Experts weigh in on genetically engineered crops

Image: Genetically engineered crops
Corn is one of the best-known genetically engineered crops. (Credit: NIEHS)

A scientific analysis backed by the National Academies finds no evidence that genetically engineered crops pose heightened health risks or environmental problems, but points up subtler concerns about the technology.

Today’s 420-page report says the impact of genetic engineering for resistance to insects and herbicides has been mostly positive, due to a decrease of pests and crop losses. The outcomes vary widely, however. If proper pest management practices aren’t followed, insects and weeds can evolve to overcome the crops’ built-in resistance. That presents a “major agronomic problem,” the report says.

“Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects” was drawn up by a committee comprising more than a dozen experts, with the support of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine. The experts delved into nearly 900 publications about genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton, which account for almost all of today’s commercial genetically engineered crops.

The experts also heard from 80 speakers during a series of public meetings, and read through 700 comments from members of the public.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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