Poll identifies top 10 questions on GMOs
An example of an answer is the one provided by Kevin Folta, Ph.D., University of Florida interim chairman and associate professor Horticultural Sciences Department, answering the number one question in the poll results: If GMOs cause cancer?
"The short answer is no, there is absolutely zero reputable evidence that GMO foods cause cancer. Cancer is a name applied to a spectrum of diseases where cells proliferate abnormally. There is no way that the subtle and well understood alterations of a plant’s genes can cause cancer. There is nothing about the Bt protein (used in insect resistance, also in organic pest control), the EPSPS enzyme (which confers herbicide resistance, simply by substituting for the native enzyme in the plant) or the process itself, that would induce the genetic changes in human cells that would lead to cancer. It is just not plausible.
“Some of the confusion comes from reports where the Bt protein or glyphosate (the herbicide used on some GM crops) is applied to cell lines in a petri dish, and the cells show changes associated with stress and perhaps abnormal proliferation. However, cells in a dish do not behave like cells in the body. Through years of careful evaluation there is no reliable evidence that GM foods cause the same changes in a living organism.
“Quite to the contrary, future plants may be engineered to produce nutrients that fight/prevent cancer, or even eliminate compounds that increase cancer risk. One such product is close to commercialization. Potatoes produce a small amount of acrylamide, a potential carcinogen, when heated to high temperatures. A potato has been engineered to not produce that compound, leading to safer food.”
Enright noted that GMO Answers is trying to be a website where consumers continue to come back and follow the answers to the top 10 questions and others. Consumers can become a part of the conversation at GMO Answers.
Enright concluded, “We recognize that consumers have questions about our products, and we need to do a better job explaining our technology, role in agriculture and the safety of our crops.”
Getting the public to believe the answers and science behind them is no easy task, especially since the answers are produced by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes major companies that produce plant biotechnology products. Distrust of large companies is extremely prevalent worldwide.
But members of GMO Answers commit to five core principles—welcoming and answering questions on all GMO topics; making GMO information, research and data easy to access and evaluate, and supporting independent safety testing of GM products using validated science-based methods; supporting farmers as they work to grow crops using precious resources more efficiently, with less impact on the environment and producing safe, nutritious food and feed products; respecting farmers’ rights to choose the seeds that are best for their farms, businesses and communities and providing seed choices that include making non-GM seeds based on market demands; and respecting people around the world and their right to choose healthy food products that are best for themselves and their families.
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