Volume 4 Issue 3

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Genetically engineered crops are safe to eat and safe for the environment. at's the takeaway, in the broadest possible sense, from a weighty new report released Tuesday by e National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — and no doubt it's the conclusion the agricultural industry and other proponents of genetic modification will be crowing about in the days to come. But the 408-page report, which examines a wide range of issues related to G.M. crops — from their environmental and human-health risks to their regulation and potential — is peppered with enough caveats and hedging that it is far from likely to settle the debate over the controversial science. at debate has intensified over the two decades since widespread adoption of G.M. staple crops such as corn and soybeans began. In his preface to the report, committee chair Fred Gould of North Carolina State University admits as much. "We received impassioned requests to give the public a simple, general, authoritative answer about GE crops," it reads. "Given the complexity of GE issues, we did not see that as appropriate. However, we hope that we have given the public and policy-makers abundant evidence and a framework to inform their decisions about individual agricultural products." Gould and his fellow committee members, primarily academics from major American universities, pored over the scientific evidence, reviewed more than 700 comments from individuals and organizations, and listened to 80 presentations. In the end, they found "no conclusive evidence of cause-and-effect relationships between GE crops and environmental problems," such as a reduction in plant biodiversity related to the use of herbicide-resistant G.E. crops. Likewise, when the committee compared epidemiological data from the United States and Canada, where G.E. crops are widely consumed, with similar data from the European Union and the United Kingdom, where consumption is far more limited, they found no evidence to support a link between G.E. foods and higher rates of a range of ills—from cancer, obesity, and kidney disease to autism and allergies. But the committee also carefully warns that there are limitations to the scientific evidence and that it is difficult to determine long-term effects — standard scientific caveats that will no doubt fuel the suspicions of G.M. skeptics. More troubling, perhaps, is the picture that emerges of our collective G.M. future when we read between the lines of the committee's cautiously craed prose. Scientists Again Say GMOs Are Safe But They Might Not Always Be Page 12| Abby's Magazine -

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