A new study finds that despite their proven success in improving the world’s diets, genetically modified crops have attracted myths and lies that continue to blur public perceptions of the technology.
“GMOs are surrounded by a lot of controversy. Since GMO products were introduced to commercial use, the debate has been going on about the real versus perceived risks of using GMOs,” according to a new peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Applied Sciences. The authors, who work at two university colleges in Spain, present a risk-benefit analysis based on scientific evidence and refute the myths propagated by interest groups.
“Science has not demonstrated any harm from the use of genetically modified crops,” the authors wrote. Instead, it has documented the economic, environmental, and health benefits from its marketing. In general, there is significant scientific consensus existing, insofar as GM foods currently marketed do not pose higher risks than conventional foods.”
People give countless reasons for their hesitation toward genetically modified crops, ranging from safety to ethical concerns. Other concerns noted by the authors include concerns about toxicity, sensitivity, potential horizontal gene transfer (HGT) to the environment or other species, and the long-term effects of genetically modified crops.
The study concluded that, based on the available scientific evidence, HGT between genetically modified plants and other organisms does not pose significant risks to human health and environmental safety. He further notes that commercialized genetically modified crops have previously passed risk assessments, including allergy tests. In addition, genetically modified crops and their products undergo rigorous evaluation before they are commercially released, ensuring safety for the public and the environment.
The legal framework regulating genetically modified food and feed attempts to ensure high levels of protection for human and animal health as well as for the environment. Around the world, authorities responsible for evaluating genetically modified products have adopted specific strategies based on the amount of experience and scientific knowledge gained in the past few decades to assess their safety,” the study states.
The authors note that genetically modified technology is just another frontier in a long tradition by humans to improve crops. GM has largely injected efficiency and precision into a tradition of crop and livestock improvement that dates back to antiquity.
“Humans have been altering the genomes of plants and animals for thousands of years. Since ancient times, selective breeding, also called artificial selection, has been a routine method in agriculture. Although the process of creating new traits takes time because it requires spontaneous genetic mutations, it has led The development of genetic engineering tools can accelerate the production of genetically modified organisms,” say the authors.
Recent advances in technological molecular biology and genetic engineering have led to the production of crops with improved traits, such as herbicide tolerance, insect resistance and better yields.
“Furthermore, interest is growing in developing genetically modified crops with improved nutritional properties, such as higher levels of essential microelements, healthier crops by altering the fatty acid profile, or plants with later maturity,” the report adds.
The authors note that despite the controversy, genetically modified crops are guaranteed a safe and central role in the future of our food production systems. Genetically modified crops offer effective and sustainable ways to meet the growing demands for better and better quality food to feed the world’s population amid the emerging challenges of climate change.
The authors write: “At present, agricultural technology has been proposed as a measure to supply a growing world population in the future and as a solution to the problem of ‘inadequate food.’ Gene editing and creation of genetically modified crops are promising tools for agriculture as they can help address some of the challenges that lie ahead. . To overcome emerging food security challenges, consideration of good scientific information is essential rather than leaving the issue and moving only towards the ethical debate. Hence, a risk-benefit analysis is essential.”
Some of the benefits of genetically modified crops to be harnessed in this regard include their ability to produce greater crop yields without the need to expand cultivated areas, reduced fertilizer use and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
The authors note that eliminating GM crops from agriculture would sharply increase the global cultivation area at the expense of rainforests, which would increase greenhouse gas emissions and thus increase climate change.
Research is also underway to create plants with desirable traits, such as late ripening, biofortified vegetables, healthy plants and edible pollen. The authors say that genetically modified foods are useful not only for avoiding nutritional deficiencies in future generations but also for adapting to climate change.
“Unfortunately, these dynamics are largely ignored by the general public, which requires greater public awareness.”