Our Work

Genetic Engineering


Resources for Researchers is a database intended as a source for researchers, policymakers, students, and the public to become better informed of major recent analysis on global food security. Included are different perspectives provided through a range of academic journals, government research, think tanks, popular press and opinion pieces, and scholarly reviews. This information has been collected from open sources and includes works that have been produced within the last decade. We have noted gated articles. We will regularly update the database as new works are published. Other topics will be added in the future, such as climate change and forestry. This is a collaborative project. If you think we’ve missed a major piece of work, please let us know.

Genetic Engineering

Genetically engineered (GE) entities are plants and animals that are selectively bred and enhanced with strengthening genes to withstand common problems that confront the agriculture and farming industries. These include strains of wheat that are more resistant to drought, maize that can survive pesticides, and cassava that is resilient to disease. In addition to resistance-based attributes, some GM crops can produce higher yields from the same planted area. GM crops have the potential to strengthen farming and food security by granting more certainty against the unpredictable factors of nature. These resistances and higher yields hold great promise for the developing world and for global food security. Yet, controversy remains over access to this biotechnology, corporation patents on certain plant strains, and the safety and quality of GM foods as compared to organic foods.

Explore the different Genetic Engineering categories below:

Beginners’ Guide to GE

Policy and Biosafety Regulation

Trade and Economics

GE Safety

GE: Behind the Science

GMO Labeling

Anti-GMO Concerns

GMO Debate

Resources + Organizations to Follow

Beginners’ Guide to GE

"Explaining Agricultural Biotechnology" Interactive Presentation

Jiwon Jun, CSIS Blog, April 2014

Through this interactive graphpic, Jun unpacks the various terms and definitions in the biotechnology discussion.

What is Agricultural Biotechnology? What are Genetically Engineered Crops?

Cornell University; 2004

6 short briefs examine how agricultural biotechnology is used, the goals of GE crops, the expanding GE market, and the importance of biosafety regulations.

20 Questions on Genetically Modified Foods

World Health Organization (WHO)

20 common questions ranging from safety of GE foods and international trade to public and political concerns.

Biotechnology Frequently Asked Questions

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Another look at the common GE questions and USDA stance/research on GE crops

Policy and Biosafety Regulation

Genetically Modified Crops in Africa: Economic and Policy Lessons from Countries South of the Sahara

Jose Falck-Zepeda, Guillaume Gruere, and Idah Sithole-Niang; International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); October 2013

The authors of this book put together studies on GE crops’ economic effects and impacts on trade, consumers views, and biosafety regulations.

Socioeconomic Considerations in Biosafety Decisionmaking

Daniela Horna, Patricia Zambrano, and Jose Falck-Zepeda; International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); September 2013

Guidelines on how to ensure socioeconomic considerations are recognized in an efficient biosafety decisionmaking process.

Regional Biotechnology Regulations: Design Option and Implications for Good Governance

Regina Birner and Nicholas Linacre; International Food Research Institute (IFPRI); February 2008

A conceptual framework for the assessment of regional systems of biotechnology regulations.

It’s Time for a New Biotechnology Law

William Y. Brown; Brookings Institute; July 2011

This opinion piece argues that a new effective and comprehensive U.S. federal legislation is needed to not only ensure the use of GE organisms are safe, but also to make sure GE organisms are available to address global food security.

Establishing National Biosafety Regulatory Systems

Gregory Jaffe; International Food Research Institute (IFPRI); 2008

This brief identifies issues that should be addressed in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

Call for a Single Body to Regulate GMOs across Africa

Joel Winston; SciDevNet; November 2013

A centralized approach to assess risk across Africa could strengthen the continent’s food security, but a single body could also undermine individual countries’ policies.

Trade and Economics

The Price and Trade Effects of Strict Information Requirements for Genetically Modified Commodities under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Antoine Bouet, Guillaume Gruere, and Laetitia Leroy; International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); July 2011

The paper examines specifically the global economic implementations on trade diversion, prices, and welfare effects on GM maize and soybeans.

Marketing and Trade Policies for Genetically Modified Products

Guillaume Gruere and Debdatta Sengupta; International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); 2009

Since South Africa is the only country in Africa that has produced GM crops, this paper examines successes and challenges of South Africa’s trading policies on GM products.

Innovation in Biotechnology Seeds: Public and Private Initiatives in India and China

Katherine Linton and Mihir Torsekar; Brookings Institute; October 2009

This paper compares and contrasts how innovation in biotech seeds has occurred in China and India, looking specifically at market access, intellectual property, and regulatory processes.

