Genetically Modified Foods

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“Genetic Manipulation”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – (Links to an external site.)

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Genetically modifed (GM) food products have gained a lot of attention in the media.  In 2013, Washington state voters narrowly voted down an initiative to require labeling of genetically modified foods.  A genetically modified organism (GMO) is simply an organism that has had a gene artificially inserted into its DNA by scientists.  This definition distinguishes GM foods from foods that have been altered over millenia through selective breeding of plants and animals to enhance desirable characteristics.

CLICK HERE (Links to an external site.) for a brief description and some examples of artificial selection. (

Nathanael Johnson is a journalist who writes about food for the environmental news site (Links to an external site.).  In 2013, Nathanael decided to tackle the GM food controversy head on.  Over several months, he posted a series of blogs that attempt to tease out fact from fiction in this very heated argument.

For this week’s discussion, I want you to read at least these two entries:

The genetically-modified food debate:  Where do we begin? (Links to an external site.)


This is the first post in the series.  It introduces the project and gives an overview of the controversy.

20 GMO Questions: Animal, vegetable, controversy? (Links to an external site.)


This is the final post in the series.  It summarizes what the author learned while researching his posts and gives numerous links to posts and other websites that contain more information.


Feel free to explore the links from 20 GMO Questions as you think about the potentials and perils of GM foods.

If you would like to read the entire series from Grist, go here:   Panic-Free GMOs (Links to an external site.)


When you’re ready, answer the questions below in your post:

1. What did you learn about GMOs in reading through these posts?  Anything surprising?

2. Given what you’ve learned, would you personally purchase genetically modified foods for you and  your family to consume?  Explain why or why not.

3. Do you think all genetic modification of food products should be banned completely?  Explain why or why not.

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