Should the U.S. Ban Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)?

Three questions for biologist Lisa Weasel on GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)

In 1996, U.S. farmers planted the first commercial genetically modified (GM) seeds. Some were engineered to resist herbicides so farmers could apply weed-killing herbicides without destroying their crops. Others contained genes to keep pest insects at bay. Today, about 92 percent of all soy and 80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S. is GM. These crops feed the animals that feed us, and they provide the bulk of our sweeteners and cooking oil. In fact, more than 70 percent of processed foods sold in the United States have ingredients from GM crops.

Yet GM crops remain controversial. France, Italy, Japan and several other countries have banned them because of health concerns and worries that GM crops may spread their engineered traits to other plants. Although company-funded studies and the FDA have labeled these foods as safe, a few preliminary studies suggest they are responsible for allergies, decreased fertility and super-weeds. “Genetically modified foods are a very misunderstood issue in this country,” says Lisa Weasel, a biologist at Portland State University and a member of Oregon’s task force on developing policy for biopharmaceutical crops. Her latest book, Food Fray: Inside the Controversy over Genetically Modified Foods (AMACOM, 2009), takes readers to the frontlines of the debate.



I'm sorry, But GM crops are not necessary. They where designed to solve world hunger issues, but the problem is not the amount of food being produced it is the availability of the food to the hungry. Just because a farmer grows more corn doesn't mean that a poor man will have the money to buy it. We are producing surplus at the base level, which dropped the prices, yes, but allot of farmers went out of business because of it and that was the real reason for the depression we are just now starting to recover from. So ask yourself does they have any reason to use these GM crops. And for all of the farmers out there if a field is rotated properly and you don’t only do the same crop every year you wouldn’t need to use all of the pest controls and fertilizers that you do because there will not be a build up of pests from year to year and the land would not be burnt out saving you money in the long run.


01/19/2011 - 12:52am

Read "Seeds of Deception" by Jeffrey Smith. Log onto Dr and google GMO. See the documentary "the World according to Monsanto" Talk to the farmeres who have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on seeds that they cannot use again and tons of Round-up which has been proven to cause MS. How can you label sweet corn as one of the clean vegetabeles, which by the way is a grain.
Enquire about who the directors are at FDA and where were they employed previously.
In other words do some investigation before suggesting that there is not test data. Back in the early 90's the FDA had test data that GMO products were unsafe and should not be introduced to the food chain. George Bush Sr overrode the FDA decision and pushed it through. The true test will be another generation away at which time it will be too late. It will go down in history as one of the greatest crimes against humanity and out Mother Earth. I have never had allergies until around the year 2000, when GMO came full fledged into our area. Read about the workers in the fields of India working with GMO cotton and their illnesses. Read about there suicides as they are losing their farms over failed GMO crops. Wake up!


10/14/2010 - 12:05pm

I don't believe that they should necessarily be banned, but I DO believe that ALL products containing genetically modified organisms should be labeled as such, with further details made available should you care to research it. Consumers cannot make informed choices unless the information is made available to them. Currently, we are at the whims of what businesses want to make available (and what they choose to tell us) rather than what we want to buy.


10/04/2010 - 11:45am

This article, like many written on the topic fails to present the benefits generated for consumers, farmers and the environment by GMO crops. Removing the emotive from what should be a fact-based debate, it should be noted that such technologies have increased crop yields and in many cases decreased input costs including that of scarce resources like water (for drought resistant varieties). The use of generalities suggesting GMO foods are unsafe is also suspect journalism at best - instead, provide specific examples of credible, peer-reviewed studies that show GMOs to be unsafe for human consumption. After all, with > 1 B acres planted globally, there is surely sufficient data available to support such a claim if indeed one can be supported. As a farmer, I can tell you the principal reason for the widespread adoption of GMOs in our agronomy is that they both improve farming crops and also require less inputs, as well as through the use of no-till agriculture promote top soil and organic matter preservation. I can also tell you that as someone who has a family that has farmed for generations on the same lands, we take environmental sustainability seriously. GMO crops have not to our knowledge posed a threat to human safety in the food chain, nor to the environment. In selectively pointing out the increase of round up (which in itself is a relatively simple compound with a short half life) you neglect to mention the decrease in other herbicides which were much more harmful (such as 245 T) and the decrease in insecticides, also a function of GMO crop management. There are good reasons why so many farmers have elected to use these technologies. Are they perfect? Of course not. But are they safe - yes, and I have yet to see concrete evidence to the contrary. I can understand the argument for alternatives such as organics, but these are not the solution for the bulk of food, energy or material requirements we have in agriculture. Perhaps you could point out that without the "Green Revolution" countries like India and China are unable to feed their growing populations, let alone achieve a semblance of food security. I dont have a problem with presenting your perspective on GMOs, but omitting key counterviews doesnt help fuel a rational or informed discussion.


04/21/2010 - 5:20pm

"thouroughly tested," that's a riot! "shown to be safe," HA! you obviously don't know what "studies" were performed, or their outcomes! or who funded them! do you know how many of the rats DIED in the GM tomato tests?! because i DO! in our family, we do almost entirely organic, and we do not eat ANY GMO crops unless they are organic or certified non gmo. we do not eat meat that was fed GM feed. it angers me so much that monsanto is still masquerading behind "we're doing this to save the world!!" when it's so obviously all about money. it makes me vomit, i don't know how those people sleep at night.


04/14/2010 - 9:14pm

GMOs can't be tested for safety. As we as human beings know, genetics can and will always change. Ban these from our country and clean up ASAP. We are getting unhealthier worldwide. Look back in history. Once poisons enter our body they can be carried on from parent to child. Would you feed your children a food today that would pass a genetic change onto their children. Don't count on the Monsanto run FDA to protect you. Speak up to your government elect, your grocery store, your neighbors, your school. Demand that they get GMOs out of your food. By the way GMOs don't feed the world, they enslave it. Worldwide we should reverse and ban the ability of ANY government to give another entity the ability to patent life. It is repugnant to the existence of life.


03/19/2010 - 4:50pm

These crops are thoroughly tested? Where you getting your info? They were not properly tested before being released in to the US food supply. Do some research.


09/13/2009 - 11:09pm

We should definitely not mess with mother nature. It is not in our best interests!

A Baker, Montreal, QC


09/01/2009 - 12:17pm

It is neither hysterical nor emotional to not want genetically engineered food, there is sufficient food if timely and correctly distributed, without 'dumping' to maintain quotas and prices. Some of these foods have been proven to be dangerous in various studies, most notably one done in Australia on the humble green pea using genetic material from a bean. The U.S.A. also dumped an enormous amount of powdered milk which would soon be going out of date instead of forwarding it to a 3rd world country whilst sending them genetically modified maize which they dumped as they are tired of being the 1st world's guinea pigs!

R. Dzierzba, Cork, Ei


09/01/2009 - 12:16pm

Absolutely, if possible. Be informed. GMO's are documented as creating health, political, social, ecological and agribusiness issues. Researched information can be found in "Seeds of Distruction.." by F. William Engdahl, "Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating" by Jeffrey M. Smith, and Organic Consumers article by Andrew Malone, "Thousands of Indian Farmers Committing Suicide after Using GE Crops".

Glory, Galena, IL


09/01/2009 - 12:15pm

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