gmosrock's picture
Please list each of the benefits that GMOs offer the consumer. For example, why should a mother choose GMO food to feed her young child over, say, non-GMO organic food?

A:Expert Answer

While it is true that, to date, the majority of the benefits of GMOs have been realized by farmers, there are also important examples of direct consumer benefits. GM commodities incorporating pest resistance can and have significantly reduced pesticide use and resulting pesticide residues.  This is especially important in low-income countries, where farmers frequently lack access to safe pesticides―and may not be properly trained in pesticide use, or in postharvest processing to reduce residues. Foods with reduced pesticide residues (either synthetic pesticides used in conventional agriculture or biologically derived pesticides used in organic agriculture) are healthier for all people, particularly for women and children, who are very sensitive to their impacts.  


GE technologies are also increasingly being used to improve specific nutritional qualities of food.  For example, genetic engineering has been used to develop soybean varieties with healthier fatty-acid profiles. Some contain more oleic acid―a monounsaturated fatty acid found in most oils but mostly associated with olive oil―and fewer saturated fatty acids than traditional soybeans. Another GE soybean has an increased level of omega-3 fatty acids, associated with heart health. The result of these types of GMOs is healthier cooking oils than are currently on the market. 


In the developing-country context, vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness, particularly prevalent among children. To combat this deficiency, one approach has been to use GE to enrich staple crops with beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A). Golden rice is one example of how genetic engineering has made it possible to significantly increase the amount of beta-carotene in rice. A typical serving of the golden rice variety could provide half the required daily intake of pro-vitamin A for a one- to three-year-old child. Researchers are  using both conventional and GE techniques to introduce enhanced levels of other nutrients (e.g., iron, zinc, lysine) to develop “biofortified” varieties of sorghum and cassava, both of which are important staple crops in Africa.


The good thing about our food systems in the U.S. is that consumers have a choice about whether to purchase organic or conventionally grown food, based on their personal preferences. What is important is to educate yourself about what those choices mean and to understand their perceived versus real benefits. 


*Views expressed are the individual's own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAID or the U.S. government. 


ieatfood's picture

This article says gmos reduce the amount of pesticide use, but we all know that is not true. Last year we saw farmers use higher amounts of pesticides according to sales, and this year farmers have said that they intend to use more due to bt resistance. We have not seen a decrease in price in these goods either, only an increase. Also, about the golden rice, a group of 20 scientists suggested in an open letter that there might be deficiencies in clinical trials: "There is now a large body of evidence that shows that GM crop/food production is highly prone to inadvertent and unpredictable pleiotropic effects, which can result in health damaging effects when GM food products are fed to animals." Soybeans have also been proven to show learning disabilities in boys and premature puberty in girls. Although not connected yet we are seeing premature puberty in boys as well. I would also like to point out the immense amount of people becoming gluten intolerant must have something to do with what we are eating and what has happened to our crops

Cornlover's picture

ieatfood you are all over the place and you are wrong on everything.You are supposed to stay on subject but when you don't know what you're talking about I can see why.

ohnogmo's picture

quote: "While it is true that, to date, the majority of the benefits of GMOs have been realized by farmers"
That statement says it all. GMO's were snuck into our food supply, (I used to return tomatoes in the '90's saying they were not like any tomaoto I'd ever seen) and we were lied to! Monsanto flooded the market with GMO's instead of providing GMO's for a control group and having the control watched for counter indications.
As to your comment about we have choice: That is poppycock. We have no choice because the GMO crops are taking over the world.
Don't you understand this is what concerns people - GMO's (surprise) are popping up everwhere. Here in Canada, GMO canola is showing up ALL over, even where they shouldn't be.

jtrav21's picture

ohnogmo - what was "snuck" into the food supply? I do not understand your claim that somehow the introduction of GMO crops was hidden, when all of these technologies and products are clearly out in the free market, they have all had many years of regulatory review by multiple public/government agencies. Mountains of information are in the public domain, available to all of us. What was done that was not in public view?

Your comments about the FlavrSavr tomato do not hold water. That product was widely publicized at the time and was labeled as GMO.

AgrSci1's picture

While I appreciate Ms. Howard’s response, I have to disagree with her statement “to date, the majority of the benefits of GMOs have been realized by farmers”. Yes, the crop benefits are seen in the field, however this results in lower food prices which benefit everyone. If everyone had to pay for organic food, they would have less money for a healthy diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Also, thank you jtrav21 for an intelligent response concerning GMOs being “snuck” into the food supply. If there is any reason for fear, it is that people ignorant of science and agriculture will convince politicians to pass laws that force foods to be produced with inefficient and environmentally harmful organic techniques. And yes, organic food production is harmful to the environment. Rather than write an explanation, here is a link to an old article that explains this. I don’t agree with every statement made, but it makes many good points. (For example, although DDT did save many human lives, it does bioaccumulate.)
No one is being forced to buy GMO crops. They can eat organic foods and pay the high prices.

For “ieatfood”, links between GMOs and the many calamities listed have NOT been proven. They are based on correlation studies or just casual observations. As a statistician friend of mine tells me, “correlation” does not prove “causation”. In fact, there are an amazing number of articles that blame these same problems on childhood vaccinations. So should we stop vaccinating our children out of fear? It is these types of unscientific associations which have led to many superstitions throughout our history.