GMOs: Days of Future Past

Photo of a March Against Monsanto protest sign in Madison, WI, taken on May 24, 2014 – one day after the new X-Men movie came out. Click to see the full size photo. Credit: KJHvM

What if you could go back in time to change the course of history for the introduction of GMOs. What would you do differently?

The debate over genetically engineered crops has raged for more than twenty years. While most people are still not very aware of GMOs, nor do they have strong opinions about them, there is a fierce, harsh opposition to these crops being grown and eaten as food. This opposition is politically active, and perpetuates many outlandish myths about these crops, both expressing and trying to generate fear to motivate people against them. On the other side, there is a debate about the road to acceptance.
X-Men: Days of Future Past just came out in theaters, and offers an interesting thought experiment: what if you could go back in time and change the course of history to change or prevent a conflict that you are fighting today. What if we could go back and change the debate over GMOs? What would you do differently? What do you think would be the outcome? Or would it be the same no matter what you did?
The parallels between the debate over GMOs and the treatment of mutants in the X-Men series are striking. Of course, one is in reality and the other is in an exaggerated fictional universe, but putting these differences of degree aside, I think we can learn a lot from thinking about these similarities. Keep in mind, while I know my way around plant genetics and the public debate over GMOs, I only know a little about the X-Men franchise from films and some Wikipedia and other pages that I have read, so please forgive any mistakes I may make when talking about that area! Let me list some of the strong similarities that I see between the X-Men and genetically engineered crops.

Special powers achieved through genetics

The mutants in the X-Men Universe have awesome powers from random mutations in their DNA. Genetic engineering is used in agriculture to give plants new traits that they did not have before to improve agriculture in some way. Plants that defend themselves against insect pests or diseases they never could before are certainly awesomely powerful for the farmers who grow them. While the genetic explanations for the mutant powers are often techno-babble or remain mysterious, the genetic changes made in GMO crops are well understood and predictable. However, for most people these genetic alterations and their real impacts are not easily understood and are equally mysterious, contributing to fear.


A strong theme that runs through the X-Men series is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of misplaced trust, fear of hidden or unseen dangers, and fear of losing the world that you know. We see each of these with opponents of GMOs: people fear their food or lives changing in ways that they don’t want, they fear companies and individuals who they don’t feel they can trust, and they fear harms that they cannot see. In both situations, there is a relative lack of moderation in the dialog, mostly dominated by vocal and extreme opponents on one side with very few who enter the debate trying to find the middle ground.

GMO Labeling and Mutant Registration

One of the early issues explored in the first X-Men film was the idea of mutant registration. Faced with the existence of novel and often unseen powers that could be used to commit crimes or do harm to others, politicians pushed to have a registry of all mutants so they would know what to expect (or who would be in your lineup of usual suspects). With GMOs, labeling is pushed with very similar arguments – that stamping “GMO” on foods will provide security for people who fear them. While there is an important difference between the two – that one concerns the identity of human persons and the other, the labeling of plants and their products, they derive from the same fear of hidden or unseen dangers. One might say for both mutants and GMOs, “If there’s nothing to hide, why not label them?” And the response is the same, “Because labeling is a pretext for getting rid of them.” The moral implications in each world are different at first glance – getting rid of mutants is a violation of human rights, while doing the same for GMO plants is not seen that way. However, if some of these plants are being developed specifically to save lives, like biofortified crops such as golden rice, getting rid of them can have very similar morally problematic outcomes.
Often, education and understanding is suggested as a third path to achieving trust and allaying fears of both mutants and GMOs, rather than compelling speech or keeping information hidden.

