Ask Us Anything About GMOs!

Q:
This question is for Peter Davies Regarding the statement that you made which follows "After sixteen years of consumption by billions of livestock, pets and humans, there has been no cases of allergy, cancer or death, or indication that the GMOs are of any health concern. Claims of effects have been found to be anecdotal and without merit, and are rejected by the overwhelming majority of scientists worldwide." ---How would you know? There is no way to know this unless long term studies have been done. Do you know of anyone who is willing to take part in a long term feeding study involving genetically engineered foods? Don't you think such studies should be done? I'm sure we can take some volunteers from the biotech industry?
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A:Expert Answer

How do you know? Exactly as reported: GM foods have been eaten over 16 years by billions of humans and livestock with no problems.  No long-term individual study can equal this experience.  Long-term animal studies have indeed been done [click here for a review and list of over 600 studies]. Such studies are very difficult to do with regard to controlling for all variability—e.g., rats can get sick from too many tomatoes. Long-term studies are also very expensive.  As we know the genes involved, and there is no cause to think that either the DNA or  the protein is any different from those contained in other plants of the same species, there is no reason, given our experience and cost, to start such studies.  Indeed, some scientists have pointed out that so much testing has been done that it is time to stop testing and start reaping the benefits of GM crops [additional information available here].

 

Human studies: by default, these have been done (including by members of the biotech industry) as reported above. 

 

The other possible approach, regarded by statisticians as very powerful,  is a combined analysis of a large amount of published data.  Here is a statement from Ricroch New Biotechnology, Volume 30, Number 4, May 2013.  “None of these ‘-omics’ profiling studies has raised new safety concerns about GE varieties; neither did the long-term and multigenerational studies on animals. Therefore, there is no need to perform such long-term studies in a case-by-case approach” Snell et. al (2012) point out, “We examined 12 long-term studies (of more than 90 days, up to two years in duration) and 12 multigenerational studies (from two to five generations). We referenced the 90-day studies on GM feed for which long-term or multigenerational study data were available. Many parameters have been examined using biochemical analyses, histological examination of specific organs, hematology and the detection of transgenic DNA. The statistical findings and methods have been considered from each study. Results from all the 24 studies do not suggest any health hazards and, in general, there were no statistically significant differences within parameters observed.” The studies reviewed present evidence to show that GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed.”

 

It is interesting to note a statement by Dr. Roger Beachy, a prominent leader of the field: "I got into biotech because I wanted to reduce the use of pesticides."  As many pesticides (especially insecticides) are toxic, GM crops represent a considerable step forward in food safety.

Topic: Safety, Health, and Nutrition  3 Comments | Add Comment