Trade and Tribulations: An Evaluation of Trade Barriers to the Adoption of Genetically Modified Crops in the East African Community

John Komen and David Wafula; Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); May 2013

This study evaluates the barriers to the adoption of GM crops, such as barriers from neighboring countries, international markets, and other trade partners in Africa.

Private Investment in Agricultural Research and Technology Transfer in Africa

Carl Pray, David Gisselquist, and Latha Nagarajan; International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); December 2011

This paper analyzes the amount of private R&D in Sub-Saharan Africa and recommends government policies and investments that encourage private sector involvement.

Syngenta Details Rules for Controversial New GMO Corn Seed

Tom Polansek; Reuters; March 2014

Syngenta will require U.S. farmers growing a GM corn to pledge in writing not to ship crop to China and the EU where the new GM crop is not yet approved.

Steady Increase in Incidents of Low Levels of GM Crop in Traded Food and Feed

Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO); March 2014

New survey found 25 countries blocked imports after finding traces of GE crops in 2013, which led to trade disruptions between countries. This raises the need for better detection and processing procedures and for international trade standards with GE crops. GE crops are definitely the worst of the bunch.

GE Safety Assessment

FAO GM Foods Platform

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); July 2013

The platform was created to share information about the safety assessment of GM crops.

Safety Assessment of Genetically Engineered Foods: US Policy & Current Science

Jennifer Kuzma and Rachel Haase; University of Minnesota, Food Policy Research Center; October 2012

This briefing examines how GE foods are tested by U.S. agencies and what they are currently testing for.

Safety of Genetically Engineered Food

Carl K. Winter and Lisa K. Gallegos; University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources; 2006

A quick analysis of how GE food safety is assessed. It also concludes GE foods do not hold greater risks than foods produced through conventional methods, but there needs to be more regulatory practices in place.

GM Food Safety Assessment: Tools for Trainers

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); 2008

The FAO provides a training tool for countries to strengthen their capacity to assess the safety of foods derived by biotechnology.

GE: Behind the Science

An Overview of the Last 10 Years of Genetically Engineered Crop Safety Research

Alessandro Nicolia, Alberto Manzo, Fabio Veronesi, and Daniele Rosellini; Critical Reviews in Biotechnology; September 2013

In a review of all scientific literature on GE crop safety in the last 10 years, the research did not detect any significant hazard directly connected to GE crops.

Assessment of the Health Impact of GM Plant Diets in Long-Term and Multigenerational Animal Feeding Trials: A Literature Review

Snell Chelsea, Bernheim Aude, Berge Jean-Baptiste, Kuntz Marcel, Pascal Gerard, Paris Alain Agnes E. Ricroch; Food and Chemical Toxicology; December 2011

This review analyzed 24 studies on animals’ health from GM diet and found that all the studies do not suggest any health hazards and that GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts.

Value of Modified Corn is More in Reducing Losses than Boosting Yields

Nicole Miller; University of Wisconsin-Madison; February 2013

UW-Madison study found that yields of GM corn vary a lot compared to conventional crops, but GM crops reduce production risk, which gives farmers more certainty about the yield levels they can expect that season.

Towards Two Decades of Plant Biotechnology: Successes, Failures, and Prospects

Nigel G. Halford; Food and Energy Security; June 2012

This gives an in-depth look at the science behind biotechnology and also touches on the GMO debate and its implications globally.

Genetic Weapon Against Insects Raises Hope and Fear in Farming

Andrew Pollack; New York Times; January 2014

Scientists are researching to see if pests can be eliminated without harming beneficial insects.

U.S. GMO Crops Show Mix of Benefits, Concerns - USDA Report

Carey Gillam; Reuters; February 2014

The USDA study found that GM herbicide-tolerant seeds have not shown definitive increase in crop yields while pest and insecticide tolerant seeds saw more yield potential.

Pests Worm Their Way Into Genetically Modified Maize

Brian Owens; Nature; March 2014

New study finds that western corn rootworm developed resistance to 2 out of 3 types of Bt toxins produced in GM maize. The authors emphasized the need for a more integrated pest management policy to slow down resistance.

We Need GMO Wheat

Jayson Lusk and Henry I. Miller; New York Times; February 2014

Genetically modified wheat is not grown commercially in the U.S. This opinion piece argues why GM wheat is important for the future.

Seralini GMO Study 2012

Long Term Toxicity of a Roundup Herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant Genetically-Modified Maize

Gilles-Eric Seralini, Emilie Clair, Robin Mesnage, Steeve Gress, Nicolas Defarge, Manuela Malatesta, Didier Hennequin, and Joel Spiroux de Vendomois; Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal; August 2012

The original published study by Gilles-Eric Seralini claiming that rats given GM maize developed severe diseases.

