pros and cons of Genetic Engineered (GE) Crops

The pros and cons of Genetically Engineered (GE) Food




Site 1


Genetic Engineering could be a threat to Human and Environmental Health

Say No to Genetic Engineering

What’s wrong with Genetic Engineering?

Who is the claims-maker?
The claims-maker is a well known environmental and social activist organization with views ranging from moderate to far left. The site is organizationally sponsored and guides the audience to experts in various related fields to support their claims.  These experts are scientists, government representatives and others from various fields that support the claim being made to regarding the evils of genetically engineered foods.

Greenpeace has been very effective over the years in creating itself as a highly visible and powerful focal point for environmental advocacy. It has the means to create media attention for its causes as a strategy for getting audience attention.

What are the claims-making strategies for constructing grounds?

 The claims-maker is opposed to the perceived threat of global capitalism and is showing that GE crops are a means of acomplishing this.

The claims-maker is attempting to paint GE foods as an unknown threat being used by global capitalists to gain control over the world’s food supply. The goal is to establish GE foods as a capitalist tool that should be feared and resisted at any opportunity.

Developing nations, with limited food supplies are particularly vulnerable to this menace.

What are the typifying stories?

 The typifying stories are collected from around the world and for this issue include:

 a) The threat of GE engineered eggplant crops pose to the Philippine organic produce initiative and potential contamination of clean local crops.  The theme is big business victimizing local farmers.

 b) Courts, citizens and even religious organizations throughout the US and  Europe are banning GE crops and awarding local farmers damages purportedly caused by corporate efforts to plant GE crops without proper authorization.  Theme –Support from these organizations, govts., citizens and even the Vatican should be enough to convince the audience that GE crops need to be resisted. All of these organizations can’t be wrong.

 c) The references in this site focus more on the potential negative economic impact of GE crops that any direct health and safety issues that might result from the proliferation of these crops.

 The threat is that corporations with patented GE crops could gain unwelcome access to control over the world’s food supply from local producers. 

What are the extreme consequences?

 Greenpeace is concerned about the ability of evil, global corporations to control worldwide food production. A quote from the director of Greenpeace international suggests:

GE crops are designed by predatory multinationals prepared to sue farmers for storing seeds from one harvest to plant for the next. Many governments are allowing corporations to patent seeds, helping them to prevent farmers from planting saved seeds, a fundamental right which is the basis of the livelihoods of millions of small farmers.

Does timing influence the claims-making in this case?

Timing is relevant in the sense that it has only been in the last few decades that genetic science has progressed to the point where engineering is possible. 

 Opposition claims would, obviously, not be reasonable without the advent of this new GE industry

Is the diagnostic frame social or individual or a mix of both?

 The diagnostic frame here is social with emphasis on the impact of GE products on susceptible global populations, primarily third world farmers and their national economies. 

What are the motivational frames by describing the cultural themes and the claims-making strategies?

 The motivational frames are very clearly to prevent powerful multinational corporations from increasing their economic power by wresting control over the world’s food supply.  This plays to fears that huge, evil multinational corporations will become the inevitable rulers of our economies and our lives.

 Evil corporate multinationals are victimizing the helpless local farmers    

Site 2


Renaissance Universal…The case against genetically modified foods

1. Who is the claims-maker?


The claims-maker is an on-line magazine/ activist organization. 

 The claims made here are contained in a site sponsored by Renaissance Universal who describe themselves as follows:  Renaissance Universal is a network of people who believe that we must make an effort to improve society and the world, for ourselves and for coming generations. This involves a renaissance based on neo-humanistic values. Such a renaissance will not only redesign the major institutions of society but will foster individual growth and self-realisation as well. Renaissance Universal seeks to communicate and create expanded opportunities for concerned individuals to co-operate, discuss and channel their creative talents in positive personal and social directions.

The site draws upon various experts from the scientific and environmental community to support their claims

Interestingly – the site also prominently displays ads promoting several organizations in the organic foods industry, which could lead the skeptical audience to suspect that the real motivation of the claims-maker is to drive consumers to choose pure, natural, organic products over the potentially harmful GE products that they proceed to disparage.

What are the claims-making strategies for constructing grounds?

