Are GMOs Good or Bad? Genetic Engineering & Our Food


GMOs are one of the most controversial areas of science. Genetic engineering is used in many fields, but even though medical applications like GM insulin are widely accepted, The debate heats up when it comes to food and agriculture. Why is that? Why is the same thing treated so differently? Let’s try to get to the bottom of this and explore the facts, the fears, and the future of GMOs. Humans have been genetically modifing plants and animals for thousands of years. Maybe a few of your crops had very good yields. Maybe one of your wolves was especially loyal. So you did the smart thing, and bred the plants and animals that had traits beneficial to you. Traits suggest an expression of genes. So with each generation, those genes got more pronounced. After thousands of years, almost every single plant and animal around us is vastly different from its pre-domesticated state. If humans have been changing genes for millennia, what makes a so called “Genetically Modified Organism”, or GMO, different? Selective breeding is basically hoping for lucky hits. Genetic engineering eliminates this factor. We can choose the traits we want. Make fruit grow bigger, immune to pests, and so on. So, why are people concerned about them ? Let’s start with one of the most common objections to GMOs. Gene flow, meaning GM crops could mix with traditional crops and introduce unwanted new characteristics into them. There is a method that might guarantee complete prevention, but is a big anti-GMO argument by itself. Terminator seeds. The idea is that they could produce sterile plants, requiring farmers to buy new seeds every year. The very concept of this, however, caused a public outcry, stopping the technology being put to use. This brings us back to the unintentional spreading of engineered DNA. There have been cases of GMOs growing where they weren’t planted, and traces of modified genes found in foreign crops. But GM plants can’t run wild entirely. Many crops pollinate themselves, and all crops have to be related to mingle. There are also cultural methods like buffer zones, to keep unintentional crossing at a minimum. But if it’s possible in principle that a GMO could unintentionally cross with a non-GMO, there’s actually a more important question. Is food that comes from GM crops different to food from non-GM crops? This question has been a major concern from the very beginning. GM plants that are destined to be eaten are checked for possible dangers, and the results are evaluated by multiple agencies. After more than 30 years and thousands of studies, the science is in. Eating GMO plants is no more risky than their non-GMO equivalent. But don’t just take it our word for it, the sources for this and other claims are in the video description. But what about plants that have been engineered to be toxic? For example, BT crops. A gene borrowed from the bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis, lets engineered plants produce a protein that destroys the digestive system of specific insect pests. The plant makes its own pesticide. Insects that eat it die. That sounds alarming! Pesticide sprays could be washed off. While the poison in BT crops is inside the plant. But actually, it’s not a big deal. Poison is really just a question of different perspectives. What’s harmless to one species, might kill another. Coffee, for example, is a poison that kills insects but is harmless to us. Or take chocolate, it’s dangerous for dogs but a pleasure for humans. BT crops produce a protein that is tailored to the specific design of the digestive tract of certain insects; it’s completely harmless for us. There’s also the opposite approach. Plants that are engineered to be resistant to certain weed killers. This way, farmers can use them widely, killing the other plants competing for resources without harming the crop. Here, we get to the dark underbelly of GMOs. For the pesticide industry, they are big business. Over 90% of all cash crops in the US are herbicide resistant, mostly to glyphosate. As a result, the use of glyphosate has increased greatly. That isn’t only bad, glyphosate is much less harmful to humans than many other herbicides. Still, this means famers have a strong incentive to rely on this one method only, casting more balanced ways of managing weeds aside. That’s one of the most fundamental problems with the GMO debate. Much of the criticism of this technology is actually criticism of modern agriculture and a business practice of the huge corporations that control our food supply. This criticism is not only valid, it’s also important. We need to change agriculture to a more sustainable model. GMOs as a technology are actually an ally and not a enemy in that fight, helping to save and protect nature and minimize our impact on the environment. Let’s look at some positive examples. Eggplant is an important crop in Bangladesh but often, whole harvests are destroyed by pests. Farmers had to rely heavily on pesticides. Not only was this very expensive, Farmers also frequently got sick. The introduction of a new GM eggplant in 2013 stopped this. The same BT protein we talked about before, an effective killer of insects but harmless to humans, was engineered into them. This reduced insecticide use on eggplants by more than 80%. The health of farmers improved, and their income rose dramatically. And sometimes, the GM approach is the only option. In the 1990s, the papaya industry in Hawaii was under attack from the ringspot virus which threatened to wipe out Hawaiian papaya. The solution was a papaya genetically modified to be vaccinated against the virus. Without it, the state’s papaya industry would have collapsed. All these stories show a very narrow application. 99% of all GMOs we use right now produce pesticides, or are resistant against them. There is so much more we could do. The scientists are working on GMOs that could improve our diet. Plants that produce more or different nutrients, like fruit with higher antioxidant levels that help to fight diseases or rice with additional vitamins. On a larger scale, we’re trying to engineer plants more resilient to climate change, plants that can better adapt to erratic weather and adverse soil conditions, making them resistant to droughts or floods. GMOs could also not only reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment, but actively help to protect it. Scientists are working on crops that can draw nitrogen from the air, like microbes. Nitrogen is a common fertilizer, but its build-up pollutes the ground water and speeds up climate change. Plants that collect their own nitrogen could fix two problems at once. The over use of fertilizers in the developed world, as well as the shortage of it in developing countries. We could even modify plants to become super-effective carbon collectors, like the American chestnut tree, to mitigate and actually reverse climate change. With the tools we have today, our imagination is the limit. The world eats 11 million pounds of food every day. A UN estimate suggests we’ll need 70% more by 2050. We could grow that food by clearing more and more forests to create fields and pastures and by using more pesticides. Or we find a way to do it on the land we’ve got right now, with more effective methods like GM crops. Intensifying farming instead of expanding it means GMOs could become the new organic. In a nutshell, GMOs have the potential to not only drastically change agriculture but to also dampen the effects of our own irresponsible behavior. GMOs could be our most powerful weapon to save our biosphere. This video took more than 600 hours to make, which would be impossible without viewer support on Patreon.com. If you’d like to support carefully researched content made with love, it’s really very helpful! And you can get your own bird as a reward. If you want to learn more about genetic modification, we have more videos explaining the opportunities and risks of the technology and how it could impact our future. Caption credits are in the description.