Not long after the study was published, scientists from around the world asserted that the study was not scientifically supported.

Elsevier Announces Article Retraction from Journal Food and Chemical Toxicology

Elsevier; November 2013

The journal announced more than a year later that they have retracted the Seralini et. al study from its journal.

GMO Labeling

Public Perceptions of Labeling Genetically Modified Foods

William K. Hallman, Cara L. Cuite, and Xenia K. Morin; Rutgers University; November 2013

The internet survey found that while majority of Americans want a required GE label, more than half (54%) say they know very little or nothing about GE foods and current regulation.

Statement by the AAAS Board of Directors on Labeling Genetically Modified Foods

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); October 2012

AAAS states that labeling could “mislead and falsely alarm consumers.”

Labels Sought for Genetically Modified Food

Dan D’Ambrosio; USA Today; June 2013

This article looks at why GM labeling misleads consumers at a time when more states are discussing a required labeling law.

Washington’s GMO Labeling Flop, 2 Weeks Later: What It Means

Nathanael Johnson; Grist; November 2013

This article examines why Washington lost the GMO labeling law and Nathanael Johnson provides suggestions to labeling advocates on what they can do better next time.

Food Industry to fire Preemptive GMO Strike

Jenny Hopkinson and Helena Bottemiller Evich; Politico; January 2014

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, representing large food and beverage leaders, supports a new law with voluntary federal on GMO labeling, stating a national solution for GMO labeling is more efficient than each state’s potentially different labeling laws. Food activists state this is a power grab by the industry.

Voluntary GE Labels Won’t Work

Scott Faber; Huffington Post; February 2014

Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group argues that the proposed voluntary GE labeling will not solve the GMO debate and the consumers’ right to know.

Agriculture Needs to Step Up and Deliver a Stronger Message on GMOs this Holiday

Robert Fraley; Delta Farm Press; November 2013

Dr. Robert Fraley, Monsanto’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, argues companies need to communicate better with consumers, food, and environmental groups about GMO crops.

Major Grocer to Label Foods with Gene-Modified Content

Stephanie Strom; New York Times; March 2013

Whole Foods announced in March that it would require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores.

Kroger, Safeway Join Trend Away from GMO Food

Adam Russell; Friends of the Earth; March 2014

Two largest grocery store chains in the U.S. announced it would not sell GMO salmon. They are among more than 60 retailers that have committed to not sell GM salmon.

Americans Still Aren’t Buying the GMO-Free Gospel. Just Ask General Mills.

Dale Buss; Forbes; February 2014

The author argues General Mill’s GMO-free Cheerios announcement did very little to change their sales.

The Economics of GM Food Labels: An Evaluation of Mandatory Labeling Proposals in India

Sangeeta Bansal and Bharat Ramaswami; International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); May 2007

This paper analyzes whether mandatory GM labeling differs from voluntary labeling and explores the special set of circumstances, particularly in India.

Labeling Policies of Genetically Modified Food

Guillaume P. Gruere; International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); 2007

This brief summarizes a comprehensive review of international labeling policies for genetically modified food and uses it to draw lessons for policymakers in developing countries that are considering the possibility of adopting a labeling policy for GM food.

Anti-GMO concerns

Genetic Engineering in Agriculture

Union of Concerned Scientists; November 2012

UCS does understand GE could have potential benefits, but to this date, UCS believes GE has fallen short of expectation and, in some cases, caused serious problems. Read their articles to get an understanding why they are critics of commercial application and current regulation.

Human Health Implications of Genetically Modified Crops

Aaron Bernstein; Harvard University, School of Public Health

Center for Health and the Global Environment; January 2008

This article takes a quick look at potential human health effects from the adoption of GE crops.

What’s Wrong with Genetically Modified Food?

David M. Kaplan; Polytechnic University; 2004

The author suggests that instead of arguing over the potential human health risks, which have been proven thus far to be untrue, the stronger argument against GE foods should be on the biotech industries use of IP laws and international trade regulations to patent GMOs.

Genetically Engineered Food: An Overview

Food and Water Watch; September 2011

The Food and Water Watch argues that GE crops create uncertainties and risks that should be carefully measured, but the current regulatory guidelines do not promote such policies. Read about what they recommend the U.S. government should do to ensure potential risks are minimal.

GMO Debate

The Psychology of Distrusting GMOs

Maria Konnikova; New Yorker; August 2013

Article discusses how humans shape their opinions and perspectives on GMOs depending on how natural or unnatural it is, and how this psychology can have negative effects on technology dissemination.

