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why are gmos so contraversial?

Submitted by: charlesberkeley


Expert response from Christopher Barbey

PhD Student, Plant Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology

Wednesday, 14/01/2015 12:51

The basis of the debate is a concern from some areas of the public that GMOs are harmful to the body or to the environment. However, the broad consensus among scientists is that this is not the case [1, 2, 3].


The specific complaints raised against GMOs are numerous and varied, and new ones are invented all the time. This Popular Science article does an excellent job of evaluating the merits of the more common anti-GMO claims out there; I highly encourage you to read it. I think of the current GMO controversy as equivalent to other current scientific controversies (evolution, climate change, vaccinations, etc.), where public fears or agendas can temporarily prevail over conclusive scientific evidence.


So why so much suspicion about GMOs? I think a big reason is that many people don’t see the need for GMOs. They wonder why corporations feel the need to perturb something as essential and natural as our food. In our lifetimes, we’ve seen corporate misanthropy do serious damage to the public and defend those actions with deception. Skepticism is critically important and is absolutely necessary for the health of our society.


The science is in, and not only are GMOs safe [3,4], but they also increase crop yields [5, 8], reduce pesticide and herbicide use [6, 7] and increase farmer profits [5, 6, 8]. I hope that time and education will inspire more people to be excited about what GMO technology can offer.