Physician and molecular biologist Henry I. Miller cautioned India against stifling the cultivation of biotech crops, pointing out that India has already reaped significant economic and environmental benefits by using the technology. “Following the adoption of the genetically improved varieties and intensive crop management practices of the Green Revolution, from 1960 to 2000 India’s wheat yields increased more than three-fold,” he stated.
“During the past decade, widespread adoption of an insect-resistant, genetically engineered crop called Bt-cotton has drastically reduced the use of chemical pesticides in cotton fields, enhanced food security and improved farmers’ bottom line,” he noted in The Wall Street Journal. Miller, who is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, added that economists Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot estimate that the pest-resistant Bt-cotton boosted India’s economy by $9.4 billion between 2002 and 2010 and by $2.5 billion in 2010 alone. 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.
A widely-criticized study by a French team claiming that genetically modified corn caused laboratory rats to develop tumors has been thoroughly rebutted by an agency of the German government, which said the “study” is full of holes and reaches conclusions that are not supported by the data, which the agency said was inadequate and badly presented.
“The study shows both shortcomings in study design and in the presentation of the collected data,” said Professor Dr. Reiner Wittkowski, vice president of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BFR), an agency of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). The agency advises the German federal government and state governments on questions of food, chemical and product safety. “This means that the conclusions drawn by the authors are not supported by the available data,” Wittkowski said. READ MORE »
After analyzing data from 237 studies conducted over the last forty years to determine whether organic foods provide additional health benefits, Stanford University scientists have concluded that organic fruits and vegetables are generally no more nutritious than their conventionally-grown counterparts. The scientists also determined that there were no major health advantages to organic meats, reports The New York Times.
The study’s findings, which were published in today’s issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, made an impact on the researchers, who sought to provide an objective resource for consumers to make more informed choices. “When we began this project, we thought that there would likely be some findings that would support the superiority of organics over conventional food,” said Dr. Dena Bravata, a senior affiliate with Stanford’s Center for Health Policy and the senior author of the paper. “I think we were definitely surprised.” Read more.