GMO – Pros and Cons

Posted by on Apr 5, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Health, Product Information | 57 comments


Genetically modifying food. Image courtesy of Mister GC at

Right on the heels of my post on sodium, I found a leaflet produced by Canadian Farmers that included a section on GMO. The article stated that these farmers were pro GMO and  believe genetically modified foods to be safe, after all “this is the food we feed our families”. I was opposed to GMO but that was based more on the fact that I don’t like anyone messing around with my food than on actual knowledge. What did the farmers know that I didn’t?

First, what is a Genetically Modified Organism  (GMO)? This is an organism, like a seed, that has had its genes (DNA) altered to act in a way that does not happen naturally and/or contains genes from another organism. Source:

GMO is a most controversial subject and I will only present what I’ve discovered. There is an immense amount of information, pro and con, much more than can be condensed into one post. However, the following document is the one – of the many papers I found – that most impressed me. Anyone seriously wanting to know about GMO is encouraged to read this 123 page document. Below I am quoting word for word from their executive summary.



An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops, Version 1.3

By: Michael Antoniou, Claire Robinson, John Fagan, June 2012

#EarthOpenSource,, 2nd Floor 145-157, St. John St. London EC1V 4PY UK


Genetically modified (GM) crops are promoted on the basis of a range of far-reaching claims from the GM crop industry and its supporters. They say that GM crops:

  • Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops
  • Are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops
  • Are strictly regulated for safety
  • Increase crop yields
  • Reduce pesticide use
  • Benefit farmers and make their lives easier
  • Bring economic benefits
  • Benefit the environment
  • Can help solve problems caused by climate change
  • Reduce energy use
  • Will help feed the world

However, a large and growing body of scientific and other authoritative evidence shows that these claims are not true. On the contrary, evidence presented in this report indicates that GM crops:

  • Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GM crops
  • Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
  • Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety
  • Do not increase yield potential
  • Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
  • Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
  • Have mixed economic effects
  • Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
  • Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
  • Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
  • Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.

Based on the evidence presented in this report, there is no need to take risks with GM crops when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that GM technology is claimed to address already exist. Conventional plant breading, in some cases helped by safe modern technologies like gene mapping and marker assisted selection, continues to outperform GM in producing high-yield, drought-tolerant, and pest- and disease-resistant crops that can meet our present and future food needs.

End of Executive Summary.



Lead researcher Alessandro Nicolia, applied biologist at the University of Perugia, told Real Clear Science and reported by John Entine, Forbes Magazine contributor,  “We tried to give a balanced view informing about what has been debated, the conclusions reached so far, and emerging issues.”

“In short, genetically modified foods are among the most extensively studied scientific subjects in history. This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of GM technology, and the paper’s conclusion is unequivocal: there is no credible evidence that GMOs pose any unique threat to the environment or the public’s health. The reason for the public’s distrust of GMOs lies in psychology, politics and false debates.”

For further reading:

World Health Organization: 20 Questions on Genetically Modified Foods:



According to Just Label It – “64 countries around the world require labeling of genetically modified foods. Unlike most other developed countries – such as 28 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and even China – the USA (and Canada) has no laws requiring labeling of genetically modified foods.”

My question – WHY NOT? This is an area where I will express my opinion as this is of some concern to me. We have fairly strong labeling laws in Canada and it seems a little suspicious to me that GMO doesn’t need to be identified on the label – almost like there is something to hide. How can we be informed consumers if products aren’t labeled? Shouldn’t we have to right to eat non-GMO foods if we so desire?

One way you can be sure to eat non-GMO foods is to buy organic…………but here again you need to know your labels:

Is Organic Always GMO Free? Source:

Organic is USUALLY  GMO free, but you need to understand the labels. I did a post a while ago about how labels could be manipulated to let people think they are buying organic, when in fact the label was nothing more than a marketing ploy.

  • Certified 100% Organic means just that – may not contain any GMOs;
  • Certified Organic – 95% must be organic – the remaining ingredients must consist of approved substances and GMOs are NOT included – this one has loopholes. For instance: The casings for organic sausages can come from conventionally raised animals that have been fed antibiotics or GMO-laden corn. The hops in your favourite organic beer can be sprayed with all manner of chemical pesticides and fertilizers;
  • Made with Organic: Up to 70% of the ingredients are organic – the remaining ingredients may be produced without prohibited practices, including GMOs.

