Genetically modified products and GMO foods: a game of chance?

John Hudson

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

3 Citations (SciVal)


We discuss the costs and benefits to farmers, the environment and consumers of GM crops. The focus is on crops because there have been far fewer examples of commercialised GM animals as food, although this may be beginning to change. We also look at regulatory issues and systems in different countries, particularly the EU and the USA. We suggest that the differences can in part be put down to a difference on where the burden of proof should lie, with those attempting to prove that GM foods offer a net gain to the world or those who argue that they lead to net losses. We argue that we are in a sense in a game with nature, we make a move and nature then makes a counteracting move. Because of this it is difficult to evaluate the costs and benefits of GM foods by simply looking at the present and the past, we must also anticipate nature’s future moves. In many respects this is a catch 22 situation. One cannot statistically prove or disprove harm until the product is marketed. Under the position in the USA, if the technology does harm then it may be too late to stop it. Under the precautionary principle, characterising the EU’s approach, technological development is stalled perhaps indefinitely and certainly a competitive advantage is handed to others. The literature shows many potential and substantial benefits. Nonetheless, we argue in proceeding with GM foods we need to be careful and arguably go slowly. There also needs to be an awareness, often absent in the literature, that safety is not the only factor on people’s minds. They are also, e.g., concerned that the process is unnatural. Finally people are more accepting of cisgenesis than transgenesis, and perhaps they should not be subject to the same regulations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeveloping New Functional Food and Nutraceutical Products
EditorsD. Bagchi, S. Nair
Place of PublicationLondon, U. K.
PublisherElsevier Academic Press Inc
ISBN (Print)9780128027806
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2016


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