Danger in food scares over GMOs almost never real, but fear itself kills

| | May 29, 2014
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

It’s easy to scare people about what’s in their food, but the danger is almost never real. And the fear itself kills.

Take the panic over genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Ninety percent of all corn grown in America is genetically modified now. That means it grew from a seed that scientists altered by playing with its genes. The new genes may make corn grow faster, or they may make it less appetizing to bugs so farmers can use fewer pesticides.

This upsets some people. GMOs are “unnatural,” they say. A scene from the movie “Seeds of Death” warns that eating GMOs “causes holes in the GI tract” and “causes multiple organ system failure.” Michael Hansen of Consumer Reports sounds almost as frightening when he talks about GMOs. On my show, he says, “It’s called insertional mutagenesis … you can’t control where you’re inserting that genetic information; it can have different effects depending on the location.”

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Jon Entine of the Genetic Literacy Project responds: “We’ve eaten about 7 trillion meals in the 18 years since GMOs first came on the market. There’s not one documented instance of someone getting so much as a sniffle.” Given all the fear from media and activists, you might be surprised to learn that most serious scientists agree with him. “There have been about 2,000 studies,” says Entine, and “there is no evidence of human harm in a major peer-reviewed journal.”

But activists — who tend to be rich and well-fed — are pressuring countries in Asia and Africa into rejecting GMO rice. Rising generations will have more food options than ever before. They face less risk of starvation or disease than any humans who have ever lived. Let’s give them science instead of scare stories.

Read the full, original article: Who’s afraid of GMOs? Let’s serve up science without scare stories and eat without fear

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