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What are Genetically Modified Organisms?

Updated on September 19, 2020
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Genetically Engineered

Genetically Modified Food (GMF)

An organism that has been genetically modified (GMO) is one that has been genetically altered utilizing genetic engineering techniques. The main organisms that have been modified are bacteria, yeast, insects, plants, fish and mammals. They are the source of genetically modified food (GMF). These organisms are used for scientific research, and they also are used to produce other goods beside food.

Billybic wrote a hub about reading food labels and challenged me to write about Monsanto and the genetically modified food. So, I could not turn down that challenge. This is the result of a rather large amount of research. Thanks Billy.

List of Genetically Modified Foods

There is a lot of controversy about GMF; however, many people see GMF as the answer to world hunger. The sale of genetically modified food began in 1994 with Calgene’s FlavrSavr tomatoes. Other common GMFs are soybeans, corn, canola and cotton seed oil.

The genetic engineering has been focused on faster growth, pathogen resistance and production of extra nutrients. Genetically modified livestock are also being developed but none are on the market at this time.

There is a rather broad scientific consensus that these foods have no greater risks to humans than conventional foods. The critics of GMF object to this food on several fronts. The Monsanto Company is responsible for 90 percent of all GM seed in the United States. In addition, it is responsible for GM seeds and crops worldwide. They are best known for the herbicide Roundup. Many people believe Roundup damages the soil and ultimately produces herbicide-resistant superweeds and health problems.

Possible Organ Damage from GMF

Once scientific study found that GMF may cause organ damage, particularly to the liver and kidneys. The court forced Monsanto to release this study, revealing the raw data. It was felt that Monsanto glossed over some important facts.

For instance, if there was not liver or kidney damage in both male and female rats they did not count that statistic. The fact is that sex related differences are quite common in diseases, particularly those involving the liver or kidneys.

Genetically Modified Food Labeling

Another area of controversy is labeling. There are no laws in the United States that require GMF products to be labeled as such. Many people think they have a right to know what is in the food they eat. Opponents of labeling state it is too expensive and since there is no difference between conventional foods and genetically modified food that labeling is unnecessary.

How are people supposed to make a choice if there is no information on the label?

What is Genetically Modified Food?

Pros and Cons Genetically Modified Food

The potential pros of GMF include:

  • More nutritious food
  • Better tasting food
  • Drought resistant and disease resistant plants
  • Less use of pesticides
  • Faster growing animals and plants
  • A greater supple of food with a longer shelf life
  • Possible vaccines and medications from these foods

The potential risks of GMF include:

  • There may be unexpected genetic changes that are harmful.
  • The GMO may interbreed with the natural organisms, overtaking them, and this could lead to extinction of natural organisms.
  • The plants may be more or less resistant to various pests and more susceptible to others.
  • Genes from one food may be introduced to another food causing allergic reactions.
  • There has been inadequate testing to ensure GMF is safe.
  • Despite the claims of industry, the FDA does not formally approve of these foods, and the law only requires approval of food additives.

Soybean Field

Phtotobucket. Thank you ISUaistralia11.
Phtotobucket. Thank you ISUaistralia11.

Collapse of the Bee Colony

The collapse of the bee colony is the biggest threat to everyone’s food supply in the future. The collapse of the colonies has been linked to high fructose corn syrup and insecticides (neonics). If seeds are genetically engineered to contain neonics, the entire plant grows with its blooms will contain neonics. We depend on bees and butterflies to spread pollen from plant to plant.

Neonics are a nerve poison, and it will disorient the bees, which, then, can not make it back to the hive. The hive and the queen bee die. Some European countries, such as France have banned the insecticides and their bee population is growing.

Monsanto purchased Beeologics, which had been the top resource for the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Health experts and entomologists are very unhappy about this sale. Montsanto insists it will use the technology to improve the world, but they obviously have exclusive access to any research results.


Bee Hives

Photobucket. Thank you gombo.
Photobucket. Thank you gombo.

