The National Academy of Science’ National Research Council (NRC) has started a two-year study of genetically engineered crops in the United States.

An ad hoc committee will conduct a broad review of available information on genetically engineered (GE) crops, according to project information available on the study.

The study started in March 2014 and a report is expected to be issued in the spring of 2016.

In presenting its findings, the committee will indicate where there are uncertainties and information gaps about the economic, agronomic, health, safety, or other impacts of GE crops and food, using comparable information from experiences with other types of production practices, crops, and foods, for perspective where appropriate.

The study’s objectives are to:

  • Examine the history of the development and introduction of GE crops in the United States and internationally, including GE crops that were not commercialized, and the experiences of developers and producers of GE crops in different countries.
  • Assess the basis of purported negative effects of GE crops and their accompanying technologies, such as poor yields, deleterious effects on human and animal health, increased use of pesticides and herbicides, the creation of “super-weeds,” reduced genetic diversity, fewer seed choices for producers, and negative impacts on farmers in developing countries and on producers of non-GE crops, and others, as appropriate.
  • Assess the basis of purported benefits of GE crops and their accompanying technologies, such as reductions in pesticide use, reduced soil loss and better water quality through synergy with no-till cultivation practices, reduced crop loss from pests and weeds, increased flexibility and time for producers, reduced spoilage and mycotoxin contamination, better nutritional value potential, improved resistance to drought and salinity, and others, as appropriate. 
  • Review the scientific foundation of current environmental and food safety assessments for GE crops and foods and their accompanying technologies, as well as evidence of the need for and potential value of additional tests.  As appropriate, the study will examine how such assessments are handled for non-GE crops and foods.
  • Explore new developments in GE crop science and technology and the future opportunities and challenges those technologies may present, including the R&D, regulatory, ownership, agronomic, international and other opportunities and challenges, examined through the lens of agricultural innovation and agronomic sustainability.

The study is sponsored by the New Venture Fund, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Academy of Sciences.