QI often hear the claim that there are X number of countries that ban GMOs (GM food), the numbers fluctuate through a wide range.My questions are:Which, if any, countries completely ban all aspects of GM food?Which countries have severe restrictions on GM

I often hear the claim that there are X number of countries that ban GMOs (GM food), the numbers fluctuate through a wide range. My questions are: Which, if any, countries completely ban all aspects of GM food? Which countries have severe restrictions on GM foods, such as no cultivation or importation? To the best your knowledge is there any scientific basis to ban GM food, production, cultivation, etc.

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I recently posted a response, included below, which addresses the topics raised in your question. If you have additional questions after reading this response, please ask.
 

I’m aware of only one country, Kenya, with a ban in place on GMO food imports. The decision came about in November 2012, apparently during a cabinet meeting, that circumvented the existing Kenyan Biosafety Act and the National Biosafety Authority, the regulatory agency established to regulate the use of GMOs.

Every other country that has a regulatory system in place for GMOs allows GMOs to be imported for food and animal feed, including the European Union (EU), which has a thorough and comprehensive regulatory system for the assessment and approval of GMOs (EU law).

In fact, the EU’s safety assessment process for GMOs is largely similar to that of other countries around the world—Japan, China, Brazil, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and many, many others. Each has determined that GMOs are substantially equivalent to their non GMO counterparts.


I think people may incorrectly perceive that the EU has a ban on GMOs for food and animal feed because of polarized public opinion and extended delays in the EU approval process, particularly the final step—a political decision-making process in which the member states vote on the European Food Safety Authority (ESFA) scientific opinion. By mid-2011, 39 GM products were approved food and feed use in the EU, with 72 approvals pending due to delays in the regulatory process.


Despite the GMO controversy in the EU, it imports 72 percent (2011) of the protein-rich feed needed to support its livestock industry from Brazil, Argentina and the United States, the vast majority of which is GMO.


The EU has approved just two GMO crops for cultivation: a GMO corn which is resistant to a devastating pest, the European corn borer; and a potato that contains only one of the two starches traditionally found in potatoes (amylopectin) which is desired for industrial use such as in papermaking. Eight EU member states (France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Luxemburg, Austria, Hungary and Greece) have banned an insect resistant corn variety citing environmental concerns, despite an EFSA determination in 2012 that said the bans were not justified. These are political bans that conflict with the scientific advice of its central European Union government. Spain and Portugal continue to grow the insect resistant corn on a commercial scale. Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic grow the amylopectin potato.


In contrast to the EU, Japan has a functioning, science-based regulatory process for GM products, reviewing and approving GMOs within fairly predictable timeframes. By mid-2011, Japan had approved 130 GMO products for food use and the 95 crops for which environmental release (including cultivation) had been sought.

Posted on April 11, 2018
Interesting question - that's a good example of how the term "GMO" (genetically modified organism) is too vague to be really useful. In a sense, yes, your genes are modified compared to both of your parents. And you're definitely not genetically identical to your parents (unless you're a yeast, or a starfish, or a willow tree, or some other organism that can reproduce asexually).   But in common usage, the term GMO refers to an organism containing a gene... Read More
Posted on March 1, 2018
I don't see organic foods becoming obsolete in the future, but I could see what qualifies as certified organic changing over time. There is some debate right now about whether or not the meaning of organic is being diluted. For example, look at growing produce hydroponically. There are some who do not want hydroponics to fall under the organic label. They believe organic should be about taking care of the soil as much if not more than growing the crop, and when there's no soil involved... Read More
Posted on March 1, 2018
GMOs are crops - and like any other version of the same crop, where you grow them and how you grow them is far more important than whether they are GMOs. No known system of agriculture can promise that it is sustainable forever; much agricultural research is being devoted to improving the sustainability of agriculture. In this regard, it appears likely that using GM technologies may improve sustainability of a particular crop cultured in a specific manner and place. Other... Read More
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