by Wilhelm Klümper & Matin Qaim (November 3, 2014) Plos One.
  7. Frequently asked questions on genetically modified foods (May 2014) World Health Organization
  8. First Genetically Engineered Salmon Sold in Canada: US firm AquaBounty Technologies says that its transgenic fish has hit the market after a 25-year wait by Emily Waltz (August 7, 2017) Scientific American.
  9. The Conversation, farming with no-till could cut agricultural climate impact
  10. In 2010, 16% of U.S. corn had the Bt trait, 23% had the HT trait, and 47% had both. Source: Acreage (June 30, 2010) National Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  11. ISAAA Brief 43-2011. Executive Summary: Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2011
  12. Hayes' Handbook of Pesticide Toxicology
  13. Transgenic Virus-Resistant Papaya: The Hawaiian ‘Rainbow’ was Rapidly Adopted by Farmers and is of Major Importance in Hawaii Today, on APSnet
  14. Tricoli DM, Carney KJ, Russell PF, McMaster JR, Groff DW, et al., 1995. "Field evaluation of transgenic squash containing single or multiple virus coat protein gene constructs for resistance to cucumber mosaic virus, watermelon mosaic virus 2 and zucchini yellow mosaic virus." Bio/Technology 13:1458–65. See also this page from the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Statewide Biotechnology Workgroup.
  15. E. Johnson, J. A. Lucey (2006) Major Technological Advances and Trends in Cheese J. Dairy Sci. 89(4): 1174–1178
  16. U.S. Approves Corn Modified for Ethanol, NY Times, 12-Feb-2011
  17. Get Paid to Plant Enogen, AgWired, 27-Aug-2014
  18. Acrtic Apples
  19. Simplot's website. Like the Arctic Apple, Simplot doesn't use transgenes from other unrelated species, but instead manipulates the potato genes directly.
  20. .S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato. Next Up: French Fry Fans., The New York Times, 7-Nob-2014
  21. INNATE™ Potato Receives FDA Safety Clearance
  22. McDonald's rejects Simplot's genetically modified potato, Idaho Statesman, 15-Nov-2014
  23. US approves three GMO potato varieties that can be grown and sold in retail outlets, Potato News Today, 16-Dec-2019
  24. International Rice Research Institute: C4 Rice. As of December 2012, the C4 Rice Consortium apparently hasn't yet isolated the genes responsible for C4 photosynthesis.
  25. John Innes Center: Major investment to persuade bacteria to help cereals self-fertilise
  26. PLOS, Corn variety gets nutrients from bacteria, potentially reducing need for fertilizer,, 7-Aug-2018
  27. BBC News: Blight-resistant GM potatoes field trial begins
  28. The Age: Disease-resistant banana plant developed
  29. Golden Rice Project
  30. Uganda's genetically modified golden bananas, BBC News, 27-March-2013
  31. Genetically-modified purple tomatoes heading for shops, BBC News, 24-Jan-2014
  32. DSM and Monsanto to commercialize soybean oil rich in omega-3 SDA. But will anti-GMO sentiment hinder its progress?, Food navigator-usa, 8-April-2013
  33. Indian farmer kick-starts two green revolutions, IRRI
  34. The "Convergence between biotech and conventional breeding" section of Moving Beyond Pro/Con Debates Over Genetically Engineered Crops, Food and Farm Discussion Lab blog, 27-Oct-2016