Some other sources:

Center for Food Safety – TRUE FOODS SHOPPER’S GUIDE – How to Avoid Foods made with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

The G.M.O Boycott List –

There is much more to read on this subject but I believe what I’ve presented gives you a fair overview of GMO and where to go for more information to help you make an informed decision.

Do you believe GMO will help solve world hunger or do you think we will be sorry we ever started down this path? Please have your say in the comments below.

Talk to you again next week,



  1. Lenie I don’t buy it at all. Oh sure, GMO is safe and more of what you mentioned here. But if it is anything like what I learned about wheat – long term this could be horrific for our health. Over on grainstorm(dot)com you can read all about it. But basically if GMO is anything like the evolution of wheat, I just cannot bother with it: “…wheat milling methods to produce white flour eliminate those portions of the wheat kernel (bran, germ, shorts, and red dog mill streams) that are richest in proteins, vitamins, lipids and minerals.” In other words the wheat we are stuck with today isn’t the wheat you might think it is.

    Doesn’t make much sense does it?

    So nope, I’m not buying it.

    • Pat, I don’t want to express my opinion at this point yet. I would first like to hear what everyone else has to say about it so thanks for being the first. I am quite looking forward to the responses.
      You are absolutely right about the wheat though. Funny thing, when I make bread I add oat bran and wheat germ – shouldn’t have to, should I?

  2. I have certainly heard both sides of the argument. I’m not sure at this point which side to take, to be honest. Yes, it is less than natural, but given the state of the environment it might be that we have to use those alternative options more soon. You have crafted a very balanced article here Lenie for both sides.

    • Hi Christy – thanks for the comment. Right now I am going to stay quiet on the subject – I don’t want what I have to say to be the topic for discussion but rather keep the focus on the issue. So at the end of the week I will be returning to all of you and then give you my view.

  3. I try to be open on the subject of GMO’s Lenie. However, after all the reading I have done regarding the subject I cannot help but conclude that although there could be lots of reasons NOT to consume GMO products, health safety is not one of them.

    • It’s like I said, isn’t Jacquie, pros and cons. At the end of the week I’ll come back and share what others think and also let you know what I think. I will tell you that it was an immense research project – the pros are VERY for and the cons are VERY against. Talk to you later this week.

  4. I simply don’t have enough knowledge to venture an opinion. I see pros and cons and tend slightly to cons but I really don’t know.

    • Hi Beth, don’t feel bad about not knowing enough about this – if I hadn’t received that article from the Canadian Farmers I would have been content to leave well enough alone. Once it came out though it made me want to know more. I’m going to come back to you later this week and let you know the popular opinion, whether it agrees with me or not.

  5. We try our best to stay away from GMO food as much as possible and always attempt to get our nutrients from natural food…as best as possible. I have not done extensive reading on the subject but have seen some bias documentaries. I also know of one GMO companies continued bullying and for these reasons I will just stick with organic…again, as much as I can. Thanks for this article and the linked information.

  6. There was a bill proposed in California a free years ago that was going to make GMO labeling mandatory in the state. The opponents funded campaigns to panic consumers. I remember a commercial that ran very often that said something like dog food is non-gmo where as there are gmos in human food so what are we saying by this label? That a person is better off eating dog food? Maybe I’m a little off in how I’m quoting that commercial but it went something like that. The bill didn’t pass.

    I wrote about food sensitivities this week. What I didn’t mention in that article is that GMOs have helped increase the number of people that are reaction to food. If they genetically engineer a food that is spliced with a product that someone is sensitive too, the body will start reacting to that food as well. This is really frustrating. Needless to say, it may not shock you that I am pretty opposed to GMOs.

    • Erica, thanks for the viewpoint. This is such a controversial subject that I’m just collecting information which I’ll share with all of you later this week.

  7. I remember visiting England in 1999, and GMO labeling was already required there. I think that at a minimum, food consumers are entitled to know what they are buying. Labeling requirements for GMO foods has been fought at every turn by big ag companies such as Monsanto. The truly troubling fact is that there is a revolving door in the US between these companies and federal regulators. If this is the case, who is guarding the guardians?

    • Suzanne, thanks for the link – I’ve read and bookmarked it to be added to my ever growing pile of information and also shared it on Twitter. The labeling- or rather lack thereof – to me is a big issue. I totally agree with you that we have the right to know what it is we are eating, whether or not we are for or against GMO.

