Study debunks 10 most popular claims against GMOs

newspaperIn light of the ongoing debate over genetically modified organisms,Popular Science magazine interviewed nearly a dozen scientists about 10 of the most common claims about GMOs.

Based on their findings, consumers have “not much at all” to fear from GMOs.

One claim is that GMOs are too new to know if they are dangerous. Popular Sciencenotes that genetically engineered plants first appeared about 30 years ago and became commercially produced in 1994. Since then, more than 1,700 peer-reviewed safety studies have been published, and the consensus is that GMOs are no more risky than conventional crops.

Another claim is that genetic engineering is a radical technology. According to the article, “humans have been manipulating the genes of crops for millennia,” and virtually all food crops have been genetically modified in some way.

“The article makes a number of good points regarding the responsibility that we in agriculture have to feed the growing world population in a responsible manner, and how the use of biotechnology is integral to addressing that challenge,” said Lindsay Reames, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation assistant director of governmental relations.

The technique used for genetic modification differs from traditional plant breeding in that scientists extract DNA from an organism, modify it and then incorporate it into the genome of the same species or a different one. “With GMOs, we know the genetic information we are using, we know where it goes in the genome, and we can see if it is near an allergen or a toxin or if it is going to turn another gene off,” said Dr. Peggy Lemaux, a plant biologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Another concern about GMOs is that they cause allergies, cancer and other health problems. But biotech companies perform extensive allergy and toxicity testing. Researchers from Italy published a review of 1,700 GMO safety tests—770 of which examined the health impact on humans or animals—and they found no evidence that the foods are dangerous.

Popular Science said that the claim that all research on GMOs has been funded by “big ag” “simply isn’t true. Over the past decade, hundreds of independent researchers have published peer-reviewed safety studies.”



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