Is GMO Food Really a Safe Food Choice?

Learning Goal: I’m working on a writing question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.


The goal of this short essay is to set you up for success on your Final Research Project by, first, ensuring there is a genuine controversy regarding your chosen topic, before you delve deeply into researching, and, second, by applying a fair and objective balance of critical and sympathetic reading in response to background researchStrive to resist rushing into a position before your research Annotated Bibliography research is complete.

Note of Caution: 

This first paper is not an argumentative essay and is not intended to support a reasoned argument (enthymeme), but rather this is a preparatory background research assignment BEFORE you begin your deeper Annotated Bibliography research that you will later analyze to develop an enthymeme for your Final Research Essay.


To guide development of your central research arc, write a controversy paper that’s at least three full pages long (not including annotations), with a recommended maximum of four, on the same topic as your approved Proposal. Identify the pressing social problem facing our world today that you have selected as your focus this term, examine the central controversy surrounding competing efforts to address this problem, pinpoint the various stake holders in the debate, and contextualize at least one guiding question-at-issue that will focus and direct your Annotated Bibliography research; to do so, analyze quotations and examples from a small introductory sample of reliable research sources found from independent research (not assigned sources), including at least three research sources (at least two scholarly articles and one reliable popular source) that frame the parameters of the debate regarding your chosen social problem. (Please note: these three Controversy Paper sources cannot be used again in your Annotated Bibliography.)

Core Requirements for a Complete Score: 

In order to be eligible for a “complete” score worth ten units of labor (with two points earned for meeting each of the five goals listed below), your first version of your Controversy Paper must:

  1. Include an introduction that contextualizes the social problem to be explored, establishes what is at stake in the debate surrounding it and for whom, and frames the parameters of the controversy with brief summations of the main competing views.
  2. Devote several body paragraphs to BOTH sympathetically understanding and critically analyzing the most relevant and pressing positions in this debate, especially via quoted specific reasoning and evidence from your introductory research sampling of three sources (at least two scholarly articles and one reliable popular source). These sources you choose and the selected quotes you analyze should demonstrate direct debate among the authors’ reasoning and evidence.
  3. Offer a conclusion that poses at least one pressing question-at-issue you will explore in your Annotated Bibliography research, which you will later use to develop your eventual enthymematic thesis for your Final Research Essay. (It’s fine if your central question has become more refined than the questions-at-issue you posited in your Proposal because your inquiry will evolve alongside your research, but your guiding Controversy Paper question should be on the same topic as your Proposal or you’ll need to resubmit a new Proposal for instructor approval. (Contact me directly ASAP if such is the case.)
  4. Include at least 3 pages, edited for clear writing mechanics and logical paragraphing throughout, and following the MLA Format and Documentation guidelines, especially including a Work Cited list and using parenthetical citation.
  5. Annotate your three required sources on your Works Cited list by answering two questions (these answers are not included in your page count for this essay):
    • a) How reliable is this source?
      • Tips: Assess both its strengths and its limitations by considering the origin of the source (authors and publishers), its content type (scholarly versus popular, essay versus study, etc.), its content quality (how in-depth and how well documented), its authority (expertise of authors), how up-to-date it is (relevance in relation to object of study), and source type (primary, secondary, scholarly monograph and/or scholarly peer-reviewed journal).
    • b) What main arguments, reasoning, evidence, and examples does this source offer to help answer the research questions posited in your proposal?
      • Tips: As you answer this question, be sure to do more than just explain that the source is on your topic; instead, briefly summarize the most pertinent and unique information, in relation to your two other sources, that each source offers to develop your understanding of your topic.


  • Document length: 3 full pages essay, word count at least 950.
  • Format: MLA format

Additional helpful comments

The main challenge of this topic is that no two GMOs are the same, so it will be important to avoid sweeping generalizations about them as you synthesize your findings. It would be especially helpful to focus in on one or two GMOS that are already available to consumers or under development to demonstrate the range of possibilities. Both Golden Rice and the Aqua Advantage salmon would be good to consider for example. This second example also raises interesting questions about to what extent the risks change when you are genetically altering animals rather than just plants. 🙂

There is also some debate about whether or not consumers need to know when genetic engineering is being done to the foods they purchase, so the labeling debate is a possible angle to consider as well and European Union policies might be good to contrast with the responses in the U.S. and China.

Paper outline


Organically produced foods preserve the environment by eliminating the need for synthetic fertilizers and genetic modification.

History of GMO

The earliest process of genetic modification started in the 20th century where experiments involved rice and wheat. In the 1950s, Norman aimed to attain an efficient way of producing crops without needing much fertilizer.

Important Insights

Mandatory labeling keeps consumers informed to help them in making vital decisions about their diets. Although several agencies including the FDA have determined the safety of GMOs, their long term impacts are yet to be realized.


Genetically modified crops and organisms have dominated the food industry, primarily targeting to eliminate various nutritional deficiencies. the most intriguing question is whether the benefits of GMOs outweigh potential negative impacts on the environment.

Solution to this problem


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