Lin Liu
Argumentative Essay
Should GM food be prevented from widespread use?
For thousands of years, people work hard to produce fruits, vegetables, meats…so that
they could get away from hungry, absorb nutrition, and live in the earth. Every day, we eat a lot
of food, but do we really know what we eat? We prefer fresher and healthier food; however, do
we certainly consume natural foods? The answers are possible to be no. We are not sure about
these questions because we do not know what ingredients inside the food we eat are. Currently, a
lot of food has already been changed their tastes, appearances and nutrition due to the
biotechnology, and more and more genetically food (GM food) is available on the market
without specific markers. At the same time, the widespread use of GM food becomes
controversial. Although GM food has better taste and quality, higher resistance to pesticides and
herbicides, larger yield than natural breeding food, and supporters of GM food claim that it can
reduce world hunger effectively, I believe that widespread use of GM food should be banned
because it has negative impacts on human’s health, potential risks on environment, and it is not
the solution to world hunger as well.
According to World Health Organization (2002), biotechnology, which is also known as
gene technology, or recombinant DNA technology, allows scientists to transfer certain selected
genes from one organism, such as animals and plants, into another organism. In this way, the
genetic material like DNA will be altered enforcedly and change into the form that is desirable.
GM food is one application of this modern technology. It allows people choosing the desired
genes for food to advance the productivity and eliminating the negative impacts of original food.
Recently, the controversies around GM food become one of the main topics around the world.
Supports of GM food focus on the benefits it brings on the aspects of quality, resistance, yields.
They try to reduce the world hunger by this modern biotechnology. On the other side, people
who against GM food claim that GM food has potential risks on human’s health, it may destroy
the environment, and they also deny supports’ statement on reducing world hunger. Although the
debate continues, the GM food is available on the markets and some kind of GM food, such as
crops, are also entered the international markets (Hanly, 2000).
Opponents of banning widespread use of GM food argue that GM food increases the taste
and quality of original food that satisfies people’s preference, because unexpected genes are
moved out of the original food and some new, reasonable or beneficial genes are added to it, so
that the new food has better quality. However, they ignore the far more important negative
aspects. The potential risks, including causing allergens, transfer of antibiotic resistance markers
and even some other unknown effects will harm human’s health directly. In fact, the added genes
of GM food will produce different proteins in human’s body. The created proteins won’t change
their original properties and will be able to destroy our well-worked DNA structures and
functions (“Genetically Modified Foods are Inherently Unsafe,” n.d.). Thus a series of
unpredictable results will appear and lead to unexpected outcomes. A test of GM potatoes on
young male rats shown that just after eating GM potatoes for 10 days, their brains, livers, and
such vital body organs became smaller than before, the functions of their white blood cells
decreased unbelievable, and some other important organs, such as thymus, also played disorder.
In contrast, the other group of rats that fed with natural potatoes did not show any inverse impact
(Smith, 2007). Those symptoms indicated that the first group of rats had abnormal absorption of
nutrients, or there were some unknown toxins destroying their normal growth process, and their
immune systems were hurt badly. From the comparison, it was no doubt that the difference
symptoms between the two groups of rats were caused by their food: GM potatoes, or usual
potatoes. If the rats did not feed on the GM potatoes, they would still keep good health
Many people advocate producing GM food due to its high resistance to pesticides and
herbicides. In fact, however, the better resistance may bring more negative impacts. First, there is
no specific statistic to show that the using of pesticides decreased in amount for cultivating GM
seeds. Second, farmers are possible to use more herbicides to kill weeds. They do not need to
worry about the hurts of herbicides on their seeds due to the better resistance. Therefore, more
herbicides, which actually negatively impact human’s health and harm the environment, will be
spayed into the air and soil. According to Benbrook (2004), we found that the actual amounts of
pesticides and herbicides used have increased about 4.1 percent each acre since 1996. The
statistic suggested the opponents’ claim of this position was incorrect. In addition, genetically
modified seeds can become weeds as well. If the GM seeds spread to other places by wind or
other reasons, due to its high resistance, they are possible to grow up at that undesired place and
thus people need more herbicides, or even need to produce new kind of herbicides to kill those
GM weeds (Mellon &Rissler, 2003). Farms, soil, air, other plants, and livings around that plant
will be hurt badly, or some species will be even killed. So before finding reasonable solutions,
how can we accept the widespread use of GM food?
Another argument against preventing producing and marketing GM food is that GM food
is possible to solve the food shortage and world hunger problem because it produces
considerable yields in a shorter time. However, this viewpoint is no longer correct. In fact,
problems of food storage are not good excuses because “enough food is available to provide at
least 4.3 pounds of food per person per day worldwide” (Lappé, Collins, Rosset & Esparza, 1998,
p. 10). We have already had the ability to produce adequate amount of food and the supply is
available completely for everyone in the world to get away from hunger and death. Indeed, we
should ascertain that the major reason of causing world hunger is not grain output. The prior
consideration on this issue should be poverty, should be the high increasing price (Lappé, Collins,
Rosset & Esparza, 1998). The reason people go stave is that the price of comestibles goes up
steadily so that a large proportion of people worldwide cannot afford it, especially for those
people who live in poor countries. Take an example from my own experience. The first time I
went to the American supermarket, I was shocked by the high priced vegetables, fruits, snacks,
and drinks. How could they be expensive! A small bag of grapes was almost 3 dollar, but it was
just worth less than 1 dollar if in China. At that time, I really appreciated my parents because
they provided me enough money, or maybe someday I would die of starvation as well.
“Americans just don’t care about genetically modified foods…it is not so much that
Americans don’t care about genetically modified (GM) food, but they don’t know about GM
food” (Weasel, 2009. p. 1). GM food is a new word for some people; however, before they learn
it, they may have already consumed the food because sometimes there are no specific markers to
distinguish GM food from natural breeding food. “60 percent of Americans believe that they
have never eaten GM food,…38 percent of respondents said they would be likely to eat GM food
given the choice…54 percent said that they would be unlikely to do so” (Weasel, 2009. p. 1).
Although the United State is one of the leading countries in the study of biotechnology,
American people still do not intend to eat GM food right now. For most of people, they prefer to
consume food after hearing the positive answer from their trusted government, family, and
friends, instead of testing first. Currently, the study on GM food is still too immature to definite it
as “safety”. While we consider the benefits that GM food brings, we need to pay much attention
on the disadvantages of it; otherwise it may results to horrible outcomes, or even disasters.
Therefore, we should not produce and spread wide use of GM food before estimating accurate
and scientific research results, advancing the security, and figuring out feasible and reliable
solutions to balance both beneficial and negative sides of GM food.
Benbrook, C. (2004, October). Genetically engineered crops and pesticide use in the United
States: The first nine years. Retrieved November 13, 2009 fromhttp://www.biotec
Genetically modified foods are inherently unsafe. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2009 from
Hanly, K. (2000). Genetically modified foods and seeds. Canadian Dimension, 34(2), 12.
Lappé, F. M., Collins, J., Rosset, P., & Esparza, L. (1998, October). World hunger: 12 myths (2nd
ed.). New York : Grove Press.
Mellon, M. & Rissler, J. (2003, June 12). Environmental effects of genetically modified food
crops -- Recent experiences. Retrieved November 13, 2009 from
Smith, J. M. (2007). Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered
Foods . Fairfield: Yes Books.
World Health Organization. (2002, October 12). 20 questions on genetically modified (GM)
foods. Retrieved November 13, 2009 from
Weasel, L. H. (2009). Food fray : inside the controversy over genetically modified food. New
York: Amacom-American Management Association.