GMO food is safe for human consumption, according to a new, 400-page report published by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The report also addressed other side effects of the boom in genetically modified foods, with much more mixed results.
The report specifically addressed the perceived dangers of the development of GMO food designed to be resistant to dangerous chemicals, such as glyphosate, found in Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup.
Many GMO seeds, including Monsanto corn and soy, are bred specifically to be glyphosate-resistant, which has led to an increased use of the herbicide on farms growing GMO crops. While the World Health Organization released a report in March 2015 saying that glyphosate was “probably” carcinogenic, a recently released, highly-contested report disagreed with these conclusions.
Other issues with GMO food that are not linked to the safety of the consumption of the products themselves include reduced genetic diversity as well as issues of transparency, the debate over which has plagued the food industry for months.
The conclusions of the National Academies’ report with regards to the safety of GMOs were based on 900 studies, none of which showed evidence of human health effects directly related to GMOs.
Many scientists are in agreement on this point, though some continue to point to dangers of GMO food itself, including a team of Russian scientists who worry about the genetic addition of the Bt toxin to modified seeds for pest control.
Acreage dedicated to GMOs reached a maximum of 181.5 million hectares in 2014, with a slight decrease in 2015. These crops are more common in developing countries, and many crops, such as water-efficient maize, are developed with these climates in mind.
The National Academies are private, nonprofit organizations set up by Congress. Their roles are to provide unbiased advice on scientific questions such as this one. The scientists associated with this report were put through a vetting process to make sure that none had any financial conflicts of interest before being invited to participate.
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