Expert response from Cathleen Enright
Former Executive Director of the Council for Biotechnology Information
Monday, 05/08/2013 21:36
As believers in GM technology, and having seen the benefits nurture farmers and society alike, we are proud―in fact, you’ll see many of our accomplishments under “GMOs and the Future of Agriculture." And you’ll find no excuses here―just our attempt at a straightforward response to a good question.
We absolutely do support the right of consumers to choose food that is healthy and nutritious. And although we do not sell food products directly to consumers, we support food companies’ decisions to voluntarily label food products for the presence or absence of GMOs, so consumers who wish to can choose food that is not made with GM ingredients. Some companies have opted to use voluntary labels, such as “USDA Organic."
We do support mandatory labeling of food, including GM food, if such food presents a safety risk to a certain population―for example, those allergic to a food ingredient. We believe the harm in mandating labeling for GM food, just because it is a GM food, is that such a label would convey to consumers that foods made from the farmers’ crops grown with our seeds are less safe than, less nutritious than or somehow different from conventional or organic food.
But there has never been any evidence linking a food-safety or health risk to the consumption of GM foods. There are hundreds of independent studies that demonstrate this (check out independent studies at Biofortified), in addition to the determinations from scientific and regulatory authorities around the world that GM foods on the market are as safe and nutritious as their non-GM counterparts (see FDA information here). A few studies have asserted that such a risk exists, but each of these studies has been found not to be credible, essentially “debunked” by the global scientific community.
Examples can be found here:
- Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize by Gilles-Eric Séralini (original paper, rebuttals and official retraction)
- A comprehensive letter to the editor requesting a "serious reconsideration of the recent paper by Seralini et al." signed by scientists from all over the world
- Science Media Centre: Study on cancer and GM maize – experts respond
- Discover Magazine: When Media Uncritically Cover Pseudoscience
- Response of the Glyphosate Task Force to the study published in the journal Entropy
Regarding seed price, each company sets its prices based on a number of factors, including customer value, product performance and commodity prices, as well as input prices. GM seeds may cost more because of the increasing investment they require, from innovation to securing the necessary regulatory approvals and being good product stewards. Just as you would expect today’s fully loaded, modern cars to cost more than a Model-T, high-quality seed costs more today than in the past, and delivers more benefits.