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What testing is conducted to insure GMOs are safe for human consumption and the environment?

what tests have you done to prove that GMOs are safe to consume?

Submitted by: AlexV798


Expert response from Community Manager

Moderator for

Friday, 04/09/2015 13:41

For each new GM trait, researchers conduct more than 75 different studies to demonstrate the safety of the GM crop. Some of the tests are to show that the new GM crop is safe to eat, including testing to ensure that the nutrients are the same between GM and non-GM crops, and that they will not introduce any new dietary allergens. Researchers also conduct tests to show that a new GM crop will be safe for the environment.  On average, it takes more than 13 years and $130 million in R&D to commercialize a new GM crop. 


Robert Wager, Faculty in the Bio Department at Vancouver Island University, provided details about the testing in his response to another question on GMOAnswers.  Here is an excerpt:  


“Most people are not aware of the extensive pre-market testing that must be done before any GE crop is allowed to be commercialized.  In reality, GE crops are tested 10-50 times the level of non-GE crops.  The testing examines potential hazards and the likelihood of exposure to determine the overall risks for GE crops and derived foods. 


When testing food for safety international agreed standards from OECD and WHO are the preferred protocols.  A good reference that outlines the variety of categories to be tested can be found in the European Food Safety Authority journal article from 2011. 


They examine:


·         Principles of Risk Assessment (4 subcategories)

·         Molecular Characterization (2 subcategories)

·         Comparative Assessment (5 subcategories)

·         Toxicological Assessment (5 subcategories)

·         Allergenicity Assessment (3 subcategories)

·         Nutritional Assessment (2 subcategories)


Together with toxicity, nutritional, molecular, compositional and allergy testing there are often whole food/feed animal testing of GE crops.  A detailed review by the European Food Safety Authority of how these tests are done can be read here. They concluded:


“Many feeding trials have been reported testing GM maize, potatoes, rice, soybeans and tomatoes on rats or mice for prolonged periods, and parameters such as body weight, feed consumption, blood chemistry, organ weights, histopathology etc. have been measured. The food and feed under investigation were derived from GM plants with improved agronomic characteristics like herbicide tolerance and/or insect resistance. The majority of these experiments did not indicate clinical effects or histopathological abnormalities in organs or tissues of exposed animals. These studies can be used to assist the safety evaluation of GM plant derived food and feed and to reach conclusions on whether they can be considered as safe as their conventional counterpart.”


John Vicini, Ph.D., Food Safety Scientific Affairs Lead at Monsanto Company, answered a similar question and provided links to several study databases in his response.  Following is an excerpt:


“From 2001 to 2009 alone, Monsanto scientists published over 700 technical documents. These technical publications are listed here. Additionally, since 2009, more than 350 additional technical documents have been published.  We are currently updating the list of studies available on our website to document these additions.


“Other biotech companies also actively publish their research and safety studies.  There are hundreds of independently funded publications as well, many of which can be found at the Biofortified website.” 


Recently a question requesting to have access to safety data specific to the Monsanto and Dow product SmartStax® was answered on GMO Answers.  For a deeper dive into a specific GMO product and the safety studies performed, please see this response. 


If you are still interested in learning more, following are several additional resources that provide more information about testing and the safety of GM crops: