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Bruce M. Chassy

Professor Emeritus of Food Safety and Nutritional Sciences, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Expert Bio

Bruce M. Chassy is a Professor Emeritus of Food Safety and Nutritional Sciences from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He served as the Assistant Dean for Science Communications in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and was Head of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois from 1989 to 2000.  Dr. Chassy completed his undergraduate training in Chemistry at San Diego State University and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Cornell University.  He was a research chemist at the National Institutes for Health (NIH) from 1968-1989.  Dr. Chassy was a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer in Spain in 1994.

Dr. Chassy’s research focused on the characterization and development of methods for the genetic manipulation of microorganisms used in food and dairy fermentations.  His research experiences with the development of genetically modified microorganisms that are used in foods led him to an interest in food safety and the safety evaluation of "biotech foods.” He maintains a website that explores the safety of GM foods at http://academicsreview.org.

Studies, Articles and Answers

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Question

Q: Are there any long term (30+ years) studies done on the full spectrum ecological impact of transgenic GMO organisms?If there are no long term, full spectrum studies done, then why is GMO considered "safe" and approved for public use? The studies should al

Answered By Bruce M. Chassy - Oct 24, 2013

A: The short answer to this question is no, there are no 30-plus year studies done on GM crops. The first plant transformation to produce a GM plant was reported in 1982. Before a GM plant can be approved by the USDA, its potential ecological impact must be fully evaluated. The question appears to be asking if full-spectrum ecological studies are done for every organism, and, by implication, every conceivable situation. It is simply impossible to test all organisms in all situations. Accordingly, scientists select key nontarget species and indicator organisms that serve as surrogates for differe [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: What I find most troubling about health-related debates surrounding GMOs is the claim by biotech companies that there are no documented health risks associated with transgenics. That may be true... for now. But human health must be understood on a signifi

Answered By Bruce M. Chassy - Oct 16, 2013

A: This question is probably on the mind of many people.  It's important to recognize that there is an unstated assumption underlying this question. The question assumes that transgenics are inherently different in some way that might prompt us to wonder about their long-term effects. Are GM crops really different?  Obviously, the answer to that depends on how one defines a difference. Almost none of our crops grown today exists as such in nature; very few even resemble the wild ancestral plants from which they were domesticated. Virtually all our crop plants have been genetically [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: What do you think about the movie, Genetic Roulette - The Gamble of Our Lives? http://geneticroulettemovie.com/

Answered By Bruce M. Chassy - Oct 14, 2013

A: I understand that claims made by Jeffrey Smith, the movie’s director and author the self-published book, Genetic Roulette, are alarming and could cause great concern. It’s important to understand Mr. Smith’s background. He is not a doctor or researcher and he has never conducted a scientific study or published a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Please read his Biography at his website (http://www.responsibletechnology.org/resources/media-kit/jeffrey-m-smith-bio) to confirm this. He is an energetic, articulate and persuasive layperson who has made himself into one of the leading outspoken oppon [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: Following the Theories of natural selection and evolution, organisms adapt and change to suit their environment. My question is, Will/can your crops destroy their original counterparts? Isn't this tampering with nature as it should be? Aren't you selling

Answered By Bruce M. Chassy - Oct 22, 2013

A: This is a very interesting question to which we would like to add one additional factor. Evolution and adaptation can be one response to change; extinction can be another. As highly evolved beings we are fortunate that we are not among the greater than 99% of all species that have gone extinct!  The plants that we farm descended from wild plant ancestors but they were extensively genetically modified over the years by a process called domestication.  The ancestor of modern corn, for example, looks like a grassy weed – most people never guess that it’s related to corn.  The ance [...]

