A committee of scientists from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a report today that unequivocally rejects claims that genetically modified crops are unsafe or somehow less healthy than their non-GMO counterparts. From that report:
The committee carefully searched all available research studies for persuasive evidence of adverse health effects directly attributable to consumption of foods derived from GE crops but found none. Studies with animals and research on the chemical composition of GE foods currently on the market reveal no differences that would implicate a higher risk to human health and safety than from eating their non-GE counterparts. […]The available evidence indicates that GE soybean, cotton, and maize have generally had favorable economic outcomes for producers who have adopted these crops, but outcomes have varied depending on pest abundance, farming practices, and agricultural infrastructure. Although GE crops have provided economic benefits to many small-scale farmers in the early years of adoption, enduring and widespread gains will depend on such farmers receiving institutional support, such as access to credit, affordable inputs such as fertilizer, extension services, and access to profitable local and global markets for the crops.
This is a statement full of nuance, and while it makes a strong case for the safety of GMOs, it also points out that some of the boosts to crop yields may be less than many might think. The AP reports:
Production in general is increasing in agriculture, but U.S. Department of Agriculture data don’t show that genetically engineered crops are increasing at a higher rate, despite experimental results suggest that they should, the report said.“Farmers in general are gaining,” with less pesticide use and a bit higher yield, academy committee chairman Fred Gould said at a Tuesday news conference.
In other words, these scientists aren’t confident enough to attribute recent gains made in agricultural productivity exclusively to genetically modified crops—and they want to study the matter further.But while researchers continue to work to get a grasp on the exact effect GMOs are having on overall yields, let’s keep in mind the two most salient facts here: crop production is rising, and GM crops are safe. These two facts are great news for our future food security, because they suggest that we’re continuing to farm more effectively—a vital development if we want to feed a more crowded world—and that GMOs can play a vital role in feeding future generations.Greens, of course, won’t want to hear any of this. They’re well practiced at this point in ignoring science when it doesn’t fit their policy goals, only assuming that mantle when it’s time to browbeat a skeptical public about how doomed humanity is. But we’re not doomed. We can farm smarter, and with GMOs we can do that without endangering the public health.