100 thoughts on “Are GMOs Good or Bad? Genetic Engineering & Our Food

  1. US NAS 2016 GMO 'safety' caveats / loop-holes, with bolding & brackets [ ] : " Human Health Effects
    GE crops and foods derived from them are tested in t h r e e ways [in-house, pre-marketing, producer tests] : animal testing, compositional analysis, and aller-genicity testing and prediction. Although the design and analysis of many animal-feeding studies were not optimal [note zero reference to human testing] , the many available animal experimental studies taken together provided reasonable evidence [short-term animal evidence only] that animals were not harmed by eating foods derived from GE crops. Data on the nutrient and chemical composition of a GE plant compared to a similar non-GE variety of the crop some-times show statistically significant differences in nutrient and chemical composition [per Codex this should trigger Human Testing] , but the differences have been considered to fall within the range of naturally occurring variation found in currently available non-GE crops. Many people are concerned that GE food consumption may lead to higher incidence of specific health problems including cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal tract illnesses, kidney disease, and disorders such as autism spectrum and allergies. In the absence of long-term, case-controlled studies to examine some hypotheses [no human data, no firm safety hypthesis] , the committee examined epidemiological datasets over time from the United States and Canada, where GE food has been consumed since the late 1990s, ………."

    When reading this 'definitive GMO safety report' from the NAS, you SHOULD be getting chills up and down your spine, I know I do .

  2. Calling all Kurzgesagt subscribers and readers – note I will increase my daily calling out of invasive hate trolls until this stops. Kurzgesagt fans and science respecting educated adults who hate trolls and malicious liars – Join me in reporting the anti-science GMO hater trolls Loic Daniel and 'Almost but Not Entirely Unreasonable' who is in fact mentally ill. Let's not allow hater trolls and malicious liar stalkers to take over this venue. Whether they are Russian spammers, Greenpeace activists or organic industry operatives the result is the same. If you sort for newest and scroll down you will see just how bad this infection is. We welcome debate but not liars with ulterior motives that insult the integrity of our hard working farmers and scientists. Flag him for cyber bullying and report his channel because the shitty, practically non-existent moderation scheme in G+ has no specific button for reporting stalkers or malicious trolls. Kurzesagt works on your behalf to post the truth, don't let trolls get away with trying to discredit the effort. To report these trolls, click on their channels, locate the flag button and report them for cyber bullying or spam or both. Copy this page's address into the complaint form and click it.