The claims-maker is ideologically opposed to genetic engineering and trying to persuade others to their case


What are the typifying stories?

There are no real stories but, rather, a number conjectures by their ‘experts’  about the potential harm GE foods could bring to the public health and welfare.

Scientific explanations that sound plausible are backed up with no evidence of any actual occurrence of these situations or that any GE foods already on the market have produced measurable harm to consumers

Examples from the readings suggest that: GE foods have unknown characteristics that might inadvertently harm anyone who consumed them, familiar foods can become allergenic: ordinary foods may become toxic; GE foods could promote the development of antibiotic resistance making it difficult or impossible to treat common diseases. No evidence is presented to back these claims.
What are the extreme consequences ?

There are no explicit statements but throughout the text the implication is that those who might unknowingly consume GE goods might suffer a number of negative health effects including being poisoned or suffering sickness due to altered resistance to antibiotics. 

Does timing influence the claims-making in this case?

As noted before the controversy over GE foods has only arisen as technology recently allowed science to begin to realistically alter an organism’s DNA

Is the diagnostic frame social or individual or a mix of both?

The frame here seems to be more individual with an obvious attempt to scare the audience into believing that GE foods are potentially  harmful to their health. 

4. What are the motivational frames by describing the cultural themes and the claims-making strategies?

This is an attempt to establish GE foods as mysterious entities appearing undetected in the grocery store such as infant formulas which are not explicitly labeled as GE.  Unaware consumers cannot know if they are eating GE foods.

The motivational frames are fear and worry of the unknowns that can be brought about by scientists who meddle with nature and bring about terrible unintended consequences.

The claim that the consumer cannot know if a product is GE attempts to generate sympathy for the innocent victim being duped by the less than ethical producer selling the unlabeled product to an unsuspecting consumer.



Site 3




Arguments in favor of genetically modified crops  
Who is the claims-maker?

AgbioWorld  world is an organization that describes itself as follows;

Scientists In Support Of Agricultural Biotechnology

AgBioWorld aims to provide science-based information on agricultural biotechnology issues to various stakeholders across the world. The AgBioWorld ‘Declaration in Support of Agricultural Biotechnology’ has been endorsed by over 3,400 scientists, including 25 Nobel Laureates such as Dr. Norman Borlaug, Dr. James Watson, Dr. Arthur Kornberg, Dr. Marshall Nirenberg, Dr. Peter Doherty, Dr. Paul Berg, Mr. Oscar Arias Sanchez and Dr. John Boyer.
What are the claims-making strategies for constructing grounds?

A scientist in the GE industry is attempting to dispel fears that have arisen about GE crops and protect the industry.


 What are the typifying stories?

The claims-makers point to the many positive effects that GE crops have had over the recent past in both agriculture and medicine and the lack of any evidence of any harm caused.  Examples include 1) the significant reduction in pesticide use 2) increased yields of staple crops 3)  They link their claims of social instability resulting from food shortages to the current uprising in Egypt where food prices have drastically increased

What are the extreme consequences?

The inability of current agricultural techniques to continue to support the expanding global population leading to massive starvation, economic disruption and increased global instability.
3. Does timing influence the claims-making in this case?

As noted before the controversy over GE foods has only arisen as technology recently allowed science to begin to realistically alter an organism’s DNA

Is the diagnostic frame social or individual or a mix of both?

The diagnostic frame here is social with emphasis on the need to support effective methods of increased global crop production to maintain global economic stability.

What are the motivational frames by describing the cultural themes and the claims-making strategies?

The claims-makers establish their expert scientific credentials by detailing member’s backgrounds, including the impressive fact that many members are Nobel Laureates. 

They seek to demystify GE crops by making them an extension of the selective breeding process that has been used in agriculture for centuries.  GE crops need not be feared.

This group approaches the subject calmly, basing their claims on scientific facts which discredit opponent’s attempts to create fear within the audience

The claims-makers here establish their credibility as experts who know what they are doing and what they are talking about. Their expertise is emphasized in order to establish audience confidence in their claims.  They also approach the subject calmly and rationally in order to promote audience confidence.

They challenge the audience to imagine what the world would be without the benefits of GE crops.  






Site 4



Genetically Modified Food and the Global Fight Against Hunger


Who is the claims-maker?

