Community Manager's picture
Do GMOs Cause Cancer? -- Submitted as Part of GMO Answers' Top Consumer Questions Survey --

A:Expert Answer

The short answer is no, there is absolutely zero reputable evidence that GMO foods cause cancer. 


Cancer is a name applied to a spectrum of diseases where cells proliferate abnormally. There is no way that the subtle and well-understood alterations of a plant’s genes can cause cancer. There is nothing about the Bt protein (used in insect resistance, also in organic pest control), the EPSPS enzyme (which confers herbicide resistance simply by substituting for the native enzyme in the plant) or the process itself that would induce such cellular changes in human cells that would lead to cancer. It is just not plausible.


Some of the confusion comes from reports where the Bt protein or glyphosate (the herbicide used on some GM crops) is applied to cell lines in a petri dish, and the cells show changes associated with stress and perhaps abnormal proliferation. However, cells in a dish do not behave like cells in the body. Through years of careful evaluation, there is no reliable evidence that GM foods cause the same changes in a living organism.


Quite to the contrary, future plants may be engineered to produce nutrients that fight/prevent cancer or even eliminate compounds that increase cancer risk. One such product is close to commercialization. Potatoes produce a small amount of acrylamide, a potential carcinogen, when heated to high temperatures. A potato has been engineered to not produce that compound, and that leads to safer food.

Content Topics: 


M King's picture

I guess much propaganda over the last few years have lead to people fearing the use of GMO foods, this starts an enlightenment for me to research for further information. You alter something people are use to and they freak out, nevermind green people who insist on all natural or organic food or material let alone homegrowers with gardens. I really do not believe the US Agriculture Department would allow something to go on the market and or be used without investigating for potential hazards to health.

Community Manager's picture

Hi M King, thanks for contributing to the discussion!

Betty's picture

First, I am not an expert. But I think the question is misleading. Most GM crops are probably inherently harmless, but is the Bt protein in corn safe to consume repeatedly? Not just in a petri dish, but in our cereal, corn chips, tortilla shells? Are they safe after glyphosate is applied? In the increasing doses? More weeds are becoming resistant to it, so farmers have to apply more and more, and now I believe they have approved 2-4 D as the next herbicide of choice for GM crops. Is is safe to decrease the varieties of crops that we have down to the few varieties of each that are genetically modified. What if they succumb to disease? What varieties will we grow then. Have our water supplies been tested for glyphosate? our bodies? GM wheat has not been approved to be released in the US, but they don't need it to be. Some farmers are using glyphosate to dry out their wheat fields so more is available to harvest. Glyphosate is systemic, so it would be drawn up into the plant, and then into the kernel. Is that one of the causes of the all the gluten intolerance? There are far too many questions that have not been answered for me to be comfortable with them.

Community Manager's picture

Hi Betty, thanks for contributing to the discussion on GMO Answers. You have several great questions in your comment, and we invite you to submit them at

UrpHazlett's picture

No disrespect meant to Mr. Folta, but let's consider that the great state of Florida, where is is employed, now forbids its scientists, politicians etc. to utter the shocking phrase "climate change," making Florida the only place perhaps in the entire civilized(?) world where climate change is not acknowledged as real. Rather like the Big Tobacco Bigwigs who unashamedly perjured themselves when asked if they had any evidence their products caused cancer. Perhaps the Sunshine State should rebrand itself as the the Denial State, and give incentives to all the smokers, climate change deniers and 2nd Amendment fanatics to relocate there. Much like this GMO argument. Dr. Folta's creds are impressive, but we have to ask where he gets his funding.

Pamela's picture

It was the same scenario for Tobacco; scientists refused to admit it was carcinogenic (cause cancer) until millions of smokers died from lung cancer. In my opinion, denying GMO causes cancer it is not due lack of evidence but lucrative reasons. It is therefore pointless to try to convince the “Pro GMO”.

Please read the effects of cancer in the world to determine if it is worth it to cause millions of innocent people to diagnose with cancer just for personal greed:

JavierMosher's picture

You will get its answer on this site

JasonBoswell's picture

First of all everyone should know about what exactly GMO are. GMOs are plants or animals made by adding genes from one species into another also called as gene splicing. It is generally performed in a laboratory and has been a type of biotechnology. Scientists often modify organisms to improve certain preferred behavior. Many people assume that changing plant or animal’s DNA increases a possibility of cancer in patients. But the recent study on the GMO’s health risks remain inconclusive that means it doesn’t confirm whether or not GMOs increase cancer risks. Cancer occurs when there is out-of-control cell growth happen in our body. Causes of cancer are different, however, most common include tobacco, aging, poor diet, exposure to radiation, viruses, bacteria, chemicals, family history and many other.

Certain type of diagnostic tests performed through tools is able to detect cancer in early stage. Detecting cancer early is the most effective way to fight against this severe disease. As long as foods are concern, yes it is certainly important to take healthy diet for avoiding such problems in life.