A new report by the National Academy of Sciences, considered widely as the most prestigious scientific group in the United State, has concluded that there is no evidence that Genetically Engineered Crops (GE crops) have any risks to human health, or the environment.
Before the report was even published an anti-GMO group known as Food and Water Watch attacked it, accusing the scientists involved of approaching the subject from a position that is already in favor of genetically modified crops and receiving funding from the industry.
However, the chairman of the committee that produced the report, Fred Gould, has been a vocal critic of GMO’s. In the past he has called for restrictions on the planting of certain GE crops and the industry has reportedly denied him access to seeds and plants needed to do his own experiments.
The committee that created the report looked into over 900 relevant pieces of research and publications and attended 3 public meeting and 15 webinars in which they heard from 80 diverse speakers. The committee also read 700 comments from the public in an attempt to “broaden its understanding of issues surrounding GE crops”.
Through its analysis the committee concluded that when studies involving the effects of GE crops on test animals are taken together, there is no evidence that the GE crops inflict any harm on the animals.
However, they did conclude that data sometimes shows a statistically significant difference in nutritional and chemical composition of GE crops and non-GE crops, but that this difference falls within the already existent variations of non-GE crops.
The committee also looked into the claim that GE food may lead to higher instances of health problems like Cancer and Obesity, as well as disorders like those found on the Autism Spectrum and various allergies, among many others.
Due to a lack of long term studies on these topics the committee resorted to analysing long term health trends between Europe, where GE products aren’t widely consumed, and North America, where they are. The committee concluded that “No pattern of differences was found among countries in speciﬁc health problems after the introduction of GE foods in the 1990s.”
The committee recommends that, because any form of modifications, conventional or GE, can raise issues of safety, policy for regulation should be based off of product and not process reasoning, using a tier system to determine safety.
New technologies are blurring the line between conventional modification and genetic engineering, and that this may raise problems with any government policies that are created with process reasoning.
The report goes into much deeper detail on each of the committee’s rulings and includes conclusions on the effects of genetically modified crops on their environment, which were found to be mainly negligible or positive.