Study finds no adverse heath effects from genetically engineered crops

Study finds no adverse heath effects from genetically engineered crops
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The difference between genetically engineered (GE) crops and those that are conventionally bred is becoming less clear, according to a new study.

In the results of a study released Tuesday, the National Research Council (NRC) said it found that GE crops caused no subtle or long-term effects on human health or the environment.

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“Studies with animals and research on the chemical composition of GE foods currently on the market reveal no differences that would implicate a higher risk to human health and safety than from eating their non-GE counterparts,” the NRC said in a release. “Though long-term epidemiological studies have not directly addressed GE food consumption, available epidemiological data do not show associations between any disease or chronic conditions and the consumption of GE foods.” 

The NRC is the research arm of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. 

The report points to evidence suggesting crops genetically engineered to resist insects actually benefit human health by reducing insecticide poisonings. 

But the study also found that some insects are becoming immune to the very crops engineered to resist them, and some weeds are likewise becoming immune to herbicide used on genetically engineered crops.

The study recommends regulators focus on the product, and not the process, when issuing new rules. While the NRC said it does not believe the mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients is justified to protect public health, the study noted that the issue involves social and economic choices that go beyond technical assessments of health or environmental safety.

“Ultimately, it involves value choices that technical assessments alone cannot answer,” the NRC said.

Opponents of genetically modified organisms were quick to criticize the study.

Food & Water Watch claims biotech companies fund the NRC and that one-sided panels of scientists conducted the study.

“Many groups have called on the NRC many times to reduce industry influence, noting how conflicts of interest clearly diminish its independence and scientific integrity,” Wenonah Hauter, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

The NRC fired back in a statement, saying no money was used from biotech companies to conduct the study and that the scientists involved were carefully vetted for any financial conflicts of interest that would have impaired their objectivity or created an unfair competitive advantage for any person or organization.