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Robert Wager: The real science does not support fear of GMOs

Robert Wager: The real science does not support fear of GMOs

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Dear Editor: The Saturday, May 25, March Against Monsanto near you (1 p.m., Capitol Square in Madison) will try to propagate fear of genetically modified (GM) crops and food. Marchers will preach all manner of what they perceive as proof of the dangers of GM crops and food. Unfortunately the Web is full of misinformation designed to scare, not to educate. The marchers' fear is real but the reasons behind the fear are not.

The real science is says something very different.

"GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk 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." (World Health Organization)

Every single world food safety authority that has examined the data on food containing GM ingredients has come to the same conclusion of its safety. The American Association for the Advancement of Science said it very well: "Moreover, the AAAS Board said, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and "every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques."

An excellent example of pseudo-science that has convinced many people of the alleged dangers of GM crops was published last year in France by a well-known anti-GMO institution. It garnered huge airplay in the media and on the Web. When the marchers hold up pictures of rats with tumors, this publication is the source. However, when examined by world health authorities, the publication was quickly and completely dismissed as poor science.

Over 25 years of research has failed to find any harm from GM technology. Even the GMO skeptical European science agrees on the safety of these crops and food.

"The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies. … Now, after 25 years of field trials without evidence of harm, fears continue to trigger the Precautionary Principle. But Europeans need to abandon this knowingly one-sided stance and strike a balance between the advantages and disadvantages of the technology on the basis of scientifically sound risk assessment analysis. (Eropean Commission 2011)

Robert Wager M.Sc.

Vancouver Island University

Nanaimo BC

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