  35. Minford, Farmers test drought-tolerant corn hybrids, Corn & Soybeans Digest, 23-Jan2015
  36. Florida Health Officials Hope To Test GMO Mosquitoes This Spring, NPR
  37. DDT is now found in polar bears in the arctic—a place where no significant quantities were ever used
  38. Enviropig™ University of Guelph
  39. Move to Market Gene-Altered Pigs in Canada Is Halted, New York Times, 3-April-2012
  40. EU court annuls approval of BASF's Amflora GMO potato (Dec 13, 2013 | 6:23am EST) Reuters.
  41. With 2000+ global studies affirming safety, GM foods among most analyzed subjects in science by JoAnna Wendel (October 8, 2013) Genetic Literacy Project
  42. 2000+ Reasons Why GMOs Are Safe To Eat And Environmentally Sustainable by Jon Entine (Oct 14, 2013,11:23am EDT) Forbes
  43. Studies with independent funding, Biology Fortified, 10-June-2014
  44. The case of the poison potato, boingboing, 25-March-2013
  45. Unintended Health Effects: A Conventionally-Bred Celery Cultivar, National Academies Press, 2004
  46. The Bad Seed: The Health Risks of Genetically Modified Corn, in the Hair and Beauty section of the 24-July-2013 Elle. Rebuttal on Slate: No, You Shouldn’t Fear GMO Corn, 7-Aug-2013.
  47. EPA Preliminary Evaluation of Information Contained in the October 25, 2000 Submission from Aventis CropScience, page 3
  48. 48.0 48.1 The Transgenic Tomato by Timothy Rockey
  49. Taco Bell Recalls Shells That Used Bioengineered Corn
  50. CDC, National Center for Environmental Health. Investigation of Human Health Effects Associated with Potential Exposure to Genetically Modified Corn: A Report to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta,GA:Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2001.
  51. NaturalNews: SHOCK findings in new GMO study: Rats fed lifetime of GM corn grow horrifying tumors, 70% of females die early!
  52. Institute for Responsible Technology: Are Genetically Engineered Foods Promoting Autism? (No)
  53. Institute for Responsible Technology: Health risks of GMOs (are nonexistent)
  54. Greenpeace GM wheat Hazmat suits 'theatre' by Colin Bettles (24 Aug, 2011 06:55 AM) The Land (archived from November 1, 2015).
  55. [2] by Jeffrey Smith (08/09/2010 01:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011) Huffington Post.
  56. Rat study sparks GM furore: Cancer claims put herbicide-resistant transgenic maize in the spotlight by Declan Butler (25 September 2012) Nature.
  57. Study Linking Genetically Modified Corn to Rat Tumors Is Retracted: Publisher withdraws paper despite authors' objections, citing weak evidence by Barbara Casassus (November 29, 2013) Scientific American.
  58. Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. - PubMed - NCBI
  59. Toxic pesticides from GM food crops found in unborn babies, The Telegraph
  60. 60.0 60.1 60.2 60.3 Many Women, no Crys by Marcel Kuntz (29 April 2011) OGM: Environnement, Santé et Politique.
  61. There's no Bt in your blood by Anastasia Bodnar (3 Oct 2012) Biology Fortified.
  62. Degradation of Cry1Ab protein from genetically modified maize in the bovine gastrointestinal tract by B. Lutz et al. (2005 Mar 9) J. Agric. Food Chem. 53(5):1453-6.
  63. An overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research by Alessandro Nicolla et al. (2014) Critical Reviews in Biotechnology 34(1): 77-88.
  64. WHO: 20 questions on genetically modified foods
  65. ICSU report on GMF
  66. Technology to Feed the World National Academy of Sciences (archived from 7 Jul 2013 13:12:56 UTC).
  67. Snell, Chelsea; Bernheim, Aude; Berge, Jean-Baptiste; et al ScienceDirect: Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials: A literature review
  68. Peer Reviewed Publications on the Safety of GMFs
  69. Studies for GENERA (as of 5/27/13, there are exactly six hundred studies in this list)
  70. Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects
  71. Quote: 'The science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.'
  72. A decade of EU-funded GMO research
  73. Biotech-Now: Moms Urged to Subscribe to the ‘Precautionary Principle’ on GMOs
  74. Institute of Science in Society: Use and Abuse of the Precautionary Principle—this is a somewhat outdated defense of the use of the precautionary principle being applied to GE technology.
  75. No scientific consensus on GMO safety by Angelika Hilbeck et al. (2015). Environmental Sciences Europe 27:4. DOI:10.1186/s12302-014-0034-1.
