GMO Myths and Truths
GMO Myths and Truths: Do You Know The Facts? Genetically modified crops and foods are neither safe nor necessary to feed the world, a new report by genetic engineers shows.
The second edition of GMO Myths and Truths, co-authored by genetic engineers Dr John Fagan and Dr Michael Antoniou and researcher Claire Robinson is a free online download by the sustainability and science policy platform Earth Open Source. I highly recommend you download this free document and educate yourself on the truth about genetically modified foods.
Genetically modified (GM) crops are promoted on the basis of a range of far-reaching claims from the GM crop industry and its supporters. They say that GM crops:
- Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops
- Are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops
- Are strictly regulated for safety
- Increase crop yields and reduce pesticide use
- Benefit farmers and make their lives easierBring economic benefits
- Benefit the environment
- Reduce energy use
- Will help feed the world
New information in the updated report includes:
- A review that is claimed by pro-GMO lobbyists to show that 1,700 studies show GM foods are as safe in fact shows nothing of the sort. Instead many of the 1,700 studies cited show evidence of risk. The review also excludes or glosses over important scientific controversies over GMO safety issues. (p. 102)
- A review purportedly showing that GM foods are safe on the basis of long-term animal studies in fact shows evidence of risk and uses unscientific double standards to reach a conclusion that is not justified by the data. (p. 161)
- A laboratory study in human cells shows that very low levels of glyphosate (the main chemical ingredient of Roundup herbicide, which most GM crops are engineered to tolerate) mimicked the hormone estrogen and stimulated the growth of breast cancer cells. The level of glyphosate that had this effect was below the level allowed in drinking water in Europe and far below the level allowed in the USA. It was also below the level found in GM glyphosate-tolerant soy, which is imported into Europe for animal feed and human food. If confirmed in animal studies, this finding would overturn regulatory assumptions of safe levels of glyphosate. (p. 221)
- A rat feeding study led by Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, which found toxic effects from a GM maize and tiny amounts of the Roundup herbicide it is grown with, was retracted by a journal editor for unscientific reasons. Yet the study is far stronger and more detailed than many industry studies that are accepted as proof of safety for GMOs. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had to reject the study in order to protect its own previous opinions on this and other GMOs, for reasons explained in the report. The findings of this study, if confirmed, would overturn regulatory assumptions of safe levels of glyphosate and Roundup. (pp. 94, 147)
- Claims that an EU-funded research project shows GMOs are safeare not evidence-based, since the project did not even test the safety of any commercialized GMOs. Some animal testing data gathered by the project actually reveal health risks from the GMOs tested. (p. 166)
- Claims that Europe is becoming a “museum” of farming because of its reluctance to embrace GM crops are shown to be nonsensical by research showing that Europe’s mostly non-GM agriculture out-yields the USA’s mostly GM agriculture with less pesticide use. Instead, it is the GM-adopting USA that is falling behind Europe in terms of productivity and sustainability. (pp. 232–233)
- Risks from an important new type of GMO that is designed to silence genes are not being properly assessed by regulators. (p. 78)
- Contrary to claims by GMO proponents, the real reason GM golden rice isn’t available has nothing to do with anti-GMO activists and everything to do with basic research and development problems. (p. 197)
- Conventional breeding continues to outstrip GM in delivering crops that yield well, resist disease, are nutritious, and tolerate drought and other types of extreme weather. (pp. 284, 318–321)
- Crop genetics are only part of the solution to our food and agriculture challenges. The other part is agroecological farming methods that build soil and focus on growing a diversity of naturally healthy and resilient crops. (p. 303)
Based on the evidence presented in this report, there is no need to take risks with GM crops when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that GM technology is claimed to address already exist. Conventional plant breeding, in some cases helped by safe modern technologies like gene mapping and marker assisted selection, continues to outperform GM in producing high-yield, drought-tolerant, and pest- and disease-resistant crops that can meet our present and future food needs.