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Tags: GMO | foods | concerns | harmful | effects | genetically | modified

GMO Foods: Are They Safe?

By    |   Wednesday, 03 June 2015 12:03 PM EDT

The proliferation of GMO foods in the United States – many of which are banned internationally – has raised concerns among people who are worried about their potential harmful effects to food safety and their impact on the environment.

The question of whether GMO foods are safe is not easily answered. Some scientific studies have raised concerns about long-term physical effects from eating GMOs, while others have found little to no impact.

The question often gets confused between two issues –whether ingesting GMO products is unsafe and whether ingesting herbicide residue, like from Roundup, on crops is unsafe. Many studies cited as anti-GMO actually point to long-term health effects from the chemical, with the argument made that farmers use more Roundup on herbicide-resistant crops. On the website for GMO-Free Pennsylvania, in the section “Compelling Peer-Reviewed Studies,” many of those studies actually looked at the impacts of glyphosate (found in Roundup) rather than GMOs.

Special: GMO Foods: Are We Unknowingly Poisoning Our Families?

That issue was up for discussion in a debate between two scientists on “The Real News” in May 2015 that was billed as a discussion about the safety of GMOs. Both agreed that most GMO products appear to be safe for consumption, but the conversation quickly moved to the use of herbicides and the herbicide residue often found on GMO crops.

“There's a recent review paper where they summarized data from 1,700 different studies, and about half of those are publicly funded,” said Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, from the University of California. “And basically the results of those studies have been that there haven't been any unique risks or hazards associated with the use of this breeding method in the production of crops.”

Dr. Thierry Vrain, a retired soil biologist and genetic engineer, agreed but raised the issue of herbicide residue on the GMO crops, many of which have been genetically modified to be resistant to Roundup.

“We can talk about GMOs, I don't mind talking about GMOs, and mostly I will agree with what Alison says, they're probably all safe,” he told Real News. “We have all kinds of benefits from them, [insulin] and drought resistance and all kinds of things. But the point is here, is that we have over 90 percent of all GMO organisms on the planet are Roundup-ready, they are engineered to be sprayed with that chemical. This is where the question lies.”

Vrain, who was originally from France, told Real News that European countries that have banned GMOs have done so largely because of glyphosate.

“I think the most misunderstood thing is it's a breeding method that can be used to introduce all sorts of crop traits into crops and animals, and we always seem to get discussing the one particular application rather than looking at how it could be used to address many different problems that are associated with agriculture, including things like drought tolerance, disease resistance, biofortification of crops,” Van Eenennaam said. “None of which have anything to do with herbicides. So I think that the power of the technology is being thwarted by this kind of conflating the use of this technology with other issues associated with herbicides or multinational corporations.”

Special: Are We Unknowingly Poisoning Our Families With GMO Foods?

Organizations like The Genetic Literary Project work to help people understand exactly what GMOs are and how they can be helpful rather than harmful.

“A popular weapon used by those critical of agricultural biotechnology is to claim that there has been little to no evaluation of the safety of GM crops and there is no scientific consensus on this issue.

Those claims are simply not true,” the GLP website reported. “Every major international science body in the world has reviewed multiple independent studies—in some cases numbering in the hundreds—in coming to the consensus conclusion that GMO crops are as safe or safer than conventional or organic foods, but the magnitude of the research has never been evaluated or documented.”

Still, numerous organizations speak out against GMOs, may pointing to studies that indicate problems.

And recently, the Center for Food Safety, pointed to a peer-reviewed study that says there is no consensus among scientists about GMO safety, despite what GLP claimed.

Entitled "No scientific consensus on GMO safety, ” a statement published in Environmental Sciences Europe does not take a position on whether GMOs are unsafe or safe. Rather, the statement cites an effort by GMO seed developers and some scientists, commentators and journalists to make the claim that there is a ‘scientific consensus’ on GMO safety, and that debate on the topic is over, saying that it is “misleading and misrepresents or outright ignores the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of scientific opinions among scientists on this issue.”

Special: GMO Foods: Are We Unknowingly Poisoning Our Families?

Related Stories:

7 Ways GMOs Affect Your Health

Top 5 Ways to Avoid GMO Foods

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The proliferation of GMO foods in the United States - many of which are banned internationally - has raised concerns among people who are worried about their potential harmful effects to food safety and their impact on the environment. The question of whether GMO foods are...
GMO, foods, concerns, harmful, effects, genetically, modified
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 12:03 PM
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