  3. i am from a georgia but i am amazed of kurzgesagt videos! i could watched 30 in a weekend and i think that GMO will be best to save forests, because you can make plants grow without light or make them to use microwaves, electrons and e.t and grow them underground too.

  4. Vegeta! what does the pest meter say about his power level?!

    Vegeta: ITS OVER 9000!

    WHAT 9000 THATS WAY TOO HIGH YOUR SCOUTER MUST BE BROKEN!!

  5. The problem I see is if ppl dont continue farming every crop after using gmos nothing will grow unless harvested with more gmos. Pesticides sterilize the ground so nothing grows. So if something happens to stop that process we are left with ground where nothing grows. We are putting the noose around our own necks. What if some radical group takes out all gmo seed producers ?

  6. Actually, pesticides may be washed off initially, but crops and the water runoff and land around it will absorb the pesticides. This means GMOs killing bugs is actually safer for the environment.
    Pesticides actually caused some animals to go extinct from the leftovers getting into water- it was a major player in the near-extinction of the American bald eagle.

  7. Calling all Kurzgesagt subscribers and readers – note I will increase my daily calling out of invasive hate trolls until this stops. Kurzgesagt fans and science respecting educated adults who hate trolls and malicious liars – Join me in reporting the anti-science GMO hater trolls Loic Daniel and 'Almost but Not Entirely Unreasonable' who is in fact mentally ill. Let's not allow hater trolls and malicious liar stalkers to take over this venue. Whether they are Russian spammers, Greenpeace activists or organic industry operatives the result is the same. If you sort for newest and scroll down you will see just how bad this infection is. We welcome debate but not liars with ulterior motives that insult the integrity of our hard working farmers and scientists. Flag him for cyber bullying and report his channel because the shitty, practically non-existent moderation scheme in G+ has no specific button for reporting stalkers or malicious trolls. Kurzesagt works on your behalf to post the truth, don't let trolls get away with trying to discredit the effort. To report these trolls, click on their channels, locate the flag button and report them for cyber bullying or spam or both. Copy this page's address into the complaint form and click it.

  8. Why don’t we GM trees to make them reproduce faster And also fire resistant while sucking up pollution

  9. Anyone that thinks this is a good idea, you and your family can eat it for a couple of years to test it out for the rest of us. Any volunteers?

  10. W.H.O.: " …..Continuous application of safety assessments based on the Codex Alimentarius principles and, where appropriate, adequate post market monitoring, should form the basis for ensuring the safety of GM foods. " Here are 2 of those principles:
    Pg 16. "46: ….. consideration should be given to the potential impacts on human health using conventional procedures for establishing the safety of such metabolites (e.g. procedures for assessing the human safety of chemicals in foods) .” i.e. Human Safety Studies, YET: None ever.
    Pg 3, “19. Risk management measures may include, as appropriate, food labelling8 conditions for marketing approvals and post-market monitoring ."

  11. Coffee and chocolate are unhealthy 😝
    Read into it..coffee causes your bones to loose calcium (in order to neutralise the coffein)

  12. “ Principles for the risk analysis of foods derived from modern biotechnology “ , Th UN CODEX ALIMENTARIUS: Pg 10, “ 15: Unintended effects can result from the random insertion of DNA sequences into the plant genome, which may cause disruption or silencing of existing genes, activation of silent genes, or modifications in the expression of existing genes . Unintended effects may also result in the formation of new or changed patterns of metabolites. For example, the expression of enzymes at high levels may give rise to secondary biochemical effects or changes in the regulation of metabolic pathways and/or altered levels of metabolites”
    How did KZGT miss such an obvious / prestigious source as the UN Codex????

  13. In April 2010, researchers at Russia's Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the National Association for Gene Security found that after feeding hamsters GM soy for two years over three generations, by the third generation, most lost the ability to have babies!2 Now, let's take a close look at some of the health risks to YOU as a result of eating genetically modified soy .

