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Genetically Modify Food

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Live Transcript
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy Asks About Time Scale of GM Food

    Clip: Bill Nye the Science Guy poses the question about the scale of time the effects of genetically modified food can be expected to last.

  • Monsanto's Robert Fraley: GMOs Present No Safety Issues

    Clip: Executive VP and Chief Technology Officer of Monsanto Robert Fraley dismisses safety concerns of genetically engineered crops posed by Charles Benbrook of the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Debate Details

Genetically modified (GM) foods have been around for decades. Created by modifying the DNA of one organism through the introduction of genes from another, they are developed for a number of different reasons—to fight disease, enhance flavor, resist pests, improve nutrition, survive drought—and are mainly found in our food supply in processed foods using corn, soybeans, and sugar beets, and as feed for farm animals. Across the country and around the world, communities are fighting the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. Are they safe? How do they impact the environment? Can they improve food security? Is the world better off with or without GM food?

The Debaters

For the motion

Robert Fraley

Executive VP & Chief Technology Officer, Monsanto

Dr. Robert Fraley is executive vice president and chief technology officer at Monsanto. He has been with Monsanto for over 30 years, and currently... Read More

Alison Van Eenennaam

Genomics and Biotechnology Researcher, UC Davis

Alison Van Eenennaam is a genomics and biotechnology researcher and cooperative extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at University... Read More

Against the motion

Charles Benbrook

Research Professor, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources

Charles Benbrook is a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University, and program... Read More

Margaret Mellon

Science Policy Consultant & Fmr. Senior Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists

Margaret Mellon is a science policy consultant in the areas of antibiotics, genetic engineering and sustainable agriculture. She holds a doctorate... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • GM crops have been safely in our food system for nearly 20 years. There are currently no known harms or risks to human health.
  • GM crops benefit farmers and the environment by increasing crop yields, reducing the use of pesticides, and reducing the need for tillage.
  • Food security will be improved through the development of crops that can fight disease, resist pests, improve nutrition, and survive drought.
Against The Motion
  • The current regulatory system does not adequately assess the safety of GM crops and we cannot be sure of what the long-term effects of consumption will be.
  • The environmental threats include the possibility of cross-breeding with other plants, harm to non-target organisms, and decreased biodiversity.
  • The world already grows enough food to feed everyone, but it doesn't get to the people that are hungry. Genetic engineering moves focus away from public policy solutions.


  • Live Audience
  • Online Audience
  • Results
  • Breakdown

The Research

The Research

Panic-free GMOs

Nathaneal Johnson
December 31, 1969

A series of articles on genetically modified food.

Statement: No Scientific Consensus on GMO Safety

European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility
October 21, 2013

We strongly reject claims by GM seed developers and some scientists, commentators, and journalists that there is a ‘scientific consensus’ on GMO safety and that the debate on this topic is ‘over.’

Why We Will Need Genetically Modified Foods

David Rotman
December 17, 2013

Biotech crops will have an essential role in ensuring that there’s enough to eat.

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