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

Genetically-modified plants should continue to be used 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: 2/18/2015 Category: Health
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 694 times Debate No: 70295
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




Pro has the burden of proof. Resolution is given in the title.

-R1 Acceptance
-R2 Opening arguments
-R3 Rebuttals
-R4 Rebuttals
-R5 Conclusions

No semantics or trolling, please.


ge·net·i·cal·ly mod·i·fied

jəG6;nedik(ə)lē G2;mädəfīd/

      1. (of an organism or crop) containing genetic material that has been artificially altered so as to produce a desired characteristic.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks, Con, for accepting. Here is my opening argument.

Genetic modification of plants has taken place at virtually any point in the history of agriculture, through selective breeding since early prehistory (1). Plants and animals that are selectively bred are selected for certain traits that humans desire (1). Over the many generations of a specific type of plant or animal being selectively bred, more desirable genetic material is added by humans (1). One example that speaks for the usefulness of genetic modification is corn. According to the University of Utah:

"The history of modern-day maize begins at the dawn of human agriculture, about 10,000 years ago. Ancient farmers in what is now Mexico took the first steps in domesticating maize when they simply chose which kernels (seeds) to plant. These farmers noticed that not all plants were the same. Some plants may have grown larger than others, or maybe some kernels tasted better or were easier to grind. The farmers saved kernels from plants with desirable characteristics and planted them for the next season's harvest. This process is known as selective breeding or artificial selection. Maize cobs became larger over time, with more rows of kernels, eventually taking on the form of modern maize. " (2)

When one considers how widely corn is used as a food product (in excess of 67 million bushels of corn a year was the amount needed, by estimation, to feed the world's population growth as of March 2013; corn was also the most-produced crop in the United States in 2011), corn seems to be the epitome of the success of genetic modification; specifically, that of selective breeding, the traditional mode of genetic modification (1) (3) (4).

Genetic modification has already proven to be a huge asset due to the success of corn, both to the world's food supply and to growers of corn. IN 2011, total cash receipts from total corn sales in the United States were around $63.9 billion (4).

The five most-produced crops in the world, as of 2011, were:

1. Corn, at 822,712,527 tons
2. Wheat, at 689,945,712 tons
3. Rice, at 685,013,374 tons
4. Potatoes, at 314,140,107 tons
5. Cassava, at 232,950,180 tons
Corn's genetic modification through selective breeding has already been stated.

Wheat is the product of a cross between three species of grass, and has been cultivated for thousands of years. Wheat's domestication supposedly occurred in 10,000 B.C. (6). Wheat is thus the product of genetic modification.

Rice was one of the grains developed in early China through the selective breeding of several wild grasses (7) . Rice is thus the product of genetic modification.

I could go on and on about selective breeding. I have successfully showed that genetic modification created the three-most-produced crops in the world in 2011, and have already demonstrated the success of corn, which was the most-produced crop in the world in 2011.

Obviously, selective breeding is not the only type of genetic modification; there is a more efficient and faster type of genetic modification at the fingertips of humans- that being laboratory modification of genes. According to the University of Maryland's Medical Center:

"Genetic engineering can be done with plants, animals, or microorganisms. Historically, farmers bred plants and animals for thousands of years to produce the desired traits. For example, they produced dogs ranging from poodles to Great Danes, and roses from sweet-smelling miniatures to today's long-lasting, but scent-free reds.
Selective breeding over time created these wide variations, but the process depended on nature to produce the desired gene. Humans then chose to mate individual animals or plants that carried the particular gene in order to make the desired characteristics more common or more pronounced.
Genetic engineering allows scientists to speed this process up by moving desired genes from one plant into another -- or even from an animal to a plant or vice versa." (8)

The last line in the quoted region above, I feel, is the most important.

"Genetic engineering allows scientists to speed this process up by moving desired genes from one plant into another -- or even from an animal to a plant or vice versa."

Another important line is:

"Selective breeding over time created these wide variations, but the process depended on nature to produce the desired gene."

By directly adding genes perceived as beneficial from one organism to another, as we can see, the goals of selective breeding can be attained more quickly and efficiently! Beneficial traits can be imported without the inefficiencies on depending on natural processes for desired results; thus, genetic engineering is merely a more efficient form of genetic modification than is selective breeding.

The qualities that humans make use of in agriculture are imparted by genes. Adding genes directly rather than waiting on nature to provide them accomplishes the same goal, but faster.

The definition I gave in Round One is the definition of "genetically-modified".

By this definition, both selective breeding and genetic engineering accomplish the same thing. I have already shown how selective breeding has vastly benefited the entire world's population. Genetic engineering is simply better (more efficient and faster) than the original methods of genetic modification.

In any case, by showing the usefulness of genetic modification in the past, I have made a strong case for the use of genetic modification in the future.

As long as there is genetic material to be modified and used to the purposes of humans, humans can use genetic modification to their advantage, by eliminating undesirable traits, adding desirable traits, or eliminating undesirable traits AND adding desirable ones.

I now hand the debate over to my opponent. I look forward to Con's opening argument!



I will start with my opening case and then cllarify something about genetically modified foods. I will refute my opponent's arguments in my first rebuttal.


The framework of this debate will be a cost-benefit analysis in which real-world impacts are weighed more heavily than theoretical ones and sustainability of impacts possesses high relevance.

Contention 1: Honey bees
Subpoint A: Honey Bees play a vital role in agriculture
The White House reports on June 24th, 2014:
"Globally, 87 of the leading 115 food crops evaluated are dependent on animal pollinators, contributing 35% of global food production. Pollinators contribute more than 24 billion dollars to the United States economy, of which honey bees account for more than 15 billion dollars through their vital role in keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets."

