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GMO Myths and Truths

GMO Myths and Truths reportGenetically modified (GM) crops are promoted on the basis of a range of far-reaching claims from the GM crop industry and its supporters. They say that GM crops:

  • Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops
  • Are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops
  • Are strictly regulated for safety
  • Increase crop yields
  • Reduce pesticide use
  • Benefit farmers and make their lives easier
  • Bring economic benefits
  • Benefit the environment
  • Can help solve problems caused by climate change
  • Reduce energy use
  • Will help feed the world.

However, a large and growing body of scientific and other authoritative evidence shows that these claims are not true. On the contrary, evidence presented in this report indicates that GM crops:

  • Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GM crops
  • Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
  • Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety
  • Do not increase yield potential
  • Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
  • Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
  • Have mixed economic effects
  • Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
  • Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
  • Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
  • Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.

Based on the evidence presented in this report, there is no need to take risks with GM crops when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that GM technology is claimed to address already exist. Conventional plant breeding, in some cases helped by safe modern technologies like gene mapping and marker assisted selection, continues to outperform GM in producing high-yield, drought-tolerant, and pest- and disease-resistant crops that can meet our present and future food needs.

Download a PDF of the full GMO Myths and Truths report

Comments   

 
0 #86 Casie Price 2014-04-06 18:27
GMO's whether they are safe are not is always going to be up for debate. The one things I believe is that GMO's are a sector for the government and corporations to be able to control people. They will have us on a tight noose, because we all need food to survive. And as technology booms and people are looking more for handouts and the ease of obtaining things, the more the corporations and government have a tight leash on controlling us. Let nature be and we shall blossom. I am not a scientist just a sophmore in college who wants to let nature be nature.
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+6 #85 Claire Robinson1 2014-02-04 21:05
Shun, it is you who have not even bothered to look up the meaning of consensus. It means: An opinion or position reached by a group as a whole. The 'no consensus' statement shows that the "group as a whole" does not agree that GMOs are safe. You can cry all you like about that, but it won't change the meaning and it won't change the fact that there is no consensus on this issue.
At this point the burden of proof is on YOU to show exactly which studies show the safety of which GMO, in which circumstances and with which study design. You will find, once you look at the studies, that many show risks. You will also find that a lot of those studies made it into the list of 1700 in the supplementary materials but NOT into the main paper.
It's up to YOU to back up YOUR assertions.
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0 #84 Shun 2014-02-04 20:57
Quoting Claire Robinson1:
Shun: you say "The number of people who sign it doesn't matter, only whether the science agrees." I would entirely agree that the number of scientists who say something doesn't matter; we have always said that as with Galileo, it only takes one scientist who is right, to set the new gold standard of knowledge. Unfortunately though, you GMO proponents have hoist yourselves on your own petard by claiming that numbers and "consensus" matters. Well, here are numbers showing a LACK OF CONSENSUS ON GMO SAFETY.

I would remind you of the very obvious fact that just because a paper is "on consumption" or "on equivalence", it does not necessarily prove that the GMO is safe or equivalent to non-GM crops. In fact there are many papers in that list that show toxic effects and non-equivalence. Obviously you have not read the papers. Maybe you should.


You don't understand what a scientific consensus is do you? It's not the number of people who agree or don;t, but whether the objective science itself agrees or not. Studies show GMO's are safe; people can cry all they want about it, it you can't change the safety of GMO's anymore than you can change the effectiveness of vaccines, the nature of gravity, or evolution.

And how about you name one of those studies? Again, back up your assertion. You obviously didn't know how many studies actually do show safety, so why should I believe you on this. You obviously don't understand what studies on consumption and equivalence are about? I'm not saying your lying, though I think the Italian researchers know more about the studies than a moral crusader like yourself.
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0 #83 Claire Robinson1 2014-02-04 20:44
Shun: you say "The number of people who sign it doesn't matter, only whether the science agrees." I would entirely agree that the number of scientists who say something doesn't matter; we have always said that as with Galileo, it only takes one scientist who is right, to set the new gold standard of knowledge. Unfortunately though, you GMO proponents have hoist yourselves on your own petard by claiming that numbers and "consensus" matters. Well, here are numbers showing a LACK OF CONSENSUS ON GMO SAFETY.

I would remind you of the very obvious fact that just because a paper is "on consumption" or "on equivalence", it does not necessarily prove that the GMO is safe or equivalent to non-GM crops. In fact there are many papers in that list that show toxic effects and non-equivalence . Obviously you have not read the papers. Maybe you should.
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+1 #82 Shun 2014-02-04 20:38
Quoting Claire Robinson1:
Shun, unfortunately for your thesis that there is a scientific consensus about GMO safety, nearly 300 scientists and experts have signed a statement explaining that there is NO CONSENSUS ON GMO SAFETY.
http://www.ensser.org/increasing-public-information/no-scientific-consensus-on-gmo-safety/
I am surprised you haven't noticed it, it got quite well covered in the press.


