The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Genetic Engineering in Agriculture

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/29/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 893 times Debate No: 62412
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I am pro GMO in this argument as I believe it to be a safe and effective method to address many problems including, reducing the amount of pesticides are used in agriculture, increasing yield and decreasing costs, combating global warming and diseases that attack the crop.

This is a 4 round debate, the opening round is for acceptance and a short statement on your position(optional). Please only accept if you are going to dedicate to this debate. Cite all sources, be prepared to define terms, let's try to stay away from analogies and let's be civil.


For the sake of delivering you a return for your efforts - I am new to this site, yet feel an opportunity to "pay if forward" and take the opposing stance to somebody who has a yearn to debate a certain topic. I pride myself in having an ability to discuss any topic man can conjure, and have really worked myself to develop an understanding of balance within the world - so out of good faith, and for the spirit/sake of debate - I accept your challenge, and take the stance of Con in the topic at hand.

The Con will interpret definitions of the topic for it's argument as:
1. G.M.O's - Genetically Modified Organisms which are Organisms constructed, using genetic engineering, with a modified genome.

The Con will argue that: GMO's are detrimental to the health of the human body, has led to scientific-political practices that are not promoting our civil liberties, the cost of yield does not need to be affected since that is not the root of the problem (food wasting practices are), GMO's inevitably lead to a new evolution of the diseases that attack crops, and global warming will receive no real benefit from GMO's.

BJ Myers

p.s. - I am very eager to see this debate unfold. I really enjoy seeing somebody express themselves when driven by passion, and I see that (since you are eager to have this debate) you will not disappoint. Good luck, and I look forward to sharing information and ideas with you.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for your acceptance. I too look forward to this debate.

Con and I's first point is the concern of safety in GE foods. Con states that he will demonstrate GMO's to be detrimental to human health, however GMO is a broad term for a process with many applications, not too mention many methods of implanting modification. If we are to discuss safety of GMO's we have to look at each one individually as they are not all modified to confer the same traits. When considering GMO's there is a process each must undergo before going to market known as substantial equivalence which to the means: A food or food product that has the same intended use and characteristics as an earlier food or food product that has already passed the FDAs safety inspections, or has different characteristics but data demonstrate that the new food or food additive is as safe as the previous food or food product and does not raise different issues of safety. No additional safety inspections are required for new foods or food products that are deemed substantially equivalent.(Source:, While many problems may arise in genetic engineering they are problems contained in a lab where kinks can be worked out while keeping the plants from contaminating like species. Even after these tests the USDA requires farmers growing GMO's to buy a permit unless they meet six requirements: 1) the plant can not be a noxious weed; 2) the genetic material implanted is compatible with the plant's own genome; 3) the function of the introduced gene is known and does not cause plant disease; 4) the GM plant is not toxic to non-target organisms; 5) the introduced gene will not cause the creation of new plant viruses; and 6) the GM plant cannot contain genetic material from animal or human pathogens (Source: ).
Under these inspections I believe most any concern on impact should be well covered, however there is no such thing as an absolutely safe product. Further, the same scientific organizations who are trusted on their consensus of global warming are commonly not trusted when they also claim that GM foods available are also safe. (Source: This is not to say that I don't think that safety testing standards could not improve, as it surely well as our knowledge and technology advances.
The second issue con presents I will need a little more clarification on as I'm not entirely sure exactly what is meant by "...scientific-political practices that are not promoting our civil liberties."
Con then makes a great point in his third part, one I couldn't agree with more. We waste a lot of food in this country. As someone with thirteen years in restaurant service I have seen it first hand. This concern is exactly what makes GMO's exciting to me, forget the bigger crop, con's right we're generally throwing it out. But why are we throwing it out? It's not because it's still good and we don't want it, but because it expired before we found the time to eat it. This concern has not gone unnoticed and the National Institution of Plant Genome Research stepped up in 2010 to do something about it. By suppressing two enzymes in the tomato researchers were able to triple its shelf life, the conventional lasting an average of 15 days while the modified tomato was good for 45 days. (source:
The implication of this is that we could have higher yielding crops, meaning less area is needed for agriculture, as well as food that doesn't spoil as quickly means that grocers will sell more of the produce they bring in, since it will not go bad before it's sold.
Con's fourth concern, that modification will lead to the evolution of new diseases, however much the opposite is occurring in the world; we are modifying plants to be resistant to new diseases. A real world example of this is the Hawaiian papaya, which was nearly wiped (94% drop in production) out in the 1960's due to a disease called Ringspot virus. In 1998 papaya was engineered to confer resistance to the virus and could be used by the organic farmers as protection to their non modified papaya. (Source:,
The last concern I will address here is whether or not plants can be modified to combat global warming. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge National Laboratories have been working on modifying trees to do just that. By altering their metabolic pathway the hope is that more CO2 will be sent to the roots, ultimately trapping it in the soil. Farmers also use less fuel since less pesticides are used, as well as a decrease in fertilizer's, and plants with improved nitrous fixation keep nitrous oxide from forming, which has 296 times the impact of CO2 on global warming and lasts much longer in the atmosphere, as well as impacting rivers, lakes and oceans. Technology will continue to lessen the impacts on the environment, but just like safety there's likely never going to be a completely environmentally friendly method of farming. (Source:,,,