      • I agree with what Suzanne said–I would like label clarity. My heart wants to stay with the purest, cleanest food possible. it seems the logical way to stay healthy. I think the large amount of allergies, even ear infections in our kids today can be tied to the food we eat (a total layperson’s perspective, I know)–but where were all these health issues when I was a kid and ate fresh from our garden? No pesticides, whole foods. Just seems logical to me.

        • Hi Rose – thanks for the comments. I’m doing a follow-up post on Sunday that talks about some of those issues you mentioned.

  8. Lenie, I’m afraid I’m completely against GMO. It’s an American phenomena that the US is trying to force upon the rest of the world. We do not know what impact GMO will have long term on human beings. There are currently negotiations between the United States and the European Union about a free trade agreement. The US is, surprise surprise, trying to make Europe accept GMOs. Hopefully the EU will not comply. GMOs are after all just about profit.

    • Thanks Catarina, one more for the con list – One thing I came across and that may have something to do with the free trade agreement is that there are groups in Europe who are trying to get your labeling laws overturned – wonder who’s behind that one right?

      • Corporate America is spending a fortune on that. Sincerely hope they don’t manage to bribe enought people in Brussels

        • I’ll be watching to see what develops for sure.

  9. I have never paid any attention to Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) before.
    I just wonder why few around the world are trying to commercialize everything and just think about their profits and not about the problems that their products can bring to the world.
    At times I feel happy about the fact that people in my part are able to live a village life and grow at least few basic things at home and stay way from treated varieties.
    Thank you for bringing this up. I really appreciate the information. Will try to check that long document soon.

    • Hi Andleeb – that long document is well worth reading if you have the time. I’m glad that people in your area are able to grow things at home – at least that way you know for sure what’s in the food you’re eating.

  10. This is wonderful. I feel you covered the main points on both sides. In the U.S., not every store labels GMO free, so there is some research I personally had to do to find this out. I made a list of all the products I used regularly and checked them out first. Their website usually says something if they are GMO freee. When I find a good product, and I enjoy it, I am loyal to it and will buy it unless something changes.

    Howfever, when it comes to veggies and fruits, I prefer certified organic. So, most of the time they are GMO free. But not always like you mentioned above. I feel that the taste of the food gets altered somewhat too. Not sure if that is just me or not though.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Sabrina, the lack of labeling is actually quite a big issue with me and in the US very few foods, if any, are labeled. In Europe and Asian countries they are right now but there is a push on in Europe to do away with labeling. Why?

  11. Great information Lenie. GMO is a major topic of conversation here in Maui, in fact a bill that included a number of restrictions was passed in the last election but the county has found some pretty creative ways to stall doing anything about it. I agree there is a lot to learn, but personally I think it’s a waste of time putting a lot of energy into battling this on a local level because so little of our food is actually grown here. Most of our food and goods are shipped in and come from major retailers such as Safeway and they have been selling GMO foods since long before anyone knew what that was (my dad was a produce manager for Safeway for 40 years!). Fascinating subject to be sure.

    • Marquita – doesn’t it make you wonder why the big three – Montsanto, Dow Chemical and Dupont – don’t want products labeled and why they are willing to go to great expense to make sure that doesn’t happen. I don’t know whether I agree that we can’t do anything – I think that politicians listen if enough of us speak out and that is were raising awareness comes in. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 10-20 years.

  12. I admit to being wary of GMO foods without really knowing why. As far as labeling requirements are concerned, I think that in the U.S. they are sometimes farcical. Do you remember the lawsuit against Coca-Cola for labeling some stuff as pomegranate juice even though it really contained less than one half of one percent pomegranate juice? Their defense was that they met FDA labeling requirements. You might just as well let the manufacturers set the requirements.

    • Ken, the NON-labeling of GMO products is of concern to me. I do remember that lawsuit and it does make you wonder about the value of FDA labeling requirements. We are no better off here in Canada and yet without labeling we don’t know what it is we’re eating. The more I find out about what’s in our foods, the more I wish I was young enough to start raising our own meat and produce. Unfortunately, those days are over for the most part.

  13. While I’m not exactly knowledgeable when it comes to GMOs, I do feel that it’s not right to tinker with food in such ways when more natural alternatives are viable and available. Just say no to franken-foods is my motto…

    • Thanks Jeri – interesting term, franken-foods, but somehow that does describe it. I think a lot of stuff has been happening behind the scenes regarding food manipulation and we were kept in the dark. That makes me wonder why. Because we are all so unaware of what’s happening and it is so difficult to get the truth, I decided to do a follow-up post highlighting some interesting facts.

