When discussing transgenic crops, I regularly get asked to provide a paper that “proves” that GMOs are safe. Whether you want proof that biotech crops, organic bananas, or conventional peaches are safe, I cannot provide you with such a paper.
Scientifically, nothing is truly 100 percent safe.
To explain why, we’re going to do an exercise and try to prove that water is safe. For our example, we’re going to select “impact on health”.
Then, we have to come up with a null hypothesis. It’s the researcher’s responsibility to disprove that hypothesis, ie. to show that there is a difference.
Next, we narrow down the hypothesis to a question that we can actually test. For our study, we’ll consider our question to be “Individuals who have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 10-20 years and drink two to four cups of tap water daily do not have a greater incidence of breast cancer than the national average”.
If our study finds a difference, then we’ve disproven our null hypothesis. If there’s no difference, then our null hypothesis still stands.
If we find no difference in the incidence of breast cancer in our study, have we “proven” that water is “safe”? No. All we’ve done is add data to the body of evidence that suggests that drinking water does not cause cancer and that it’s safe to drink it.
Until someone comes up with a study showing that A causes B, then the null hypothesis is what we turn to: A does not cause B. The onus is on the person making a claim to provide evidence supporting its existence. Therefore, if you claim that invisible dragons cause earthquakes, it is not my responsibility to “prove you wrong”. Rather, it is your responsibility to provide evidence demonstrating that these beings caused the earthquake.
THIS is why scientists stress the number of studies that have examined genetically engineered crops. Because no single study proves safety: its the sum of the studies, the body of data, the totality of research that’s been done which suggests that the current GMOs on the market are safe relative to their conventionally bred counter-parts.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Why no one will ever “prove that GMOs are safe”