Problems with Plants

Another problem farmers are finding is some Monsanto’s most successful products are showing resistance to glyphosate and glyphosate-resistant weeds are becoming a problem. Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds, particularly broad leaf weeds. The crops affected include alfalfa, soybeans, corn, cotton, and sugar beets. The result is farmers are being told to use “herbicidal cocktails, which contain multiple herbicides in order to combat the weeds.

Corn is another problem as insects are becoming resistant to pesticide-producing corn. The EPA requires farmers to protect the effectiveness of the corn; however, it is believed that at least 25 percent of farmers do not follow these guidelines.

GMOs | Genetics | Biology | FuseSchool

European Union Mandatory Labeling

The European Union has mandatory labeling; however, manufacturers of food tend to use more expensive natural food to avoid having to label food products with GMF. Their concern apparently is the loss of customers who would avoid the label. The mandatory labeling for cereal has not given customers a clear choice as the non-GE cost more to produce and it thought to be no safer.

Certified organic foods do not contain GE ingredients and they are privately labeled. Whole Foods state they will have all foods labeled by 2018.

In Conclusion

Obviously, this is a very serious problem. Monsanto may solve the hunger problems of the world. This is not a political hub as Monsanto's relationship started with Bushs, Clinton and continues with Obama. Bill Gates owns a large amount of their stock.

A consumer should assume that virtually all unlabeled food in the grocery store will probably contain ME products and high fructose corn syrup. On one hand, people are staving in the world and the whole world needs to produce better and more plentiful products, but at what cost? Has their been enough research? What about the bees? Why can't labels be accurate on the food we purchase?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    hulah cagen, I think it is important to get the word out so people know to make better choices. Thanks for your comments.

  • hulah cagen profile image

    hulah cagen 

    7 years ago

    This is a great article with much information. Yes GMO's have found their way into many common food items in stores as well as in fodder for animals which eventually find their way into our bodies. So yes we have to be constantly aware of these substances in our food because they are unnatural ( my recent hub "How to increase the energy in your food") and have reduced life energy in them. Thank you.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Dianna, That is also my expectations. There is no way to know what the long term effects will be. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    7 years ago

    Genetically modified is not the way I would plan for future population growth or living the quality life. It will only prove to cause health issues later. Great post, Pamela.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Jeannie, I think many of us just aren't sure, yet it is a little scary. The fact that people are discussing this situation is good as maybe some more concrete answers will come forth. Thanks for your comments.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie Marie 

    7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thanks for creating this hub. We have been having debates at work about genetically modified food... it all started one day with a nutritionist visiting our office to show us how to make a salad. Believe it or not, this lead to numerous debates about the subject of genetically altered food. I just don't think there is one clear answer yet. I will just try to avoid it when I can.

    Voted up and shared!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Patricia, It is disheartening to learn how much of the food we have access to is full of preservatives and now genetic modification. I appreciate your comments. Love the angels and I'm sending some back to you. Hugs also.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 

    7 years ago from North Central Florida

    Is there anything left that hasn't been tampered with?? So much of our food is a source of possible danger to us that it is difficult to find foods to eat that are good for us unless we grow our own.

    This is very important information you have shared, Pamela.

    I am sharing and voting up++++

    Angels are on the way to you and to each of us as we make decisions about our foods. ps

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Midget, I agree that it is sad. It seems money and power rule the world. Thanks for your comments and the share.

  • midget38 profile image

    Michelle Liew 

    7 years ago from Singapore

    You are right. Genetically modified food causes a lot of problems! Thanks for sharing this really interesting's sad how power is abused. Thanks for sharing, and I'm sharing too.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    mperrottet, I absolutely agree that they have too much political power and labeling would be a no brainer to me. I did a great deal of research in an effort to be fair but found the results to be depressing. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Vincent, I have had those same thoughts. Monsanto has numerous high ranking leaders from countries around the world in their pocket. I haven't said it before,but I wonder about revolution as the preisdent works so hard to disarm us. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • mperrottet profile image

    Margaret Perrottet 

    7 years ago from San Antonio, FL

    Great article, Pamela, and I love the way that you presented your material. I feel that you really dealt fairly with the facts. I think that genetically modified foods could lead to a disaster and wish that foods had to be labeled in the United States. Monsanto has way too much polical power in this country. Voting this up, useful, interesting and sharing.

