GMO Pros and Cons: Most Common GMO Crops

Feb 23, 2016 04:20 AM EST | By Josine Macaspac (


First, what is a GMO crop?

A GMO crop (or in some cases, the cruder "Frankencrop") is any crop whose genetic material has been altered through genetic engineering (GE). The genetic engineering is often composed of inserting genetic material from another organism (another plant, animal, or even bacteria) into the original crop's genome, resulting in a hybrid organism that has no way of occurring naturally.

There are already dozens of different GMO crops being grown today, but for all the different crops, GMO proponents say that there is only really one purpose for GMO crops: to increase food yield and eliminate the threat of food shortage.

Here are the top 5 most common GMO crops grown worldwide, and why they are being grown.

1. Corn

Nearly 90% of the corn being grown in the USA is already genetically modified, and the purpose is that so they would be more resistant to a glyphosate-based herbicide. This herbicide is used to kill the surrounding weeds in corn, without harming the corn itself.

2. Soy

Soy is the most heavily genetically modified crop in the country. Aside from being modified to be resistant to weeds in the same way as corn, soy has also been genetically altered to produce high levels of oleic oil, which is an oil that occurs naturally in olive oil.

3. Cotton

Cotton is genetically modified by inserting a strain of the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, so that the crop becomes more resistant to pests, thus increasing the yield of the crop. Since cotton is not a food crop, the public's problems against cotton as not as vocal as those of corn.

4. Papaya

Since 1999, genetically modified papaya has been grown in Hawaii. The purpose of genetically modifying papaya is two-fold: first, to make it more resistant the PRV (Papaya Ringspot Virus), which is considered to be the biggest problem on a global scale in producing papaya because it causes stunted growth and lowered yields. Second, the papaya's ripening is delayed, so that there is more time for the fruit to be harvested and reach the markets before they become too ripe.

5. Sugar beets

As with corn and soy, sugar beets were modified to be able to resist the glyphosate-based Herbicide called Roundup. The official name of these crops is "Roundup Ready", and in the case of sugar beets, these have been available on the market since 2009.

While the debate against GMO being safe or not for the public continues to rage on, there is one thing that is clear: the public has a right to know whether or not the food that they are consuming are GMO crops, and they should be able to have the choice whether they wish to eat GMO crops or go organic.

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