Source: Friends Of The Earth.org
On the heels of the U.S. Department of Agriculture deregulation of the Arctic® apple (the first genetically engineered apple) leading consumer, food safety and environmental groups issued a response to widespread media reports characterizing the science on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) as settled.
Groups including the Consumers Union, Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, and Pesticide Action Network — along with 300 scientists, physicians and scholars — signed on to a statement published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe asserting that there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs.
The statement does not take a position on whether GMOs are unsafe or safe — rather, it cites a concerted effort by GMO seed developers and some scientists, commentators and journalists to construct the claim that there is a “scientific consensus” on GMO safety, and that debate on the topic is “over.”
The claim of scientific consensus on GMOs frequently repeated in the media is “an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated,” the peer-reviewed statement said. Also, according to the statement:
There are no epidemiological studies investigating potential health effects of GMO food on human health. Epidemiology is the study of human populations to determine whether something is harmful or beneficial, and is the scientifically accepted means of determining impact on human health. With no epidemiological studies, claims that “trillions of GMO meals” have been eaten with no ill effects have no scientific basis. It is therfore not possible to know whether GMOs are causing harm such as increases in known diseases, especially over the long term.
GMO studies are frequently mischaracterized as showing safety. For example, the EU Research Project, which has been internationally cited as providing evidence of GMO safety, was not designed to test safety and provides no reliable evidence of safety. Another example is the false claim that “hundreds of studies” listed on the biotechnology website Biofortified demonstrate GMO safety; in fact, many of the studies on that list do not address safety concerns at all, and several of the studies raise serious concerns.
Claims that government and scientific organizations endorse safety are exaggerated or inaccurate. Reports by the Royal Society of Canada and British Medical Association have noted that some GMOs could be of considerable harm. The positions of some prominent scientific organizations have been misrepresented or opposed by members, further highlighting the lack of consensus among scientists.
There is no consensus on environmental impacts of GMOs, and many concerns have been raised about increased herbicide use, potential health impacts and the rapid spread of herbicide-resistant weeds.
The statement concludes that decisions on whether to continue and expand GMO crops should “be supported by strong scientific evidence…obtained in a manner that is honest, ethical, rigorous, independent, transparent, and sufficiently diversified to compensate for bias” rather than based on “misleading and misrepresentative claims by an internal circle of like-minded stakeholders that a ‘scientific consensus’ exists on GMO safety.”