On Friday, December 7, two winners of the 2018 Nobel prize for Chemistry – American chemical engineer Frances Arnold and British biochemist Sir Gregory Winter – expressed concern that misguided fears about genetically modified (GM) foods could hinder the many societal benefits the technology offers and curtail important scientific developments.
According to The Guardian, the comments were made at a press conference ahead of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony.
“We’ve been modifying the biological world at the level of DNA for thousands of years,” Arnold said at a news conference, citing examples such as new dog breeds. “Somehow there is this new fear of what we already have been doing and that fear has limited our ability to provide real solutions.”
Arnold argued that genetically modified crops could make food production more environmentally sustainable and help feed the world’s growing population. Genetic modifications can make crops drought and disease resistant.
Winter said that current regulations on GM needed to be “loosened up”.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been on the market for over 20 years and have not caused or contributed to a single illness or death. Thousands of studies have researched GMOs, and in 2016, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) determined there is “no substantial evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available genetically engineered crops and conventionally bred crops.”
In addition, the U.S. Drug and Food Administration, American Medical Association, World Health Organization, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have deemed GMOs safe to eat. Industry experts also continually test GMO crops for consumer safety. Within the U.S., these tests have been conducted repeatedly and extensively by the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and independent organizations. Similar tests are also held internationally by other countries.
As we look to the future, there are many ways GMOs can provide real solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. For example, with GMOs, we can:
- Increase productivity in agriculture, helping feed the world and combat food crises;
- Improve nutritional quality of crops and increase vitamin content;
- Conserve water;
- Improve air quality;
- Reduce the use of pesticides; and much more.
Learn more about how GMOs are improving human health and the wellbeing of our environment at GMO Answers.