Environment Crop protectants

Question

Q: Why has there never been a clinically controlled independent human feeding trial? If I were to come down with some unknown, inexplainable, or highly unlikely health condition, is anyone looking for cause and effect from consuming GMOs. If no one is look

Answered By Bruce M. Chassy - Oct 17, 2013

A: The composition of GM crops and foods derived from them is carefully studied.  Using our knowledge of toxicology, food allergy, and nutrition, it is possible to predict if a food will have an adverse effect based on composition alone.  The study of composition is a better indicator of safety than are animal studies on whole foods.  Many scientists in fact question if whole food studies in animals are useful and have suggested they not been done.  Studies in humans are even more difficult to do and would likely yield little useful information since the diets' composition is [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: If this website's moderators are seeking "experts" to answer questions about the safety of GMO foods, why not consider the input of Doctor Jeffrey Smith? He and colleagues have done extensive research on the effects GMO foods on livestock and humans. His

Answered By Bruce M. Chassy - Sep 23, 2013

A: It is good that the questioner recognizes the importance of relying on the testimony of experts when trying to understand complex scientific issues. Jeff Smith is, however, not a doctor or researcher and he has never conducted a scientific study or published a peer-reviewed scientific paper.  Please read his Biography at his website (http://www.responsibletechnology.org/resources/media-kit/jeffrey-m-smith-bio) to confirm this.  He is an energetic, articulate and persuasive layperson who has made himself into one of the leading outspoken opponents of GM crops -- but he is n [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: If a cow eats GMO corn or soy is there any way to tell or is there any difference in that animal's meat or milk as opposed to an animal that consumed only organic feed?

Answered By Bruce M. Chassy - Aug 30, 2013

A: No! There is no way to detect whether an animal has been fed GM feed because there is no content from any part of the GM feed in the flesh, milk or eggs.  The GM feed is digested and assimilated in exactly the same way as any other feed.  There is in fact no meaningful measurable difference between GM and convention feeds. Actually that's not exactly true.  It turns out that conventional and organic feeds can have more of the mycotoxin fumonisin in them than does insect resistant GM feed.  Specifically, studies show that insect protected corn can have less fumonisin. [...]

GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: I have noticed that you say that sugar and starch is chemicly the same whether or not it is from GMO plants. If that is true how will I know if something labled GMO free actualy is GMO free?

Answered By Bruce M. Chassy - Nov 25, 2014

A: For all meaningful purposes, the answer is no, but it’s seldom that simple. Let’s review quickly that the differences in most crops from GM methods and traditional breeding are a protein (1 new protein of 30,000 background proteins) and a gene sequence (on average, 0.0003 percent of the DNA). Notice that I said a “new protein” or “gene sequence,” since proteins and DNA are made of amino acids and nucleotides, respectively. The GM-derived amino acids and A’s, C’s, T’s and G’s are exactly identical to those in the original crop. The mo [...]

Business Practices Labeling

Question

Q: can you comment on the study reporting chronically ill were also found to have higher levels of glyphosate in their urine than healthy individuals.

Answered By Bruce M. Chassy - Nov 14, 2014

A: The claim is not substantiated in the Kruger et al. 2014 paper, and no relationship is shown between glyphosate in urine and health. The design, conduct, analysis and conclusions of the research are all so flawed that one wonders how the paper was accepted (in 20 days) even in a journal with a low impact factor (0.6). This is just another in a growing series of flawed papers designed to incite fear. The reasoning that underlies this conclusion is briefly explained in the following paragraphs.   We often read on the net or see on TV that a new research paper claims some n [...]

Environment Health & Safety

Question

Q: what about the possible link between rising rates of autism and the release of GMOs onto the market? Have these products been tested on a developing brain? Animal studies to document normal development in presence of GMOs?

Answered By Bruce M. Chassy - Nov 07, 2014

A: In recent years we have become more aware of autism and the suite of neurodevelopmental conditions sometimes called autism spectrum disorder. Medical research is not completely certain about the causes of autism, nor is there a magic pill that “cures” the disorder. On a personal level, this causes me a great deal of anxiety because I have a grandson who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, one of the autism spectrum disorders. Although the incidence of autism sounds low when we read that only 6 per 1,000 people have it, that translates into almost 2 million cases in the United States [...]

Environment Health & Safety