  76. “No scientific consensus on GMO safety” statement published in peer-reviewed journal, European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility
  77. Where are the super weeds?by Andrew Kniss (May 1, 2013)
  78. Facts about Glyphosate-Resistant Weeds
  79. Where are the super weeds?
  80. Glyphosate-Resistant Soybean Cultivar Yields Compared with Sister Lines by Roger W. Elmore et al. (2001) Agron. J. 93: 408–412.
  81. Superweeds FAQ, GLP
  82. Genetically modified crops pass benefits to weeds by Jane Qiu (16 August 2013) nature
  83. Can herbicide resistance move from crops to weeds? by Brad Hanson (July 28, 2014)
  84. Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally by Charles M. Benbrook in Environ Sci Eur 28, 3 (2016). doi:10.1186/s12302-016-0070-0.
  85. Planting the Future Summary
  86. WSSA FACT SHEET, Dispelling Common Misconceptions about Superweeds
  87. Do GMOs cause “superweeds”? GLP
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  89. GURT overview.
  90. "Is Monsanto Going to Develop or Sell "Terminator" Seeds?", paragraph 3
  91. Hybrid varieties and saving seed
  92. Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply By Vandana Shiva
  93. Widespread adoption of Bt cotton and insecticide decrease promotes biocontrol services Nature
  94. GM Crops: The Global Economic and Environmental Impact - The First Nine Years AgBioForum
  95. Prospect Magazine: The real GMF scandal
  96. Leading Environmental Activist’s Blunt Confession: I Was Completely Wrong To Oppose GMOs
  97. Like this one: Uncovering the Real Story Behind the 'Conversion' of Mark Lynas from Climate Change Journalist to Cheerleader for Genetically Modified Foods, on AlterNet
  98. Monarchs safe from Bt: GM plant pollen may be off the hook, but regulators are still feeling the heat by Tom Clarke (12 September 2001) Nature. doi:10.1038/news010913-12 .
  99. Parallel Evolution of Bacillus thuringiensis Toxin Resistance in Lepidoptera by Simon W. Baxter et al. (2011) Genetics 189(2): 675–679. doi:10.1534/genetics.111.130971.
  100. A Meta-Analysis of Effects of Bt Crops on Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) by Jian J. Duan & Michelle Marvier (January 9, 2008) Plos One.
  101. Meta-analysis shows GM crops reduce pesticide use by 37 percent (November 6, 2014) American Council on Science and Health (archived from 12 Nov 2014 09:21:09 UTC).
  102. Testing Pollen of Single and Stacked Insect-Resistant Bt-Maize on In vitro Reared Honey Bee Larvae by Harmen P. Hendriksma et al. (December 16, 2011) Plos One.
  103. Ramirez-Romero et al., Does CrylAb protein affect learning performances of the honey bee Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera, Apidae)?, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, January 2008
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  105. How GMOs Unleashed a Pesticide Gusher by Tom Philpott (Oct. 3, 2012 6:00 AM) Mother Jones.
  106. Genetically Modified Crops Have Led To Pesticide Increase, Study Finds by Carey Gillam (10/01/2012 09:18 pm ET | Updated Dec 02, 2012) Huffington Post.
  107. Pesticide use ramping up as GMO crop technology backfires: study by Carey Gillam (Oct 1, 2012 | 9:18pm EDT) Reuters.
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  109. 109.0 109.1 109.2 Gene drives spread their wings: CRISPR brings a powerful genetic tool closer to reality. Are we ready? By Tina Hesman Saey (7:00am, December 2, 2015) Science News.
  110. Hermosillo, Maribel Monsanto's GMO Seeds Are Actively Cultivating Cultural Genocide PolicyMic
  111. Myth: Monsanto Sells Terminator Seeds Monsanto
  112. Gene Use Restriction Technologies by C Kameswara Rao. Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education
  113. OSGATA v. Monsanto decision
  114. Federal Court (Canada) decision - Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser
  115. New e-licencing platform highlights patent debate—note that this article is not about GM traits, since neither of the two traits approved for cultivation in the EU belongs to Syngenta.
