The Great Debate On GMO Crops

Iowa Farm Scene

Believing in safety of genetically modified crops depends on trust and science.

Published on: November 4, 2013

When asked about labeling of foods that contain GMOs, MacDonald said as an educator she wants people to know about their food. But, she has a problem with singling out GMOs because it's unclear what to label, since many ingredients contain very little trace of GMO components. Horan pointed out that GMO traits often disappear during processing, as the heat generated in processing breaks them down.

Labeling would increase food costs—another reason a number of people are against labeling. "It's very hard to see how we are going to regulate by using labeling without increasing the cost of food," MacDonald says.

Many of the people in attendance didn't believe MacDonald, including Druker

An anti-GMO crusader, Druker says government oversight of food is weak. He contends genetically modified foods are potentially dangerous, and he says the U.S. government knows it. "There has never been a scientific consensus that these foods are safe. Numerous experts have warned that GMO foods pose abnormal risks."

In 1998, Druker initiated a lawsuit that forced the Food and Drug Administration to release its files on GMO food. At the panel discussion on October 14, 2013 Druker said FDA concluded GMOs posed higher risks than conventional foods and needed to be thoroughly tested. He said his lawsuit exposed FDA's "cover-up and fraud."

ISU nutrition expert MacDonald said Druker's lawsuit "had nothing to do with the data that shows GMOs are safe." MacDonald also noted that the American Medical Association "has clearly said there is no risk" with GMO foods, as has the American Society of Pediatrics.

Critics of biotech say the advantages of GMOs are over-sold

Rosmann, the organic farmer, strongly criticized GMOs, which he said have had many unintended consequences, from increasing resistance to weeds and pests in GMO crops to contributing to the exodus of farmers from rural communities because GMO crops allow farmers to farm more acres. He says the advantages of biotechnology have been over-sold.