- To prepare their report they have examined 900 studies
Genetically modified organisms have been cultivated for more than 30 years, but their use has not been without controversy. Now, an exhaustive report by US scientists confirms that these transgenic plants show no health or environmental risks, although their resistance to herbicides could pose a serious agricultural problem.
Since the 80s, biologists have used genetic engineering to create specific characteristics in plants and that they achieve, for example, lengthen the shelf life of fruits, include greater vitamin content and have a greater resistance to diseases.
However, it was this last aspect that had the greatest commercial use. In the fields, the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) capable of supporting the use of herbicides or of being toxic to insect pests has been extended. But the benefits and risks of these plants were still uncertain.
After examining in depth about 900 studies and other publications on the development, use and effects of the characteristics of corn, soy and cotton, genetically modified organisms for 30 years, the expert committee of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine The US found no evidence on the differences in health risk between transgenic and conventional plants.
The scientists, who presented the work on Tuesday, carefully looked for studies and evidence of the adverse health effects of the consumption of GMOs or derived foods, but found none. According to the work done with animals on the chemical composition of transgenic foods, the researchers reveal that there are no differences in the health risk between the consumption of transgenic and conventional foods.
In addition, the report emphasizes that the available epidemiological data do not show associations between GMO consumption and any chronic disease or condition. In fact, there is evidence that insect-resistant transgenic crops have brought benefits to humans by reducing insecticide poisoning.
To all this is added the fact that GM crops designed for the benefit of health are being developed, such as rice with higher beta-carotene content and thus avoid blindness and death caused by vitamin A deficits suffered by people who suffer They live in developing countries.
Effects on the environment
On the other hand, the use of this type of plants has not reduced the total diversity of the plants nor the life of the insects in the farms. The researchers point out in their report that even in some cases these insect resistant crops have allowed an increase in insect diversity.
Thus, the scientists also found no conclusive cause-effect evidence on the environmental problems of transgenics, even in the transfer of genes between a transgenic plant and a wild relative species. However, given the complexity of assessing long-term environmental changes, experts say it is difficult to reach definitive conclusions.
In agriculture, evidence indicates that genetically modified crops of soybeans, cotton and corn have generally allowed favorable economic results for farmers, but these have varied depending on the abundance of pests, agricultural practices and the infrastructure used.
But on farms where management strategies to resist pests were not maintained, there are insects that are developing resistance to the type of pesticides. In addition, in many fields some weeds show resistance to glyphosate, the herbicide to which genetically engineered crops should be resistant.
For the committee of experts, it is the product and not the process to improve the genetics of the plant that should be regulated, as previous reports from the Academy show.
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