The GMO Debate

The battle over genetically modified foodstuffs is threatening to reach a boiling point.

By 
Paul King, Editor

For the past couple of months, I have been researching the topic of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food. It has proven to be a fascinating, and controversial, subject and one that is having global impact and implications.

The amount of research I’ve come across purporting to prove either the benefits or the hazards of GMOs has been dizzying. There certainly is no shortage of apologists for either side. Want to learn about all the benefits of GMOs? Seek out the Council for Biotechnology Information. Want to support a more natural approach to food production? See what the folks at the Non-GMO Project have to offer.

There are few food-related topics out there at present where it is easier to find support for whatever argument you want to make. There is real science to be found in cyberspace, and there is pseudoscience—but which is which seems to depend on what side of the fence you’re on regarding the matter. 

Visit one website and learn that genetically engineered foods are no riskier to eat than any other foods, while the next site you visit offers incontrovertible evidence that consumption of GMO foods will lead to a host of medical problems such as cancer. One research group even suggests that genetically modified wheat is responsible for the rise in celiac disease and overall gluten intolerance.

The issue has become so volatile that some websites have even run stories satirizing the debate. In the U.S., dailyleaks.org—a site known for printing fake news stories—recently ran an article suggesting that Michelle Obama is partnering with Monsanto, one of the leading companies manufacturing genetically modified plant seeds, to market “healthy” GMO-laced foods to children.

In Africa, a Kenyan newspaper recently ran a story of questionable provenance that claimed the leader of a local drug cartel has made a video promising his customers that the drugs they purchase are made from plants that have not been genetically modified. So you can see that GMOs are generating a lot of debate, not all of it constructive.

The bottom line is, the issue of genetic modification of foods has become a real hot button issue, and one that we’re compelled to investigate from the non-commercial foodservice perspective. What do our readers think about GMOs? Are they a potential solution for the world’s growing food problems or do they actually pose greater harm than good? Should manufacturers be required to label foods as having been made with genetically modified ingredients, or should it be voluntary, placing the onus on companies to advertise when their products are GMO free? And where does most of the scientific community stand in the issue? That will be our focus, with everyone from researchers to activists to end users weighing in. If you have your own opinion on the topic, feel free to share it at pking@cspnet.com.