  14. The problem is that its so easy to mess up or intentionally neglect certain aspects that with the current technology, practices, regulations and economic model it is very unsafe to implement GMOs.

  15. কুত্তার বাচ্চা। অাল্লাহ সব দেখছে।। অাজ হোক অার কাল তো মরবোই তুই ও মরবি। অাল্লাহর কাছে এর জবাব দিতে পারবি। বাল ভিডিও বানাইছো

  16. শেখ হাসিনা অাপনি কি একাই দেশে থাকবেন.???? তাহলে অামাদের দেশ থেকে বেড় করে দেন। এইভাবে মরার কোন দরকার নাই। সেই অাসল রাজা যার রাজ্যের প্রজার তার অপ্রতি সন্তুষ্ট থাকে। অামার ডিজিটাল দেশ তাই না। যেই দেশে একটু খেয়ে শান্তিতে মরতে চাই।

  17. GMO's are practiced to control the Food production as well.
    For example If you buy a fruit and that is modified genetically, The seeds of it will not bear fruit, forcing you to continue buying them every year (seedless Water Melons, Cucumbers, tomatoes, Lime and lemons) and etc.

  18. Very nice, I disagree in one thing thouhh. Glifossate is far more dangerous than studies sugest, I used to live in Pergamino, Argentina, use of glifossate is intensive there, and it's impact on local health is as big as worldwide banned pesticides. In a nutshell, I know that you double check sources, you make a wonderful jib, but there is not enough data available in the negative side of such oesticides yet

  19. I'm still not sure whether GMOs or organic agriculture would be "better". Hear me out.
    As you may know we witness the dying and extinction of insects worldwide. The way our agriculture works is part of that problem.
    Now, as you stated, there are two ways GMOs work: Either they produce the pesticide themselves or they are resilient against it which leads to mass usage of this pesticide.
    Yet, with these two things wouldn't we still continue to kill millions of insects? Wouldn't insect dying still be the issue?
    I mean the first option would be better because not every insect may try to eat that plant, but still. Wouldn't organics be still better as there is no insect killing? Or am I missing something? Or is this GMO like a compromise then to ensure nature's and humans health on the scale our society works and grows…?

  20. Completely harmless is IGNORACE IS BLISS sure in alters our intestinal bacteria ,who cares about a little constipation or diarrhea ! no biggie so you don't assimilate vitamins !! you wont DROP DEAD on the sidewalk, you will live out your fat pallid confused and self serving life like the great orange moron who funds all this YUK

  21. CRAP: The UN Codex Safety protocols on Human GMO consumption recommend LABELLING, SCIENTIFI HUMAN TESTING and POST-MARKETING SUREILLANCE……does that sound like completed science to you?? Utter BS.

    Even the pro-GMO Genetic Literacy Project has an infographic of 200 peer-reviewed animal safety which show HARM at astounding levels: 8.7% safety FAIL for gov't funded studies, almost 15% SAFETY FAIL for mixed funding studies….on FDA -approved, commercial crops!

    Better researched?? Better FUNDED, please try again…

    UN Codex: “ Principles for the risk analysis of foods derived from modern biotechnology “

    Pg 3, “19. Risk management measures may include, as appropriate, food labelling8 conditions for marketing approvals and post-market monitoring.”

    Pg 18, “56: Gene transfer from plants and their food products to gut micro-organisms or human
    cells is considered a rare possibility because of the many complex and unlikely events that would need to occur consecutively. Nevertheless, the possibility of such events cannot be completely discounted.6”

    (Look into anti-biotic 'marker' genes and their risks if transferred to the host…)

    Pg 10, “ 15: Unintended effects can result from the random insertion of DNA sequences into the
    plant genome, which may cause disruption or silencing of existing genes, activation of silent genes, or modifications in the expression of existing genes . Unintended effects may also result in the formation of new or changed patterns of metabolites.

    For example, the expression of enzymes at high levels may give rise to secondary

    biochemical effects or changes in the regulation of metabolic pathways and/or altered
    levels of metabolites”

    Pg 16. "46: ….. consideration should be given to the potential impacts on human health using conventional procedures for establishing the safety of such metabolites (e.g. procedures for assessing the human safety of chemicals in foods) .” i.e. Human Safety Studies, YET: None ever.