  116. Genetic Literacy Project Infographic: Is labeling GMOs really about our “Right to Know”?
  117. Study: GM food labels do not act as a warning to consumers The Conversation
  118. New study confirms that 80 percent of Americans support labeling of foods containing DNA. Opinion. Washington Post. May 27, 2016.
  119. Vermont Lawmakers Pass GMO Labeling Bill; Governor Expected To Sign, Huffington Post, 24-April-2014
  120. Maine becomes second state to require GMO labels, The Washington Post, 10-Jan-2014]
  121. "H.R.1599 - Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015", at
  122. Spear, Stefanie (July 24, 2015), "House Passes DARK Act, Banning States From Requiring GMO Labels on Food", at
  123. "U.S. GMO food labeling bill passes Senate", Reuters, 8-July-2016
  124. Voluntary labeling and advertising of foods that are and are not products of genetic engineering, sections 6.1.4 and 6.2.4
  125. How to Fight Misleading GMO Labelling (in Canada), dietwald's blog, 15-January-2017
  126. European Parliament vote to keep lid on GM pollen in honey (17 April 2014) The European Consumer Organisation
  127. Famine-hit Zambia rejects GM food aid (29 October, 2002, 18:25 GMT) BBC.
  128. Lunanshya council destroys Bokomo Cornflakes containing traces of GMO ( June 7, 2014) Lusaka Times.
  129. The True Story About Who Destroyed a Genetically Modified Rice Crop by Mark Lynas (26-Aug-2013) Slate.
  130. The Selling of the Suicide Seeds Narrative, Discover blogs, 7-Jan-2014
  131. Bt Cotton and Farmer Suicides in India: Reviewing the Evidence by Guillaume P. Gruère et al. (2008) IFPRI Discussion Paper 00808. International Food Policy Research Institute.
  132. Economic impacts and impact dynamics of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton in India by Jonas Kathage & Matin Qaim (2012) PNAS 109(29): 11652–11656. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1203647109.
  133. GMO and Indian Farmer Suicide by Steven Novella (Mar 14 2014) Neurologica Blog.
  134. Indian farmer suicides not GM related, says study by James Randerson (5 November 2008 13.00 EST) The Guardian.
  135. BBC News: Zambia refuses GM 'poison'
  136. Better dead than GM-fed?, The Economist, 19-Sept-2002. Claims that the cross-pollination threat to Zambia's crop exports might have been partly to blame.
  137. Zimbabwe: Govt Says No to GMO Imports Despite 3 Million in Need of Food Assistance,, 10-Feb-2016
  138. About Aaron E. Carroll The Incidental Economist.
  139. GMOs by Healthcare Triage (Jun 9, 2014) YouTube.
  140. More bad science in the service of anti-GMO activism by David Gorski (June 17, 2013) Science-Based Medicine.
  141. Bill Nye says science changed his anti-GMO views by Dan Arel (February 27, 2015) Patheos.
  142. Genetically Modified Organisms: Jeopardy or Jackpot? by Brian Dunning (Skeptoid Podcast #112, August 5, 2008) Skeptoid.
  143. inFact: The Unpopular Facts about GMOs inFact with Brian Dunning (Mar 19, 2013) YouTube.
  144. Science Britannica, episode one, BBC Two, review by Catherine Gee (7:00AM BST 19 Sep 2013) The Telegraph.
  145. Is opposition to genetically modified food irrational? 3 June 2015 BBC News
  146. Hank's MySpace
  147. Why are GMOs Bad? by SciShow (Jul 10, 2015) YouTube.
  148. Leading Environmental Activist’s Blunt Confession: I Was Completely Wrong To Oppose GMOs 3 January 2013 Slate
  149. The Liberals' War on Science: How politics distorts science on both ends of the spectrum by Michael Shermer (February 1, 2013) Scientific American.
  150. MS Swaminathan - On future of Indian agriculture
  151. Neil deGrasse Tyson on gmo food! by Neil deGrasse Tyson Videos (Jul 24, 2014) YouTube.
  152. [3] by Neil deGrasse Tyson (August 3, 2014) Facebook.