Internal conflict on acceptance

In the X-Men story, there is a conflict amongst the mutants on how they should respond to fear hatred, and persecution. On one side, the Brotherhood of Mutants led by Magneto seeks to dominate non-mutants and avenge the deaths of their comrades. Their perspective is understandable as they believe that they will forever be in conflict with non-mutants and will never be trusted, so they feel it would be best to win early rather than drag things out. This motivation was compellingly expressed in the new film. On the other side, you have the X-Men, led by Professor Charles Xavier, who seeks the resolution of this situation through education, awareness, and understanding, and through training mutants to use their powers for good. This side would argue that domination as a means to end the struggle for mutant rights would instead only make matters worse, and seek a pacifist strategy to civil rights. It is fitting that the X-Men live and work in an educational institution.
For GMOs, the debate over the approach to acceptance is there, but it is much more subtle (and does not include the violence dimension seen in the mutant superhero series). Amongst proponents there are two main approaches to ending the debate. The first is through pushing the technology and pouncing on any opposition to GMOs or limitations to their use. Local bans, labeling campaigns, are seen as steps down a slippery slope to outright bans. While I think that there are relatively few proponents of GMOs that fit firmly into this category, I do notice a similar thread of frustration over opposition to GMOs, especially humanitarian crops such as golden rice.
It goes something like this: Crops such as golden rice are being developed to help people who are malnourished, and impoverished. They are a force for good, yet, there are groups that dedicate their time to trying to prevent it from being released. Trying to sink a life raft that is being sent to people who are drowning is morally repugnant, and brings about an understandable response. From this perspective, we get the accusation that people who are opposed to golden rice are selfish, callous, or even equivalent to murderers. It is wrong to paint all GMOs as bad, dangerous, or evil, and there have been few signs that this practice is slowing down anytime soon – but is the solution painting one’s opponents as uncaring? Some proponents of GMOs have taken to attacking other aspects of agriculture – such as Organics – as a means to win the debate over GMOs. But will that instead perpetuate the conflict?
The other, more Charles Xavier-type path to GMO acceptance, is through education and open discussion. Helping people to understand – and not fear – GMOs, while providing training for scientists and others who are involved or interested in this subject to help reach out to everyone else is the other path that can be taken. This requires careful consideration of approaches, and keeping your cool when faced with people who are strongly opposed. This more accommodating approach also opens up the possibility of peaceful coexistence between organic and non-GMO agriculture and GMOs, but may also result in an erosion of available options as time goes on. This approach also considers how GMOs can be used badly, and what must be done to use them wisely. But being accommodating can also be seen as vulnerable to attacks, and missing opportunities to prevent harm while seeking compromise. Ultimately, long-term acceptance is the goal, despite short-term setbacks.

What path do you choose?

I’d like to think that we try to take the second path here in the discussions we have on the Biofortified Blog, and I can tell you that we have received some criticisms from a couple people who would rather do the first. (Even one who said something like where were you when the first GMO county bans in California took place!? If you watched the new X-Men film, that’s right out of the airplane cabin scene.) Are there skirmishes between these two approaches? Well, few people probably fall entirely into one camp or the other. Real people are more complex than fictional archetypes!

Exploiting controversy

The 2012 “Right2Know” march from New York City to Washington D.C., complete with corporate advertisement banners. The organizers denied their existence at about the same time they posted the photo. The march was funded by non-GMO food companies to the tune of more than $120,000

The final similarity I would like to mention is how controversy is exploited in both situations. In the new film, fear of mutants is being aggressively promoted by a weapons developer, Trask, who argues that his products are needed to save the world from mutants. He may believe he is bringing peace to the world, but paradoxically, is trying to do this through creating conflict. Today, there are companies and nations using the controversy over GMOs to make a profit, feeding money into organizations that drum up fear, and then promote their products (or testing services) as the solution. Nations may cite GMO safety as a reason to set up de facto trade barriers despite free trade agreements, exploiting loopholes for political purposes. I should emphasize again, the difference between selling weapons for a war between people and using controversy as an edge for economic conflicts – these are not the same. However, I see a similarity in how selfish interests exploit and perpetuate conflict.

GMOs: Days of Future Past

The vast majority of people are still undecided about genetically engineered crops, despite the polarization of vocal groups and people on either side. It also seems that progress in the debate is very slow overall. But what if you could go back in time and change the approach at key times in the history of this debate? Should the response to a particular study have been different, or how about the traits and crops that were engineered? Would labeling and outreach early on have changed things for the better, or made it worse? Would we have a different debate today if genetic engineering was primarily used by public institutions instead of companies, or would it be the same? What are some of the key historical events in this debate, and what can we learn from them as we move forward? I’d like to hear from you!


