Genetically modified foods (GMOs) are a controversial topic, but if you look at the data instead of the newspaper headlines, it becomes pretty obvious that fear of GMOs is just another superstition driven by the “natural is better” community. We will now address the current evidence on the safety of GMOs.
The fear is that modifying the genetics of foods and consuming these foods will have adverse effects on our health. Ecological concerns are also relevant as the effects of GMOs need to be monitored.
Studies Showing Dangers vs Studies Showing Safety
As for the health aspect of GMOs, fear that GMOs are bad for us is based on HANDFUL of papers that SUGGEST dangerous effects, but that have been heavily criticized by the scientific community.
On the other side, there are HUNDREDS of studies from all around the world that find no evidence of danger when it comes to consuming GM food. Nutritional contents is also equal to non-GMO food.
We Have Been Modifying Genes in Our Food for THOUSANDS OF YEARS
One must remember that we have been modifying the genetics of organisms indirectly for over 10,000 years with selective breeding, interspecies crosses (since 1800), and mutagenesis using radiation (since 1930)! Ever tried seedless grapes? THAT’S A TYPE OF GMO. Tastes great.
These previous methods have caused changes (mutations) in thousands of genes. These old methods were limited by the fact that we didn’t always know which genes were being changed. We were firing from the hip.
Modern GMO techniques simply allow us to target a specific gene to modify a crop for a specific purpose, instead of blindly firing at the plant DNA. Of course, targeted mutations leave room for mistreatment in the wrong hands, which justifies monitoring of organizations conducting genetic modification.
GMOs Allow More Food and Safer Food to Be Produced!
GMO use has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Concerned activist groups generally refer to a very small set of cherry picked, disputed and disproven studies and, unfortunately, make the GMO debate a political one instead of a scientific one!
Take Home Message
If you are one of the people who is scared of GMOs, we ask you to be the devil’s advocate here and look into the supporting data. We are sure that you will be surprised.
1. D Tribe. 600+ published safety assessments on GM foods and feeds. 2007 Jan 8 [cited 2016-02-12]. http://goo.gl/IK2cyH
2. D L Hamilton. GMO crops. Is there any peer reviewed scientific evidence that questions their safety? 2013 May 26 [cited 2016-02-12]. https://goo.gl/aoALPu
3. W Klümper. A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops. PLoS One. 2014; 9(11): e111629. Published online 2014 Nov 3