Crops created through genetic engineering are as safe to eat as crops developed through traditional plant-breeding methods, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine panel.
The panel could find no link between consumption of genetically modified crops and rates of cancer, kidney disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, celiac disease, food allergies or autism, the report stated.
“We compared the patterns in the U.S. and Canada to the patterns in the U.K. and E.U. (European Union), because in those countries people are not eating genetically engineered foods,” said panel chairman Fred Gould, a professor of agriculture at North Carolina State University. “We did not see a difference [in health risks] in those patterns.”
Because of this, there is “no justification for labeling for food safety purposes” any produce in the supermarket as a genetically modified product, said committee member Michael Rodemeyer, an expert on food and biotechnology who is retired from the University of Virginia.
Genetically engineered crops have been planted on about 12% of the world’s total cropland, the experts found.
The 388-page report, requested by the National Academies to review the scientific evidence, represented an attempt to clear up a “confusing landscape for the public and policy makers.” Gould said.
The creation of new crops through genetic manipulation is something that predates modern laboratory genetic tinkering, noted Joan Salge Blade, as spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She cited the tangelo, which is a crossbreed between a tangerine and a grapefruit.
However, the report also found that genetically modified crops – sometimes called GE crops – are not living up to their promise of radically improving crop yields to help feed hungry people around the world.
Crops designed to be resistant to insect and herbicides appear to help farmers in the field. But, “we could find no evidence from USDA data that genetic engineering has increased the rate at which U.S. crop yields are increasing,” Gould said.
The committee came to its conclusions after hearing from 80 experts, reviewing more than 700 comments, and evaluating hundreds of studies, the report stated. The report was released May 17, 2016 by a U.S. science advisory board.
Our food issues began with the “traditional plant-breeding methods” that they compared to GE foods in this study. Traditional plant-breeding methods brought us wheat that is 400% higher in gluten that real wheat. It was only after genetic testing methods were developed, that scientists recognized that modern wheat is genetically unrelated to the wheat grown around the world for thousands of years. This study is truly a case of comparing apples to apples – it’s all genetically modified.
The Bottom Line:
this study was requested by the National Academies to eliminate GE labeling of foods. In a sense, it really doesn’t matter because it is all altered, regardless what label is placed on the food.