For this specific debate - I believe my work schedule should receive the 'assist' in keeping me from responding. No excuses, I'll do what I can with the time remaining for R2 - I am very sorry that you've had to wait this long for a response.

Pro's R1 Argument
Ideal - Genetic engineering in agriculture are a safe and effective method to address many problems
R1(a) - Reduces the amount of pesticides
R1(b) - Increased yield and Decrease cost
R1(c) - Combats global warming
R1(d) - Combats diseases that attack crops

Pro's R2 Argument follows Con's Outline of it's Defense
C1 - Detrimental to Health of Human Body
C2 - Scientific-Political practices not promoting civil liberties
C3 - Cost of yield not affected - Food wasting practices are root cause of this specific problem
C4 - GMO's lead to the evolution of new diseases that attack crops
C5 - There is no real affect on Global Warming

Con will begin...
R1(a) - Con would like to point out that this statement may be a little 'misleading.' Though seeing the words "reducing the amount of pesticides" looks very prosperous, pesticides are a part of a broad range of substances used to mitigate pests. Though you can say, "the amount of weight of pesticides used will decline" - what is really happening is the TYPE of pesticide is being changed. For GMO's the most popular change of pesticide lies with "Glyphosate." Already, Glyphosate has been proven to cause: autism, cancer, allergies, and parkinson's disease. Con would like to say - "GMO's still require pesticides to be used." In studies already taken, there was a decrease in the overall volume of pesticides declined 6.2% in 1997 (before GMO crops were introduced) - However, a 2009 survey of USDA data by the advocacy group the Organic Center countered that HT crops were causing a significant increase in pesticide use, particularly in the last few years.

( ( (

R1(b) - This is being debunked as more "myth" than "fact" through independent research. The idea that less land mass will be needed, grocers will hold on to GE foods longer due to a longer shelf life, and simply that the yield potential increases...well, GM Education is taking the stance of Con as well ( The idea of the many prosperous things can happen is not what is being practices in actuality ( and the USDA itself have made it public that the data gathered through the current practices are more mixed than concise to even take a stance ( The cost will not be decreased as well. You are replacing manual labor in the field to manual labor in the laboratory.

R1(c) - The IPCC has come to find out the gas most responsible for global warming is CO2 ( The practice of altering the destination of CO2 release avoids the REAL problematic emissions of CO2. The EPA has release an incredible amount of information, and suggestions on ways to reduce the CO2 emissions...the only problem is - our current culture is addicted to the daily usage of technology which is mindlessly emitting CO2 gasses. ( In fact, the very practice of CREATING GMO's contributes to Global Warming - just as harvesting them does as well. The main emission of CO2 are coming from Electricity itself...and GMO's heavily depend on electricity, and Con could argue the amount of electricity used could increase to mass produce GMO's.

