Chapter 4.7: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

For centuries, humankind has modified the genomes of organisms through traditional breeding programs. But advances in genetic engineering have allowed for precise control over the genetic changes introduced into an organism. Today, we can incorporate new genes from one species into a completely unrelated species, optimizing the desired traits.  As such new technologies have entered the mainstream, governments have been grappling with policies and regulations surrounding their use. 
Today, an estimated 75 percent of processed food in the U.S. contains GMO ingredients, but because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared GMOs “substantially equivalent” to foods produced through traditional breeding, many people have no idea that they are eating foods with genetically altered genes that have been engineered in a laboratory. As GMOs have increasingly appeared on grocery store shelves, controversy over their use has grown.

Background Materials:

Overview of GMOs, including pros and cons:

Pros and cons of required labeling of GMO foods:

Global restrictions on GMO use:

European GMO site with many useful links:

Textbook References and Links:

Exercise 4: Review the links above for general background on GMO foods to help inform the development of your position papers.  Additional resources include:

World Wildlife Fund Position Paper:
AAEO Position Paper:
Yara Position Paper:
VBSR Position Paper:
GMO’s in Africa:
GMO’s for African Agriculture:


Downloadable data and files:

Exercise 4:       WWF GMO.pdf
Yara GMO.pdf
GMO African Agriculture.pdf