What Are the Pros and Cons of GMO Foods?

Present in 80 percent of packaged food in the United States, genetically modified foods have some positive aspects, such as flavor, hardiness and nutrition, and some negative aspects, including environmental damage, increased allergens and resistance to antibiotics. While environmental damage occurs from GMO production, some environmental benefits exist as well. However, for many people, the medical harm evident through animal studies far outweighs any potential benefit.

GMOs increase the use of herbicides. As they are engineered to be resistant to herbicides, the production of GMO crops creates super weeds, thereby encouraging farmers to use more of the harmful chemicals to combat the more powerful weeds. In a 12-year span, farmers sprayed an additional 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMO crops.

At the same time, fewer greenhouse gas emissions and less soil erosion exist due to the production of GMOs. GMO animals and crops require less land, machinery, chemicals and time.

Through the modification of foods, products often taste better and result in higher nutritional value. Products become enhanced, with produce adjusted to be more spicy, sweet or flavorful. Particularly in countries with limited access to nutritional foods, genetic modification can add important nutrients to support health.

Citing concerns posed through animal studies, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine encourages doctors to advise patients to adhere to a non-GMO diet. Side effects in animals consist of infertility, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, rapid aging and organ damage.