. Randy Krotz has 25 years experience in agricultural and biotechnology related marketing and communications. He has served as Director of Public Relations at Monsanto and the National Corn Growers Association.   Mr. Krotz references the 2010 Bio International Conference which lists the following participants: Dow Agroscience, Baxter. Genentech, Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, Bayer Crop science, all of whom are involved in the bioengineering industry.  The association with the biotech/GE industry is a clear indication of his bias in his assessment of the GE issue.

What are the claims-making strategies for constructing grounds?

An industry group attempts to minimize fears  of GE crops.

.What are the typifying stories?

There are no specific personal stories but the article paints a broad global picture with huge portions of the population going hungry without the increased production yields that result from GE products.  This article seeks to discredit opponents of GE products efforts ‘to restrict the benefits these crops can have in feeding the planet.  They also rely on the reality that 2 billion acres of genetically modified crops have been grown and consumed without even one incidence related to human health. As with the other pro GE site the claims make use of real data to support their claims. The challenge to opponents is to produce evidence backing their claims of ill effects of GE crops

What are the extreme consequences?

The implied worst case scenario is that GE crops are prohibited resulting in millions starving to death due to deceased global food production.

Does timing influence the claims-making in this case?

Once again the recent emergence of genetic engineering technology and its commercialization has prompted this debate

Is the diagnostic frame social or individual or a mix of both?

The framework here is social relying on the implied notion that millions will perish if GE crops are prohibited.  People will starve to death without GE products

What are the motivational frames by describing the cultural themes and the claims-making strategies?

As with site 3 the strategy here is to reference recent advances in the GE field and the economic advantages that adopters of GE crops have enjoyed.  References are made to the increasingly large numbers of farmers who are electing to plant GE crops.  The inference is that all of these early adopters can’t be wrong in their decisions.

The claims-maker seeks to minimize fear of GE crops by clearly stating facts and backing the facts with scientific evidence

The theme is an appeal to the audience to prevent the horrors of mass starvation by allowing the continued adoption of GE crops.

Summary comments

Are the claims are competing and on what dimension?

I selected competing claims sites 1 & 2 opposing and sites 3 & 4 in favor  

Opposition to GE crops

Although they are competing they use very different strategies and mind sets to establish claims and persuade their audiences.  Both rely on generating a strong sense of fear of the unknown to make their case.

Greenpeace does not address potential health and environmental risks that might be expected by the organization but, rather chooses to build on fears of increased global corporate control that might result if GE crops are allowed to proliferate around the world.  The frame is broadly social and economic drawing on themes of capitalist exploitation.

Renaissance International chooses to focus very specifically on the potential health risks that GE crops pose to the public. Although their ‘scientific experts’ seem to be effective in generating a fear of the unknown dangers they, strikingly, present no real evidence of any harm despite the existence of large numbers of GE products in  markets for a number of years.

The remaining two sites cited in favor of GE products rely on a calm, rational presentation of the facts supporting their case for GE. These scientific experts support their claims by citing facts and figures related to the already existing GE products that exist in the market.          

Summarize your sense of the claims-making for this social problem.

The objective facts and data available concerning GE crops are overwhelmingly in favor of their expansion.  Advocates are able to back their claims of the benefits with critical data from many actual instances where society has benefited from their use. 

Opponents of GE appear to have realized their dilemma and have turned their focus to the ‘potential harm’, health and economic, that might  result from increased use of  GE crops. A fear of the unknown is the basis for their claims, emotion rather than fact based.

This research project leads me to the conclusion that organizations relying primarily on emotion to support their claims could  be suspect as they  are either unable to support their arguments with facts or, worse, hiding the facts that do not support their cause in order to deceive the audience.  

It seems that a rational, logical audience looking at the facts in this case should be persuaded in favor of GE. The opposition claims-makers will be limited to recruiting audience member who are subject to a fear of the unknown or who have committed to ideologies that oppose the expansion of corporate economic control.

Simply reviewing the opposition sites could easily incite an audience to buy into the fear they are promoting.   Reviewing only these sites prevents the audience from knowing that real evidence exists which contradicts the claims. It seems to point to the fact that a responsible audience has a clear obligation to carefully review both sides of an issue before taking a stand.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s