A new report published Tuesday has mainstream media talking about genetically engineered crops.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, a highly-respected organization set up by U.S. Congress back in 1863 to give independent advice on issues related to science, published an extensive review looking at the risks and benefits of GE crops. Proponents hope the study will reduce public concern about GE foods.
As most of the headlines point out, the group of 20 scientists who authored the study found GE crops are no less safe for humans or the environment than crops developed by other means.
There is “no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops, nor did it find conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from the GE crops” notes the nearly 400 page document.
That’s about as black and white as the report gets, as it explores many complicated factors surrounding biotechnology.
“We received impassioned requests to give the public a simple, general, authoritative answer about GE crops. Given the complexity of GE issues, we did not see that as appropriate,” wrote Fred Gould, a professor of entomology at North Carolina State University and chair of the committee that compiled the report. “However, we hope that we have given the public and policy-makers abundant evidence and a framework to inform their decisions about individual agricultural products.”
“The inescapable conclusion, after reading the report, is the GE crops are pretty much just crops,” said the University of Georgia’s Wayne Parrott, in a statement shared by the Genetic Expert News Service. “They are not the panacea that some proponents claim, nor the dreaded monsters that others claim.”
One notable conclusion in the report is that GE technology has not had a significant impact on the rate at which corn, cotton and soybean yields in the U.S. have increased.
You can read the report and a summary of it on the NASEM website.
Check out some of the coverage below:
New York Times: Genetically Engineered Crops Are Safe, Analysis Finds
National Geographic: Scientists Say GMO Foods Are Safe, Public Skepticism Remains