“SAN FRANCISCO — Genetically engineered crops are safe for humans and animals to eat and have not caused increases in cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal illnesses, kidney disease, autism or allergies, an exhaustive report from the National Academies of Science released Tuesday found.
Work on the 388-page report began two years ago and was conducted by a committee of more than 50 scientists, researchers and agricultural and industry experts convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. It reviewed more than 900 studies and data covering the 20 years since genetically modified crops were first introduced…
Safe for humans
To gauge whether foods made from genetically modified crops were safe for human consumption, the committee compared disease reports from the United States and Canada, where such crops have been consumed since the mid-1990s, and those in the United Kingdom and western Europe, where they are not widely eaten.
No long-term pattern of increase in specific health problems after the introduction of GE foods in the 1990s in the United States and Canada was found.
There was no correlation between obesity or Type II diabetes and the consumption of GE foods. Celiac disease, which makes humans intolerant of gluten, increased in both populations. Patterns in the increase in autism spectrum disorder in children were similar in both the United Kingdom and the United States, the committee reported.
Overall the report concluded that there were no differences in terms of a higher risk to human health between foods made from GE crops and those made from conventionally-bred crops…
GMO-free a selling point
A significant portion of American consumers are concerned about the safety or other effects of foods made with genetically modified crops, often called GMOs for genetically modified organisms.. A survey released last year by the NPD Group, a market research firm, found that 57% of Americans were concerned that genetically modified foods posed a health hazard.
The food industry has taken notice. In 2015, Progressive Grocer, a trade publication, reported that total U.S. sales of food and beverage products labeled “non-GMO” reached $10 billion during 2014.
Labeling foods as GMO-free has become a popular marketing and differentiation method for companies. The Non-GMO Project, a labeling program, has almost 35,000 verified products, according to its website.
Packaged Facts estimates that the global food and beverage market was worth more than $5 trillion in 2014 and that non-GMO products accounted for $550 billion of that. It projects that the global market for non-GMO foods and beverages will reach to $1 trillion by 2019.
The National Academies report will likely not sway these consumers, said Phil Lempert, a Los Angeles-based food industry analyst.
“It’s an emotional issue, it’s not a science issue,” he said.”
-Elizabeth Wiese, USA Today