Subpoint B: Honey Bees are at risk because of GMFs.
Joseph Mercola from the Center for Research on Globalization, reports on May 7th, 2013, about the risks stemming from neonicotinoids - an insecticide used on GM crops.
"These insecticides are highly toxic to bees because they are systemic, water soluble, and pervasive." He continued, "In the US, virtually all genetically engineered Bt corn crops are treated with neonicotinoids." The Environmental Protection Agency reports in October of 2014, confirming that "[this] popular class of insecticide used to treat soybean seeds provides little or no benefit to the farmers " the pesticide, however, is the prime suspect for the deaths of 30 million honeybees"

Contention 2: Health Risks
Subpoint A: GMFs Increase Pesticide Use
Environmental Sciences Europe reports in 2012, explaining how GM crops have increased pesticide use, "Overall, since the introduction of GE crops, the six major GE technologies have increased pesticide use by an estimated 183 million kgs (404 million pounds), or about 7%."

Subpoint B: Increased Pesticide Use Leads to Health Risks
The Examiner reports in April of 2013, explaining the health risks linked to this increase in pesticide use
"Research at Johns Hopkins University shows that women with thyroid disease are at a high risk of delivering infants with birth defects. Strong correlation was shown between cancer of the thyroid and glyphosate use on corn and soy crops," They continued, "in the soy-producing regions of Argentina, [birth defects] (they) have been skyrocketing. In 2010 the University of Cordoba released a report showing that the incidence rate of birth defects in South America has increased by 347% from 1997 to 2008, which they claim is linked to aerial spraying of glyphosate on soy crops."
The National Center for Biotechnology Information continues in March of 2009, "The world-wide deaths and chronic diseases due to pesticide poisoning number about 1 million per year". There"s a clear relationship between GMFs and real health risks.

Contention 3: GMFs Devastate Small Farmers
Subpoint A: GM crops drive poor farmers out of business
On May 18, 2007, Professor Carmen Gonzalez of the Seattle University School of Law wrote, "The introduction of GM crops in developing countries threatens to exacerbate poverty and inequality by reproducing the anti-poor bias of the Green Revolution. First, GM crops will disproportionately benefit wealthy farmers because most poor farmers will be unable to obtain the cash or credit to purchase the patented seeds and the expensive chemical inputs necessary to cultivate GM crops."

Subpoint B: GMFs Decrease Yields
The Institute for Responsible Technology explains in 2009 that GMFs decrease yields,
"Sustainable non-GMO agricultural methods used in developing countries have conclusively resulted in yield increases of 79% and higher, GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all," They continued, "The report determined that the current GMOs have nothing to offer the goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability.

Subpoint C: Super Weeds
The National Research Council explains in 2010 that "Because glyphosate was so effective, many farmers solely planted glyphosate-resistant crops and applied glyphosate season after season." They continued, "Today, almost all corn, soybean, and cotton fields are sprayed with glyphosate (95%). Ubiquitous Roundup (Made for GMFs) application has spawned glyphosate-resistant weeds, driving farmers to apply more-toxic herbicides and to reduce conservation tilling." Food and Water Watch reports in 2013: "Farmers face significant costs from herbicide-resistant weeds from reduced yields and increased production costs to combat weed infestations. These costs can range from $12 to $50 an acre, or as much as $12,000 for an average sized corn or soybean farm." This translates to a global impact of $5 - $19 billion dollars per year. [Net impact = 5 to 19 billion dollars. EuropaBio says in 2012, 170.3 million hectares (420,000,000 acres), use $12 - $50 dollars an acre, times 92% infested with superweeds]

Genetic modification is unique from selective breeding. I have given a sample quote to show my point. For more information, click the link following the quote.

"I first published this article after visiting a teacher"s resource site and came across a lesson plan aimed at children basically alluding to transgenic, or GMO (Genetically Modified Organism), crops being similar, but better than the crops we have today that have resulted from thousands of years of traditional selective breeding techniques./This really bothered me as GMO crops are not the same at all."

The reason this needs to be pointed out is that my opponent has accessed impacts of selective breeding. These impacts will be unable to be weighed because selective breeding is not genetic modification.
Debate Round No. 2


debate_power forfeited this round.


Opponent conceded in comments. After voting on this one, please look for our other debate on this topic; I'm looking forward to a great debate.
Debate Round No. 3


debate_power forfeited this round.


Vote con!
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by KonstanBen 1 year ago
If you could just make an argument saying something along the lines of, I concede; be sure to vote on our next debate, it would help finish this. You can start the next one whenever you're ready.
Posted by debate_power 1 year ago
Sure. Should I wait until this one is voted on?
Posted by KonstanBen 1 year ago
Please do challenge me again, I look forward to a great round.
Posted by debate_power 1 year ago
Sorry Con...

I ran out of time and forfeited. When I logged onto this computer to post my argument, I had twenty-four minutes and sixteen seconds left to post...

I didn't realize it at the time, but shortly after I logged onto this site, the internet cut off...

It's a shame, too, because I had an excellent rebuttal.

Anyway, I have to give the win over to you, because I forfeited and I usually take forfeits into consideration first.

If you'd like to re-debate this topic, let me know via message.

You win, Con.
Posted by KonstanBen 1 year ago
Get prepared
Posted by debate_power 1 year ago
I've never seen evidence to suggest they're bad for you.
Posted by Liberals 1 year ago
They May be somewhat bad for you, but when we are hit by these huge mega droughts in 2050, they will be humanity's last hope.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession