In the debate over genetically modified organisms, we often hear arguments from two extreme camps. Some say GM foods are a miracle cure for solving an impending global food crisis, but fail to consider the long-term ecological and economic consequences of genetic engineering. Others say GM foods should be banned, for fear they could cause a terrifying array of human ailments, from cancer to organ failure to birth defects, despite there being no substantial peer-reviewed evidence to support these claims.

But the GMO debate is far more nuanced than that. In fact, there are almost as many sides to the issue as there are potential GM crops. The impact of GM foods can vary greatly depending on the crop and the unique pressures of its ecosystem. Furthermore, the greatest dangers posed by GM foods often stem not from the crops themselves but from the business practices of the companies that grow them.

In our third installment of Pandohouse Rock, we look to explain the ecological, economic, and health-related dimensions of genetically modified organisms using arguments rooted in peer-reviewed scientific research and well-sourced journalism.

“The GMO Song” is not intended to be a comprehensive final word on GMOs, but a gateway drug that will hopefully lead to greater understanding. That’s why we encourage you to read along with the lyrics below which link to relevant articles for support.

Everybody’s arguing about GMOs
When you change plants’ and animals’ genetic codes
They do it to remove or add a certain trait
Like tomatoes that won’t rot or drought-resistant grains

You can do it by adding or deleting DNA
The species that you use don’t even have to be the same
It’s transgenic people panic when they hear that fish genes
Are added to strawberries to help them not to freeze

But can GMOs help with a crisis mounting?
It’s a challenge to feed 7 billion and counting
Droughts and food prices are causing world hunger
So what’s the big deal if we make the crops stronger?

But with GMOs you can patent the breeds
And sue the farmers if they replant the seeds
The idea is to help developing nations
But who benefits: communities or corporations?

OMG GMO there’s a lot that we don’t know about the food that we grow
What does it do to our bodies? What does it do to our souls?
GMO OMG there’s a panic in the streets
In this riot over diet are we thinking clearly?

There are also ecological risks involved
You can make a new problem like the one you’ve just solved
Like corn that’s bred with a built-in pesticide
The pests evolved and now superbugs thrive

Is it bad for us? It depends on the crop
Sometimes it’s more nutritioussometimes it’s not
And while the pesticides don’t sound very sweet
The EPA assures us that they’re safe to eat

But people should know how their food is grown

Yet Americans don’t label GMOs
There are many different kinds of GM foods
Just saying “Made with GMOs” might not do

Now it might be too simple to say “Just ban it”
When there’s potential to help feed the planet
Weigh each crop’s impact on earth and health
And don’t use patents to screw the ones you’re out to help