To-GMO or not-to-GMO, that’s the question

Last week at the IFT annual meeting the movie Food Evolution was screened. The film claims to bring a fresh perspective to a critical issue in the global food supply chain “to GMO or not to GMO”. The movie explores the debate around GMO derived foods, where both the pro-GMO and anti-GMO camps claim science is on their side and where the average consumer is totally confused and often badly informed.

This is an interesting debate, since it’s once again one of those debates where gut feeling can rule over scientific evidence and where the question arises if the scientific evidence is not to be trusted because the research might be financed by multinationals like Monsanto. And is the debate only about GMO’s or does it get mixed up with other issues such as the power of big corporations to shape our world?

Going back to genetic modification as a technology suitable to improve the characteristics of plants to for example ensure food security in developing countries. Personally I can agree with both the pro- and anti- GMO groups. On the one hand I do struggle to see the difference between traditional plant breeding techniques that also alter the genomes of plants and the use of biotechnology to incorporate certain traits in a plant. On the other hand I also have difficulty with the incorporation of certain cross-species genes: are we really able to comprehend all future implications of, for example, the introduction of herbicide resistant crops in our food-chain?

To complicate matters, next to the biotech aspect there are lots of other issues to consider in the deliberations. Think of global food security in 2050, limiting the worldwide use of pesticides and herbicides, the transition to a biobased economy which relies on crops for chemicals and energy, the effects of global warming on water supply and arable land etc.

New questions arise such as what to decide if it’s not for food use but other applications such as pharma, for example the production of vaccines in transgenic crops, or for the production of fuel or specific chemicals to replace fossil sources.

Looking at all these aspects I personally find it hard to come to one conclusion, so “to-GMO or not-to-GMO” I would say let’s continue gathering information by scientific research to feed the debate and to enable us to make informed decisions on when and where GMO is (not) acceptable.

Interested to hear your comments!

If you’re interested to see the Food Evolution movie, TOP BV is planning to organize a screening with discussion in the autumn of 2017. So keep an eye on our website for more info or send an e-mail to with subject Food Evolution and your contact details and we will keep you informed.

Astrid Kemper