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What is the downside of GMOs?

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Expert response from Community Manager

Moderator for

Monday, 25/02/2019 18:56

All things in life come with some measure of risk. As Kevin Folta, Professor and Chairman, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, explains in this previous answer,

“In traditional plant breeding, we mix genes just by fertilizing plants with other plants' pollen. We have no idea which genes are moving or what might be happening at the cellular level. There are several cases in history where something dangerous has come from basic plant sex, like the Lenappe potato and high-psoralen celery. Genomes are complicated, and there always is a tiny, tiny risk of unintended consequence.

Transgenic, or GMO, technology also has similar risk, only the likelihood is lower, because we know the gene that is installed. We can follow it and know where it rests in the genome and whether it affects other genes. We can do tests to determine whether it has any effect on cellular processes or the production of new toxins or allergens, and to make sure they don't happen. These capabilities make the risk much lower than that of traditional breeding and have given us the safest food supply in human history.”

Rob Wager, faculty member at Vancouver Island University also addresses this question in another response and says,

“GM crops have been quite successful since they arrived on the market 20 years ago … That is not to say there are no significant issues — there most definitely are. However, when one looks at the legitimate issues with GM crops, the vast majority are not unique to GM crops and are equally applicable to other forms of agriculture.”

He cites a few common issues, including high seed and regulatory costs, germ-line biodiversity, cross-pollination, fertilizer use and herbicide-resistant weeds.

Read the rest of his response here.

We hope this answers your question, if you have any other questions about GMOs or biotechnology, please ask here!