  1. I don’t know anything about the X-People. So I can’t comment on whether their strategies are informative for this arena.
    What I’m generally looking for are clues from other similar public discussions. I’ve been involved in creationism issues, stem cells, vaccines, women’s reproductive choices, climate, same-sex marriage, and a few others. Yesterday I was watching a webinar by NCSE (of defending evolution fame) to see what was informative from their perspective.
    But it seems to me that in all of these cases there are different groups that need to be considered. And thinking that one method or strategy is the way to go is unrealistic. I don’t think you can use the same methods to reach different people, or for different uses of information. And there is going to be a difference in stage debates (such as Bill Nye) vs comment threads vs regulatory comments vs blog posts vs scientific papers.
    Unpersuadables are always going to exist on all those issues. No amount of data, hand-holding and education, or self-affirmation (or whatever the scicomm folks want us to try next) will reach these people. But I don’t think they should go unchallenged. They should know that they are going to be confronted on BS. And publicly doing this matters to the onlookers. They should know that these ideas are crap, fiction, or cherry-picked misdirection. I saw a comment from Rachel the other day that struck me as similar to what I hear when people suggest that I could be less confrontational:

    When you say: “ignore the comments”, I hear: “awful sexist or racist voices have more rights to the conversation”.

    In this case, it’s anti-science or deceivers, but the sentiment is the same for me. I’m not going to ignore the crap. But I understand direct confrontation isn’t for everyone, and I’m not suggesting everyone do that.
    The persuadables are different. They may be reached with education and gentle conversation. And stage debates will be different than dinner conversation.
    And sometimes I’m talking to the base. This is an entirely different channel but necessary too. Leading people to useful info or other ammunition for conversations they’ll find themselves in. It won’t always be clear on twitter which group I’m trying to reach. Not every tweet I send out is going to be an attempt to “change minds” as someone asked me today.
    But I also think it has been important for scientists to take a strong stand challenging the unpersuadables because of the media. I think loud pushback has mattered–Seralini is probably the best current example of that. The previous case I think about a lot is Andrew Wakefield. If you could play that over again–would stronger pushback from MDs and scientists have helped? Would journalists have realized earlier that his data was limited and flawed and not worth the amount of drama it created (even before it was known to be fraud)? Would that have changed the coverage and the tone? It’s hard to know. But I can see some Wakefields today on this issue, and I’m not going to try to explain to them nicely over tea that they are wrong, because they aren’t reachable. They need to be challenged loud and hard.

    I’m gonna play that card and play it hard….

    If we could go back and change things, maybe the field would be different. But that sort of doesn’t matter to me. We are where we are, and this is the hand we have.

    1. Mary,wouldn’t the most important group be “The Moody Blues?” Also the Ht and Bt traits effected the farmers first. Not only te farmers. Anything that significantly affects farmers eventually effects the whole chain. Many just don’t pay enough attention to think it through.

    2. Mary, I have been involved in discussions about GM products for nearly 2 decades. What you say makes quite a bit of sense. The failure of those who knew the science to consistently be out there stating the case is a major component of the space the technology is currently in. Too often in the early days there was a feeling that if the scare stories were ignored they would sink without trace. This turned out not to be the case.
      Hindsight is easy and I don’t want to be overly critical of those who perhaps should have been more vocal in the 1990s, because some things have happened since, which were not really predictable then. I well remember the furore that occurred with the publication of Ewen and Pusztai’s execrable Lancet paper and the Editor of Lancet at the time defending its publication on the basis that otherwise there would be claims of a cover up. Well we have seen how well that has worked out. What we have now is Seralini (who’s whole oeuvre is best described as cargo cult junk science) and other junk papers in predatory pay to play journals.
      My tactic has always been to talk about the background of the scare stories and explain what is wrong with them. I also do this in as level and detailed way as I can. The aim, as you said is not to try and convince the inconvincible. I just point out a couple of their errors and let them carry on. I don’t attempt to deal with the whole Gish Gallop, that is not necessary. You just have to establish that they are untrustworthy. If you can establish that you understand this technology well and are unconcerned about these aspects, people will rationalise that there may be less to worry about than they thought. I do make a point of covering the potential areas of risk; that builds credibility with the audience.
      An anecdotes: After appearing in a television debate about GM food testing I was recognised by someone in the street who accosted me to tell me that: “I don’t agree with anything you said, but you sound like you really know your stuff”. This showed the communication program had been successful.

