Scientist have clarified that Genetically Engineered (GE) food or Genetically Modified (GM) food crops appears to be as safe to eat as the conventionally (naturally) bred crops, and that Genetically Modified organisms (GMOs) pose no greater threat to the environment, either.
Statement from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, which represents companies that sell genetically modified seeds, said:
“We are pleased that the study found that agricultural biotechnology has many demonstrated benefits to farmers, consumers and the environment.”
Evidence Of GE Safety
Report from IFL Science says a comprehensive new analysis compiled by a group of 20 expert scientists, who started reviewing all the evidence over two years ago with the support of the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, found that modern advances in genetic engineering are blurring the once clear lines that distinguished between GE and conventionally (naturally) bred organisms.
That is to say, that all doubt have been removed, about the safety of GE/GM for human consumption by this new findings.
The report states that the regulation of new foods should not be simply based on how they are produced, but on the product itself. This means that safety testing for new products should be done in exactly the same way regardless of whether it was created through conventional breeding or was the result of genetic engineering. They also conclude that the labeling of foods as GMO (Genetically Modified Organism), rationalized only on the grounds that they risk public health, is not justified.
Now the scientist are confident in their new discovery that while many different attributes had been added to crops, such as longer shelf life and higher vitamin content, only two characteristics is common and widely used. One that gives them (GE crops) resistance to herbicides and that which makes them toxic to insects.
Because only these two features are frequently engineered, the committee felt it should avoid sweeping generalizations about the risks or benefits associated with GE crops, as there are simply not enough other examples from which to draw conclusions.
With the development of new techniques, such as the precision gene editing procedure of CRISPR, there is expected to be an explosion over the coming years in terms of new genetically engineered crops entering the market, and as it differs to older, more traditional (farming) methods, regulators are struggling to keep up.
What Are Genetically Engineered or Modified Food Crops
As defined by WHO, they are organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.
With new scientific and technological inventions; plants and animals are bred in an “artificial” way known as Genetic Engineering.
Objectives of Genetically Engineering Foods
- To improve crop protection – from insects, and resistant to herbicides, plant virus and fungi
- To reduce spraying of chemical insecticides and highly toxic herbicides.
- To reduce product price and longer shelf life
Although the discovery has met a lot of criticism such as the statement by Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union.
“Despite industry claims, these crops are clearly not the answer to world hunger.”
He said this because the genetic process does not have a significant increase in productivity of crops.