Jun232016

Science has spoken: GMOs are safe

Author // Mardy Halcon-Cristobal Categories // Golden Rice blog

Science has spoken: GMOs are safe
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”- Sir Winston Churchill

On the subject of genetically engineered foods, this rings true. After years of debate, the prestigious National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released its verdict: there is no substantiated evidence that food from genetically engineered (GE) crops were less safe than food from non-GE crops. The report was announced in late May.

The conclusion was clear and does not need much explaining. The process by which the conclusion was arrived at involved examining hundreds of scientific papers written about genetically modified (GM) foods, listening to testimonies from activists, and taking into account hundreds of comments from the general public—not a laidback process, considering the amount of time it took these scientists to come to a conclusion.

The World Health Organization also supported the claim, issuing the following statement:

“GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

GM crops undergo extensive tests and a stringent approval process before release for public consumption.

The Golden Rice is one of these GM crops that are undergoing these tests. Golden Rice is a type of genetically modified rice that contains beta-carotene in the grain, which is converted to vitamin A when needed by the body. It is being developed as a potential new food-based approach to improving vitamin A status in affected populations.

Vitamin A is a vital nutrient needed for good vision, growth, development, and a healthy immune system. Everybody needs vitamin A particularly lactating mothers, pregnant women and young children. Globally, 190 million children and 19 million women are vitamin A deficient according to the World Health Organization.

Safety of Golden Rice is among the very important aspects being studied in all stages of its development. So far, both agronomic and laboratory data from recent tests on Golden Rice attest to its safety. Further tests, however, will be conducted before it is released for growing by farmers and for consumption, to complement current interventions to address vitamin A deficiency.

It takes a lot of work as well as time, but we the partners under the Golden Rice Network are committed to go through the entire process to ensure that Golden Rice will satisfy all regulatory requirements for its release and will live up to its noble aim.

The assault may continue on GM crops—Golden Rice included—but the science-based evidence is out, and it basically says this: GE crops are as safe as non-GE foods.

Note: The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is the coordinating institution for the Golden Rice Network and has been working with national partners since 2006 to develop Golden Rice.

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About the Author

Mardy Halcon-Cristobal

Mardy is the senior communication specialist for IRRI’s Golden Rice project.

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