R1(d) - GE food's that are altered to fight diseases are only fighting pre-existing diseases within that specific food ( Con will not argue this as a "bad thing." Only by altering the genome of the plant is helping the plant - not the human (

*running out of time, so I have to scurry through!!!*

Con's Defense
C1 - Information suggesting (and proving) the health risks of GMO's are incredibly prevalent. ( ( ( Pro's argument that a compliance with the FDA's Substantial Equivalance overlooks an important variable within that diagram itself - from point 4 to point 6. Since there is an alternative route, you CAN produce GE foods with the FDA approval if "the new characteristics affect safety or effectiveness." The alternate route leads to pt 6, and pt 6 CAN make its way into production. This is showing that not all products follow the SAME regulations the entire time down the Substantial Equivilance chart. Con is arguing that simply - there exists an avenue for a product TO affect safety, in the eyes of the FDA, and still be cleared for production through an alternate route.

C2 - Sci-Political Practices not promoting civil liberties...This is actually a dangerous issue with the increase of genome modification and order to avoid 'mis-direction' - we will go ahead and throw out this point so we don't "clutter" the 4 main points being debated (for the prosperity of Debate - Con will omit it's original C2 - however I suggest you investigate the potentialities of civil liberties being damaged.

C3 - Cost of Yield...Food wasting practices

C4 - Lead to evolution of diseases

C5 - No real affect on Global Warming

...............I have 2 minutes left to turn in...I understand I will lose this debate...I blame my work (haha) - The Con is prepared to be "shredded" by not utilizing their time in a manner that will allow elaboration on it's defense.

If acceptable - I will cover these points in R3, but if not - I understand...time is running out! Have to submit before forfeit!!!
Debate Round No. 2


Con's first rebuttal seems to state that we are not using less pesticide, only that they've changed. Both statements are however true. Plant's have been engineered to produce their own insecticide, and applied pesticides and herbicides have become considerably safer. The most popular of these is Glyphosate, which has been shown to be as safe as table salt, it leaches minimally in soil and is classified as being not very mobile in soil. (Source: ,
Con then goes on to make the claim that GMO's (or glyphosate?) cause cancer, allergies, and Parkinson's disease. Though if this were verified by study, then as stated in round 2 the USDA and FDA regulations would require that it be immediately be removed from the market. Autism has been linked to most likely being a genetic disease, though it's been correlated with several things (GMO's, Vaccines, and just for fun one with the sales of organic foods) however that does not mean that those are the cause of them. Cancer is a very broad term, there are over 200 types of cancers, if Con cannot say specifically which cancers it causes and how than I will dismiss this claim, but since I cannot prove that GMO's don't prove cancer I will not debate that further. Allergies arise in all sorts of foods, the kiwi is one of my favorite examples, as when it came to the US it had not been tested for safety, as with many exotic foods, and turned out to be an allergen to several people. Not too mention the jarred death for some, and crunchy or creamy good to others peanut butter. Allergens should be a concern, if the product contains any the costumer should be warned, but I've yet to see any study showing GM foods to cause an allergen in a person where there was not one already present. Parkinson's, like autism has been linked mostly to genetics, however some environmental factors may also have their affects. In any event none of the links con posted seem to have any evidence that supports his conclusions. Mercola has a reputation not just for being virulently against GM foods, but also for selling products with big promise and no science to support them. There is a lot for me to review in just these first few links so I didn't follow every consequent link. The first link for the Mercola article was from an open source journal known as Entropy, the authors of this study did not have any credentials, no criteria for the study were reported, and no data was reported. Since this study also provides no evidence I will dismiss it without any further evidence (Hitchen's Razor). After that I reviewed some of the links from the Collective Evolution. Several of the articles were only suggestive, as they vaguely stated that "Studies show" but in several of there study examples (not all) they do not mention the source of the study, nor do the mention the name of the researchers. These will be dismissed as hearsay until a source can be established. The first study on the article is a real study, and was published in a reputable journal known as PubMed. The study is as stated in the article the first of it's kind, a preliminary study and a sloppy one as well. It has been criticized for both methodological and interpretative limitations. The assay for the study was improper for what they were testing and there methods were based on assumptions. Further, they do mention the finding of the Cry1Ab protein found in the Bt corn, however they never mention the implications of this finding. The other study that unsurprisingly is still making lists is the Guile Seralini's Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. This study was retracted for many reasons, first on the grounds that their sample sizes were insufficient; 20 rats per group. The study was a two year study and employed the use of the Sprague dawley rat, which had been shown in the 1973 study Spontaneous Tumors in Sprague dawley Rats and Swiss Mice, to spontaneously form tumors (as the title of the study implies), and have a life span of about two years. This study was not only unscientific, but it was unethical as Seralini let the rats live 'til 25% of their body mass was tumor, took pictures and posted them in the media before his study was even released. This is not in the name of science, there is nothing scientific about torturing an animal and then showing it off, it was strictly for an emotional response. (Sources:,