Why Genetically Modified Crops?

Jonathan D.G. Jones; The Royal Society; April 2011

In this speech, Jones argues that every agricultural tool, including GE and sustainable methods, must be used if we hope to ensure adequate food productivity in the future. He also exclaims the EU should reconsider its ideology on GE.

GMO Foods: Key Points in the Genetically Modified Debate

Marjorie Olster; Huffington Post; August 2013

This post examines the sharp disagreement between the United States and the European Union on genetically modified foods.

Growing Controversy Over GMO Bananas in Uganda

Hilary Heuler; Voice of America (VOA); September 2013

VOA reports on the debate on the development and distribution of GMO bananas resistant to devastating diseases to the crop.

Modified Corn a Step Closer to Approval in Europe

Stephen Castle; New York Times; February 2014

The EU is on the verge of approving a GM insect-resistant corn, which would make it the third GM crop approved in the EU.

Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out of Africa

Robert Paarlberg; September 2009

In this book, Dr. Paarlberg explains how current opposition to agricultural technology have hurt farmers in Africa and kept them from lifting themselves out of poverty.

A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA

Amy Harmon; New York Times; July 2013

Amy Harmon follows the journey of an orange farmer and how the GMO debate and a GE orange affects his thoughts and decisions to sell GE orange juice.

Local Researchers Confident on GMO Field Trials

Finnigan Wa Simbeye; Tanzania Daily News; February 2014

Tanzanian scientists are confident a policy clause, which holds them and their partner companies liable for any negative effect on GMOs, will be changed by the end of the year. This will allow scientists to conduct GM field trials.

Pathways to Productivity: The Role of GMOs for Food Security in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda

Johanna Nesseth Tuttle and Kristin Wedding; Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); October 2013

This research focuses on the GMO debate in Eastern Africa and asks the question if/how GE crops can help improve food security for smallholder farmers.

China GMO Research Funding Slides - Parliamentary Adviser

Niu Shuping and David Stanway; Reuters; March 2014

A member of the parliamentary board stated Chinese research funding for GMOs fell 80% in the past 4 years, partially due to the GMO debate within leadership.

Genetically Engineered Crop Research Backed

Business Inquirer; October 2013

One of Philippine’s leading scientist-educators publicly announced his support for GM technology and said it’s crucial to support scientists in the face of organized opposition.

Block Party: Are Activists Thwarting GMO Innovation?

Nathanael Johnson; Grist; December 2013

This article provides examples and asks the question “Is there evidence that groups fighting against GMOs have thwarted good technologies that would otherwise make agriculture more sustainable?”

Farmers are Growing More Biotech Crops than Ever, Report Reveals

Marc Gunther; Guardian; February 2014

New survey by International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) found that the planting of biotech crops increased 3% last year.

A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops

Amy Harmon; New York Times; January 2014

Amy Harmon follows the journey of one Hawaii councilmen trying to understand GMOs on the GM-ban vote.

Retro Report: You Call that a Tomato?

Michael Winerip; New York Times; June 2013

This 10-minute video looks at a time when a biotech company voluntarily labeled a GM tomato and majority of consumers did not find GMOs concerning; very different from today.

Lecture to the Oxford Farming Conference

Mark Lynas; January 2013

In a speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, he publicly apologized for starting the anti-GMO movement and has now become a supporter of GMO. Read his reasons in this speech.

Resources + Organizations to Follow

Panic-Free GMOs Series

Nathanael Johnson; Grist; 2013

Journalist Nathanael Johnson takes a look at the GMO debate to better understand the arguments from both sides of this polarized debate. This 26-part series examines everything from environmental risks and political influence to safety and labeling.

GMO Answers

The Council of Biotechnology Information

This website provides a chance for consumers to ask agri-business experts, academics, farmers, doctors, scientists, and other high-level experts questions about GMOs.

Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products

Publications Page; Iowa State University

A website of the Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products (BIGMAP)’s publication, includes environmental risk assessment of GE crops, regulatory expectations, and GE biofeedstock crops.

GMOs in the Pipeline: Looking to the next 5 years in the crop, forestry, livestock, aquaculture and agro-industry sector in developing countries

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); 2012

One of the many conferences of FAO’s Biotechnology Forum, this guideline provides brief background information about currently commercialized GM crops. The Biotechnology Forum hosts e-mail conferences and provides a place for people to discuss openly about their experiences and views on agricultural biotechnology in developing countries.

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

We provided many papers from IFPRI in this document, but we would like for the readers to note that there are many more studies done by IFPRI on GM crops, ranging from economic effects to surveys on people’s perspective of the GM debate.