Are genetically engineered foods safe?

We don't know if genetically engineered foods are safe or not.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) never has said genetically engineered foods are safe. FDA does not require and has not conducted any safety assessments.

FDA has made no safety claims of its own about genetically engineered foods.

Market approval is based on research done by industry alone.

  • No long-term health studies on the effects of eating genetically engineered foods have been conducted by any government agency.
  • FDA does not review all products before they enter the market. FDA does not review the safety of genetically engineered foods, such as Bt sweet corn and yellow crookneck squash, which are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as pesticides. FDA response letter squash 1998
  • Industry determines whether products are safe or “warrant analytical or toxicological tests.”
  • If companies admit there are safety questions, “consultations” are voluntary.
  • If companies decide to talk to the FDA, they may present summaries of their data, not the complete study.
  • Corporate studies are protected as trade secrets, so they’re not available for public review.
  • When there are questions about the safety of genetically engineered foods, the FDA can point only to what industry studies claim, based on industry’s own short-term studies that may run just 4 weeks, or maybe 90-days.

Industry blocks research

Powerful chemical and biotech corporations have blocked or restricted access to the seeds needed to do independent research.

More than two dozen university scientists sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 saying, "No truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions involving these crops." Read more »

Higher pesticide residues

Herbicide residues on genetically engineered sugar beets has increased substantially. Several months after the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved genetically engineered sugar beets, at Monsanto’s request, the Environmental Protection Agency increased the maximum allowable residues of the herbicide, glyphosate, on sugar beet roots from just 0.2 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm. That’s a 5,000 percent increase in the amount of toxic weed killer residues allowed in the very part of the plant used to make sugar.

(Source: Federal Register April 14, 2013, gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1999-04-14/html/99-9317.htm.)

More about: FDA, GE foods, I-522, labeling

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