    3. My very first exposure (in the press) to genetic engineering in agriculture was when there were trials of bacteria intended to not readily form ice crystals, dusted onto frost sensitive crops. This had none of the alarming features of modern GMO crops. The tomatoes genomes were entirely unchanged, ice-minus bacteria were known to exist in the wild, the bacteria were not in the food, the bacteria were not infectious or toxic.
      But someone had the bright idea to use workers in bio-hazard suits and that may, in my opinion, have awakened in Jeremy Rifkin the idea that this was something scary enough to make into a crusade.
      Except that I may remember it wrong. The bio-hazard suits might have been worn only by the vandals who trashed the test plots and photographed their action.

      1. That was correct, Charles–there was just an interesting story about that recently actually:
        In fact I was joking over at Keith Kloor’s commentary about it that the suits were sort of like the duck-and-cover of the previous generation of kids. Supposedly a safety thing, but in fact set the tone in a bad way.
        So yeah–you have to go to that event to track the trajectory.

      2. My memory is that Rifkin had already been campaigning against the ice-minus bacteria well before they were released claiming that they would change global weather. Also the trial sites were damaged prior to the release.

  2. I’m just going to throw this out here… Trying to compare mutant labeling to GMO labeling is a really bad idea, because mutant labeling absolutely makes sense. Think about it – Cyclops is a threat to anyone around him if someone jostles his shades. Simply touching Rouge becomes very lethal very fast. Mystique is a national security threat unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Nightcrawler could be the most capable bank-robber in history; same thing with Kitty Pride. Xavier can literally kill every human on the planet at once; Jean Grey goes a step further and actually destroys whole star systems in the comic books. Multiple mutants (Professor X, Scarlet Witch, Magneto, and Phoenix just to name a few) are a threat far beyond even the most powerful nuclear weapons. These are real and prescient threats, and requiring a government database of mutant activity is absolutely reasonable. Whereas with GMOs there’s no real comparison. Maybe if they had even odds of melting the flesh off your bones… Seriously though. Comparing GMOs to the X-Men: bad, bad, bad idea.

    1. Hi AngryScience,
      You do bring up an important point which I didn’t emphasize in the mutant registration section, that we are also talking about awesome powers with potentially dangerous consequences if left unchecked. I was mainly emphasizing the difference between labeling human beings and labeling plants, which I thought was an important ethical difference, but the mutant powers are also different from GMO crops as you describe. Bt corn is not going to melt the flesh off your bones, although reading the activist literature you would think that they are! So for the mutant powers of the X-Men, it is an exaggerated situation where the changes have a much greater potential for harm (and for good), while labeling human beings has a greater potential for violating human rights. I think there is enough of a similarity to draw a parallel, but as with all analogies they don’t fit perfectly. The difference you bring up would demonstrate as a counter-example that the state does not have a compelling interest to label GMOs because it lacks the harm dimension seen in the powers of X-Men mutants.

      1. Not to mention the relativistic powers anti-gmoers attribute to GMO’s, like time traveling and causing diseases before they were created.

  3. “Who died?”
    From my experience, this is an important question to ask before we even discuss the science because it gives some perspective to the fear-mongering. I think most people could reason that a widespread technology that hasn’t killed anybody yet is probably benign and the “risks” are overblown. Plus this question makes a good sound bite, I think.
    At least this argument would address safety.
    I’m not sure how to address environmental concerns except to ask why “organic” farmers were never concerned about cross pollination/contamination from conventional crops before GMO’s were introduced? Why is it when GMO’s were introduced has cross contamination become an issue?
    In regards to labeling, I usually suggest that in another few years, mandating labels for GMO’s would be a moot point since the next generation of GMO’s will feature benefits to the end consumer. Traits like non-browning apples, or Calcium enhanced vegetables would be something a manufacturer would [i]want[/i] advertised on their label so such products would be labeled voluntarily. I can’t wait to witness the cognitive dissonance among the anti-GMO crowd when this happens.
    As interesting as the science is, I’m afraid that with the nation’s scientific literacy in the toilet, we might be talking over their heads, no matter how much we dumb it down.

  4. I was JUST talking today with someone about rewriting GMO history (and also saw the Xmen movie today), so your post was very timely.
    I’d go back and make the first GMO a product that would directly benefit consumers. Most transgenic crops benefit farmers, so it’s hard for the average person to see the benefit of the technology. But I think there would be more acceptance of the technology if people felt its impact in a tangible product, like a non-browning avocado. Can you imagine if a non-browning avocado had come on the market 15 years ago, and that people were trying to ban it now? What would Chipotle say??

