There is widespread agreement among scientists that genetically modified plants are not only safe, but also better for the environment than using conventional farming methods, Los Angeles Times reports.
According to The National Academies’ in-depth analysis of hundreds of peer-reviewed articles, “About 90% of the corn, soy and cotton now grown in the U.S. is genetically modified, and that has led to less use of pesticides, more targeted insect control, a shift to fewer toxic chemicals and less soil erosion compared with conventional farms,” Los Angeles Times said.
Considering the abundant scientific evidence supporting the benefits of biotech crops and their safety, scientists interviewed by Los Angeles Times said the Proposition 37 initiative to label foods with genetically modified ingredients wouldn’t be helpful to consumers.
In the article, Dr. Pamela Ronald, a UC Davis plant geneticist and the wife of an organic farmer, said of the labels, “It has no meaning, whether it’s [genetically modified] or not.” Read more.
The Board of Directors of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) issued official statement this week, declaring that efforts to label GMOs are not motivated by scientific evidence, stating that in fact “the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.”
The statement refers to the numerous respected organizations that have conducted rigorous scientific inquiries into the safety of ag biotech and found the technology to be safe, such as the European Union Food Safety Authority, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Science and the British Royal society. The Board, which is composed of Nina V. Fedoroff, William Press, Phillip A. Sharp, David Evans Shaw and Alan Leshner, points out that because biotech crops are closely scrutinized while undergoing the United States’ regulatory approval process, “GM crops are the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply.”
“It is the long-standing policy of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that special labeling of a food is required if the absence of the information provided poses a special health or environmental risk. The FDA does not require labeling of a food based on the specific genetic modification procedure used in the development of its input crops. Legally mandating such a label can only serve to mislead and falsely alarm consumers,” the statement concludes. Read more.
With the corn harvest underway in the Midwest, farmers are evaluating the performance of new drought-resistant corn varieties after the unusually dry summer, The Kansas City Star reports. Gary Plunkett, an Iowa farmer and seed dealer, is satisfied with his first-ever sample of drought-resistant corn. “[It] looks like the yield is going to be up there very well. The stalk quality looks great. It’s standing very well,” Plunkett said. He plants a variety from Syngenta. DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto also have drought-resistant varieties.
While some farmers lost everything to extreme drought or severe winds this year, others used the severe conditions to test drought-resistant corn seeds, and are pleased by the early returns. “I know when I had my first drought in 1977 that we actually had 3 bushels to the acre. If I would have had the hybrids today back then, we would have never had that kind of a drought, because with the hybrids today it’s just amazing what they’re pulling through,” Bill Couser, who also farms in Iowa, pointed out. Read more.
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.