Con's second stance is that GM do not increase yield, unfortunately the first link is again vague, not stating who did the studies they mention, and the one link on the page was 404. The second article may have some truth value, however there are also many myths spread throughout, such as the increase in India farmer suicide It may be true that as stated in their article that in Argentina GM soy beans are not producing as much. Not all GM plants are made to yield higher, and whether or not a plant is GM is one of many factors when considering yield. Con finishes this rebuttal with two statements, since no evidence or reasoning is given to his conclusion I am unsure what to assess as I addressed this in round 2.

I will agree that CO2 is largely responsible for our current situation, however I would not say that this is just a method to avoid the real problem. I realize that the problem lies beyond GM technology, and that this topic would deserve a debate all to itself. Last Con asserts extreme energy use by Ge tech. yet apply's no evidence or reasoning.

Con is confusing substantial equivalence with being tested under the same standards. The foods are looked at to see if new metabolites or proteins are introduced with the gene, if no new allergens or toxins are present in the analysis then they move forward, if anything is detected then further testing is needed to evaluate the risk value of an item. There is no more an avenue to affect safety in this than there is when we introduce an exotic food. Everything in life has some risk factor to it, there is no such thing as absolute safety.

Thank you very much for getting in to round two, look forward to the next one.


WhoIsToSayWhatIsRight forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


As pro in this argument I took the stance that GM foods are safe for human consumption, reduce pesticide, increase yield and decrease cost, combat global warming an diseases that attack crops. This was an ambitious load, and each topic would deserve a debate on it's own, as in the cases of food waste and global warming I can show real world examples of GM research that would assist in bettering the scenarios, however they do not entirely resolve the issue. As far as the safety of GM foods con did stick to his point that GMO's are a danger, but at no point did he specifically address which GMO was causing a problem or how it was effecting the person.
As pro I maintain my position and would like to leave you with a few statements: The American Association for the Advancement of Science, "The science is quite clear; crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe." The World Health Organization, "No effects on human health have been shown as the result of consumption of GM foods by the general population in countries where they've been approved." There are several more, but i don't want to fill this with quotes. These quotes would be empty if there were no evidence that they'd been tested for safety, happily for them there are thousands of papers on GMOs, many of which are safety evaluations, to see more of what our top science organizations have to say on the subject, as well as numerous safety studies all gathered into one area follow this link.


WhoIsToSayWhatIsRight forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by DanK 2 years ago
Yea, this is my second shot on this debate since my last opponent withdrew. There seems to be more people on this site in favor of GMO's than I was expecting.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
You won't find an opponent in me here, but I will be all too happy to track this.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture