It is important to separate out two issues when it comes to GMOs:
1. Safety of genetic modified products
2. Safety of chemicals used widely on the majority of GMO products.
Most GMOs on the market are Round-Up ready.
While there are considerable uncertainties associated with studying the safety of genetic modification techniques, there are fewer uncertainties in applying classical laboratory testing procedures to evaluate the safety of the chemicals that are widely and extensively used on the GMO crops that we consume in the US.
IS ROUND-UP SAFE?
Their study had several experimental conditions:
1. A control condition where the embryos had no added chemical exposure
2. A glysophate condition (the active ingredient in Round-Up)
3. A Round-Up condition (using the off-the-shelf product)
The results were very significant. Development was very negative impacted most by the Round-Up condition (with shrunken bodies), although mutations were also found in the glysophate only condition.
My son's study replicates the findings of numerous other laboratory studies that have concluded that the "inert" ingredients in Round-Up, in combination with glyosophate, are detrimental to normal development in laboratory animals.
Hence, I find it perplexing that US National Academies "experts" would dismiss laboratory research and focus exclusively on health outcomes across entire populations to evaluate whether or not GMOs are safe, as described here in a gloating article at the Washington Post declaring that GMOs have been evaluated as 'SAFE'
Scientists refute the scaremongering about GMOs, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/scientists-refute-the-scaremongering-about-gmos/2016/05/19/47607924-1c7a-11e6-b6e0-c53b7ef63b45_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlinesThe report can be found here: http://www.nap.edu/read/10977/chapter/1#iv
The National Academies experts reviewed the relevant studies and solicited huge amounts of feedback. The upshot? “No differences have been found that implicate a higher risk to human health safety from these GE foods than from their non-GE counterparts,” they concluded. They based their findings partially on a comparison of European countries, where genetically engineered crops generally are not used, and the United States, where they are plentiful. They could find no significant differences attributable to genetically engineered crops, across a range of diseases and disorders.
Moreover, the experts concluded, “the committee found no conclusive evidence of cause-and-effect relationships between GE crops and environmental problems.” Among other things, the scientists found concerns that the crops are degrading plant and animal biodiversity to be insubstantial.
The report's conclusions do not appear consistent with the media representations:
CONCLUSIONS (p. 232-233)
Profiling techniques are appropriate for establishing compositional differences between cloned and noncloned animals.
Profiling methods and their interpretation are not sufficiently developed to allow direct assessment of potential health effects associated with most unintended compositional changes.
There is no scientific basis to exclude animals deemed to be “no-takes” from entering the food chain.
There is a need to improve our ability to detect and assess the health consequences of unintended changes in GM foods, such as better tools for toxicology assessment and a more robust knowledge base regarding which components impact health.
Given the possibility that foods with unintended changes could enter the marketplace, there is a need to enhance our capacity for postmarket surveillance of exposure and effects.
There are only a couple of references to Roundup in the entire report and no references that I could find to glysophate across the entire report. The REPORT DOES NOT APPEAR TO ADDRESS THE CHEMICALS USED ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED PRODUCTS.
The bio of the study's chair can be found here: http://biochem.uthscsa.edu/~masters/publications.shtml
A 2004 report on genetically modified food expressed uncertainties in measuring impacts of GMO foods and identified the need to use multiple methods to study their safety:
"6 Methods for Predicting and Assessing Unintended Effects on Human Health." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2004. doi:10.17226/10977. Safety of Genetically Modified Foods Chapter Six: http://www.nap.edu/read/10977/chapter/8
The major challenges to predicting and assessing unintended adverse consequences—such as toxicity, nutritional deficiency, and allergenicity—stem from limitations in available data as well as in current scientific knowledge. For example, information about the range of normal compositional variability, especially in plant-derived food, is very limited. This significantly constrains the ability to distinguish true compositional differences of a “new” food from the normal variation found among its antecedents.Yet despite uncertainties and complexities in studying effects, the new report is being represented in the mainstream media as a definitive statement of GMO safety.
To the extent that it cannot be determined whether the composition of a food has changed, it also cannot be predicted whether such changes have either adverse or beneficial health consequences. Even in cases where food composition changes are known, current understanding of the potential biological activity in humans for most food constituents is very limited. This becomes most evident when considering mixtures or diets consumed by human populations and then attempting to predict adverse health consequences from chronic intake of specific foods.
Thus the present state of knowledge requires relying on a range of toxicological, metabolic, and epidemiological sciences to assess the significance of un-
intended health effects, using both targeted and profiling approaches (see Chapter 4). Employing a combination of these approaches builds on what is known and will increase the ability to detect or even prevent unsuspected consequences.Page 128
My review of news coverage finds that the report is hardly as definitive in clearing GMOs as widely represented, as illustrated by this commentary published at PLOS:
Is the new GMO report the last word? http://blogs.plos.org/onscienceblogs/2016/05/20/is-the-new-gmo-report-the-last-word-also-john-oliver-explains-science-news-for-you/More cuttingly, EcoWatch has released a counter-report criticizing the findings for being tainted by industry biases:
National Research Council GMO Study Compromised by Industry Ties. https://ecowatch.com/2016/05/16/gmo-study-compromised-industry-ties/One of my master's students focused her thesis on competing scientific representations of Round-Up safety:
Desiree Schluter. Contested Safety: Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" Agricultural Assemblage versus Counter Discourses of Roundup Risk http://gradworks.umi.com/15/87/1587968.htmlBased on her research, my own reading of the literature, and my son's experimental studies I find the results published by the National Academies to be suspect FOR (APPARENTLY) FAILING TO ADDRESS THE CHEMICALS THAT ARE UBIQUITOUS IN GMOS.
Round-Up ready crops constitute at least 80% of the GMO market. Round-Up ready GMO crops are saturated with Round-Up at higher and higher levels as weed resistance grows.
I'll stick with ORGANICS!