  • profile image

    Vincent Moore 

    7 years ago

    An interesting article indeed Pam. I am a vegan and live on plant based foods along with different types of beans, seeds and nuts. I buy organic where and whenever possbile to try to avoid these GMO foods and posison. Monsanto is slowly killing us with their unkindness and to think that there is now an insecticide put directly into the seed. This will stay in our systems and grow and spread. We are all doomed, how sad a world we live in today. Our very existence is simply struggling to survive and now Monsanto for the billions of dollars they are raking in, simply will kill us all off if we don't put a stop to them. Revolution is in the air my friend if we are to survive as a species.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Faith, I tried not to focus too much on the huge number of powerful people involved, but this is a scary asspect as one would wonder, how can we stop this from happening. Think of all the money behind this project and now they also control the research on the bees. Thank you so much for your comments and the share. God Bless.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    osaeoppongle, I sure do think this was the potential to be a big issue. I think the superbugs make a good analogy for what may happen if we continue down this road. There are so many high ranking politicians also involved in this company (which I did not write about) that I am not sure what power people have to change anything. I appreciate you comments very much.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    drbj, Lerave it to you to sum up the situation with a bit of humor, except, of course, the siituation isn't funny. Thanks for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Ruby, I thought about the farm also. This is a complicated situation. Thanks for your comments.

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 

    7 years ago from southern USA

    Oh my, Pamela, how disturbing. I almost could not bear to read the whole hub! Very scary stuff here, especially involving such high profile people in control of such. But, you know what, I am not surprised in the least. Who knows what we are really eating?

    Thanks for making us aware of such. Voted up ++++ and sharing

    God bless, Faith Reaper

  • osaeoppongde profile image

    Deborah L. Osae-Oppong 

    7 years ago from Chicago, IL

    Hi Pamela99, very interesting hub! I studied biology in college, and this was a huge issue! As I was reading your post, I thought about "superbugs" - pests that essentially become resistant to GMFs, and gain the ability to destroy the modified plants. Do you think this will be an issue/concern in the future?

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    7 years ago from south Florida

    You know what GMO stands for when describing genetically modified food, Pamela? Because of its potential risk to humans? Simple! It's OMG backwards.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    7 years ago from Southern Illinois

    I am really at a loss for words. I don't know what to believe. I wish i lived on a farm and could grow my own food, plus have my own cows and chickens, but then, the soil is contaminated, it's a no win situition! I can see that you researched this article well. Thank you Pam...

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    This is a rather interesting topic, so I am not surprised. I will check yours out.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    PegCole, I think that is a very scary situation also. Plus, they are heavily connected to many high up people in government. I didn't even think about baby formula. I think people are going to have to start demanding labeling at least. If enough letters are written to congressmen we might make progress. Thanks for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    B ravewarrier, I don't know about anything that is wrong with olive oil. I made a comment that we used canoli and olive oil and not I would have to stop the canoli oil. I buy extra virgin olive oil and I think it is healthy. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  • NMLady profile image


    7 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

    We both wrote on this subject within 24 hours.... Nice hub BTW. Do stop by my GMO hub too!

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    7 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

    This needs a lot more of our attention as unknown consumers of GMO foods. From what I understand, it is in nearly 70 - 80 percent of what we buy now including baby formula, cereals, flour, corn syrup and other things we can't grow on our own. Very scary that Monsanto owns so much of the food supply, and now even Beeologic, putting us completely at their mercy. Great informative hub.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    7 years ago from Central Florida

    Pamela, what is wrong with olive oil? Do I need to eliminate that too?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Frog Prince, Not use what you mean unless you prefer to be addressed properly as the Frog Prince. Glad to see you are checking on me.

    kashmir, I'm so glad you enjoyed the article and I appreciate the comments, plus the share. Thanks.

    tobusiness, I agree that it sounds like a great idea to feed the hungry. I am certainly concerned about contamination and I think labeling is a must.

