There can be a lot of questions about the use of GMOs.
In this short guide, we outline some of the common issues, risks and concerns with using GMOs that have been addressed or still need to be addressed.
Current Consensus On GMOs
Firstly, there is currently a scientific consensus on GMOs:
There is a scientific consensus that currently available food derived from GM crops poses no greater risk to human health than conventional food, but that each GM food needs to be tested on a case-by-case basis before introduction.
To date, more than 3,000 scientific studies have assessed the safety of these crops in terms of human health and environmental impact. These studies together with several reviews performed on a case-by-case from regulatory agencies around the world have enabled a solid and clear scientific consensus: GM crops have no more risk than those that have been developed by conventional breeding techniques.
In addition, there is also extensive literature that compiles the socioeconomic and environmental benefits that transgenic crops have reported in two decades of commercialization
Questions Over The Consensus On GMOs
Some Of The Risks, Issues And Concerns With GMOs
Dispute with GMOs usually involves buyers, biotechnology companies, governmental regulators, nongovernmental organizations, scientists, farmers, farm workers, and other parties.
Some issues, risks and concerns with GMOs might include:
- Differences in Regulations (on growing GE crops and food, and importing GE ingredients) between countries, and sometimes between states
- Difference in Labelling requirements (whether or not labels should tell the consumer if they contain GMO ingredients or not) between countries, and sometimes between states
- The testing and approval process of GMOs
- The impact of GMOs on the environment
- The impact of GMOs on humans and human health (whether they are safe to eat for example)
- The impact of GMOs on wildlife and animals
- The real transparency of the research or study process of GM seeds and GMOs (restrictions by GMO companies can be cited as a challenge)
- How credible current studies and research are based on funding by GMO companies, and the lack of truly independent studies because of the cost of them (and denial of funding)
- A lack of real long term studies on the impact of GMOs and uncertainty surrounding the long term safety of GMOs as opposed to just short term
- The objectivity of current regulatory authorities in some countries
- There is somewhat of a monopoly by a small number of companies who own majority of GM seeds, and also some brands or products of pesticides
- The role of using GMOs to address other social issues like overpopulation, world hunger, climate change, water scarcity, lack of agricultural land etc.
- The organic/sustainable farming supporters, and GMO farming supporters tend to take one side without being able to come together and combine the benefits of each approach and minimise the risks/drawbacks of each approach
- The public gets confused with a lot about GMOs such as how it differs to conventional breeding, what the approval process is, the motives behind the different parties involved in GMOs etc. – it can turn into a ‘he said, she said’ between independent scientists/researchers and GMO companies for example as to what is allowed to be studied/can be studied about GMOs and restrictions on those studies
- Numerous organizations based in the U.S. oppose or have concerns about genetic engineering for various reasons. Groups such as the Center for Food Safety, the nonprofit science advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund have expressed concerns about the FDA’s lack of a requirement for additional testing for GMO’s, lack of required labeling and the presumption that GMO’s are “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS). Some of these groups have questioned whether the FDA is too close to companies that seek approval for their products – wikipedia.org
Overall Pros & Cons Of GMO Foods & Crops
There are debated pros and cons of GMOs
Aside from the full list of pros and cons, we wrote in that guide:
- responsibletechnology.org goes as far as to say ‘GMOs are unhealthy’ and outlines human related health issue patterns, trends or occurrences that might be linked with GMOs
- nongmoproject.org points out that “In the absence of credible independent long-term feeding studies, the safety of GMOs is unknown”
- Forbes.com says that “the current implementation of GMO due to its effects on cropland, the ecosystem, and human health, and that research into GMOs is taking resources away from potentially much more helpful cross-breeding projects in the short run.”
- What we do know is that the introduction of GMOs has coincided with a steep increase of the use of pesticides…
- theconversation.com says that ‘glyphosate is safe if used as directed’ and there is ‘no statistically significant evidence for an association [of glyphosate] with cancer’
- But, Forbes.com points out ‘While Roundup has not tested as toxic to humans and other mammals, the longer it has been on the market, the worse its effects on soil health and long-term plant fecundity appear. In addition, Roundup Ready plants may not allow necessary micronutrients to be absorbed by animals consuming them’