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14
Nov

GM Crops and Human Health: Both Sides of the Safety Debate

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GM CropsEnvironmental Health Perspectives recently drew attention to a controversial statement released by the largest general scientific organization in the world - The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) - which asserted that GM crops are completely safe and no labeling of GM foods and food products is required.

In response to this the environmental and consumer health information group published both the AAAS statement and a counter argument written by Patricia Hunt, PhD, of Washington State University and co-signed by 20 prominent scientists from fields including environmental health sciences and medicine. This set up a very informative and enlightening yes/no debate on whether or not foods containing GM ingredients should be clearly labeled as such.

I would urge every health and diet-conscious reader to take a look at the full texts of the statements over at the Environmental Health Perspectives website. Below are the opening statements from both sides with links to the full texts.

 

No: Labels on GM foods unnecessary; biotech crops are "safe"

Current efforts to require labeling of foods containing products derived from genetically modified crop plants are not driven by evidence that GM foods are actually dangerous. Indeed, the science is quite clear: Crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe. Civilization rests on people’s ability to modify plants to make them more suitable as food, feed and fiber plants and all of these modifications are genetic.

There are several current efforts to require labeling of foods containing products derived from genetically modified crop plants, commonly known as GM crops or GMOs. These efforts are not driven by evidence that GM foods are actually dangerous. Indeed, the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe. Rather, these initiatives are driven by a variety of factors, ranging from the persistent perception that such foods are somehow “unnatural” and potentially dangerous to the desire to gain competitive advantage by legislating attachment of a label meant to alarm. Another misconception used as a rationale for labeling is that GM crops are untested.

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2012/no-labels-on-gm-foods

 

Yes: Food labels would let consumers make informed choices

As a group of scientists and physicians that includes many long-standing members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), we challenge the recent AAAS Board of Directors statement opposing efforts to require labeling of foods containing products derived from genetically modified crop plants. Their position tramples the rights of consumers to make informed choices.

The statement argues: “These efforts are not driven by evidence that GM foods are actually dangerous. Indeed, the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe. Rather, these initiatives are driven by a variety of factors, ranging from the persistent perception that such foods are somehow ‘unnatural’ and potentially dangerous to the desire to gain competitive advantage by legislating attachment of a label meant to alarm.”

This narrow focus on GMO safety ignores the broader life-cycle impacts of GMO crops. Many GM crops are engineered to be herbicide-resistant, which has led to the evolution of weeds resistant to widely used herbicides, including RoundUp and its active ingredient glyphosate. This, in turn, has led to increased herbicide use and to searches for alternatives. Thus, herbicide-resistant GMOs are committing us to a chemical treadmill.

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2012/yes-labels-on-gm-foods

 

GM Crops and Human Health: Both Sides of the Safety DebateDynamic Neural Retraining Program (DNRS)

 

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