    Peggy, I think a home garden is great, but I thought about the seeds also. Maybe you can find some seeds marked organic. It does seem some other countries are ahead of us. The GMF scare me too. Thanks so much for the comments.

    Audrey, I'm glad you liked the hub and I appreciate the comments.

    Vickiw, I absolutely agree with your comments. It is very disturbing and I wonder what kind of like my grandchildren will enjoy. I think you are right about convenience foods also. Thanks for all your comments.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Hi Pamela, this is really interesting, and very disturbing. Unfortunately the better we get at reading labels, the more cunning the manufacturers get at hiding the same ingredients behind new names. It is quite appalling how we get duped. No wonder there are so many dreadful illnesses. Actually, cooking from scratch is the most important way to go. Convenience foods should all carry the same signage as cigarettes. The bee business is absolutely dreadful. Our poor grandchildren and their children . . . But we need researchers like you, and writers like you.

  • AudreyHowitt profile image

    Audrey Howitt 

    7 years ago from California

    Thank you for posting this--such an important subject! Sharing this!

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    7 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Hi Pamela,

    You have just given me another reason to expand my small home garden. At least I have control over what is grown in my own backyard. Of course if the very seeds are altered to begin with...we are helpless. Genetically modified foods are scary. It would seem that other countries are ahead of the curve on this one compared to the U.S. Better to be safe than worry about the long term results like bee colony collapse and other problems. It is good to hear that the bees are returning in France which has taken proactive measures. UUI votes and will share.

  • tobusiness profile image

    Jo Alexis-Hagues 

    7 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

    Great hub, more food to feed the staving, sounds great!!... the motivation behind this is probably a good one, However; I would like a choice in what I put into my body.

    After the horse meat scandal recently, here in Europe, we are all a little more suspicious of where our food is coming from. This could be another thalidomide in the making, if they don't get their act together. And what about contamination from GM crop to non-GM crop? Labeling should certainly be mandatory.

  • kashmir56 profile image

    Thomas Silvia 

    7 years ago from Massachusetts

    Hi Pamela great interesting and informative and well researched article on Genetically Modified Organisms . Well done ! Vote up and more !!! Sharing !

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    POP, I think many countries in Europe areway ahead of us in recognizing the dangers as yet un=explored. Thanks for your comments,

    Bravewarrier, I believe eating organically is always the best choice. I did not know about canola oil until I did the research for the hub, but we do use olive oil quite often. Now it will be out with the canola oil. Thanks so much for your comments.

    Jim, Sorry about that appetitie, but I'm sure you'll work something out. Thanks for the comments.

  • The Frog Prince profile image

    The Frog Prince 

    7 years ago from Arlington, TX

    My comment disappeared!!!

  • The Frog Prince profile image

    The Frog Prince 

    7 years ago from Arlington, TX

    Dang it Pamela! You just ruined my appetite. Great Hub though.


  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    7 years ago from Central Florida

    Pam, this is disturbing. First off Monsanto originally is/was a carpet and flooring manufacturer. Now they're messing with our food? No thank you. All the more reason to eat organic foods, which is what I try to do. I don't buy anything with high fructose corn syrup in it and I no longer use canola oil. I use coconut oil and olive oil only. The only butter I buy is Land O Lakes because there's nothing in it I can't pronounce.

    Thank you for bringing this very important information to light!

  • breakfastpop profile image


    7 years ago

    I have met many people from other countries that have banned this food. They say they would never consider coming to the U.S. because our food supply is poisoned. Voted up useful and interesting.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    My Cook book, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

    Billy, I really like the idea of naturally grown food also. I am not sure I believe everything Monsanto has to say. Thanks for the comments.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    7 years ago from Olympia, WA

    No thank you...I think I'll pass on the GMO's, despite the benefits that Monsanto tells me about. I think this will turn out to be a catastrophic advancement in science in the years to come.

    Thanks for the detailed information, Pamela.

  • My Cook Book profile image

    Dil Vil 

    7 years ago from India

    Good hub on Genetically Modified Organisms and Genetically Modified Foods, Great work!


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