  14. I come down on the side against. There are far too many aspects that come down on the con side of the equation versus the pro side. This whole thing is being bank rolled by corporations. Have you ever had a good experience with a big corporation? Bottom line comes before what’s good for the population. Yes. I do have a bit of an attitude.

    • But your attitude was probably learned by experience, right? I am writing a follow-up post to be published on Sunday that will have some more facts, or maybe the better term would be coincidences.

  15. Hi Lenie,

    Good to be over at your blog, and with such an interesting topic of discussion 🙂

    I loved the way you presented this article, with all the clear facts and links, just how it should be, and this is surely something people need to think about.

    Honestly speaking, we hardly have much of GMO products in our country as yet, and the ones that are, are mostly labeled. I cannot imagine it being sold without any label, that would be kind of cheating people, and if they have nothing to hide or have done no wrong, then why not label?

    In the larger cities though, they do have the unlabeled GMO foods and you can see the difference, especially if they are fruits and vegetables as they look so different! At times you are tempted to purchase them, but nothing as compared to going all natural.

    Organic is what we believe in most, though even cultivating that is not easy for all and certain produce can turn costly for the pocket to the common man. But eating natural produce is what works best, and we have our farmers good at it, so no GMO vote from me too!

    One just cannot say what would really be in it, and if this is all accepted now, where would it lead to after a few years. Just my two cents 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    • Hi Harleena, welcome to my blog. GMO products are most prevalent in Canada and the US – Europe and Asian Countries have strict regulations against GMO and they also insist of labels. We now have a store chain that is going the ‘natural’ way and have just started selling perfectly imperfect apples (no chemicals). it will be interesting to see how the consumer responds.

  16. We try and stick to buying organic products as we think they contain less chemicals. But even some of these organic fruits and vegetables have changed since my childhood as the seeds have been modified in some way. When I was in Kenya – the home grown bananas used to have tiny seeds in he middle. So did the oranges, lemons, grapes etc…Now everything is seedless…

    • Hi Mina – interesting about the bananas. I never knew they used to have tiny seeds inside. You’re right though about everything being seedless. I do a lot of gardening and you used to be able to save seed for the following year = now in many cases, you can’t anymore.

  17. I was already wary of GMO before I read your post. The things you bring to light are truly scary. A more natural approach, even if not organic per se seems much more viable for a healthy life to me.

    • A.K. I am doing a follow up post on Sunday – it doesn’t get better.

  18. I see there’s a plethora of information on the pros and cons of GMO’s. The problem with the reports on controversial issues is, I think they’re politically driven. I try to look at what makes sense with the foods I eat. It seems produce is part of of a natural chain. If you plant tomato seeds and provide the seeds with sun, fertilizer that isn’t human waste and water you can eat the tomato. It might not be as big or red as a tomato grown with enhancements, but it’s a good tomato. That’s the tomato we are built to digest as part the food chain. Although altered seeds may grow food that’s supposed to be healthier,(whatever that means), I don’t know if our digestive systems are set up to handle whatever it is the farmers are adding.

    • Pamela, you are right about the reports – for the most part – being politically driven and that’s what makes it so hard to get to the truth. When you think about the tomato, if you bite into one you grow yourself, you will probably end up with juice running down your chin – try that with a store-bought one, can’t be done.

  19. Thanks for this fantastic post, Lenie. You’ve done a lot of research and I thank you for sharing it with us.

    The use of GMO’s is definitely a huge topic and one that is very controversial.

    When possible, we try to consume 100 Certified Organic goods, but it is not always possible to obtain, and often the cost is prohibitive.

    I’ve learned that unfortunately, certain crops — such as cocoa — are highly susceptible to disease, and that the farmers often lose the battle when they try to go 100% organic, as they can lose 100 % of their crop at the mercy of Mother Nature. It’s a tough issue to fully understand.

    • Hi Doreen, it is a tough call, isn’t it. The same with farmers = they used to get 60 bushel to the acre – they now get 187 bushel to the acre – this increased yield sounds good but it depletes the soil. not easy being a producer of any kind of product nowadays. Like you say, it’s a tough issue. I’m posting a follow-up next week. Hope you’ll tune in.

