The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) has published a report finding “no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between currently commercialized genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops, nor did it find conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from the GE crops.”
Authored by the NAS Committee on GE Crops: Past Experience and Future Prospects, the report considers more than 900 research publications and 700 public comments, as well as feedback from 80 diverse speakers at three public meetings and 15 webinars. Concentrating on widely available GE crops such as insect-resistant Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crops and glyphosate-resistant crops, the report also notes that there is no evidence from U.S. Department of Agriculture data to suggest that GE crops have not yet increased yields for cotton, maize or soybeans.
As a result of these findings, the committee recommends that federal agencies focus on product-based safety testing as opposed to process-based regulations that differentiate between GE and conventional-breeding techniques. Because new technologies continue to blur the line between techniques, the report specifically calls for a tiered safety assessment that uses as criteria “novelty (intended and unintended), potential hazard, and exposure.”
“Regulating authorities should be proactive in communicating information to the public about how emerging genetic-engineering technologies or their products might be regulated and how new regulatory methods may be used,” states the report brief. “They should also proactively seek input from the public on these issues. Policy regarding GE crops has scientific, legal, and social dimensions, and not all issues can be answered by science alone.”