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Twenty-year review: GM crops are safe

| March 12, 2013
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

A comprehensive review of the last 20 years of peer-reviewed research on the compositional equivalency of transgenic crops — that is, the relative safety of food from genetically modified (GM) crops to their unmodified equivalents — has found that not only are transgenic crops no less safe than their traditional counterparts, but that the creation of transgenic crops is “less disruptive of composition compared with traditional breeding.”

This meta-study was conducted by a former USDA official, William D. Price, and Dow Chemical scientist Rod A. Herman. It was published on February 15, 2013 in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Over the past 20 years, the U.S. FDA found that every one of the 148 transgenic events that they evaluated to be substantially equivalent to their conventional counterparts, as have the Japanese regulators studying 189 examples, including foods with combined-traits. These studies spanned a broad range of crops, including corn, soybean, cotton, canola, wheat, potato, alfalfa, rice, papaya, tomato, cabbage, pepper, raspberry, and a mushroom, and traits of herbicide tolerance, insect resistance, virus resistance, drought tolerance, cold tolerance, nutrient enhancement, and expression of protease inhibitors. “Hence,” the authors write, “compositional equivalence studies uniquely required for GM crops may no longer be justified on the basis of scientific uncertainty.” In other words: no special studies are required of GM crops on the basis of scientific uncertainty; unintended health consequences have failed to manifest in GM crops.

You can view the original paper here: “Unintended Compositional Changes in Genetically Modified (GM) Crops: 20 Years of Research,” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

The GLP featured this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. The viewpoint is the author’s own. The GLP’s goal is to stimulate constructive discourse on challenging science issues.

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