  20. Hi Lenie

    A very interesting post. I have heard of GMO and you really reveal some interesting facts. Strange that most African nations are trying to adopt this concept without a lot of research.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Ikechi, if you have any say over what happens, then work against GMO. If you have the time read the report – GMO Myths and Truths. Don’t just accept it at face value but use it as a basis for finding out more about this subject. I am doing a follow-up post next week and believe me, you won’t like what you read.

  21. The reason I do not trust GMO, is that I don’t’ trust companies that produce it. These companies are not looking out for your best interest; they are looking out for profit alone. You just have to think of all the horror stories of companies who have abandoned safety procedures etc, for profit. No one hears about these stories, until a tragedy occurs. With GMO, this tragedy could be in an epidemic form.
    On a side note, we are overweight a culture; the reason for this is because our food has been modified already. The corn we eat today, is not the corn your fathers ate, that corn is extinct. The corn today is bread to have more sugar contact than the corn previously grown. This corn sugar is then pumped into us by adding it to almost every single bit of food we buy. So that is just another reason not to trust any company that wants to modify our food.

    • William, I am doing a follow-up to this post to be published Sunday and I think you will find it interesting. It covers quite a few of the issues you’ve raised. Greed and profit is what’s is all about and our governments are letting them get away with it.

  22. Lenie I have heard both sides of the argument. Not sure which side to take. But you have created an awesome post here for both sides, Cant wait to read the follow up post on sunday.


    • Hi ChinWe – there is so much controversy and so little truth when it comes to GMO that it really is difficult to know what it’s all about. I think you will find the follow-up post interesting. Look forward to your comments after you’ve read it.

  23. I try not to mess with any GMO foods. Natural or organic is the way for me.

    • Jason, my problem is – without labeling how can you be sure how natural those foods really are. But absolutely, if you can (and the price of organic stops many) by all means, organic is the way to go.

  24. Lenie — I don’t have enough knowledge to comment pro or con. However, we know that, according to the United Nations, 805 million people in the world suffer from hunger. If GMO can increase our supply of food for the poor then we have to take a very serious look it at.

    • Jeannette, In this post I tried to find a balance, get the information out there, both in favour and against. I have a follow-up post coming on Sunday which explains a bit more about the effect of GMO. The coincidences (can’t really call them facts because facts are really hard to get) may surprise you.

  25. I think it’s important to look at both the pros and cons of any issue like this, and I’m not quite sure what I think. I think some of the pros sound great, but in general I agree that I don’t want people messing around with my food. However, it’s not like I’m growing my food from heirloom seeds in my backyard, so what do I really know?

    • Meredith, there is just so much to this controversy and the problem is that both sides, pro and con, have their own agenda. It is really difficult to get at the simple truth and that bothers me. I’m doing a follow-up post on Sunday which I think indicates a real cause for concern. As far as heirloom seeds go, I have been buying certified organic seeds from dealers I trust – at least that way you have some protection.

  26. If GMO crops can play a role in fending off the legions of insects that compete for our food supply, then I’m for them, although I agree that foods containing GMO ingredients should be labeled as such.

    • Andy, I have just published a new post about GMO that shows a different view of insects than the one you have. GMO doesn’t get rid of insects, it just makes them stronger and bigger.

  27. Genetically modifying food just does not seem right to me. It’s completely unnatural. Although there is controversy over the studies done a few years ago that showed that feeding animals GM food caused tumors recent studies still seem to show that it causes kidney and liver damage.

    More recently 2 two U.S. scientists, in a peer reviewed published paper, argue that increased use of Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicide, known as Roundup, could be the cause of the increase in gluten intolerance as well as deaths from intestinal infections, acute kidney disease and deaths due to Parkinsons Disease.

    It is a fact that Glyphosate inhibits the cytochrome P450 detox enzymes. It is also known to deplete amino acids. How can it be healthy? I will be avoiding it as far as possible although it’s hard to know where it creeps in.

    • Sandy, welcome to my blog, so lovely to hear your views. It is interesting – I just read a post by another blogger that covered food allergies and the ones mentioned were peanut which has been around for quite some time but then also the modern day ones – soy, gluten, eggs, dairy and corn – all the things we know are being messed with. That should tell us something, shouldn’t it? Until we have labeling regulations, we have no real way of telling where it creeps in.