    1. Layla, the first commercial GM food did have consumer benefits. It was a tomato with a gene responsible for fruit softening down regulated. This allowed the tomato to stay on the vine for longer. It also meant that canned products had more tomato and less liquid.
      Canned GM tomato puree was quite successful in the UK and it was prominently labelled. However, in 1998 Arpad Pusztai incorrectly claimed that GM potatoes were harmful to rats, stunted their growth and repressed their immune system. This set off a media frenzy about GM foods being poisonous. An outcome of the media storm was that one of the main supermarket chains declared they would no longer stock GM foods. And that was that, all the supermarket chains stopped selling the tomato puree.
      The promise of consumer benefit has not been sufficient to get GM foods accepted where there have been concerted political campaigns to demonise them. Perhaps if the benefits were greater that might sway people. However, I think familiarity might be what does it in the end.

  5. Ha! That was a good read. I think that if herbicide resistant traits not been developed, you would have seen far less outcry over GM crops. Hard to say how much more or less opposition there would have been without it. As was pointed out, people always have fear of the unknown and some people would still of been very cautious of the new technology. But herbicide resistant traits are certainly what a lot of people leverage when they are spreading opposition.

    1. And I think that is the most bizarre anti-GMO objection, because I know that herbicide tolerance exists in so many conventional systems. I was reading the Marsh trial verdict the other day and they specifically listed other HT canolas–and I cannot figure out why the GMO one is so much more heinous. But it’s very rare that herbicide haters understand that at all.
      But we did start with consumer traits–the tomato just wasn’t very good apparently. And the papaya meant people could continue to have papaya. We have Glo-fish.
      Here’s the question though: should we have focused on consumer traits? Consumer food whims change every 3 years. And for smaller products (not commodities) the time + cost to develop and get through regulatory isn’t worth it.
      I support open source GMOs, I should add. Let the hackers go, and that might offer some appealing if trivial stuff.

    2. Good comments about the traits that were introduced. Let’s suppose that consumer traits were introduced first. As Mary points out, they may not be very successful commercially for a number of reasons, such as changing consumer preferences, or the difficulty of getting complex traits like eating quality to come from single gene transfers. The papaya was a great early success story, but was not very widespread and hasn’t had as much impact on people’s consciousness. I’m hopeful that this could change soon for the papaya, though.
      On the other hand, there are reasons why herbicide tolerance and insect resistance were some of the first traits to be commercialized, and were successful – they were beneficial to the challenges that farmers were facing. The alternative scenario of going with more consumer-oriented traits and not going with more farmer-oriented traits could have meant a much slower start for the technology. Would that have allowed more time for public discussion and engagement leading to acceptance? Or would it have made it easier for activists to claim that the technology was useless and to get farmers or others to oppose them? Interesting questions.
      I get asked by people in the industry what will change people’s minds today, and the answer I give is: when you make traits that appeal directly to the consumer. Surveys and my own experience show that people are interested in this, and may become involved and engaged when such traits give them a reason to do so.

  6. This is a moronic post.
    First of all, you are comparing mutants – in this case, individuals born with natural abilities who are ostracized and discriminated against for being different – to GMOs, which are GENETICALLY ENGINEERED. Nothing natural there.
    I do not really care about the GMO-organic debate as food is food, but the audacity to compare what is clearly an analogy to racial (sexual/gender) discrimination to a very superficial comparison to GMO is appalling.
    If you actually knew your snuff about the X-men universe, you would know that there are GENETICALLY ENGINEERED characters in their Universe too, but these were the mutants GENETICALLY ENGINEERED (Dark Riders and Four Horsemen of Apocalypse) by the bad guys to help fight, round up, and eliminate the NATURALLY BORNE MUTANTS.
    Again, not particularly into the whole debate, I just think your comparison is very superficial and insulting.