The number of people who sign it doesn't matter, only whether the science agrees. Not all scientists can understand GMO's or be unbiased. Scientists can hold any position they want, however facts and the scientific method are objective. There is not a single link showing genetic modification to be harmful. Pesticides and such can be dangerous, but most go through rigorous tests before they can be allowed on the market; those used by genetically modified foods use less herbicides, insecticides and use the safest pesticides ever made, unlike organics which use often worse chemicals.

Quoting Claire Robinson1:
Shun, in addition, most of those 1700+ studies you cite to claim GMO safety DON'T EVEN ADDRESS GMO SAFETY. They are irrelevant to GMO safety.
All other readers, apologies for shouting, but sometimes extra emphasis is required.


Would you actually like to be specific? Because if you actually open the file, you'll see that there are 312 studies on consumption alone. 45 on their equivalence to normal crops, 304 on how to detect toxins and whether any have been found, 107 on assessment, and a 167 on various subjects including safety. That's 935 on direct safety. The rest deal with how they affect the environment, biodiversity and other important topics. This was a sample collection done by independent Italian scientists, and doesn't include all of them out there. It only accord for the last decade, a third of the lifetime of GMO's, and also the period with the greatest restrictions and scientific accuracy. But hell, here's another 600 or so.

http://www.biofortified.org/genera/studies-for-genera/
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-1 #81 Claire Robinson1 2014-02-04 20:09
Shun, in addition, most of those 1700+ studies you cite to claim GMO safety DON'T EVEN ADDRESS GMO SAFETY. They are irrelevant to GMO safety.
All other readers, apologies for shouting, but sometimes extra emphasis is required.
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+1 #80 Claire Robinson1 2014-02-04 20:05
Shun, unfortunately for your thesis that there is a scientific consensus about GMO safety, nearly 300 scientists and experts have signed a statement explaining that there is NO CONSENSUS ON GMO SAFETY.
http://www.ensser.org/increasing-public-information/no-scientific-consensus-on-gmo-safety/
I am surprised you haven't noticed it, it got quite well covered in the press.
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-3 #79 Shun 2014-02-04 18:41
Quoting monkeyface:
To me, Levi is badly missing the point. As someone who learned not to trust what any authority says about a source from reading "tobacco science" and then "pesticide science" and then "GM science", I know that it really doesn't matter what the authors of GMO Myths and Truths say about anything (I hope they will forgive me for saying that).

What matters is the data on which they base their statements. So I advise readers of the report to consult the original source data and make their own judgements. I have used this report in just that way, and I can say that even if you ignore 100% of what the report's authors say, there is a very strong case against GM *just on the basis of the data cited*.

A lot of the source data for this report is peer reviewed or from government sources. So if you don't like what the data say, your argument is with the data. The authors of this report really don't come into it.


The scientific consensus is that there is no dangers to GM foods. Individual studies mean nothing in science because of error, rather things are only put into truth when they get peer-reviewed and repeated for assurance. And as for the consensus, here are over 1785 studies on how GMO's are safe for the environment, health, etc.

http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Ge-crops-safety-pub-list-1.xls
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+1 #78 Shun 2014-02-04 18:38
Quoting Jana:
I was interested in Levi Dettwyler's notion that inheritance is not orderly but "chaotic and random", so I googled "genetic inheritance" and "orderly". This article on human genetic screening thinks genetic inheritance is orderly:
http://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~mcclean/plsc431/students99/karthikeyan.htm
This author thinks the process by which genes build life is orderly: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21842/

I have noticed over the years, talking to some GM enthusiasts, that they have this attitude that life is chaotic, random, and disorderly, that "nature" is violent and makes numerous mistakes, and that therefore man has to improve on it by doing genetic engineering. I now think their attitude is an anomaly. Most scientists don't think like that, certainly many reflective and intelligent ones do not.

Levi, have you considered that it's you who are the anomaly here, and maybe you should ask yourself why you have this attitude towards the process that, after all, produced you and me?


Life is random and ordered. The actual changes, mutations, are random, however the process which selects them out of the population are not random. Life is chaotic in that the changes that arise are random, but which changes survive is not. An animal in the water could mutate and grow weak bones randomly, however that animal is likely to die from predators and if it someone managed to breed, its offspring would do the same. The chaotic nature of evolution depends on what level you look at.
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+5 #77 Editors 2013-11-04 01:11
We recently published a well researched article, which offers in-depth analysis of the claims and realities of agribusiness and genetically modified foods (GMOs), and a passionate yet logical call to action for the organic movement. The power to tackle the global issues of climate change, biodiversity and world hunger is in your hands, and as near as your local supermarket or backyard vegetable garden. http://www.blueplanetjournal.com/ecology/industrial-agriculture-vs-organic-farming-1.html
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