Science Sent: GMOs Are Safe to Eat

For years, the debate over the safety of genetically engineered crops (or genetically modified organisms or GMOS) has come down to one statement: the science isn’t there.

Yesterday, the science was delivered.

According to a report published yesterday by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), there is no difference in potential or adverse health effects in GMO crops compared to non-GMOs. In other words, GMO crops are as safe to eat as their non-GMO counterparts.

When examining the potential for adverse effects on animal and human health, the committee examined acute and chronic animal toxicity tests, long-term data on health of livestock fed GMOs and human epidemiological data. The committee found “no differences” in health risks when comparing GMO foods with non-GMO foods.

Here’s a quick look at what this comprehensive report says about GMO crops and its impact on your health and food production.

GMO Crops and Your Health

After the introduction of GMO crops in the food supply, the committee found that there was no long-term pattern of increase in health problems.

According to the report:

  • There is “no published evidence to support the hypothesis that consumption of genetically engineered foods has caused higher US rates of obesity or type II diabetes.”
  •  “Did not find a relationship between consumption of genetically engineered foods and the increase in prevalence of food allergies.”
  • Did not find a link between eating genetically engineered foods and the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder.”
  • “No published evidence… that GMO foods generate unique gene or protein fragments that would affect the body.” In other words, GMO foods will not change your DNA.

GMO Crops and Food Production

According to the report, GMO crops save money for both large and small scale farmers. The committee found that GMO crops such as “soybean, cotton and maize have generally had favorable outcomes in economic returns to producers who have adopted these crops.” Additionally, GMO crops have lowered pest populations in some regions of the US. The committee report states that “there is statistical evidence that insect-pest populations are reduced regionally.”

However, the report did raise some concerns specific to food production. The use of herbicides on GMO crops in some areas has resulted in the creation of herbicide resistant weeds. Also, the yield of GMO crops overall did not increase among US farmers. However, the committee recognizes that the current finding does not rule out the possibility for GMO crops to positively impact yields in the future.

The Science is Robust

A committee of more than 50 scientists worked on the report for more than two years. NAS examined relevant literature (more than 900 research and other publications), heard from 80 diverse speakers at three public meetings and 15 webinars, and read more than 700 comments from members of the public to broaden its understanding of issues surrounding GMO crops.

For more information on GMO foods, check out these resources:

Megan Meyer, PhD contributed to this post.