People stocking up for Valentine’s Day tomorrow can enjoy the treats they love while still feeling confident that the ingredients are safe to eat and beneficial to the environment.
“Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance and not a day for unwarranted food fears,” said Dr. Cathleen Enright, executive director at CBI. “The safety of foods made with ingredients from genetically engineered plants has been well-documented in hundreds of scientific studies and food safety reviews. There has never been a food safety concern associated with genetically engineered food. Never!”
“What can be attributed to GE food production is a reduced carbon footprint, reduced use of pesticides, and greater adoption of sustainable farming practices,” she said. “Consumers can actually feel great about genetically engineered foods because they can help save the planet we all love.”
The French national academies of sciences, technology, medicine, pharmacy, veterinary studies and agriculture have dismissed the controversial study of genetically modified corn conducted by their countryman Gilles-Eric Seralini as meaningless, and chastised him for spreading fear among the public. They also expressed disappointment in the peer-review process that allowed the study to be published in a mainstream scientific journal.
In a joint statement - something described by the French news service AFP as an “extremely rare event in French science” - the academies described the study as a “scientific non-event” that “does not enable any reliable conclusion to be drawn” from its findings. Seralini and his colleagues at the University of Caen claimed that a diet of the genetically modified corn known as NK603 caused laboratory rats to develop tumors.
“Given the numerous gaps in methods and interpretation, the data presented in this article cannot challenge previous studies which have concluded that NK603 corn is harmless from the health point of view, as are, more generally, genetically modified plants that have been authorized for consumption by animals and humans,” said the statement from the French academies, which are learned societies that advise the government, equivalent to the National Academies in the United States. READ MORE »
Innovations in agricultural biotechnology continue to provide successful solutions to present-day challenges, from “golden rice” that can alleviate vitamin-A deficiencies in children throughout the developing world, to biotech papayas resistant to a virus that previously threatened Hawaii’s entire papaya industry, writes Alex Berezow, editor of RealClearScience and a co-author of “Science Left Behind.”
Potential advancements in ag biotech have been held back by misleading efforts to play down the technology’s benefits and exaggerate the risks, Berezow points out, citing the Proposition 37 initiative. “Biotechnology simply opens new opportunities and allows the modification to occur quickly and far more accurately,” he explains in today’s Wall Street Journal. “Humans have been genetically modifying food for millennia via artificial selection.”
“There’s a reason that respected scientists, medical doctors and government officials embrace GMOs: They understand the technology and its potential for revolutionary change. For a world population that will hit nine billion people by 2050, we need every tool in the arsenal to keep improving agricultural production and bring the developing world out of poverty,” he concludes. Read more.
GM cotton enables women farmers in Colombia more economic independence
Women farmers in Colombia said the adoption of GM cotton has allowed them more economic independence, Science and Development Network reports. A study by the International Food Policy Research Institute found women farmers could save time and money on weeding and hiring male labor.
Jonathan Gressel, a plant sciences professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, pointed out from the study, “The best way to empower developing world women is to get them out of weeding and into mainstream life - including schooling and commerce. The added value of [GM] is that it provides the women farmers even less dependence upon others.” Read the full study here.
Research shows Europe’s opposition to GM crops not based on sound science
Research from the University of Edinburgh in the UK finds that Europe’s restrictions on GM crops, despite adoption of the technology around the world, demonstrate regulation is not based on sound science.
Professor Joyce Tait of the University of Edinburgh’s ESRC Innogen Centre, who took part in the research, said, “At a time when an increasing number of people are living in hunger and climate change threatens crops, the system that regulates GM food sources ought to become more based on evidence.” Read more.
Biotechnology solutions could help prevent deforestation
According to TIME’s Ecocentric Blog, research on improving agricultural productivity and efficiency is crucial for helping to prevent deforestation. While the UN Climate Summit’s proposed REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) has received international support, this system of carbon credits to maintain trees could face challenges as farmers clear more land to meet growing global demands for food. The article points out, “Over the longer term, better investment in agricultural research-which has lagged in recent years-can lead to better yields and higher efficiency, reducing the need for more land.” Agricultural biotechnology research provides solutions for growing more crops on less land. Read more.
Australian celebrity chefs voice support for GM food
Two of Australia’s top chefs, Luke Mangan and Glenn Austin, recognize the benefits of genetically engineered food, The Daily Telegraph reports. The article points out that Chef Luke Mangan of the Sydney restaurant glass brasserie has remained receptive to the use of GM food since he wrote a blog in 2008 supporting it as an innovation that could “potentially help millions of people around the world.” He explains in the article, “More info is required but some benefits sound fantastic - drought resistance, higher levels of production and sustainability in the food supply.” Glenn Austin, the first Australian to be voted to the World Board of Chefs and a chef of a multinational dairy company that supports agricultural biotechnology, would like chefs to learn more about the benefits of the technology. “There are a few (chefs) who are trying to have a beat-up about it and they are quite ill-informed. If they went through their own cupboards, they would find that most of what is in there contains genetically modified food,” he said. Read more.
Increased rice yields important for feeding growing world population, BBC News reports
According to a report by the BBC News, rice will play an essential role in meeting the demands of a growing world population. “In 40 years, the global population is expected to swell by 2 billion, so rice, today the fastest growing staple which feeds more than half the world’s population, will become increasingly important to global food security.” The article discusses the role of biotechnology in improving yields for Vietnam, now the world’s second biggest exporter after Thailand. Read more.