“The inescapable conclusion, after reading the report, is the G.E. crops are pretty much just crops. They are not the panacea that some proponents claim, nor the dreaded monsters that others claim.” — Wayne Parrott a professor of crop and soil sciences at the University of Georgia.
A two-year analysis of almost 900 journal articles on the past 30 years of genetically modified, or engineered (GE), crop use concludes that there is no evidence that GE crops are unsafe to eat, or do damage to the environment. The 400-page report — Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects’ published by the National Academies Press on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. — was conducted by 20 scientists, and commissioned by the US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
The report looks at the impacts GE crops have had since the 1980s. Its findings include:
- Generally positive economic outcomes for farmers, but no indication GE crops changed the rate of increase in yields;
- Decreased crop losses, insecticide use and greater insect biodiversity for insect-resistant Bt crops, but also instances of insects evolving resistance;
- No decrease in plant biodiversity for herbicide tolerant crops, but a major problem with herbicide-resistant weeds due to heavy glyphosate use;
- No evidence that foods from GE crops are less safe to eat than conventional food.
Looking to the future of GE crops, the report notes that new genetic technologies are blurring the line between conventional and GE crops, and that the U.S. regulatory system needs to assess crop varieties based on their individual characteristics, not the way they are produced.