There has been a lifelong belief that consumption of genetically-modified organisms (GMO) is dangerous to your health. However, a new report from the National Academies of Science released that, use of GMO crops is safe for both humans and animals as it has not led to an increased occurrence of obesity, cancer, kidney disease, or allergies.
The committee began working on the report two years ago which involved more than 50 researchers, scientists, and industry experts. The report reviewed more than 900 studies and data covering 20 years of research since genetically-modified crops were first introduced to the market. The analysis was conducted in a systematic and thorough approach.
What Are GMO Crops?
First things first, what are GMO crops? The genetic material of such plants is artificially manipulated so that they will have characteristics that they normally wouldn’t have. Most crops are genetically engineered to be resistant to pest and to withstand different types of herbicides so that farmers can kill the weeds and not crops. Moreover, they are created to tolerate drought.
What the study found out is, while the genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GM) crops have saved many farmers in the United States money, it did not appear to have increased their annual yields. However, what it did was lower the pest population particularly in the Midwest.
To date, 12 GM crops are commercially grown all over the world, and these include cotton, corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets, papaya, alfalfa, summer squash, potatoes, and zucchini. However, only four of these crops are widely grown in the United States as GM crops, and these include sugar beets (99%), soybeans (94%), cotton (94%) and corn (92%). About 12% of the global cropland is planted with GM crops.
Safe for Human Consumption
The committee that created the report compared different accounts from the United States and Canada where most of the GE crops have been consumed since the mid-1990s. The review revealed that there is no long-term pattern for specific health problems after the introduction of genetically-modified organisms. For instance, there was no correlation found between consumption of GMO food with Type 2 diabetes, obesity, celiac disease, or autism in the population. Moreover, the review showed that there is no significant difference between eating GE and conventionally-grown crops.
Environmental and Economic Effects
The report found out that GE crops can help save farmers’ money regarding tilling and losses due to weeds and insect infestation. The use of GE crops has both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to agricultural infrastructure and farming practices.
For instance, pest-resistant crops have resulted in lower pest population, but it has led to the evolution of superweeds which are herbicide-resistant weeds. Contrary to previous claims, the use of GE crops did not result in the falling of the population of monarch butterflies but is actually due to the decline of milkweed, the known food of monarch caterpillars.
While the work sheds light to the right points of GMO crops, critics believed that the results might have been influenced by the modern agricultural industry. But other groups say that industry has been marginalized for a long time. Is GMO right or wrong? The decision still lies with the consumers.
Inspired by foodtank.com