Human and Environmental Safety of GM Crops
- Created on Sunday, 16 September 2012 19:21
- Foods derived from approved biotech crops are as safe, if not safer, for humans than conventional or organic foods.
- Foods produced using biotechnology are stringently tested and regulated for human safety.
- Biotech crops that have been approved for cultivation are safe for the environment.
- Biotech crops are an important tool for sustainable agriculture and for biodiversity, helping to reduce the environmental footprint of farming.
- Biotech crops are stringently tested and regulated for environmental safety.
Biotech crops are the most extensively tested food crops available today. They are more stringently tested than any other food in history, and are tightly regulated both before they reach the marketplace and once they are on sale. This ensures that they are at least as safe, if not safer, than conventional foods.
There have been no scientifically-proven cases of biotechnology adversely impacting food safety or human health – despite claims to the contrary. Biotech crops are stringently tested and regulated for human and environmental safety. Many well-respected scientific bodies and regulatory agencies have declared their confidence in the safety of biotech crops. These organisations include the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the U.S National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, as well as national regulators and academies in France, China, Brazil, India and Mexico.
The science underpinning biotechnology is extremely advanced and more precise than conventional techniques used to produce food. Testing involves measuring the availability and concentration of all nutrients in food – such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fats and oils – to ensure that they fall within the normal range of variability for the food. Levels of naturally-occurring toxins and anti-nutrients found in all foods are tested and compared. Immunological testing is also conducted to ensure that new potential allergens are not present. In contrast, there are relatively few analytical studies done on conventional varieties of crops during development.
Plant biotechnology is safely delivering enormous environmental benefits around the world. By helping to increase crop yields per hectare, while at the same time increasing efficiency of water use (improved “crop per drop”) and helping to protect biodiversity, biotechnology is a key tool for minimising the environmental footprint of modern agricultural practices.
Governments and technology developers have invested heavily in understanding the behaviour of these crops as they grow in the field, and afterwards as they enter the food/feed chain. Careful risk assessments are conducted before biotech crops can be planted in the open, even on a trial basis. It is important that the risk assessments continue to be based on science and conducted in a case-by-case manner, in order to maximise the benefits biotechnology can bring and minimize any risks.