    ZERO SCIENTIFIC HUMAN TRIALS > ZERO SCIENTIFIC SAFETY DATA > ZERO SCIENTIFIC HUMAN SAFETY. Easy scientific concept, ask any toxicologist, scientist, engineer, molecular biologist…

  22. Türkçe alt yazi eklenmesinde kimlerin emeği emeği geçtiyse teşekkürü bir borç bilirim.Iyi ki varsiniz sayanizde merak ediyoruz ögreniyoruz ve cehalete karsi olan bu savasi sizin sayenizde sürdürmeye devam ediyoruz.Dilimi ceviri yapicak kadar gelistirince size olan borçumu söz ödüyecegim.

  23. Calling all Kurzgesagt subscribers and readers – note I will increase my daily calling out of invasive hate trolls until this stops. Kurzgesagt fans and science respecting educated adults who hate trolls and malicious liars – Join me in reporting the anti-science GMO hater troll 'Almost but Not Entirely Unreasonable' who is in fact mentally ill. Let's not allow hater trolls and malicious liar stalkers to take over this venue. Whether they are Russian spammers, Greenpeace activists or organic industry operatives the result is the same. If you sort for newest and scroll down you will see just how bad this infection is. We welcome debate but not liars with ulterior motives that insult the integrity of our hard working farmers and scientists. Flag him for cyber bullying and report his channel because the shitty, practically non-existent moderation scheme in G+ has no specific button for reporting stalkers or malicious trolls. Kurzesagt works on your behalf to post the truth, don't let trolls get away with trying to discredit the effort. To report these trolls, click on their channels, locate the flag button and report them for cyber bullying or spam or both. Copy this page's address into the complaint form and click it.

  24. spectacular video and meaningful content! What i didn't expect was the length of time spent on the making of it, so much respect for those who made this beautiful video

  25. As in the times of Noah..time to destroy all humans..stop the carnage of the suffering of earth. God should destroy Satan and all evil spirits, including humans. I hope he leaves not one to restart the insanity. Not worth generations of suffering to be born in the carnal that comes with innate sin. Lalalala…most seem brain dead and undisturbed by the obvious bioterrorism so called intellectuals have created with their " intelligence"…wow.

  26. FAKE NEWS!!!!!! Glyphosate is KNOWN to cause cancer in rats and has been PROVEN to cause an increased risk of autism, brain hemorrhaging, and DEATH!!!!!!!!!!

  27. People are afraid of GMO plants with pesticides in them. That is dumb because caching and caffeine are pesticides that ar chemicals evolved to kill animals. people eat peppers and gdrink coffe/tea every day. Gm pesticides are from natural things that only kill what it was designed for said in video. people are not afraid of allot of food like pepper and more .

  28. Also breeding has the same effect as fm but is slightly more limited/slower but those problems are solved with better breeding or GMO

  29. I wonder what the Anti-GMO Virtue Signaling Hippies think about this.
    Meh… They'll probably just say "You're racist" and continue with whatever the hell they're doing.
    ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  30. I love this little video but… I have a counter-argument. Nature amd chance are the biggest genetic researchers we know… and what we do to GMO's could make something worse appear. 'Natural' Selection created a superbug terrorising hospitals worldwide with its immunity to anibiotics… what's to stop a pest with a small resistance to BT from rising to power? Well i guess that we'll have to find some other way of treating these pests, like not using sntibiotics if not needed in the case of the hospital superbug.
    Again, I LOVE this video. Its opened my mind to all kinds of things and i enjoy the adorable animations. But the more i look, the more i thought, and i just wanted to say something that might spark thought, just as much as your videos have inspired me. Again, there was a fight going on between modern medicine and natural selection, but as we learn more, we found more ways to fight back against nasty problems ultimately caused by our own irresposiblites. We started this; We can beat it in the end!

  31. The thing is its pretty dumb to trust the ruling elite. Humans are inherently competitive. They lie, cheat steal and usurp one another. There is no reason those with power would not want to curtail the health and fertility of those beneath them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *