When I was in middle and high school, the biotechnology industry was booming. Companies like Monsanto were patenting and profiting from genetically modified crops such as soybeans resistant to the common herbicide Round- Up, and corn that could produce its own insecticide using a protein manufactured by an assimilated gene of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. During this time period, our classes often discussed the scientific, economic, political and ethical nature of GM foods. The excitement of my science teachers was counter-balanced by films such as “The Future of Food” and articles published in Sierra magazine. I was presented with both sides and soon felt informed to make my own decision on the subject. As it turns out, this wasn’t possible. And it still isn’t. This is due to the fact that the U.S. does not require the labeling of GM foods. Furthermore, the Economic Research Service of the USDA reported that in 2009 a majority of corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. were genetically modified. Thus, we have all eaten genetically modified foods. They have become a part of our lives, whether we like it or not. The most recent issue of the International Journal of Biological Sciences includes a study that assessed the effects of three genetically modified corn varieties on mammalian health. This study is the first ever to perform a comparative analysis of blood and organ data collected from rats fed commercially used GM corn. The most striking results show a significant detrimental effect on liver and kidney function in rats that were fed GM corn. The authors of this article were also given access to studies done by Monsanto that supposedly assessed toxicity of GM corn on animals. The authors point out that previous studies by Monsanto were “clearly inadequate” in refuting toxic effects. This is especially disturbing as Monsanto’s studies are often the basis for approval of GM crops; the same crops that are used in many of the processed foods that billions of people consume around the world on a regular basis. These concerns must be met with a genuine assessment of the potential for GM foods. If scientists continue to be successful, there are surely benefits associated with GM foods for both humanity and the environment. For example, GM crops can already be enriched with added nutrients and yield a higher amount of produce on smaller plots of land. This has major implications for extinguishing malnutrition and hunger while simultaneously putting less pressure on the land for agricultural acreage. If the need for agricultural acreage is reduced, there is less cause for deforestation. Deforestation increases carbon dioxide emissions, accelerates erosion leading to potentially lethal mudslides, decreases biological diversity and ecosystem functionality, and increases contact between humans and unknown diseases that were previously restricted to organisms within the forest. Crops that produce insecticides internally reduce the need for chemicals and thus reduce contamination of critical water sources. This is important for human access to clean drinking water and for aquatic ecosystems. Additionally, as water will become scarcer in regions such as West Africa, the ability to engineer drought-resistant crops could also be of critical importance for humanity’s adaptation to a changing climate. However, there are certainly environmental risks associated with GM crops. These risks involve the evolutionary and ecological disruptions that may occur from using GM crops that can spread genes to other non-genetically modified organisms and from using GM crops that are incapable of adapting genetically to new strains of disease and pests. While GM foods – and biotechnology in general – have enormous potential, it is of critical importance that proper research is conducted before they are given to the general public, or put into the environment. These studies should occur in the lab, field, and in computer generated models to give the best picture of the potential costs and benefits to GM foods. Once safety is proven for both humans and ecosystems, the seed and resultant products should be labeled for consumers. Choice is as essential as proper research, and currently, Americans have neither.