Geneticall- modified foods should be considered as safe as conventional choices, according to Dr. Timothy Griffin, associate professor at Tufts” Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and director of the Agriculture, Food, and Environment program.
Griffin and 20 other scientists reviewed 900 research publications and concluded in their 398-page report genetically-engineered crops are as safe as conventionally-grown crops.
The extensive two-year review found no apparent health risk or environmental impact of growing and consuming genetically-modified crops.
Most Americans are familiar with the term genetically modified, or GMOs. Many producers now mark their products with a GMO-free label.
“Claiming that a food is made without GMOs doesn't mean a particular food is healthy, and I think this is where some consumers get hung up,” Lindsey Stevenson, nutrition and health education specialist for University of Missouri Extension, said.
A genetically-modified crop has been altered so it will express a desirable trait. This can be accomplished by moving genes from one organism to another or by changing genes in an organism that already are present.
Genetic modification assists food growers and manufacturers in many ways by improving crop yields, reducing insecticide use or increasing the nutritional value of foods.
“I like to compare genetic modification of crops to vaccines for humans. In many cases, altering the genes helps the crops fight off certain diseases and pests. Without GMOs, we wouldn’t be able to produce this volume of food to feed the world,” Jill Scheidt, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension, said.
The top GMO crops produced in American include corn, soybean, wheat, potato, tomato, alfalfa, rapeseed and rice.
The research team who compiled this recent report also looked at the incidence of many chronic conditions GMO's often are blamed for contributing to such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, autism, food allergies and celiac disease in North America. They then took data and compared it to data in Western Europe where the use of genetically-modified organisms is restricted. In contrast, GMOs have been part of the American diet since 1996.
The comparison found no significant difference in the prevalence of these chronic conditions between North American and Western Europe.
“Consumers often see and even specifically look for products with a GMO-free label. I’m glad these scientists have done this review. It’s a controversial issue I think Americans deserve reliable information on,” Stevenson said.
For more information on nutrition contact, Dr. Pam Duitsman in Greene County at (417) 881-8909 or the regional office of the Family Nutrition Education Program, Springfield, (417) 886-2059.