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GM crops: Promise and reality

The introduction of the first transgenic plant 30 years ago heralded the start of a second green revolution, providing food to the starving, profits to farmers and environmental benefits to boot. Many GM crops fulfilled the promise. But their success has been mired in controversy with many questioning their safety, their profitability and their green credentials. A polarized debate has left little room for consensus. In this special issue, Nature explores the hopes, the fears, the reality and the future.

Image credit: Kelly Krause/Nature (photo: Nagy-Bagoly Arpad/Shutterstock)


  • Fields of gold

    Research on transgenic crops must be done outside industry if it is to fulfil its early promise.

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News Features

  • GM crops: A story in numbers

    Genetically modified crops have gained ground on their conventional counterparts, but the vast majority are grown in five countries, featuring four crops and two principal traits.

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  • Transgenic crops: A new breed

    The next wave of genetically modified crops is making its way to market — and might just ease concerns over 'Frankenfoods'.

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  • An experiment for the world

    China’s scientists are using a variety of approaches to boost crop yields and limit environmental damage, say Fusuo Zhang, Xinping Chen and Peter Vitousek.

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  • Biotechnology: Thirty years of transgenic plants

    To overcome today’s huge agricultural hurdles we should move to a model that combines the best features of transgenic technology with those of organic and conventional farming.

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Nature Podcast

  • Nature Podcast: GM crops

    Case studies reveal if genes really escape from the fields where GM crops are grown, and if their use really leads to a drop in pesticide use.

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  • Food: Inside the hothouses of industry

    Feeding the world is going to require the scientific and financial muscle of agricultural biotechnology companies. Natasha Gilbert asks whether they're up to the task.

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  • GM crops: Battlefield

    Papers suggesting that biotech crops might harm the environment attract a hail of abuse from other scientists. Emily Waltz asks if the critics fight fair.

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