    1. Hi Brenden,
      I’ll allow your comment, despite it not being in line with our community standards. If you plan on commenting further, I think you should read the “Comment Policy” page before calling anyone “moronic.” Feel free to disagree but do it in a civil manner. There will be only one warning.
      If you read my post carefully, you will note that I emphasized the differences between these issues for humans (as in the X-Men) versus plants, trying to keep people from drawing too strong of an analogy between them. A “race” of humans is different socially, historically, and ethically from a new variety of plants, however, I did note that there can be similar ethical consequences, such as toward the disadvantaged and malnourished.
      You try to draw a distinction between “natural” changes and “engineered” changes in the X-men universe and apply that to the GMO issue. First, as I’m admittedly not an expert on the X-men franchise (my limitations were stated at the top of the post) the existence of genetically engineered ‘mutants’ was not something I was well aware of, but that was not unexpected by me either. Even the new film took the prospect of using science to study and re-engineer mutant powers for nefarious purposes and made it a big part of the story. Now that you’ve tried to insult me by showing me up on facts that you’ve memorized from reading fantasy books based on genetics, I’ll give you a little education about what I’ve read from real genetics books, with a touch of philosophy. 🙂
      The distinction you try to draw is a false and deceiving one. First, you make the assumption in either case that a “natural” mutation is better or preferable to an “engineered” one. Perhaps they are treated this way in the X-men universe, however, there is nothing morally different between a human being who was born with a spontaneous mutation to lift objects with their mind, and a person born who was engineered to do exactly the same thing. There may be a moral difference between the parents or genetic engineers (or all of the above) between the two situations, depending on what they hoped to achieve, and the manner in which they did it, however, being engineered does not make a person less than another. In fact, while you call my caveat-infused analogy between people and plants “appalling” I note that you don’t recognize the humanity of these engineered ‘mutants’ but instead paint them only as bad. In fact, by the repetition of the natural vs artificial distinction you run the risk of denying the humanity of people who are the result of genetic engineering. (Did any engineered mutants switch sides? Were there mutants engineered for good? Perhaps Stan Lee was a lot more creative and interesting than you give him credit for here.) Some people alive today are the result of artificial cell fusion from 3 parents – is it OK to discriminate against them because they are not natural?
      Finally, even if the mutation is natural, parents who know they have mutations that cause such powers have a moral decision to make when bringing a new person with those powers into the world. What if two evil mutants who understood genetics came together to have a child that combined their natural powers specifically to create a human weapon? Whether genetic engineering is employed or not, you are still using a person as a mere means to an end, which is the morally problematic part. In any case, the key difference is in what the intentions and consequences are, not in how they were created. You are still left trying to justify the naturalistic fallacy by drawing the distinction between accidental mutations and purposeful ones. As I emphasized more than once, there is a moral difference between people and plants, so it is best to not get too deep into that analogy but there are clear parallels which I wanted to bring to light. And there are still ethical dimensions to plants, both for and against.
      Now for some plant genetics. GMOs are not the only “unnatural” changes that we do to plants. Kevin Folta has a whole chart of the many different methods which you can see here. Which ones are natural enough to be “good” or unnatural enough to be “bad,” in your opinion? Were you aware that a great many traits that you have assumed were “natural” have in fact been the result of “artificial selection” by human beings, and did not exist in nature – does that change your opinion in any way? Do you now agree that what really matters is the trait, its effects, and how we use it and what we use it for?

      1. Perhaps we should look at Spider-man for an example. If, instead of the spider accidentally biting Peter Parker, Peter, being the smart guy that he his, saw the spider, realized the potential of the situation, and deliberately put it on his hand to bite him. Would that then mean he would be an evil intentional GMO instead of the good accidental GMO, though both outcomes would be materially identical ?

  7. First Officer– Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, not a genetically modified spider. That makes spider man ok. Mutagens are ok. Genetic modification is not ok. Spider-Man is a Clearfield superhero and can eat at Chipotle…

  8. Richard, it’s not the spider that’s the GMO here, but Spider-man himself. His body incorporated the spider’s DNA into it’s own and started expressing certain spiderlike traits, like super strength to weight ratio, web making and climbing abilities. Chipolte would stop him at the front door, if they could.

  9. I guess Chipotle would let in the Hulk (gamma radiation) and the Fantastic Four (cosmic radiation), but not Spider-man by that analogy.

    1. That would be true. But, alas for Chipotle, “Hulk smash Chipotle if Chipotle not let Hulk friend Spider-man in.” 🙂
      But, GMO people are in the near future, for controlling or even curing genetic diseases. Attempts have already been made with cystic fibrosis. So a very real X-men like question presents itself:
      Would you let your son or daughter date a GMO?

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