  153. Norman Borlaug: Father of the Green Revolution — He Helped Feed the World! Science Heroes.
  154. The Man Who Saved a Billion Lives by David Macaray Huffington Post.
  155. Polling the anti-GM vote
  156. Are GMOs good or bad?, video produced by Prager U
  157. Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
  158. The Prince And The Great Debate. Don't Turn Your Back on Science An open letter from biologist Richard Dawkins to Prince Charles (May 21, 2000) The Observer.
  159. No Health Concerns for GMO by Steven Novella. James Randi Educational Foundation (archived from 25 Aug 2014 20:08:25 UTC).
  160. Reaping the benefits: Science and the sustainable intensification of global agriculture. Chapter three
  161. "Hybrid-rice pioneer Yuan Longping backs genetically modified foods" (in en). South China Morning Post. 
  162. "Frankenfoods vs. the neo-Luddites"
  163. WHO — 20 questions on genetically modified foods.
  164. Oxfam International's position on transgenic crops (April 26, 2010) Oxfam International (archived from January 2, 2016).
  165. Genetic Roulette: The Gamble Of Our Lives InfoWars Store (archived from 23 Nov 2015 15:50:20 UTC).
  166. GMO Trilogy DVD/CD Set InfoWars Store (archived from 23 Nov 2015 15:50:21 UTC).
  167. The World According to Monsanto InfoWars Store (archived from 23 Nov 2015 15:50:17 UTC).
  168. Genetically Modified Foods The American Academy of Environmental Medicine.
  169. The GMO Population Cull … Getting Away With Murder
  170. Deepak Chopra and Vandana Shiva Talk Seeds and GMOs
  171. Genetic Literacy Project. Environmental Working Group: Known for scare campaigns, EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues (July 17, 2018). Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  172. Food Babe: ‘The Shocking Email From Monsanto: Why I am submitting a FOIA request’. Newly discovered emails reveal "independent" biotech scientist received thousands from Monsanto by Vani Hari (September 9, 2015) InfoWars.
  173. Alex Jones and the food babe teamed up, entire scientific communities fell to their knees groaning (July 17, 2015) The Mind Restrained.
  174. Boycott Genetically Modified (GM) Foods, from, posted 13-Sept-2014
  175. The Prince of Wales: 'If that is the future, count me out'
  176. Genetic Engineering: What you need to know Organic Consumers Association.
  177. RoundUp and Gut Bacteria, Skeptoid, 4-May-2013
  178. Mark Lynas: Response to UCS 'Science, Dogma and Mark Lynas'
  179. The "Golden Rice" Hoax-When Public Relations replaces Science by Dr. Vandana Shiva
  180. For a review see: Dasgupta I et al. (2003) Genetic Engineering for Virus Resistance. Current Science 8(3) 341-354.
  181. For a current list of genetically engineered crops that have been deregulated for commercial use or for links to the applications for deregulation themselves (i.e. the documents that describe the engineering techniques used and the safety tests performed, that are submitted by applicants to regulators when they claim GMO biosafety) see: Petitions for Nonregulated Status Granted or Pending by APHIS.
  182. Crawford (2003) Regulation of Foods Derived From Plants, Statement of Lester M. Crawford, Deputy Commissioner of Food and Drug Administration to the Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development, and Research House Committee on Agriculture.; Freese W. and Schubert D. (2004) Safety Testing and Regulation of Genetically Engineered Foods. BGER 21:299-324.; Pelletier DL (2006) FDA’s Regulation of Genetically Engineered Foods -- Scientific, Legal and Political Dimensions. Food Policy 31:570-591.
  183. Some examples are: Feldbaum (1998) Can Bioengineers Feed the Planet?; Jelenić (2005) Food Safety Evaluation of Crops Produced through Genetic Engineering – How to Reduce Unintended Effects?, Arh Hig Rada Toksikol 56 (p.185, Abstract)
  184. Kessler, D.A., Taylor, M.R., Maryanski, J.H., Flamm, W.L., and Kahl, L.S. 1992. The Safety of Foods Developed by Biotechnology. Science 265: 1747-1832.