Breakdown by Ethan Kessler
In general, there’s nothing dangerous or bad about the principle of GM foods and crops.
Genetically modified crops are not killing the honey bees (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18183296
In addition, Monarch butterflies are not harmed by GM crops (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11559839
Overall, “The risks potentially posed by transgenic plants, especially Bt crops, to the environment have been extensively assessed worldwide over the past 10 years, and no scientific evidence has shown that the cultivation of Bt crops has caused sustained environmental harm to communities of soil organisms, such as nematodes, earthworms, collembolans or mites” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3628874/
In order for the genetically engineered (GE) crops to be successful, a reduction in biodiversity is to be expected. Still, according to a review of 1,783 research papers, “On the other hand, higher reductions on biodiversity is generally expected with non-GE crops and herbicide/insecticide applications, because the chemicals used are often more toxic and persistent in the environment” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24041244
Ultimately, most studies find that GM foods don’t have a significant impact on animal health (http://www.agbioworld.org/biotech-info/articles/biotech-art/peer-reviewed-pubs.html
Specifically, GM foods do not affect the reproductive system in animals (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23828972
A detailed review concluded that DNA from GM food cannot be incorporated into our DNA, and that the proteins encoded by the genes inserted into GM crops are not toxic or allergenic (http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Nicolia-20131.pdf
). Just to be safe, “pre-screening of transgenic proteins through bioinformatic analyses contributes to avoid the introduction of potentially toxic, allergenic or bioactive proteins into food and feed crops” (http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Nicolia-20131.pdf
Food acquired from GM crops have not affected the health of the world-wide population, even after 15 years of consumption by millions of people (http://www.genetics.org/content/188/1/11.long
Even the European Union has declared, “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies” (http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf
Broadly speaking, genetic modification is nothing new. While many people think of crossbreeding as natural, it is still – at its core – genetic splicing. Like it or not, hybridization changes the DNA. Name one crop that has never been modified in any way, by humans, in the history of us being farmers.
The only difference is that when it’s done in a lab, we know exactly what’s happening at the genetic level (especially for species where the entire gene code has been sequenced), and are actually more likely to end up with the exact results we want.
Basically, there’s no reason why the GMO discussion should be inundated with panic. Let’s look at the GMO debate with a clear mind.
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