Here's what the latest study has to say about the safety of consuming genetically modified organisms.
Genetically modified organisms, commonly known as GMOs, have been at the center of fierce debates in recent decades. Hailed by some as the technology needed to feed the world in the future and opposed by many over legitimate health and environmental concerns, GMOs have spurred a unique yet important discussion.
According to a report from Forbes, a wide-scale study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found “no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops.” The study also made no causal link between environmental damage and genetically modified crops.
The report, entitled Genetically Engineered Crops: Past Experience and Future Prospects, was written by a study committee commissioned by the National Academies of Science. It included a long list of scientists from universities around the country and attempted to answer some of the lingering yet important questions surrounding the GMO debate.
Reviewing literature from more than 900 studies, hearing from 80 different speakers at three conference meetings and considering over 700 comments submitted by the public, the committee reached their conclusions about the safety of GMOs.
One of the most pressing environmental issues surrounding the use of GMOs is the uptick in insect and weed resistance in commonly produced GE plants like corn, soybeans and cotton. While the report showed no evidence of “cause-and-effect relationships between GE crops and environmental problems,” it somehow also acknowledged that further efforts were needed to address and mitigate the problem of pest resistance.
The study’s other key finding was that GE crops had no observable connection to a heightened risk for a myriad of health issues including cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal disease, kidney disease and food allergies. Scientists examined health data from the U.S. and Canada, two of the leading GMO consuming nations in the world, over the course of the past twenty years to reach this conclusion.
Despite the scope of the study, the findings are likely to continue to be challenged. Genetically modified crops will continue to be a staple in the United States, but debates surrounding their use and consumption will also likely be here to stay.
A press release from the National Academy of Sciences summarizing the study can be found here.
Report from Iowa Public Television: