Are G.M.O. Foods Safe?

In the decades since the first genetically modified foods reached the market, no adverse health effects among consumers have been found.

Comments: 299

  1. So far, it appears the major negative externality of a number of GMO foods, especially those that are wind-pollinated, would be to render sterile the seeds of non-sterile crops nearby that would otherwise have been usable for future sowing. That would be a harm for which compensation is awarded.

  2. There are no sterile GMO seeds on the market. And there never have been. The technology hasn't even been finalized in the lab to the point of viability. But even if there were, how would your scenario be feasible? The theoretical point of sterile seeds is that they don't propagate. So how would they render other crops sterile?

  3. Just like it is possible to create sterile male mosquitoes to breed with non sterile female mosquitoes and plunge mosquito numbers it is obviously possible to breed plants that produce only sterile offspring. Many hybrids, like mules (not GMO) are almost always sterile, so creating sterile GMOs would not be at all difficult.

  4. Monsanto did buy a company researching that approach several years ago, specifically with the idea of creating sterile plants. The idea was to address wind-blown pollen so it wouldn't contaminate other related crops as you suggest. Monsanto responded to scientific concerns and shelved it. As it is now, yes, corn, canola, soybeans cross-pollinate their GMO traits with adjacent fields.

  5. Hi! Thank you for this piece. It is not easy writing something in this debate that does not appear as either too resistant or very pro. I think maybe that you all into the second category... Well, anyhow: You appear to think the reason why consumers are hesistant to GMOs are because of potential health effects. We at Consumer Reseach Norway, have actually found that (Norwegian) consumers are more concerned with potential negativ effects on the enviroment, than health!

  6. How can you possibly separate the two?

  7. Then you must be excited to learn about all the environmental benefits GE crops have to offer. Please read "Planting the Future" by European Academies Science Advisory Council 2013 to learn about them. its free to download.

  8. Are these consumers well versed in the science?

  9. Bravo for a piece on GMOs that is science-based, objective, calm and reasonable, and looks at the actual evidence rather than relying on anti-GMO emotion, superstition, and fear.

  10. Worry about the impact on the environment by the herbicides used to produce GMO food is not about emotion, superstition and fear. Just so you know.

  11. Eddie, when you can bring some safe science that addresses the consumers concerns, AND can bring value to the consumer, you may have a point. Until you do that, you have a corporate profitmaker that is potentially dangerous to the public, that bring us no value. So,, bring us product that increases food value, decreases costs, and show us a long tern study that is unbiased and based on science and not salesmanship. Show us that you aren't destroying our planet for profit. We might even listen to you. Until then you have a time bomb that is a million times more dangerous than smoking, and there is no defense for that.

  12. About the evidence: very selective. Nothing about the effect of GMO agribusiness on the environment. When scientists tell you GMOs are safe, they're only talking about the crops themselves, not the consequences of using them widely.

  13. Most of the research on GMO foods has been done or funded by the big Agro giants such as Monsanto.Very reminiscent of the research on tobacco and sugar by to same industries that sold them.I will wait for independent research to decide.The rising incidence of various cancers among our population may be due to GMOs.

  14. It feels somehow „reminiscent“ of bad examples from the past, so they probably all belong in the same group? I guess that is what Colbert would call „truthiness“. And what are those cancers that supposedly appear more frequently because of GMOs? Let me guess, you read that somewhere on the internet (perhaps some neutral article called „Dangers of GMOs“ or something like that) or heard it from someone who heard it from his friend? Ok, let's see: It feels „reminiscent“ of what the tobacco industry has done in the past and you heard / read something about some cancer? Case closed, I guess …

  15. Thank you. There's a pervasive fear, especially among the upper-middle class, that we're unwittingly poisoning ourselves, so we buy things like non-GMO labeled foods as if they're magic amulets of good health. They provide a false sense of individual control in a world we perceive as full of dangers. At the same time, we acquiesce to the things we do know our poisonous--air pollution, lead pipes, subsidized sugar in everything--that would require collective action to fix. Consumers want to feel like they're smarter and healthier than everyone else, so they shell out extra money for the illusion of control, while ignoring bigger, systemic health risks because fixing those things wouldn't make them feel special. Moreover, we're ignoring the very real harm that non-GMO labeling has on others--it drives up prices on foods, which will disproportionately hurt the poor. You can only find non-GMO baby formula, which has raised the price by at least 10%, which only hurts low-income families so us bougie fools can feel better about ourselves.

  16. Another BS agrument. And yes, abortion is anti- african american, because it hurt them more. When you make these disingenuous arguments, please ask yourself, are you taking money from Monsantos? do you care about the environment, about butterflies and bees, which we all depend on? do you have grandchildren, and do you want them to see a meadow. please ask yourself; Then get back to repeating the Monsanto memos you have internalized..

  17. *are

  18. Jane Brody's article is a curious mix of long disputed GMO industry PR talking points and factual errors that anyone familiar with this issue can easily spot. For example, food manufacturers currently labeling their products a produced or partially produced with genetic engineering do so on a voluntary basis. The 2016 law is not scheduled to be implemented until July 2018. The western corn rootworm primarily damages the roots of corn plants, not the ears of corn. Claims of increasing yields of GMO crops have been challenged in previous NYT articles, (e.g. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/business/gmo-promise-falls-short.html) and elsewhere. For readers who would like more incisive perspective on GMO agriculture and its primary agrochemical, Roundup/glyphosate, I recommend the following three books: GMO Myths and Truths, Third Edition by Mphil, Antoniou and Fagan; Whitewash by Carey Gillam; and Modified by Caitlin Shetterly.

  19. Or if people want to learn the real science try downloading : Planting the Future by EASAC 2013 A decade of EU-funded GMO research 2001-2010 by EC GE crops: Experience and Perspectives by NAS 2016 All have a great deal of accurate science and all endorse the continued safe use of GE crop technology.

  20. It is interesting that you decry industry PR but then recommend industry PR from the other side. Antoniou and Fagan are funded by the anti-GMO industry, Gilliam is a spokesperson for a lobbying arm of Organic Consumers Association, and Shetterly is a writer whose work has no basis in science whatsoever.

  21. Grant, I want to point out that genetic engineering methods can and are used to address a much more diverse set of useful traits than RoundUp Ready (glyphosate tolerance) which admittedly has been the dominant trait used in the commodity crops (because its saves time and energy and facilitates no-till and conservation tillage, which saves soil). You must realize that RoundUp is used in non-GMO agriculture very widely as well. All that to say, if you want to see a very well documented report on "GMOs", you should look to the National Academies' Genetically Engineered Crops: Experience and Prospects. https://doi.org/10.17226/23395

  22. You can tell me they are environmentally safe and healthy all day long, but I still don't know why I am not allowed to know whether my food has been scientifically altered by gene insertion. There's a real "ick" factor for me. The fact that my apple won't turn brown so I don't know how old it is doesn't help me at all. I'm not being charged less, as far as I know. Likewise with the insecticide insertion, etc. People with enough money will simply buy organic, but the rest of us are given industrial products instead of the food we have always eaten. All this money should be spent on creating sustainability instead of in trying to commodify our food.

  23. Its apple genes controlling apple genes in apples. Nothing to fear and definitely no "ick" Just genetics working for a better product. The "insecticide you fear is the same one used on organic food. Bt has been proven completely safe for all animals except the target pests. The result is farmers who grow GE (Bt) crops can reduce or eliminate broad spectrum insecticide use that kills every insect in the fields. Surely this is a good thing?

  24. The issue here is sustainability of foods as the population increases and less and less farmers are getting subsidies from the government. Current GMO research is to help our farmers be able to provide enough food to feed the country and world efficiently. Genetic modifying is a calculated manipulation, without it you wouldn't have many of the medications people survive on everyday. The technology is only getting better, it boils down to whether or not you trust science or not.

  25. Read my words: Increased Yield NOT proving true; loss of adapted native seed types proven and inevitable, with the Montanto business model.

  26. Judge a GMO by the trait, not by the breeding method. Makes sense. Don't like GMOs because of herbicide tolerance? Fine. Non-GMO crops like BASF's Clearfield crops have that same trait. So regulate the trait, not the breeding method. Over regulation, most of which designed by Monsanto itself with the original Bush administration, has led to their control of the genetic engineering crop market. No one else can afford the regulatory approval costs.

  27. Be prepared, Jane, for many vociferous attacks from otherwise decent people who normally take a progressive view. On this particular topic, though, they are as anti-science as the climate deniers.

  28. There is only logic and common sense in wanting to avoid glyphosate, otherwise known as Roundup. It is intrinsic to many GMO foods, particularly grains, and then those grains are given an extra glyphosate spritz post-harvesting. There are well-researched and documented reasons why Monsanto's billion-dollar-making glyphosate is banned in so many countries. In a word: Cancer. May it be benned here, and soon, though I'm not sanguine given the size and influence of Monsanto's lobby. The following link is that of a law firm showing what countries have banned the chemical and explains why: https://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/toxic-tort-law/monsanto-roundup-lawsuit/w...

  29. Hey Beth, I work in the grain industry in America's Breadbasket, and I think there may be some confusion here. You mention that glyphosate is intrinsic to GMOs, particularly grains. I'm thinking that you may be thinking about wheat. Wheat actually isn't a commercially available GMO crop. A farmer can't go to their seed dealer and ask for a glyphosate resistant wheat variety... It doesn't exist. That post-harvest glyphosate spritz also doesn't happen. Post harvest would be sprayed on kernels, but there would be no weeds to kill in the kernels, which is the natural function of glyphosate. There is limited pre-harvest application, particularly in nothern states and Canada. This happens because the shortened growing season up north, the wheat is approaching the natural end of its life cycle, but can't quite get there in time to harvest it. If this does happen, farmers are required by law to wait at LEAST 2 weeks to harvest the crop. You can check out this article from a farm family that uses this method: https://prairiecalifornian.com/truth-toxic-wheat/ That method is not necessary in the Great Plains where winter wheat is grown and wheat dries out quickly and naturally in the hot summer sun! There's a wide difference in farming practices based on geographic region, not every practice works in every place it's grown. It's fantastic that you're researching what goes into your food, keep doing it! But I'd encourage you to look to farmers for answers, also.

  30. Do you have any idea what the track record of our government is? They have a long history of being wrong over and over again. From cigarettes to butter. This is all without mentioning the outright lies. As for me i prefer to eat real food.

  31. "And people in developing countries faced with famine and malnutrition are likely to benefit from attempts to improve the protein content of food crops, as well as the amount of vitamins and minerals they provide." Likely to benefit huh? This likelihood has yet to have been shown over the long years of GMO's being introduced into countries suffering from famine. In fact, the pesticide dependence and terminating seeds have only been shown to exacerbate the problem. This article needs to appear in the paid advertisement section of the paper.

  32. "Terminating seeds" are a myth. They do not exist now, and have never been in farmers hands anywhere in the world.

  33. Ask the Indian farmers committing suicide in unprecedented numbers how well GMO crops have worked for them.

  34. People who could afford it have always wanted to believe that there were some magical dietary rules that would confer reduced anxiety about life's real dangers. Anti-gmo and "organic" are just today's secular versions of this ancient urge. Neither is science-based, and we have nothing else but superstition. It is amusing that this writer needs to establish "cred" with the modern bourgeois superstition crowd by opening with a declaration of fear of self-driving cars, as if human-driven cars were safe. The largest presentation of the dilemma is that we all vaguely know that our negligent deployment of technology is somehow responsible for the current 6th Great Extinction of Species. So we want to recoil, and not trust science. On the other hand there is nothing else to trust. Science is just common sense, organized. Alternatives are nonsense. There is no going back that feeds the 7 billion of the planet, even if the Times readers think they might be among the lucky fed. There is just more and better science. How to have that and not cause more problems for Earth is the great challenge.

  35. There are legitimate concerns about genetically engineered seeds and foods, concerns that cannot be settled by citing one magazine, or "expert" or a selected list of organizations. Like so many other health and environmental issues, this one is saturated with sophisticated lobbying by commercial interests that spend millions of dollars to put a positive spin on their most lucrative practices. They have the means to corrupt some research projects and to enlist endorsements from some prestigious academics and institutions. Condensing this complicated and perplexing issue into a short article with a favorable slant is a disservices the readership of The Times.

  36. Thank you for an intelligent response to this article, which at least mentioned some of the issues with GMO modifications. I expect to read countless comments from "scientific pretenders" pooh-poohing GMO concerns as coming from the same folks claiming vaccines cause autism, or that there are excellent arguments against evolution or that climate change is a Chinese hoax.

  37. And yet you were unable to cite a single "legitimate concern". Not to mention the fact that the anti GMO crowd is funded largely by organics which is a huge industry in and of itself.

  38. Spoken like a global warming "skeptic."

  39. I think that we still don’t know the effects of genetically engineered food plants on our health. These plants may appear to be no different in their amounts of major nutritional components, protein, oils, carbohydrates, but we don’t know the details of whether the composition of these components have been subtly altered. And there are thousands of phytonutrients only some of which are vitamins and minerals, and we don’t even know what most of these are, much less how they affect us, and whether they are altered by genetic engineering, to our detriment or benefit. And it can take years for damage to become obvious. Think of tobacco. Radiation. Lead. Excess sugar. The list is long. But I am even more concerned about the law of unexpected consequences. Or Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it will. The excessive use of herbicides on herbicide resistant crops is just one example.

  40. Genetics isn't introducing harmful things into your foods, that's the bottom line. We have DNA sequencing which allows you to see how different a DNA sequence is after genetic manipulation. All commercial GMO's are screen for these mutations that can occur before large scale production. There is no danger of any other harms because this plant has no differences besides the single gene that is the target.

  41. I don't think it's that simple. For example, some GMO plants have been engineered to produce a pesticide to keep pests away. Do you want to eat pesticides?! Granted, this was done to cotton plants (maybe others, this is the one I recall), which we normally do not eat. Also, you refer to mutation, but what about mutation in the wild? Are there new risks associated with this mutated gene? Lastly, we need to be very cautious as consumers because we cannot rely on big business to have our best interests in mind. Take Monsanto and all the patents they have on seeds. We have artificially changed the DNA so that these seeds can out-compete naturally occurring varieties. Eventually, there will be no unpatented seeds of value if this keeps up.

  42. "We have artificially changed the DNA so that these seeds can out-compete naturally occurring varieties" We have artificially changed DNA for centuries. There are no "naturally occurring varieties" of food crops. They have all been modified in some manner. Pesticides are used on essentially all crops including "organically" grown where there is actually need for more pesticides due to the types used. GMOs produce specific proteins to kill insects rather than blanket use of pesticides. GMOs can greatly reduce pesticides. https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-vaccines-for-crops-help-cut-pesticide...

  43. It's odd--people who claim to be informed about this topic cannot seem to understand that herbicides are used on non-GMOs too. I think it's unhelpful to fixate on them in the context of GMOs. If GMOs went away today, all the same herbicides would still be used. If your real problem is herbicides, GMO hating won't solve your problems. Look at Europe. They don't have GMOs but they have all the same herbicides. People cannot seem to disentangle this issue.

  44. GMO's are targeting pesticides, specifically Roundup, that is WHY they are called Round up Ready, and result in the farmer using far MORE Roundup than the usual onslaught. We object to both, the extreme use of Roundup on GMO (Roundup Ready) crops and on crops before GM techniques. This article does not even MENTION the commercial travesty of GMO crops - i.e., loss of specific indigenous seeds by farmers, who are required to buy their seeds from Monsanto, and are sued by Monsanto if they try for a second year. The loss of the native species was documented with Borlaug, and is continuing with the Monsanto Business model.

  45. GMOs are a number of things--some reduce pesticide use, some save plants from viral attacks, some have traits beneficial for health, and some are herbicide tolerant--just like non-GMOs are herbicide tolerant, which is my point. Why don't you hate herbicide tolerant sunflowers? It's kind of strange, really, people don't seem to understand that. It would help you to understand the issues better because it's easy to dismiss someone who makes a lot ofo many misstatements like that. Farmers are not bound to any company for the second year, you really ought to talk to some farmers. They aren't dupes and they are really capable at math. They buy what's right for their farm. Or do you think farmers shouldn't be able to choose what's right for their farms? Do they get choice?

  46. Just an argument by diffusion. Focus on Roundup ready. Then answer. And no farmers are not dupes, but neither are they in control of Monsanto. That has been a scandal and a tragedy for years. Monsanto controls them. You can look it up.

  47. All the science that we saw for years and years and years assured us that Teflon was harmless, too. GMO's go beyond research that's kept hidden for the sake of profit, with little way of calculating or discovering their effects on organisms that they interact with in nature. As we've learned, plants don't stand alone.

  48. Only those who are educated in/have worked in biotechnology have the ability to engage in a fact-based discussion on this topic; it has been this way since the late 1980s. All others are speaking from a selectively informed remote position, bolstered by feelings, beliefs, and conjecture. The data set for this topic is simply enormous. Far greater risks are taken in biomedical endeavors, based upon far fewer data points.

  49. Why not labels on every food item stating "This food has been genetically altered by a revolutionary process called 'agriculture'"?

  50. GMOs are very different from traditional agriculture. Another over simplification of a very complex topic.

  51. Humans have been genetically modifying food for centuries. The fact that it is done now with more precision instead of the blunderbuss techniques of the past should be considered a great breakthrough—and it is. After all, less pesticides are good, higher yields are good and necessary. I really like the less fungi toxins thingy too. We can always just use the random radiation techniques…no one seem to care about that before. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/28/science/28crop.html Humans are becoming genetically resistant to science and resistance to GMOs is just another example.

  52. Incorrect. GMO is very different from selective breeding, irridation, or mutagenesis. GMO has NOT been around forever and is trying to be oversimplified with this kind of logic. GMO process is anything but precise. Do your research, dig deeper, go past the major articles that are in the news. The truth is hidden very very very deeply so that you never find it. Don't be naive!

  53. Conspiracy thinking is not just the realm of Alex Jones fans, sadly. The truth is actually very easy to find. Google Scholar is the place to find it.

  54. More baloney and nonsense. GMO breeding programs can create genetic modifications that are not greatly different from the modifications created by traditional methods with more precision, but they can also create modifications, like the insertion of genes from completely unrelated species that could never be bred together traditionally. Yes, humans have bred mules for eons between horses and donkeys, but have never been able to breed an elephant horse cross. Yet with GMOs one could insert elephant genes into a horse mutant. Horse - rose crosses have also been impossible, but with GMO techniques one could insert a rose gene into a horse mutant. Random radiation is not going to do that. Many GMO crops involve far more pesticides which is why chemical agri - business is so interested in breeding these GMOs -- to sell more not less pesticides. It is the people posting unwarranted defenses of all GMOs who are acting genetically resistant to science and to informing themselves before they write. At least I see some intelligent posts here, which is not always the case on this subject. GMOs should not be banned -- but much more care should be taken than has been taken and this unconsidered acceptance of all things GMO is like the unconsidered acceptance of the release of countless new chemicals without the due diligence and consideration of all impacts to enable huge corporate profits. If you want to become a spokesperson for agri - business, make sure you are well paid.

  55. I would suggest that readers would benefit by knowing that there has been more recent updated meta-analysis of 2,4-D epidemiology. In 2015, Goodman et. al., conducted a meta-analysis of the published epidemiological literature for 2,4-D and concluded, “The epidemiology evidence does not support an association between 2,4-D and NHL, gastric cancer, or prostate cancer risk.” IARC noted that, "epidemiological studies did not find strong or consistent increases in risk of NHL or other cancers in relation to 2,4-D exposure." The more you know...

  56. 2.4-D is not as widely used as glysophate but they both have plenty of studies showing harm to humans. Studies can also be funded by an agro business and most of the ones that make it into the news are industry funded. Follow the money.

  57. I don't like facts, so I will make up my own to justify my bias. There are no scientifically valid studies showing harm to human health from glyphosate. It is less toxic than table salt. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5515989/

  58. C.M.: So scientists lie about pesticides but not about vaccines or climate change?

  59. The safety of laboratory based genetic modification, whether applied to plants or animals including humans, is partly a function of how long it has been researched and put into practice. G.M.O. food crops have been around more than 25 years during which time our understanding of its safety and efficacy has expanded dramatically. While it is always possible that some new gene insertion could result in harmful effects, the probability keeps dropping. When you think about the millions of lives lost to starvation and malnutrition as well as how to deal with climate change, G.M.O. crops is and will remain one of our best defenses against the human misery caused by starvation. Let's just make sure our government has the regulatory clout to monitor and control all forms of G.M.O.s through agencies like FDA, USDA and EPA.

  60. Incorrect. In fact our country has very little regulation compared to other countries. The regulatory 'clout' is non existent in the US due to our favorite word 'freedom'. It should also say a lot when 16 countries of the EU banned GMOs. Inserted genes aren't the only problem with GMOs, very complex issue and it's not just about 'inserting' a gene.

  61. This is a fairly brief article on a very deep topic. I'd urge readers to pick up some more in-depth information as referenced in a number of comments on this thread. I've read on this subject extensively and the net net is that no proper scientific studies have found any adverse effects on humans consuming GMO. The environmental impacts are less clear... however, modern industrial farming has a pretty significant impact without GMO. Many on the left would argue that its possible to feed the entire world organically... but considering that there are starving people today with industrial scale agriculture in place I find that to be unconvincing. Before Donald Trump this was one of this hottest topics of debate on the left and the amount of disinformation out there (esp on the anti-GMO side) is legendary. There's plenty of industry funded biased information out there too... but nothing as sensationalistic as the animals with tumors, etc. you see from the anti-GMO camp. I tend to think of discussing GMO as "something we did when Barack Obama was president."

  62. Organic farming is not sustainable. It uses more land to produce lower yields, and the deep dark secret is that they are not pesticide free. Organic farmers still use pesticides. They're just derived from natural sources. But they're also less effective than the synthetic alternatives, so you have to use more. This is critically important because we can't just think about what it would take to feed the current world population. We have to consider what we're going to need going forward. The population is still growing, and we're already farming all of the currently arable land. We can't cut production 10-20% because a certain portion of the population likes to feel warm and fuzzy about how their food is grown.

  63. "We are already farming all the arable land" - what a ridiculous statement, in relation to feeding the world. Ethanol is not food. Corn for corn syrup is not food, and almonds from the deserts of california are not neccessities. We grow plenty of food, despite Monsanto requirements that seed only be bought from them. It is, and always has been a question of distribution, and small scale farms are one way to work towards an environmentally healthy solution. Don't forget about the general 99% decline of bugs and bees..Does GMO cropping help or hurt that problem> Or can't one think of the two things at once, since Monsanto doesn't want us to.

  64. Derek Evermore writes: "Many on the left would argue that its possible to feed the entire world organically... but considering that there are starving people today with industrial scale agriculture in place I find that to be unconvincing." ------- Many studies have shown that the starvation problem problem is one of food distribution, not production. Something like 40% of the food in U.S. is wasted, and that number is estimated to be 30% worldwide.

  65. Not worried about a fish gene in my strawberries. Very worried about glyphosate and 2,4-D in my salad.

  66. You shouldn’t have 2,4-d or Glyphosate in your salad as both would kill lettuce. Therefore, any residual you would find would be on dead plants

  67. Wrong, Mms. That is the meaning of Roundup Ready Crops, my dear. The Roundup will NOT kill them, so farmers spread it around like mulch in a White House flower bed.

  68. Incorrect. Glysophate when its sprayed on a crop only hits .01% of it's target where as when it's injested it has a much greater toll on our gut.

  69. GMOs are not the problem. If you're concened about the impact of glyphosate and other herbicides on our planet and on the farm workers who are exposed to them (which you should be!), focus your energies there. Banning all GMOs because you're concerned about pesticide use would be the equivalent of burning down your house because you had an ant problem in the kitchen.

  70. We can take them one by one, but this article doesn't - it is a broad general article. Do I detect a new Monsanto meme, or should I say, Monsanto memo, here - several commenters have said the same thing - don't focus on the guns, or the gun laws, just focus on Mental Health laws..I detect bogosity.

  71. @Grace: Thanks for the chuckle. I'm a pro-gun control fundraiser who is most certainly not in the pocket of Monsanto. With student loans and child care bills, I am accepting all bids from Russians or evil corporations, though. Anyone?

  72. Genetically modified Golden Rice (mentioned in the article) has recently been approved as safe by the government food standards agencies of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The rice is now awaiting approvals from both the U.S. and the Philippines, with submissions to other countries now under way. http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/applications/Documents/A1138%20Appr... https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/genetical...

  73. As to Golden Rice: I read that rice used to be cultivated in small paddies, surrounded by wild and cultivated plants that the farmers and their families could eat, thereby consuming a healthy diet. But as rice paddies grew larger and larger, these green plants disappeared, leaving the the farmers and their families and communities with just rice. And Vitamin A is just one of many phytonutrients present in spinach, or any other green leafy plant. Providing just one in rice won’t solve deficits in others. This a systemic problem which needs a much bigger solution than a band-aid, and it is simplistic to think otherwise.

  74. Part of the problem with golden rice is that it would have to supplant numerous varieties of rice that local farmers have used in their fields for generations. Those varieties are likely to be better adapted to local conditions than the golden rice variety. Also, there are so many different types of rice from short to long grains with different qualities, tastes, and uses. Golden rice may be very different than what the locals are used to. Also, widespread use of one variety puts all of the "eggs" in one basket. It decreases genetic diversity, potentially leading to disaster if it becomes particularly vulnerable to a disease or pest or doesn't perform as well in certain weather conditions. I assume that it must also be purchased each growing season instead of farmers setting aside some of their yield to plant.

  75. The Golden Rice gene has been introgressed into several different rice varieties making each one suitable for local soil and climate. The rice seeds may be saved and planted, there is no need to buy them anew every year, as long as the farming operation generates less than $10,000/year.

  76. I think the author has failed to understand the problem. We, as consumers, want to know what is in our food. It’s that simple. If you created something that would not have occurred in nature without thousands of years of evolution, if ever, I want to know before I purchase it. My health choices are my decision. If you are comfortable with apples that have fish genes then good for you. Enjoy that apple! I have no interest in that apple and will choose a different variety. Knowledge is power. I am not willing to abdicate that power to a party that has fiduciary to shareholders. My choice.

  77. And therein lies the problem. By insisting on GMO labelling, you propagate irrational avoidance of GMO crops in the West. When westerners avoid purchasing GMO-based foods, their development stops being funded and they disappear from the market. Who suffers most? The millions of starving people who could be helped by GMO crops. Your simple labeling wish, over something that is safe, will contribute to untold suffering in the world. As long as you acknowledge this and accept responsibility for it, continue with your crusade.

  78. Knowledge IS power - and knowing the foods that are GMO and in our food supply is the first thing to know about GMOs. Soy - yes, corn, yes. Wheat? No. Apples? No. Strawberries? No. Carrots? No. The amount and variety of non-GMO food in our food supply vastly outnumbers the food that is, particularly if you mainly shop the produce aisle and avoid packaged/processed food.

  79. Shame on you, Jane Brody. You can see how ignorant Monsanto wants people to remain by the comments here - comparing Gene Modification to 'centuries old agricultural practices' is just blarney - the Genetic Modification process is entirely, completely different. Can't even honestly compare ancient agriculture to GM at all. The notion is laughable. Secondly, as with Borlaug's Green Revolution, the claims of increased yield are highly suspect. It did not happen with Borlaug and is not happening now: https://www.motherjones.com/food/2013/02/do-gmo-crops-have-lower-yields/ And finally, when you state that Pesticide Resistant crops allow farmers to use LESS pesticides, you apparently have not read anything on this issue for the last ten years. Farmers use MORE pesticides on pesticide resistant crops, because they can. Yes, they throw the stuff everywhere. Results - pesticide resistance, and loss of the few remaining edge species, like Milkweed, that our insects rely on so heavily to survive the vast plains of Roundup ready crops.. And finally, we don't like GMO crops because of the environment, need I say that again - it is the impact on the ENVIRONMENT, not necessarily on our direct health, that WE OBJECT to! Why do these GMO positive articles NEVER focus on that? What are you trying to hide, with such blinkered reporting? Really, Jane Brody. Shame on you.

  80. And yet RR crops allow no-till farming, that is best for improving soil structure and preventing fertilizer run-off. And Bt crops do reduce application of much more toxic insecticides. See: http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/insecticidal-plants/ and references within.

  81. Can do no-till farming without GM crops!! Now that IS an old science. As for BT crops reduce application, no, case in point, rise of Round up resistance. A direct result of over-application. And still no one talks about decine of birds and bees and butterflies. Is that from organic farming techniques??? I don't think so..

  82. Implying that anyone researching the GMO issue has nefarious ties to Monsanto moves the conversation nowhere. I do agree that the concerns by many of us on the effects to the environment are often ignored. However, for your general consumer, their concern IS about the safety of ingesting the food and nothing (or not much) to do with environmental concerns. A blanket "we" statement, again, does not help the conversation.

  83. Jane Brody fails to indicate that, 20 yrs after their release, NOT A SINGLE post-marketing study has been conducted to determine the health effects of GMO food on humans. How is it possible to make a conclusive scientific statement, without a single piece of data? With respect to the safety studies conducted in the LAB, the author fails to indicate that these are conducted by Industry itself, and that the claims of safety, are often 'rubber-stamped' by regulators-- today done openly under the Trump era. Also, because Pesticide Sprays (or the Bt pesticides present in the tissues of the GMO plant itself), are an integral part of GMO farming, an assessment of safety needs to also incorporate the safety of pesticide applications-- and residues in food. An extensive literature exists documenting both the environmental and health impacts from pesticide applications on applicators, nearby communities, and consumers. These include Roundup, Atrazine, 2,4-D, chlorpyrifos, paraquat, the neonicotinoids, pyrethroids... all of which are an integral part of GMO farming.

  84. The global scientific consensus is that GMOs pose no unique or significant harm to humans. How is it that every major scientific body in the world has come to the same result if there hasn't been enough study?

  85. @Jacob, Whaaa? What you talking about? Banned in France and Germany, Switzerland and Scotland, major buffer zones required anywhere they are allowed with most of the EU going increasingly in the direction of NO< from an initial stance of maybe, let's take a look. They have taken a look, and are mostly saying NO> That is why our produce is inferior to EU, for the most part.

  86. There is absolutely no so-called "global consensus." A considerable no of scientists and scientific bodies have raised concerns, and/or have written refereed position papers concerning the risks of GMOs and/or pesticides eg American Academy of Pediatrics. All the scientific bodies cited, rely on the same 'safety' data provided by Industry. Again, difficult to make a scientific statement, without a single data point (re: no studies to date on humans). However, considerable scientific studies on lab animals and livestock, have shown evidence of harm on several body organs, e.g liver, kidney-- from the consumption of GMO crops.

  87. This article published by the NYTimes in 2016 is also worth reading: "The controversy over genetically modified crops has long focused on largely unsubstantiated fears that they are unsafe to eat. But an extensive examination by The New York Times indicates that the debate has missed a more basic problem — genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides." https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/business/gmo-promise-falls-short.html

  88. This article is way oversimplified regarding a topic that is very very complex. There are laws and other unseen/unspoken pitfalls regarding this topic. Readers should do their own research before trusting anything that being said in this article. GMOs revealed is a good source of very in depth information regarding GMOs. This whole GMO topic being hidden behind a Vail of scientific complexity. In the same way that an 80yr old congressman has no idea what the internet is, most folks have no idea what truly the story is on GMO. Do your research.

  89. Refreshing to see that the NYTs is still willing, on occasion, to take on irrational liberal dogma. This particular article of faith costs lives, many lives, on the world stage: "Yields of corn, cotton and soybeans are said to have risen by 20 percent to 30 percent through the use of genetic engineering." But corporate-phobia trumps compassion with many progressives.

  90. Dear BarrowK, who do you think is winning, Monsanto or someone who comments on the NYT Health page? Let's see, that is a tough one....

  91. Do you imagine that anti-vaxxers are all liberals, or are in fact equally distributed across the spectrum, but maybe for different reasons?

  92. I'm liberal and this anti-GMO stance is ridiculous. I prefer to buy organic food because of pesticide residue and environmental concerns, but it can't be labeled organic unless it's also GMO-free. Stupid.

  93. People on the left, like me, criticize those on the right who are climate change deniers. We say, "Read what the scientists say." That's good advice. Then, in the next breath, some of us decry GMO crops despite the findings of the Scientific American, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Their findings conflict with our confirmation bias, so they must be corrupted by agribusiness. Despite the absence of any evidence that GMO crops cause any problems, they are firm in their convictions. Poor critical thinking skills abound on both sides of the political spectrum. And then there's the vaccine-induced autism malarkey. Ugh!

  94. This is more "whataboutism". Just because A, B must also be true. I believe the scientists who say we are causing disastrous changes in earth's climate with our fossil fuels; and I realize that they are vigorously opposed by "big oil" and upheld by "green energy." But on the other hand the scientists who vouch for gmo food don't have to be believed because scientists were right about climate change. Monsanto or whoever they are now stands to win big if they can get their seeds in the ground all over the world; and they can pay for whatever science they need to do the job.

  95. False equivalency. None of us against GMO's deny the science: yes DNA is real and yes we are indeed able to splice together genes of unrelated species. We just don't think it's a good idea and has the potential to cause all sorts of unintended problems. How many drugs have been recalled because they have unforeseen consequences? Well with GMO crops there's a chance that they won't be able to be recalled once they're released in the wild.

  96. The oil industry, with trillions of dollars, can't budge the actual research on climate change. How does Monsanto buy off every major scientific body in the world despite being relatively small?

  97. The reason adverse effects in humans have not been demonstrated is that we have not used humans as test animals in valid scientific studies of GMO health risks. However, studies have been shown that consuming GMO food leads to a condition that is known to active human immune systems, leading to inflammation, which can, in turn, lead to cardiovascular, oncological, gastrointestinal, and psychiatric problems if the inflammation becomes chronic. Specifically, DNA fragments large enough to comprise entire genes have been passed from GMO foods into human blood. Although not yet studied, it is reasonable to anticipate that foreign genes in the blood stream will trigger Th2 inflammatory immune responses. [See http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0069805 for details.] Declaring that no one has proven that GMO foods damage human health is not unlike similar statements attesting to the presumed safety of tobacco for many decades, even as the correlations with likely health effects and the likely pathways leading to illnesses became better understood. Given that there is no well designed, large scale experiment attempting to falsify the hypothesis that consumption of GMO foods cause injury or illness in humans, claims that GMO foods are safe should be understood to be nothing more than commercial propaganda spawned by industries that produce and sell GMO products and associated aggro-chemicals. They should not be trusted any more than tobacco PR claims.

  98. Very few GMOs have associated agro-chemicals.

  99. Interesting article at that link. Perhaps worth noting is that it's from 2013 and doesn't seem to have been replicated - but searching PubMed, the entire topic is little looked at. It's also worth looking at the 'Comments' section provided with the paper, as one researcher cited credible reasons for being skeptical of the result. The topic really needs more research, but the vast majority of the DNA that we consume all the time from fresh food - something most folks are unaware of, as it's not on the nutrition labels - is broken down to individual nucleotides or very short chains thereof.

  100. The hard left and anti mass nutritional Zealots have been driving the anti GMO narrative. That same group drives the organic food rip off,holier than thou story line. Maybe some of them are part of the gluten free flag wavers?You're suspicious? Do your homework, don't be sucked in, and remember, no study has ever remotely suggested that eating non GMO modified food, organic, or gluten free prolongs life expectancy. Ms. Brody gets it right again.

  101. Unfortunately for your stupid argument, GM foods and roundup have already blanketed the earth, Monsanto, now Bayer I t hink, has profited to the tune of billions, and you think the 'hard left' is some sort of monster. Open your eyes. You apparently are unable to see the forest for all the trees.

  102. The genes produce proteins which we digest. The component amino acids are not toxic.

  103. @Turbot: Research has shown that entire genes are making it into the blood of GMO food consumers. That is likely to trigger inflammatory immune responses. See: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0069805

  104. Actually, the article shows that DNA from foods of any type, GMO or not, can pass into the bloodstream. Nothing in that research is GMO-specific.

  105. Analyses such as Brody's zero in on one question about GM while ignoring a multitude of related issues. I will suspend judgement on the "safety" of GM foods; we have no clear link to harm, yet we have not conducted rigorous testing either. We need to consider the fact that GMOs go hand-in-hand with the industrial agriculture model, which paradoxically, has come to be known as "conventional farming". Industrial agriculture and genetically modified seed work in tandem, based on the fastest/biggest/cheapest model of production with an emphasis on expensive seed and expensive fertilizer/pesticides/herbicides (petroleum-based). Huge swaths of monoculture crops deprive bees and insects of habitat, which has already caused severe problems with pollination. Runoff releases toxic chemicals and enormous amounts of nitrogen into streams, lakes, and aquifers (and the Gulf of Mexico). GM "farming" depletes soils--leaving them lifeless, prone to erosion, sterile. GM's claims of increased yields are ephemeral. As expected in monocultures, new pests and diseases, resistant to pesticides and herbicides have led to increasing application and development of new (more toxic) weapons. GM fields with their poor soils do not absorb and hold water effectively, thus requiring heavy irrigation. Aquifers throughout the US (and the world at large) are being drawn down at alarming rates. This rate of water use cannot persist--even without the prospect of 9 million meat-hungry humans.

  106. There is nothing about growing GMO’s that is directly related to poor soil quality. Poor soil quality is related to how modern farming methods neglect to encourage the growth of soil microorganisms that are so important to soil quality. There is an excellent article in the Times a couple a weeks ago about soil management practices that is worth reading for any one interested in food production or agriculture.

  107. You are conflating “GM” with industrial agriculture. There is no reason that GMO crops couldn’t be used in an environmentally sound polyculture agricultural system. In fact, plants with natural resistance to various pests that didn’t require the use of chemical controls would be superior for this. I’d love to have tomatoes with blueberry anthocyanin in my garden - where can I get some? Also, there are many examples of crops developed using genetic engineering to address nutrient deficiencies that are endemic in the developing world - see golden rice. It is tragic that many of the benefits of this technology are being rejected due to concern over nebulous dangers that have yet to materialize after decades of real world use of this technology. Ignorant fear-mongering has cost the world millions of acres of natural habitat and tens of millions of lives.

  108. Flat earthers. Science education in this country is abysmal.

  109. "Are G.M.O. Foods Safe?" the title should be is e-coli safe? is salmonella safe? is mercury in fish safe? are mercury and other toxins in drinking water safe? are lead, ozone and PM in the air safe? how much of various pesticides and herbicides in the food production system and home environment are safe? are various growth hormones in meat, milk and other foods safe and/or do they have desirable and undesirable side-effects? and then, the question should be is _too much_ food safe (i.e., too much fat, sugar, other carbohydrates, salt,...), which leads to predictable effects on bodily organs because they happen so often? and then, the questions could be is too much alcohol safe? too much tobacco safe? too much couch sitting safe? if you are going to ask questions about public health, then ask about things which have already been proven to have harmful effects but people ignore anyway. the speculation can be left for researchers (you might be one); the fear can be left for the fearful.

  110. The articleis about one thing, the safety of GMOs, not public health in general.

  111. GMOs GMOs May increase crop yield, but at a very steep price to the environment. The use of glyphosate and 2-4-D are finding their way into animal products and the food we eat. We don’t need increased crop yield IF we stop eating animals period. Veganism is the answer to better health, food for everyone and a healthy environment and planet.

  112. Increasing crop yield using GMOs often means less rather than more pesticides. It depends on which GMO one is talking about.

  113. "Establishing long-term safety would require prohibitively expensive decades of study of hundreds of thousands of G.M.O. consumers and their non-G.M.O. counterparts." How expensive? More expensive than the profits that have accrued to the developers, manufacturers, and purveyors of these foods?

  114. Yes, that expensive.

  115. Good column. I think the term "GMO" itself may be obsolete as there is virtually no basic food that hasn't been genetically modified in the last century. Concerns about new pesticides will always be a concern that requires governmental regulation and vigilance, particularly when plants are genetically modified in ways that increase human exposure to substances that would ordinarily kill a plant.

  116. The food industry has never done anything with consideration for the consumer's health or well being. Their only thought has been and is for the bottom line - profit. It may take a generation to see the effects, positive or negative of GMO foods on humans. Until then, I follow European guidelines. They seem to have higher standards there than the great US of A.

  117. The European guidelines are not evidence-based. They are founded on discredited publications with faulty data.

  118. No, they just want to keep trade out.

  119. I understand the U.S. is trying to force other countries to buy gmo foods from us and also modified seeds. But what is profitable for Monsanto is quite possibly harmful to the rest of the world. As you state the science isn't in on gmo vs natural food as to effect on human health. But marketing being what it is, we will be seeing ads and even FDA approval to launch this stuff in America and make us guinea pigs. It is my hope that labeling is mandatory, and all Americans have access to non-gmo food if it is their choice.

  120. The question is not whether GMO foods are safe, it is whether the GMO industry is safe for the environment. I am not worried about food that comes from genetically modified plants; that is not the real problem. The problem is two-fold: food crops are modified to work better with certain herbicides like Glyphosate (Roundup), so that farmers can then spray herbicides closer to and in greater quantities to the food crops. GMO seeds are really a mechanism by which Monsanto can sell more herbicides. Farms that are located nearby but which do not use GMO seeds suffer from all the herbicides being used up the road on GMO crops. Over the last 20 years worldwide use of Glyphosate has increased 1500%. Do we really need yet more herbicides in the environment? Saying 'no' to GMO will help slow down the growing use of herbicides. The second problem with GMO foods is that we are releasing genes into the environment which are essentially new and foreign to that locale and it is not known what effects will occur in the future. Science is rife with "oops" moments where good ideas went awry. For instance, a GMO seed that is modified to withstand Glyphosate could become dominate relative to unmodified seeds. But those seeds are dependent upon herbicides to survive; we would then have the situation that the only wheat crops that exist are all dependent upon Glyphosate. Monsanto thinks that is great; I think it is a terrible situation to put us into.

  121. In a modern society we need a highly efficient agriculture industry to feed 7 billion plus people, most of whom are not engaged in any aspect of bringing that food to our tables. We could all go back to subsistence farming if we wanted to have total control over what we put in our bodies, but I don't think too many people are clamoring for a return to those good old days. I am guessing that no more than 10% (and that may be much too high an estimate) of the world's population can afford to eat truly organic, non-GMO food. The rest rely on modern agricultural techniques to bring affordable food to the table.

  122. I think the primary use of gmo technology, which as been to spray more dangerous herbicides ubiquitously on fields - tainted the view of all gmos. If it were about healthier foods and drought resistance maybe people would be more open to new technologies. Blame Monsanto for the pr trouble of biotech.

  123. You've got it backwards. GMO helps farmers spray less pesticides.

  124. No, YOU'VE got it all backwards. Glyphosate use has skyrocketed since the advent of genetically engineered crops resistant to it.

  125. I have also supported biotech approaches to understanding and improving the food we eat. But I opposed transgenic (introducing foreign genes) GMO's, including Roundup Ready wheat in ND several years ago. The earliest products were mostly about selling chemical systems, and I knew farmers would abuse them. In fact, frustratingly, Monsanto encourage overuse of Roundup, and many farmers are now paying the price with resistant weeds that are incredibly costly. But biotech has allowed scientists to unravel the genomes of most all crops and learn what makes them grow. Some of the benefits that ag companies tie to a chemical resistant product could, I suspect, be made available in a non-GMO version as well. So yes, there is marketing a system. But there is also the benefit of the ability to rapidly cross and re-cross crops to assess them. With CRISPR, and other technology, plant breeders will be able to more accurately improve plants within their own genome, rather than using transgenic approaches. In the long-run this is going to benefit consumers. I support organic production and local food efforts. They are responses to a market. But the"us against them" narrative, has more to do with being against "big" corporations than it has to do with food. Organic and local can thrive, and I think would do better, without all that noise.

  126. Natural processes have had gene transfers across species for millions of years. Will you attempt to stop what is happening all around all the time?

  127. Horizontal gene transfer in nature is VERY rare (and certainly doesn`t happen all around us all the time.) I can only think of one example off the top of my head where horizontal gene transfer occurs -- the sweet potato. Can you think of any others?

  128. Thank you Jane Brody for this sensible article re GMOs.

  129. GMOs are a non- factor in our health.... much more dangerous are round up and other herbicides glyphosphates and weed and feed which kill us and are carcinogenic . Don't use Round Up or Weed and Feed- they are carcinogens!!

  130. The fact that crops are engineered to withstand Roundup and other herbicides makes them a factor in our health—just not a direct one—because of increased pesticide use. So you might easily be getting more residue on your food as well as being impacted by decreased soil fertility. And as a farmworker, you'd be exposed to more and more of the chemicals. They are a factor, nevertheless.

  131. Why is the headline a question? It should just be a statement: “GMO Foods are Safe.” That’s what the article says.

  132. This article downplays the real risk to human health posed by GMOs...the overuse of toxic pesticides that are the entire reason for their existence. GMOs are developed to allow more pesticides to be used without killing the crop. There are other reasons to reject GMO foods -- mostly their effects on the farming communities that use them, on other species that they hurt, on the economics of food production, and their demonstrated tendency to produce 'superweeds'. But the bottom line i that your GMO foods are drenched in toxic pesticides, rendering 'scientific' evidence of no direct proof of harm misleading and moot.

  133. You've got it backwards. The purpose of genetically engineering Round-Up ready crops is so that less pesticides can be used. Round-Up is far safer than the pesticides used before it became available. Not only is a safer pesticide used, far less pesticides over all are needed on GMO crops. And Round-Up is so safe that it is sold direct to consumers at major home improvement chains. You will love it for tackling poison ivy. "Organic" is a warm and fuzzy marketing term; but it doesn't mean no pesticides or only safe pesticides and fertilizers. It should mean safer conditions for the grower, but that is not certain.

  134. Actually, the story discusses both sides of this. While there are plants engineered to grow in the presence of glyphosate and other herbicides, genetics are also being used to build pest resistance INTO the plant so that chemicals do not need to be used as much: "By engineering resistance to insect damage, farmers have been able to use fewer pesticides while increasing yields, which enhances safety for farmers and the environment while lowering the cost of food and increasing its availability."

  135. So you are suggesting that we be reassured that pesticides are already inside the foods we eat?

  136. Specialized breeding programs is not genetic engineering, my friend. I think God did a pretty good job when He created our plants, fruits and vegetables.

  137. And an amazing job at creating all sorts of other nasty things too. What a mind!

  138. Ah, but we are the ones that worked on them, getting them to change to do whatever!

  139. There is no christian deity who did this because no such deity exists. Humans have been breeding plants and animals since the dawn of agriculture well over six thousand years ago.

  140. The question in my mind is not the safety of the food. That's easy enough to test with lab animals. Feed the product to rats. If they die, the food is toxic. If they don't, it's safe. My question is what these organisms will do in the environment. Every one of them is an invasive species. Remember scientists and botanists said kudzu would make a great ground cover. How'd that work out?

  141. Well, it does make a great ground cover! I lived in the South for a few years, that stuff was just everywhere. Here in South Texas we have a plant called 'Johnson Grass', looks like a tall, thin, reed. It grows through rizomes in the ground, is almost impossible to get rid of. It was imported to the US from Italy back in the 1940's as cattle feed. Unfortunately, here in Texas it can't be eaten by the cows and it will take over any land and be impossible to get rid of! Didn't need new fangled science for that one!

  142. There was a wonderful experiment carried out in the UK over a decade ago. They planted 4 different GE crops in 12 locations and waited for 10 years. let to their own abilities not one single GE crop survived. Every single GE crop was out competed by native species of plants. This is true of virtually all agriculture. Without humans active participation nature wipes out our food crops very quickly.

  143. Like many people, I remain very concerned about the genetic modifications which allow growers to saturate crops with the weed killer glyphosate. The problem here is not the modified crop itself, but what happens to it afterwards. I am not too concerned about pink pineapple. That does not mean that I want a massive dose of herbicide with my dinner! This is not a trivial problem, far from it. Many many tons of such foods arrive at market every day.

  144. Farmers do not saturate their crops with herbicides. That would cost huge amounts of money for no gain. The newer herbicides are far better environmentally speaking than those they have replaced. herbicide use is in no way restricted to GE crops. Talk with farmers who choose to grow GE crops and they will explain why they do. Anti-GMO activists will only sell you fear.

  145. Round Up (glyphosate) is considerably less toxic than many of the chemicals approved for use on organic crops. Crops at market are regularly tested for pesticide resudue and shown to be well below limits.

  146. Glyphosate is now labeled a carcinogen. This is less toxic how?

  147. Biology lacks a set of first principles that encapsulates a proper understanding of the force of evolution. We don't have partial differential equations that allow us to predict the behaviors of previously uncombined strains of DNA. What we do know is that speciation provides barriers to reproduction. Early man harnessed the ability of some plants and animals to cross pollinate. In that sense, we only have access to a "black box" in which we input species and output a new one. GMOs attempt to circumvent this by suggestions that "small" segment changes don't amount to anything but "improvements". However, without a set of governing principles and suitable action integral/differential equation representation of evolution, we are operating on species via a "black box" and hoping nothing bad happens. We have no understanding of how those new genes express themselves in the environment of Earth. GMOs lack a rigorous scientific analysis to determine if their existence in our n=1 planet are appropriate.

  148. The more science looks the more we find DNA moving all around in nature. It has always moved and always will. "Species" is a human construct.

  149. safe to eat: yes, absolutely. Do GMOs affect the health of the environment: possibly. This is the real question: what is the risk of using higher amounts of pesticides and herbicides, which MIGHT be harmful to people or the environment, to ward off pests and weeds because the new designed GMO can survive those high concentrations of pesticides/herbicides while the pests and weeds are managed (at least temporarily, until they develop resistance). Not all GMOs are engineered w these resistance genes and have other features added, as discussed in the article. I say, bring it ON: YES to increasing the nutrition content of crops by genetic modification. I also say, more vaccines that save lives!

  150. This will help alleviate your fears. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111629

  151. just to be clear, this article doesn't seem to address herbicide use (just pesticide use). That might be an important distinction. "On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries."

  152. Yesterday, when I saw the photo of a Tennessee family watching bodies being removed after the Waffle House shooting, I thought “what more confirmation do we need that today’s processed food industry is exactly like the tobacco industry in the 1950’s?” It is not GMO food that is doubling the weight of so many people. Let’s first focus on what the processed food industry is doing to children and adults. Obesity is not normal for our bodies any more than inhaling tobacco smoke is. By seeing so many people every single day who are so large, we are becoming immune to the sight of this phenomenally dangerous change in the World population happening in pursuit of profit for this dangerous industry. Pesticides are a concern. But all of this corn isn’t being boiled for eating au naturale. It’s going into creatively manufactured snack foods and animal feed.

  153. I recently found canned tuna labeled as GMO free at my local grocery store. i am concerned that the marketing of food stuffs for which no GMO variety is on the market as GMO free is dishonest and may contribute no negative bias of consumers.

  154. The current labeling regime gives consumers exactly two practical options: blanket acceptance or blanket opposition. If food makers were forced to be more specific about what sort of genetic engineering went into their product, I imagine Golden Rice would do fine while glyphosate-resistant soybeans wouldn’t.

  155. In and of itself, genetic engineering is fine, and has contributed to better crops over the centuries. Monsanto has engineered seeds to be resistant to Round Up. That means they are spraying our food, and animal feed with lots and lots of Round Up. The poisons stay in the food and is then eaten by us. People who eat mainstream produce, are now eating lots and lots of Round Up.

  156. Actually RR crops are sprayed early on in the growing season and the glyphosate is almost gone by the time the crop is harvested. Second humans do not absorb glyphosate so trace amounts that are in our food pass right thru our digestive tract. Third glyphosate only affects a plant enzyme so we do not have the target protein so it has no effect on us. People are selling fear and you are apparently buying.

  157. I've used composted manure from horses that grazed on Roundup-sprayed fields in my garden, and seen my entire crop come up twisted, stunted and deformed. We are talking manure that was composted for over a year. I'm unconvinced by reassurances that Roundup is "gone" by the time food reaches grocery store shelves.

  158. Genetic engineering was only approved for market in the mid-1990s. You are confusing selective breeding (which we have done for thousands of years) with genetic engineering (which has only been around for a few short decades.)

  159. Just wait until the new movie from Jeffrey Smith is released, called "Secret Ingredients" - the trailer is showing family after family recovering from allergies and ailments by ditching gmo-foods. Cannot find the dangers if you are looking in the wrong places, and this is precisely the technique used by corporate Big Chem learned 20 years ago, currently being called "tobacco science". This is being foisted on the American public. If their technology were not an issue, then why do they object to labeling their so-called improved product, eh? No, nada, zero of the promised benefits from their gene-crossed foods have been realized, except year over year, growing these plants requires ever increasing amounts of herbicides and pesticides, the numbers are out there, yes?

  160. Thanks Jane Brody. I’ve been reading and listening to you for 25 years. My takeaway from the article is to re-examine my knee-jerk GMO Bad/Non-GMO Good leaning. I appreciate your thoughtful research and writing.

  161. She doesn't even understand the difference between selective breeding and genetic engineering. I certainly wouldn't rely on her for sound information.

  162. Many good comments. Your next column on the subject should address them.

  163. This article completely ignores a few important facts about GMO products and practices. The industrial scale use of GMO crops coupled with Glyphosate/24D and other 'safe' toxic herbicides/pesticides are destroying soil, water and native species populations (soil microbes, insects, bees/pollinators, birds, plants and obviously those losses affect the entire ecosystem. This article could have been written 20 years ago and is out of step with with what we do know now.

  164. Not according to the best European science: "There is no validated evidence that GM crops have greater adverse impact on health andthe environment than any other technology used in plant breeding…There is compelling evidence that GM crops can contribute to sustainable development goals with benefits to farmers, consumers, the environment and the economy… It is vital that sustainable agricultural production and food security harnesses the potential of biotechnology in all its facets." European Academies Science Advisory Council-Planting the Future 2013

  165. That report was written by a group of scientists who careers depend on the continued development of GMO technology. The report did not include any information on the food safety issues or the use of cancer-causing pesticide in the cultivation of these crops. It was a simple promo piece for the GMO industry and the European Academies Science said it is the views of the authors and doesn't represent the position of the European Academies Science

  166. You keep talking about European studies saying they are safe. If this is true, why are GMOs banned in Europe?

  167. The vast majority of modified foods are engineered to be resistant to glyphosate. Nothing to do with nutrition. Poor farmers in the developing world can't afford to buy the gmo seed annually, plus all the glyphosate. Seeds and the chemicals are available only from a limited number of multinational corporations. American farmers, the "beneficiaries" of this technology, need to plant fields from edge to edge (No more hedge rows to support beneficial insects and birds), and still barely make a living. GMOs and rheir effects are more complicated than the writer admits.

  168. Apparently you are not aware that 17 out of 18 million farmers who grow GE crops live in the developing world. seems they do in fact like the product.

  169. More industry propaganda from a known agrochemical industry spokesperson. You can find RW trolling social media articles like this one on GMOs in order to defend and promote the agrochemical/ biotech industry. He has been doing this for more than ten years now. Almost like it's a full time job for him...

  170. Jane Brody’s first example, non-browning apples, belies her argument. We depend on our senses to tell us whether food is good to eat. If apples are brown, we assume that they are old, mushy or rotting. The insertion of an anti-browning gene takes away our ability to tell whether apples are fresh. Giving apples a longer shelf life may be good for the retailer, but it is bad for the consumer. Organic and GMO-free labels are a step towards giving us control over what we put in our bodies.

  171. You are confusing rotting with oxidation of the tissues(browning). Easy for the average person to get them confused but they are very different processes. There is no insertion of a anti-browning gene. the normal PPO gene(causes browning) is silences by interactions with the same PPO gene in reverse orientation. Its apple genes controlling apple genes in apples.

  172. There are many problems with GMO foods so they should not be allowed so easily in the food supply. The first one is that many GMO crops were created so they can tolerate large quantities of chemicals (herbicides, etc) so these chemicals, which could be harmful to humans, can be used more liberally. In this case, even if the genetic modification is safe, the end result can be toxic. The second danger, and this applies to the new Crispr-Cas9 gene editing technology too, is that any single genetic change can cause hundreds to thousands of gene regulatory changes resulting in new and potentially toxic compounds to be produced. Unless there is an assessment that accounts for every possible compound in a GMO plant, including novel compounds (which we do not have the technology to do this routinely), no GMO plants should enter the food supply. The scientists are not being straight with you on this important point.

  173. I had to read to the end of the article to find some mention of the real danger of some GMO - it's environmental impact. Some crops have been engineered to allow the use of more herbicides and other chemicals, which are being applied in massive amounts to the detriment of the environment. The conclusion, that we shouldn't view GMO in black/white terms, is right on.

  174. Deceptive articles like this are the backbone of the pro GMO industry. What’s missing is the real data on what how many genetically modified products are actually produced like the ones mentioned here. The vast majority of the world’s GMO crops are of one kind - RoundUp Ready. These seeds are modified to resist being killed by extra application of glyphosate, an herbicide made by Monsanto and exclusively marketed in the US and Europe by Scotts Miracle Gro. RoundUp is the worlds most popular herbicide. At a time when humans are becoming more concerned with what we’re doing to pollute our air, water and soil on this planet, authors of articles like this ask us to ignore what the real purpose for GMO production has been to date. The purpose has been to increase sales of RoundUp, not to create higher nutrition rice or a bruiseless apple. I’m not sure I should even ask why I want an apple that can take a beating and not bruise, but I can guess it’s not for my health but for the apple surviving the rigors of transport unblemished if not undamaged. An honest look at how much pesticide and herbicide we are using to produce our food would be shine a bad light on GMOs, so this is never brought into the conversation by these type of assertions. It’s time to check that focus.

  175. So it turns out eating GMO foods is the more socially responsible thing to do. There's a great deal of difference between digesting a food and having it somehow spliced with one's own DNA, but I think the later is the tacit belief of many GMO alarmists.

  176. While there are many benefits to GMO foods, environmental damage and adverse health risks are still a concern.

  177. GMO foods make sense if we are trying to colonize Mars. They make less sense when trying to grow food here on Earth in hostile environments created by man-made climate change. What problem, exactly, are we trying to solve with GMOs? Beyond the question of safety, there is also the question of taste. Remember U.S. Delicious Apples? Engineered for shape and beauty, the skin is tough and the apple is tasteless. Tomatoes have suffered a similar fate. And then there's GMO salmon. Its resting phases between growth spurts have been genetically turned off, resulting in larger and faster growing salmon. Supposedly, this addresses the insatiable demand for salmon and the FDA has recently approved it. But Mother Nature has already provided a natural alternative: Arctic Char.

  178. What problems are we trying to solve with GMOs? How about saving the lives of tens of thousands of people in third world countries who have no access to crops which are too expensive or cannot be grown in existing conditions?

  179. The "tasteless" apples and tomatoes "engineered for shape and beauty" that you mention were "engineered" by traditional breeding methods. Plants have been modified for millenia by humans--first by cross-pollination, which is rather like taking a sledgehammer as it means that all sorts of genes or bits of genes are randomly combined in the offspring plants. Then there was mutagenesis, which uses chemicals or radiation to create random changes in the plant's genetics. Neither of these are seen as "dangerous" even though the genetic changes caused by these techniques are random and unspecified--so people happily eat brussels sprouts and pink grapefruits and rice varieties like Calrose, sometimes while adamantly rejecting "GMOs". The much maligned GMOs are much more precise in the genetic changes that are made, and newer techniques can make tiny (even just one nucleotide change) that could never been achieved by sledgehammer traditional breeding. People should not conflate herbicide resistance and use of herbicides with the technology to create a genetic change in a plant. One can make a GM plant such as golden rice that has nothing to do with herbicide use, but has the potential to deliver real nutritional benefits. Or look at the Bangladeshi Bt brinjal (eggplant) which has allowed local subsistence farmers to use much lower amounts of insecticides on their fields. (That last by the way is not a "big ag" project but a local government project.)

  180. @Greg - that is the reflexive answer. In a war torn area, GMO crops would still be subject to the ravages of war. In a drought prone area, the first order of business is to ensure a reliable supply of clean water. But even if that were achieved, Monsanto's GMO seeds are programmed to self-destruct. Farmers normally save seeds for a Fall planting, but with GMO seeds, farmers would be beholden to Monsanto forever.

  181. Scientists & the scientific method are ignored by the fundamentalists who ‘know’ without thinking. I find it reassuring to contemplate the vastness of the Universe & imagine there probably is a planet out there on which the inhabitants do it right.

  182. Know without knowing. People who have never taken a science worry the most.

  183. "Farmers and agricultural scientists have been genetically engineering the foods we eat for centuries through breeding programs that result in large and largely uncontrolled exchanges of genetic material." Slightly incorrect. For millennials farmers have been genetically engineering the foods we eat. Cows and pigs and chickens and ducks and wheat and rice and corn and potatoes and tomatoes and grapes and ... None of these items are the same as they were before homo sapiens started to domesticate the fauna and flora of their environment. In some ways what makes humans different from all other animals is that we have aggressively modified the genome of our very environment by modifying the genomes of what we eat. If anything, the use of modern biotechnology allows a more precise and understandable approach to modifying the genomes of our prey.

  184. Whether or not it is theoretically possible to use GMO technology to produce food that is more beneficial to consumers, the fact remains that the technology is actually being used to increase the monopoly power of a few corporations that are patenting our food while adding pesticides into the product and pouring more herbicides onto it. As for understanding what they are playing with, consider that it was only recently that the DNA they are manipulating has been observed to be structurally more complex than the double helix that these scientists were taught. Moreover, the function of the additional knot of nucleotides described in recent journal articles is uncertain. Oh, and just this month, it was announced that human DNA also forms i-motif knots, the function of which has yet to be explored. There is a lot that we do not understand about how DNA operates and transforms in nature. The potential for unintended consequences of re-engineering genetic material and releasing the resulting organisms into the wild and into our bodies should not be taken lightly.

  185. "Farmers and agricultural scientists have been genetically engineering the foods we eat for centuries through breeding programs that result in large and largely uncontrolled exchanges of genetic material." Warning, anyone trying to convince you that we have been eating GMO foods for centuries through selective breeding either doesn't understand GMOs or is trying to dupe you. Selective breeding is a completely different process. Thanks to humans selecting seeds from the best corn over many centuries we now have large corn with sweet kernels. Great! On the other hand, thanks to GMO technology we now have corn engineered with BT-toxin genes that produce an insecticide right inside the kernels, making the food poisonous to insects. Are those toxins also bad for us? The industries that profit from insect resistant corn say not to worry about it. They say they are just doing what humans have been doing for centuries. Not true!

  186. Bt sprays are allowed in organic farming. Still concerned about it being in your corn kernels?

  187. AMEN, and thank you!!!

  188. Bt spray washes and blows off of plants fairly quickly. That is why it is necessary to reapply it. Plants that are genetically engineered to produce Bt have high amounts of the toxin throughout and it cannot be washed off before eating. Bt has been shown to cause gut dysbiosis and promote inflammatory diseases while impairing beneficial functioning of the immune system. So, yes, CB, I am concerned about eating GE crops that produce Bt, even though I have used Bt spray on my home grown veggies.

  189. When eating an essential amino acid that has been genetically modified, does the body re-modify that acid into something it can incorporate, or does it just plug it in the way it is? We don't have complete control over the proteins we eat. If I become a test subject I want to know more about it.

  190. Amino acids are not genetically modified. A foreign gene is introduced into the plant, the plant uses its own amino acids to synthesize a protein that is encoded in that gene. The question is: what is the effect of ingesting that protein that came from that foreign gene? The answer appears to be no effect whatsoever. Which isn't surprising considering proteins are degraded in either the cooking process or during digestion.

  191. The type and amounts of amino acids in GMO plants can vary significantly from what is found in non-GMO plants. Those differences can be irritating and/or dangerous to consumers. For example, Monsanto's NK603 variety of GMO corn contains comparatively high levels of putrescine and cadaverine, both of which can make people ill. Not surprisingly, Monsanto claims that very little of those amino acids are present in their corn, but an independent analysis that they neither asked for or paid for found otherwise. I am inclined to believe in the university research staff that has put its reputation on the line for no prospect of a large pay off rather than a company submitting carefully restricted data for the express purpose of gaining regulatory approval in pursuit of large profits. According to a review of the matter by the National Academy of Sciences, there is good reason to be sceptical of research submitted by industry.

  192. I share the concerns about engineering resistance to weed-killers, because the less of them we use, the better. Apart from that I'll be happy to eat any GMO food. We all run much greater risks every day.

  193. This article reads as though it was directly written by the GMO industry. No, we haven't been genetically modifying crops for centuries in the way we are now, selectively inserting genes. Whoever thought it was a great idea to insert a toxin (BT) into food that we actually eat? The article ignores the many studies, which the GMO industry has rigorously tried to suppress about long term consumption causing tumors in rats or the damage to the health of pigs fed GMO grains. Then there is the mounting body of evidence showing that Glyphosphate is very damaging both to the soil bacteria and to the essential bacteria in our own gut. It was patented, after all, as an antiobiotic.

  194. Glyphostae is a chemical, not a GMO. It is used on both conventionally bred plants and GMO plants, although GMOs require less of it. You ought to be grateful to GMOs for this, not critical. BT toxin was used long before the advent of GMOs, and is still used today, even by organic farmers and gardeners. In her book Silent Spring, Rachel Carson, the pioneering environmentalist, went so far as to praise its use as a sustainable alternative to chemical pesticides. “Shortly after eating foliage covered with this toxin, the larva suffers paralysis and dies,” Rachel Carson wrote. “For practical purposes, the fact that feeding is interrupted promptly is of course an enormous advantage, for crop damage stops almost as soon as the pathogen is applied.” For Rachel Carson, BT toxin was something benign, environmentally friendly, and good.

  195. Roundup kills broad leaf plants (non grasses) that are not bred to resist it. Put another way, Roundup kills conventional vegetable crops. Gardeners do not spray this stuff in their gardens. How is it you can claim that conventional crops then require "more" Roundup than GMO crops?

  196. Gardeners do in fact use this stuff, before planting: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/use-roundup-garden-71724.html Empirically, GMOs led to decreased herbicide use at least at first. The record after that is less clear, I agree.

  197. I grow so weary of shills narrowing the line of discourse to advance a prejudice. The co-extensive is the operative, not the private independent. The problem is NOT that a product does predictable and reproducible harm in a particular and selected individual every time and in a predetermined and predictable way. The problem (or rather one of them) is how does the introduction of a very powerful technology into nested sets of complex inter-relative systems affect the vast implex of processes across all of their permutations. And if some good can be argued for it (say food supply) the path of sensible caution demands that we weigh these supposed benefits against potential harms wherever they exist. The articles implicit intellectual bounding is the kind of argument that lends climate deniers, flat Earthers, and eugenics advocates legitimacy. Oversimplifying complex interactions and effects may enable a technician to reproduce a desired effect, but must not be given any more credence than it deserves. In all of their diversity, GMOs intrude on many plateaus of interpenetrating contexts, and we must look at them across their ramifications. For example, rather than deploying a GMO seed to produce plants resistant to Round Up, perhaps we should quit using the stuff and work towards ecological, agricultural, legal, business, social, etc. systems that combine in effective and healthy ways--in the longest of terms. No shot in the arm for shareholders, but something to live with.

  198. I am all for GMO food. With proper regulation, this is a species savior. And this "non-GMO" trend is driven by a classist and somewhat racist idea of, " I can afford to feed my family this more expensive au naturale food, look how smart and concerned I am".... with absolutely no understanding that humans have depended upon genetically modifying food since the beginning of agriculture. Persons unable to afford GMO produce and meats, and millions of others eating food-aid eat GMOs everyday. Hundreds of studies and thousands of experts have promoted GMO as really the only way to feed an exploding human population. I just read in 'The Economist' what it takes to have a farm certified Organic. Its a lot and completely unsustainable for macro-consumption. Obviously everyone wants to avoid GMO gone array and unregulated. Like Monsanto and Cargill forcing farmers via economic leverage/pressure to only sow their seeds into their land. And not let farmers make their own choice on the best crops and cross-breeding for them. A previous commentor said we historically don't know what takes place in that "black-box" of inputing one species and getting out another via the GMO process. And not understanding its full affect on the human body and the environment around the crop. I mean thats only partially true. Of course only time can tell the long-term effects on the human body and environment, but clearly testing and strenuous regulation have and would make us very confident in its use.

  199. You don't even understand the basic difference between selective breeding and genetic engineering. And that's just one single antiscience concept you seem to follow...

  200. It's hypocritical to believe the science that climate change is real while simultaneously rejecting the science that GMOs are safe.

  201. Depends on who pays for the science. Silly me, I am sure Monsanto cares about public welfare more than profit and patenting seeds and selling Roundup.

  202. This is still a young technology and we are all unwitting, unconsenting guinea pigs in an experiment about whether consuming GMOs, and the pesticide residues that come with them, affect human health. No health reporter with any sense of humility should assert that GMOs are "proven safe." Each GMO "event" is unique, so generalizations about all GMOs (pro and con) are unwarranted. And there is much we still do not know. Ms. Brody: Do you have sound scientific evidence that consuming GMO foods has no deleterious effect on the gut microbiome essential to digestive health? You do not. It is a very new and exciting field of science, and you should encourage scientific inquiry into potential human health impacts, as others in the NY Times have reported.

  203. Conservatives deny anthropogenic climate change due to the burning of fossil fuels. Liberals deny that GMOs and vaccines are safe. You can’t pick and choose what science to believe in.

  204. I wold be considered a liberal in Tempe and I believe vaccines that reach the public after receiving FDA approval are safe. One of my biggies issues with GMO crops is the seed sterility and how the company that developed the seeds totally owns the propagation rights. Agribusiness is way too powerful right now and why should we add fuel to the fire? It may help people today, but tomorrow you'll regret it. That is especially true for farmers who will be locked into seed contracts with the (often unscrupulous) agribusinesses when they discover that not only have the sterile seeds made it impossible to save some and grow the crop on their own, but have polluted other farms when the wind blows during the flowering period, rendering some of their neighbors' crops infertile as well.

  205. Since when did liberals stop believing in vaccines? I got $20 for flat earth believers to be conservatives then! Unfortunately, I believe people fail to realize that those in many areas where climate change is DEVASTATING CROPS have no other solution then GMO. The questions we need to answer are carbon footprint for the creation of these crops, long term and short term, and the economics of it all. So yes more research is needed, but the gene from the frozen fish has not made more resistant to the cold. And until a third eye appears, we have to think that not everyone is able to afford Whole Foods or have good soil to grow crops, especially during droughts. Your best example are the amount of migrants traveling from Africa to Europe in search of work, because they can't farm anymore, or to put in another way, "The earth doesn't work anymore."

  206. Alex Jones of Infowars has taken stands against vaccines, GMOs, and fluoride in water systems. Last I heard, he was popular with the Trumpian crowd, not liberals. That being said, GMOs have been observed to cause organ damage in lab animals. They could do the same in humans, but a well controlled and long term study of that potential has yet to be conducted. Vaccines do occasionally evoke inflammatory cytokine storms which are, in turn, linked to chronic illnesses and psychiatric symptoms including autism. And fluoride is known to be toxic, which is why dentists warn people not to swallow it when they use it to harden the enamel of patient's teeth. However, if one chooses e to place the opinions and PR of businesses with a vested interest in selling GMOs, vaccines, or fluoride added to water supplies above those of independent scientists who point to observed and theoretical risks, one could get the false notion that all of these substances are undeniably safe. As you suggest, it is folly to listen only to the findings one finds favorable to their preconceived notion of truth.

  207. DDT was long thought to be safe too. Until it wasn’t.

  208. It actually was fairly safe for people, mildly carcinogenic but that was far outweighed by the lives saved by helping control insect borne infections. It was very harmful for birds though, so it was banned. DDT saved millions of human lives.

  209. And killed those who came into frequent contact with it (through cancer).

  210. DDT was regarded as low risk to food consumers far away from where it was heavily sprayed from above. However, even in the small amounts found on food, DDT has been shown to increase the risk of premature and underweight human babies. This is yet another example of industry insisting that their laboratory product is safe for human consumption until that message becomes common knowledge, where, in fact the truth of the matter was never sufficiently pursued to back up the pro-industrial information campaign. This should serve as a warning to those buying into the "GMOs have been proven to be safe" messages. See the following for information about DDT's impact on human births: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ddt-may-cause-premature-b/ Additional risks to health from long-term DDT exposure are outlined the following abstract: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780444522726004554

  211. Why is there still a question mark in this headline? It suggests that there is still a question here, and there is not.

  212. There are still questions about how many ways GMOs can be unsafe and uncertainty about the odds that any one living thing will be adversely impacted. Perhaps a better title would be, "Just how unsafe are GMOs and the toxins they are designed to produce or tolerate?" Of course, that would not capture the economic risk of letting a few large businesses patent the seeds used to grow our food and use their monopoly power to produce food that is more profitable rather than more healthy.

  213. I fail to understand how GMO food is a liberal or conservative thing. Doesn’t everyone want a safe food supply? Personally, I’d prefer not to eat RoundUp, and I would like the freedom to make that choice for myself. I don’t know if that makes me a liberal or a conservative...or why such a distinction is even relevant.

  214. People tend to confuse the process and the result. The process is safe, that's proved beyond any doubt. We can genetically modify things that are safe. We can also genetically modify things that would be unsafe, using the same techniques. The techniques are entirely safe, the organisms we produce with them must always be assessed carefully on a case by case basis. People who think all gmos are bad or dangerous are ignoring, or incapable of understanding, the evidence. People who think they are inherently safe are almost equally misguided.

  215. Nothing in science is ever proved "beyond any doubt". That's what they said about , remember?

  216. The issue is not whether any specific GMO food is safe or not, but whether the process of modification will be open to oversight, regulation, and pre-eminence of the public good over profit. The boycott of GMO foods is intended to force development out of the darkness and into the light. Helping set up the straw dog of specific product safety does nothing to advance the actual issue. Rather, it provides cover for the unscrupulous.

  217. The writer does address the environmental issues associated with GMOs which are my main concern. The result of polluting the natural gene pool with synthetically altered organisms has not been investigated thoroughly enough.

  218. There's this thing called evolution that couples genetic variation with natural selection that has produced all sorts of organisms, millions and millions of different species containing billions and billions of different genes. Among those 'naturally produced' organisms that have evolved are flesh eating bacteria, blood sucking insects that spread diseases, parasites that burrow through flesh and disease pathogens that can kill hundreds and even thousands or more individuals. Nature has produced a plethora of 'bad genes' all on her own. And she sometimes even moves genes between different species https://www.britannica.com/science/horizontal-gene-transfer. I can't for the life of me understand why people think scientists adding one or a few known genes to the tens of thousands of genes already present in an agricultural species - species which by the way haven't undergone natural selection to survive in the wild - is going to create something that can 'beat Nature at her own game' of evolution. It doesn't make rational sense and is the domain of science fiction, not science.

  219. The "science" leading to declarations that GMOs are safe suffers from the same flaw as the "science" showing that man-made atmospheric recomposition is not driving global climate destabilization. In both cases, the result is predetermined by those paying for the findings and results that do not conform to their narrative are ignored or attacked on technicalities while flaws in their own studies are repeated intentionally. Two of the most likely means by which GMO foods can cause human health problems are by creating gut dysbiosis or by introducing foreign proteins into the blood, which could trigger inflammatory immune responses. The introduction of whole proteins from GMO foods into human blood has been documented, but the immune response has not been studied. Also, animal studies have demonstrated organ failure and dysbiosis from consuming GMO feed and the glyphosate some GMOs are engineered to tolerate, but well designed, long-term studies of these impacts in humans are not available. When the lobbying arm of an industry declares that it cannot find any study that proves their products contribute to health or environmental risks, that should not be construed as scientific statements of fact that such risks have been proven to be nonexistent. The tobacco, oil, and trans-fat food industries invested billions of dollars in asserting similar "scientific" findings, all of which were eventually revealed to be misleading PR campaigns. History may be repeating itself with GMOs.

  220. As so many others have said, this is the wrong question to ask. Monoculture agriculture is harming natural ecosystems, and this allows that on steroids.

  221. I agree with those questioning the title of this article. Yes, of course GMO are safe to eat, but are they safe to grow? The focus on decreased pesticide use is a nice positive example, but why ignore the greatly increased herbicide use? The use of RoundUp-ready crops and the increased presence of RoundUp resistant weeds have accelerated the liberal application of glyphosate. Glyphosate now permeates every part of the environment. Farm workers, especially, face high exposures. The GMO industry has focused almost exclusively on commodity crops that are used to feed animals, not people, and yet all of their public relations focus on yet-to-be realized benefits that we may never see, including the mythical Golden Rice Project, which is delayed not by the resistance of GMO opponents, but by the inability to actually make it work: yields are poor, and beta-carotene levels are low. Resistance to GMOs is REALLY a critique of corporate farming practices: dependence on monocultures; focus on commodity crops; patenting of seed stocks; cross pollination of non-GMO organic crops; resistance to food labels, etc. Plus, responsible farmers can compete with GMOs on the basis of yields. But yes, they are safe to eat.

  222. If you want to discuss safety, you must address not only the crop itself, but the chemical load this allows growers to dump on the GMO crop and into the soil. "Round-up ready" crops are just one egregious example of how GMOs can expose people to chemicals without their consent. But for me, this is even more an ECONOMIC issue. Openly pollinated non GMO seeds, whether cross-bred or not, can yield offspring very similar to their parents. But if you purchase a GMO hybrid, your next generation will not be able to yield the same uniformity upon replanting. This means that openly pollinated seeds are part of an ongoing natural cycle, whereas lab hybrids are not. If you grow lab hybrids, you have to buy the seeds again each year. We might talk about higher crop yields of lab GMOs, but has anyone measured the carbon footprint of a crop that needs to be lab-made each year, and compared it to the slightly lower yields of plants that do not need manufacturing? And worse, such GMOs can be trademarked, forcing farmers to become slaves to the seed producers rather than using the seeds their own crops produce if they wish. This is perverse. I support non-GMO agriculture not because I fear for my health, but because I think it is critically important to support farmers so they can develop and maintain their relationship with the land apart from the control of shareholders who are beholden to profits.

  223. Agriculture is a big space, and there is room for all kinds of growing, depending on the needs of the farmer and customers and environment. Being black-and-white about these issues is not helpful, particularly when statements are made that are simply inaccurate. Hybrids are hybrids--it has nothing to do with whether the plant is GM or not. Remember high school lessons about Mendel? Let's say you are looking at gene "B" that exists in two forms, B (dominant) and b (recessive) in a plant that is diploid (2 copies of the gene): the plant can be BB, Bb, or bb. If you cross a plant that has a BB (homozygous dominant) genetic background with a plant that has a bb (homozygous recessive) genetic background, you end up with offspring (the F1 generation) that are ALL Bb (heterozygous) for that gene. But if you then cross two F1 plants (Bb X Bb), you get a second generation population of: BB, Bb, and bb in a 1:2:1 ratio. This is high school biology, OK? It has absolutely NOTHING to do with GM. You can buy non-GM hybrid seeds from Burpee or Territorial Seed or any number of seed companies. If it says "F1" on the packet, it's a hybrid. As for the "carbon footprint", do you think that non-GM seeds just pop up from nowhere? Breeders, including non-GM breeders, put a ton of work into breeding new and improved varieties, both open-pollinated and hybrids. If you want to support farmers then let them have the choice of which farming methods and technologies they want to use.

  224. You need to consider the fact that farmers are not stupid. Farmers are for the most part free to plant seeds that they save from the previous harvest, but seeds produced from a commercial hybrid will have much higher yield than the seeds from the previous harvest. Farmers can do the math and they know that they come out ahead by purchasing seeds. Your statement that openly pollinated seeds are very similar to F1 hybrids is simply factually incorrect. With every recombination, traits are lost in the subsequent generations. This is true whether the organism is GMO or not. Higher yields are important, not only for the farmer who wants to sell the harvest for more money, but also in conserving resources - fertilizer, water, energy - which benefits us all.

  225. GMOs have become the go-to emblem of environmental health concern among the marginally informed. In my social media feed I see first hand the same people who rail against GMOs are nonetheless totally unconcerned or uninformed about pesticides or any other toxic chemicals whose risk is actually proven.

  226. I don't buy that GMOs are safe to eat. Thalidomide was supposed to be safe. Margarine made with trans fat was supposed to be healthier than butter. It seems to me that most of these GMOs are created for maximizing the profits of big ag companies, and not for better enjoyment or better health of the consumer. Jane Brody can eat all the GMOs she wants, but I will stick to eating organisms found in nature, or at least have the possibility of being created by nature. That would exclude corn that survives Roundup, tomatoes with fish DNAs, and salmon that grows twice as fast as normal salmon, to name a few.

  227. But the gene that makes crops resistant to various pests IS found in nature. . . In a common soil organism Bacillus thuringiensis - which, by the way, organic farmers use solutions of to spray their crops for protection against those same various pests.

  228. @KPS: I have used Bt on my homegrown cruciferous vegetables. I have to reapply it because it washes off fairly easily. That is very different than engineering a plant to produce Bt throughout. That does not wash off. Instead, it creates dysbiosis, which can lead to a list of physical and cognitive impairments that is growing by the month. We know that Bt does this because it has been easy to recreate a profound dysbiosis in ruminant animals that have long digestive cycles making it easy to observe. Given the number of people with irritable bowel syndrome and related disorders, it is not unreasonable to expect a significant portion of the population to suffer from worsening dysbiosis if they consume Bt producing GMO foods. In fact, it is not unreasonable to suspect that the increasingly common use of Bt-GMO foods is part of what is driving the increase in intestinal dysfunction in recent generations.

  229. So...just how do you propose to put this genie back in the lamp when it goes bad? "Establishing long-term safety would require prohibitively expensive decades of study of hundreds of thousands of G.M.O. consumers and their non-G.M.O. counterparts." In my 40's I became violently allergic to corn and everything made with it (iodized salt with corn starch, baking powder with corn starch, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose (American), citric acid, polysorbate 80, sodium citrate, many vinegars and the condiments made from them. I could go on but you get the picture. At the age of 58 I became allergic to soy and everything made from it. Besides formerly beloved tofu and soy sauce I am unable to eat anything made with soy oil (a cheap, bulk commodity oil present in almost all commercially processed food), soy lecithin, and the many soy derivatives in cosmetics. I could go on and on. The symptoms mimic rheumatoid arthritis and are experienced very shortly after I ingest any of the above. This is a terrifying and isolating life your GMO foods have given me. But it is too expensive to establish long-term safety in your mind? Every now and then I still accidently eat something with a chemical made from soy or corn that I did not recognise or rub something on my face with a chemical I did not recognise although it happens less now. The pain is awful. An hour ago my partner wrote an apology to friends that we could absolutely not meet them to eat in a restaurant...

  230. "Yields of corn, cotton and soybeans are said to have risen by 20 percent to 30 percent through the use of genetic engineering." That statement is absolutely incorrect. The genes introduced by the process of 'genetic engineering' have been designed to provide resistance to insects or herbicides. Those genes have NOT had any effect on the inherent yield potential of a given crop. The inherent yield potential of a crop has been improved, gradually, through the process of plant breeding and artificial selection ... another way to make a GMO.

  231. The statement is not incorrect. You are right to say that (current*) GMO traits do not affect ultimate yield potential. But, because insect feeding and competition from weeds often lower actual yield, by protecting plants from those stresses, yields are typically increased as a result. * An experiment has been done to demonstrate that by increasing the efficiency of photosynthesis it is possible to increase yield. However this was done in tobacco, a plant often used in early-stage experiments. https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/47544/title/Genet...

  232. Sorry, but the transgenes, so far, have had zero effect on the inherent yield potential of a crop. They protect the yield from insects and from competition from weeds BUT those are different from the inherent yield potential (there was a recent review of the effects of transgenes, published in PNAS).

  233. When plants don’t have to fight off insects or compete wih weeds for water and nutrients, they can and do spend that energy making fruit, seeds, etc - thus increasing yield.

  234. GMOs have prevented starvation and malnutrition in millions of the earth's inhabitants. We promote, sell and make obscene profits from alcohol and tobacco products that are an immense health hazard, but quibble that sometime, somewhere in distant future someone could possibly be harmed by GMOs. Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

  235. Genetically homogenizing huge swaths of farmland, across the globe, is not safe. Particularly during accelerated, human caused climate change, plant and animal species will need to migrate in order to survive. GMOs, which enable the use of pesticides and herbicides that eradicate all else, are a fundamental hazard to ecosystems around the world. But yeah I guess they’re safe for humans to eat. That’s what the science says.

  236. Not to mention putting our food supply in the hands of big business, farmers having to buy new seeds yearly instead of saving them from their crops. Diversity in seed stock is a good thing and helps keep us alive.

  237. You do know the very same big business owns the organic food companies?

  238. The farmers at my local farmer's market? I think not.

  239. The question for me was never whether GMO stuff was safe. It was a matter of trusting Nature and G*d. It's pretty miraculous what they have provided, no matter what one's religion or philosophy. I choose to stay with that reliable millennia-old pattern and believe I have a right to know what I am eating and how it was prepared. It's a matter of choice; but if crucial information is lacking there can be no informed choice.

  240. There is very little "natural" about agriculture. its a man-made activity.

  241. “no adverse health effects” A number of years ago, my wife suddenly started breaking out in rashes after eating tofu. And then corn tortillas. Perhaps it was the other way around. Both of which we had been eating for years. Thankfully, we tried and found that we could eat GMO-free tofu without getting rashes. Same goes for selected other modified foods. So the claim that there are “no adverse health effects...” is completely untrue. It has become more and more difficult over time to find rash-free, GMO-free foods in markets. A real hassle, a major inconvenience affecting everyday life. You say genetic engineering is no worse than irradiation or application of chemicals as a way to modify genes of foods. That may be true: irradiation and use of chemicals is also harmful. Fertilizers and pesticides too. Non-GMO, organic foods have proved to be the safest bet. Genie out of the bottle The most frightening thing about releasing GMOs into the environment is that — unlike chemical pollution which decays over time, unlike radiation which stays effectively constant over time — GMOs multiply and increase over time. What happens when in the future we learn — as we have at last for tobacco and fossil fuels — that the GMOs we have released into — and are multiplying in — the environment are undeniably harmful?

  242. Stories like yours have made the rounds. What I don't quite understand is if various people supposedly have these GMO-specific rashes that they couldn't volunteer for a well-designed scientific study that would prove their health issue was caused by GMOs. The anti-GMO activists would love to have such results and could potentially use them to sue or otherwise damage the GMO industry. The heroic volunteers would only have to put up with a few rashes to save the world from GMOs!! But... for some reason this never happens. The excuse usually goes something like 'if I knew GMOs would have me a rash (or whatever) why would I volunteer for such an experiment?' Are people really that selfish? Or are their rashes etc. actually related to something besides GMOs, something a well-designed experiment would show? In terms of GMOs spreading into the environment, the modifications are made to agricultural species, which are not adapted to survive in the wild but which require varying levels of human care to grow and reproduce. When was the last time you saw corn or soybeans growing in the backwoods?

  243. There will always be something that someone is allergic to. There are people allergic to milk, people allergic to sun, people allergic to eggs, etc. but no one is having a knee-jerk reaction and calling for a ban on milk or sun or eggs. People with allergies need to take precautions, but if everything that was a possible allergen was banned, we’d have to live on the moon.

  244. So how do I go about volunteering for that well-designed study? I'd be happy to.

  245. We mainly want to make sure that our food is not engineered to be doused in pesticides, because those chemicals certainly do have negative health effects. So give us the label, and give us this day our daily nontoxic bread. Thanks.

  246. Are you aware that 99.9% of the toxins you consume on a daily basis are from natural sources? Proc. Nad. Acad. Sci. USA Vol. 87, pp. 7777-7781, October 1990 Medical Sciences Dietary pesticides (99.99% all natural)* (carcinogens/mutagens/clastogens/coffee) BRUCE N. AMEStt, MARGIE PROFETt, AND LoIs SWIRSKY GOLDt§

  247. I think what Ms. Brody fails to explore is that modern GMO products from companies like Monsanto, are developed to be resistant to herbicides and pesticides. And while she claims that GMOs allow fewer of these toxic chemicals to be used by farmers, in actuality more is being used. I wish the facts were checked better.

  248. Nope she got it right, its you that have it wrong. RESEARCH ARTICLE A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops Wilhelm Klümper, Matin Qaim Published: November 3, 2014 Results On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries.

  249. Was well addressed. “This is not to say that everything done in the name of genetic engineering has a clean bill of health. Controversy abounds over the use of genetically modified seeds that produce crops like soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton and sorghum that are resistant to a widely used herbicide, glyphosate, the health effects of which are still unclear. In the latest development, resistance to a second weed killer, 2,4-D, has been combined with glyphosate resistance. Although the combination product, called Enlist Duo, was approved in 2014 by the Environmental Protection Agency, 2,4-D has been linked to an increase in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a number of neurological disorders, researchers reported in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.”

  250. I think the author did a great job explaining the use of pesticides and herbicides. GMOs actually reduce the amount of pesticides needed, because the targeted pesticide is expressed throughout the GMO plant parts. The author talked about how farmers need to use less pesticides on those crops. She also discussed how there is controversy over the use of GMOs that are resistant to herbicides. These GMOs require farmers spray with herbicides to kill surrounding weeds.

  251. If you are afraid of GMOs because they might contain a new protein or an altered DNA component, then you should never ever eat a new food again - for it too might contain a new protein or DNA sequence you have never encountered.

  252. As a few others have already noted, this is a great chance to avoid hypocrisy and call out fellow liberals for denying science. The data does not lie, if it doesn't support your position, you need to change your position. Effective use of GMOs has the potential to transform agriculture, affecting malnutrition, climate change, and a host of other struggles the world faces today.

  253. @RMurphy: what the science shows is that GMO crops and the herbicides they are designed to tolerate are leading to (1) superweeds that are also resistant to glyphoste, (2) increasing applications of glyphostate to overcome resistant weeds, (3) more glyphostate in humans, (4) increasing evidence that glyphosate is dangerous to humans, gut dysbiosis in research animals fed Bt-laced GMO plants, indicating that the microbiota of humans may also be impacted, and, (5) structural damage to the intestines of rats fed GMO corn, indicating that human guts may also be damaged by eating GMO corn. Those are not desirable outcomes. Being against GMOs because scientific studies are demonstrating that it is harmful is perfectly rational.

  254. Also - GMO crops do not increase yields. This is as outlined in the 2016 NYT article “Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops,”. The only things that increase are pesticide and herbicide resistance and profits for Monsanto and Dow.

  255. This is insane. I’m not a tree hugger, but I can see where this leads next: companies that realize it is more profitable to make designer fruits/vegetables for the rich than to focus on higher yielding crops for the developing world; companies that obfuscate the true origin of these GMO traits and lobby Congress to make it easier to fool the public; safety issues that continually creep up but are unfounded by the “research” funded by Monsanto and the other biotech companies whose financial interest put them directly in conflict with funding actual research. This is just another way that big business is pulling the wool over the eyes of Americans.

  256. This article focuses entirely on health effects to humans. No mention of how the pollen from GMO plants can travel be on the field and effect unmodified or natural plants, or how that may be something to worry about. Last time I checked, this was still a thing, and still a problem. How typically human and willfully ignorant, to consider nothing but the direct effects to ourselves in the here and now. Bon appetit.

  257. No adverse health effects have been found? So the average American is a paragon of health? I think not. And with 40% of primary school kids on medication, something is horribly, horribly wrong here.

  258. Thus, the irrational American (and European) blames it on GMOs. We're raising a generation of scientific illiterates who will avoid GMOs and believe that global warming is a hoax.

  259. Skyrocking food allergies among kids todays as well as diabetes. Why?

  260. The issue is that companies like Monsanto develop GMO seeds that grow into plants resistant to their Roundup which is a poisonous weed killer. They also make the GMO plants resistant to herbicides that they spray. The herbicides and insecticides are bad for the environment and are poisons (some nicotine based pesticides kill bees). The GMO’s are therefore bad for the environment. Since Monsanto has the original seed patented, farmers can’t gather seed along with their harvest and use for next year... Monsanto sued them.

  261. Nicotine is quite natural, readily available as a pesticide for *anyone* to use (just soak a cigarette in water to get some), and has *nothing* to do with any GMO crop out there. Using your logic, nicotine is therefore a poison and is therefore bad for the environment and so it should be banned. Many people use vinegar or salt water as an herbicide - which changes the pH of the soil, negatively affecting the microbes and worms in the soil. Those are natural - would you have those banned too?

  262. This is exactly the point I've been trying to make for years. There are lots of brilliant uses of this technology that can greatly improve the quality of our food and the quality of life around get world, and there are terrible uses of this technology like the Roundup Ready crops that allow farmers to use unsafe levels of herbicides, which we then end up consuming with our food. We shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater, we should look at each new GM product and judge it on its merits and flaws. Many of them are very promising and perfectly safe.

  263. If the genetic modification improves nutrition and defeats a pest, I have no problem. It is certainly no worse than mutations using chemicals or radiation. I wonder how many GMO objectors understand the engineering of grapefruit I draw the line at herbicide resistance. In Alberta, almost all grain / oilseed crops are now sprayed with glyphosate or its ilk, including those my renter grows on my farm. We are witnessing the emergence of weeds resistant to them, once the broad spectrum solutions of last resort. Prior to glyphosate resistant crops, native plants flourished once the crop was harvested. All of those native plants are extirpated on the fields now. While spring brings forth greenery, glyphosate fields are easy to distinguish. They are completely devoid of life. Farmers here are on hamster wheels. Higher cost of GMO seed, more herbicide, and fertilizer lead to higher costs and increased world production which reduces commodity prices. I am at the point of turning my wheat / barley / canola acres into alfalfa. It doesn't require fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides in my locale so glyphosate resistant seed is not required.

  264. The most incomprehensible part of Ms Brody's endorsement of GM foods is her failure to connect the dots. it is impossible, in the real world, to do just one thing when you modify a seed or a plant or an animal without the buffering effect of time. The consequences would require a book, but briefly: Seeds: Marginal, small scale farmers are persuaded to give up their traditional, well-adapted seeds (which they then frequently consume) for better yielding crops which, however, require much more water and fertilizer. Debt ensues, and the GM seeds are devastated by drought or other weather pattern shifts. Plants: The plants can be made resistant to toxins which are sprayed with abandon (don't believe the story that farmers use less herbicides and pesticides on GM crops-most farmers are not computer-controlled agribusinesses) and which show up in the water tables or poison beneficial insects and most crucially, pollinators. Animals: The billions of animals raised on GM modified feed-stocks are crammed into factory farms in the most brutal manner; their waste contributes heavily to global climate change; and the people who participate in this inhumane enterprise, from grower to slaughterhouse to processor, are frequently debased by appalling working conditions. It is true that life expectancy has been increasing world-wide, but the bill is only now coming due.

  265. Seeds: Evidence of your accusations that doesn't come from some anti-Monsanto website? Plants: Credible evidence, please Animals: Factory farms and GMO feed are not related, but nice try at trying to connect the two.

  266. @RJM: The evidence of increased use of GE seed resulting in more Roundup Ready crops, followed by increasingly intense use of glyphosate to combat the superweeds that effectively adapt to tolerate the herbicide is well documented in the report, "Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally. You can find it at this link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/292944439_Trends_in_glyphosate_...

  267. I find it crushing that all most people are concerned with about are the human health effects of GMOs. Why is the environmental impact not paramount, as that is where they have direct primary impact? In some cases GMOs are an environmental benefit, and in many cases they are part of the bigger industrial agriculture problem. It saddens me that the tool of genetic modification could be used in a much more ethical and sustainable way, but is instead being harnessed for short term profit and exploitation, the profit of extraction. Meanwhile we're all too busy fretting about ourselves. We can do so much better.

  268. Most genetic modification efforts are sponsored by billion dollar corporations that don't care about negative impacts, especially those that are hard to measure. This is a big reason why it's hard to go along with it. They buy off the scientists, the regulators, the politicians. That's why they have little credibility and that's why people hesitate to buy into it.

  269. Is the spinach with fish gene kosher? Is it vegetarian?

  270. I'll have to mull this over while popping seedless grapes (watermelon? oranges?) into my mouth! (Fruit... genetically modified to produce no seeds. Who'd've thunk it?)

  271. 1) In a recent CNN interview, Dr. Larry Summers, former head of Harvard and Secretary of the Treasury, made the argument against building a southern wall to prevent illegal emigrants and President Trump's imposed tariffs as both being too anti-trade. If America erects impenetrable trade barriers then it is in danger of isolating itself from the continuous betterment of its products needed to maintain and increase its global market share. These isolationist trade policies can soon transform the US into a less robust, artificially protected market place where effectiveness and efficiency are not determinative of success. 2) Perhaps, similarly, a vulnerability of GMO foods is that they can develop into a monoclonic agriculture, where the introduction or evolution of the wrong species or untoward weather event can do great damage to some of these GMO crops, even wipe them out. They may be exceptionally vulnerable because of their very similar underlying genotypes. 3) Norway's attempt to universally develop its global seed vault is an attempt to anticipate such developments; and have a remedial seed inventory on standby if needed. [JJL 04/24/2018 Tu 1:41 p.m. Greenville NC]

  272. Having worked in R&D for one of the large Ag companies (a competitor to Monsanto) in a technical support role to crop breeders, my sense was that GM corn or soy was probably not that different in terms of genetic diversity from its non-GM counterparts - at least within the germplasm owned by a given company. Corn varieties for instance would be bred for optimal performance in different climate zones. One would expect to see significant genetic difference between a corn variety bred to perform well in the tropics versus a variety bred for the northern US, for instance. The GM traits might be the same in both cases but many native genes would likely be different. This isn't do say that there may be less genetic diversity in those crops now verses years ago when many smaller seed companies existed with their own proprietary varieties, but if there is less genetic diversity now it would likely have more to do with the consolidation to fewer companies than to the GM traits themselves. Again this is from a peripheral viewpoint (of a scientist who understands genetics but is not a crop breeding expert).

  273. Ms. Brody uses bogus arguments. Farmers and agronomists have known about hybridization and domestication-crossbreeding of animals since the dawn of agriculture. But there is a huge difference between changing the nature of natural products by natural means over time and the insertion of specific genetic materials to produce instant results. The agricultural-food industry in general introduced trans-fats, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, tobacco in order hook people on bad-health foods and substances. The health of the average American is wretched based on the four products I just mentioned. Trans-fats in particular were paraded as increasing "shelf-life" in the same way GMO are. There is not reason to trust the companies and the scientists who parade junk food. Most meat produced on the USA and Canada is fed GMO corn feed, so the generic modifications in the corn are passed onto the food table of most Americans. Those cattle look nothing like their natural ancestors and most Americans have taken on the shape of those cattle...all within several generations. You don't believe me? Take a look at photos of enlisting soldiers for WWII and their generals like Eisenhower & MacArthur. Lean, strong men! Now take a look at the typical recruit and general today. Huge difference. Remember, you are what you eat.

  274. Fake news. Sweeping generalities that would make Monsanto proud. One need only look at the increase cases of allergies and disappearing bee populations. It is naive to assume that genetically modified food has had no impact on human health. I'll take my food without Round Up residue.

  275. Robert Goldberg says that "hundreds of millions of genetic experiments involving every type of organism on earth..." have been conducted. Let's see. Would that be at least a million experiments each by two million scientists, or two hundred experiments by a million scientists ? I support his desire to convince people that GMO's are mostly quite safe, but injecting such hyperbole into public debate ill serves his cause. And why did Brody quote such a ridiculous statement ?

  276. The anti-GMO movement is a perfect example of the modern culture of irrational, anti-scientific selfishness, fueled by the same psychological forces that underlie anti-global warming beliefs. Those who oppose GMOs completely discount the science that shows them to be safe. More importantly, they place their own psychological comfort over the lives of millions of people struggling in poverty and starving -- and who will be deprived of food because of anti-GMOers whose behavior deprives researchers of funds they need to help improve crops to feed people around the world. Selfishness plus ignorance, leavened with anti-science skepticism, is a recipe for disaster, but don't try to explain this to the comfortably moneyed who cloak themselves in "feel good" beliefs.

  277. The "science that shows them to be safe" has been discounted by the National Academy of Sciences committee that reviewed over 900 journal articles on the subject. One of the main problems identified is that testing whole foods, instead of isolating suspect components and applying them in high doses in relatively short term animal studies, is probably not sensitive enough to capture actual health risks that may be present. The industry uses these defective test methodologies to say no harm could be found, and further twists the tale by implying that means there is proof of safety. People who want to believe that take the disingenuous crowing of industry shills on face value. Those with scientific curiosity take the time to read and understand the research, its limitations, and even follow along as new research reveals an array of concerning health and environmental issues.

  278. There is so much wrong with your statements. All of which are the standard arguments of the paid posters. We grow enough food for 12 billion now!! Selfishness? Who has benefited from GMO's...not consumers. Science dictates that we question your arguments. We are not anti-science. We demand scientific scrutiny. NO GMO products have lowered prices on ANY food stuffs. Not one thing you have written is true.

  279. Red herring

  280. I continue to be astounded by the ignorance demonstrated why those who oppose GMOs. I have repeatedly pointed out to them that almost nothing we eat in developed countries is natural. There is no big sweet Orange in nature nor is there a big orange carrot. Corn doesn't even exist in nature and cannot replicate itself without human involvement. More amazingly is the refutation of the National Academy of Sciences which contains numerous Nobel Prize winners that there is no apparent scientific evidence to support opposition to the use of GMOs. I've actually had anti-gmo protesters imply that these Nobel Prize winners were bought off by evil corporate interests. I ask them where they got these ideas and they refused to tell me they simply slander distinguish people whom they don't know because of course these people have completely obliterated all their arguments. In short, the only ignorant and stupid people are not Trump supporters.

  281. The NAS committee did not say there was no apparent evidence of health risks of consuming GE foods. What the committee report says is that the research methods leave a lot to be desired and, because the sensitivity of most of the testing is suspect on its face, the committee resorted to epidemiological data from countries with GE food production versus those without to arrive at a general statement that it could not conclude that GE foods had yet led to significant health difference. In no way did the committee give the all clear for GE foods. Here is the caution the committee actually expressed in its report: "The committee states this finding very carefully, acknowledging that any new food—GE or non-GE—may have some subtle favorable or adverse health effects that are not detected even with careful scrutiny and that health effects can develop over time.” Note that subsequent to the release of the report -- which acknowledges some dangers associated with the increasing use of glyphosate mediated by Roundup Ready crops -- direct evidence of adverse health effects of animals fed GE foods has been documented and expression of known toxins in GE foods beyond what is claimed by manufacturers has been measured by independent labs. All of which adds to the scientifically valid reasons for not getting on the GMO bandwagon.

  282. Bill, this ignorant reader would like to point out that he is entirely aware of how selective breeding has been used over the last 12,000 years or so (the dawn of agriculture) by humans to alter the nature of plants and animals to accentuate their characteristics that are of most value to us. This reader, in his ignorance, has left a comment above summarizing 3 important aspects of the GMO issue and how there is good cause to be concerned. Please forgive my ignorance.

  283. So please tell this forum what tests not already done you would like to see added to the evaluation of GE crops and why. This can help you learn what is actually done already https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20399824 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18328408 Cheers

  284. A study published in JAMA last October showed a steady increase in the level of glyphosate over the couple of decades in which Roundup Ready GMO crops have proliferated. It also cited findings that directly contradict industry claims that the real world consequences of Roundup Ready GMO crops and the increasingly intense use of glyphosate (due to resistant weeds) are not dangerous to health. "Animal and human studies suggest that chronic exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides can induce adverse health outcomes. Animals consistently fed an ultra-low dosage of the herbicide with a 50-ng/L glyphosate concentration show hepatotoxicity consistent with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and its progression to steatohepatosis." SOURCE: Excretion of the Herbicide Glyphosate in Older Adults Between 1993 and 2016, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2658306

  285. There is a considerable amount of junk science on this topic. Fagan is one of the biggest suppliers of it. I would suggest you look up his profile on Genetic Literacy Project to learn about his $ motivations to slam GE crop technology. If you want to learn about the safety evaluation of glyphosate try this as it is the largest longest study in the world of people with direct exposure over long periods of time https://academic.oup.com/jnci/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/jnci/... cheers

  286. Longitudinal studies are difficult to maintain and small sample size sets a limit on P-values. Industry hacks use these technicalities to pretend that such findings have no value -- just as you are doing repeatedly in the comments, Robert Wager -- whereas business people and scientists who want to make use of such findings look for context to evaluate the plausibility of the findings. In this instance, they would ask, is it plausible that people are being exposed to more glyphosate over time. They could easily find industry data summarizing the increased use of glyphosate per application, the increased number of applications (both due to weed resistance to the herbicide), and the lengthening list of crops being subjected to the herbicide and conclude that yes, this study describes what is likely to be a general condition in the general population. That is how applied science works outside the confines of failing regulatory institutional dysfunction. I know a little about that, having used the same sort of small sample, animal, and seemingly disjointed studies found in medical and scientific journals to understand the process that was causing my partner to suffer bouts of rapid cycling bipolar and other neurological symptoms and bring them under control using herb, fungi and supplements. According to psychiatrists -- including a good one who is coming close to understanding what I figured out, but is limited by her pharmacopeia -- that is not possible. We know better.

  287. "failing regulatory institution" And yet those who are against GE crops have been trying to find evidence of harm for over 20 years and they have exactly zero documented cases of harm.

  288. It seems to me that "GMO" is too broad a category. Some GMOs are no different than a species that could be developed by selective pollination or breeding over time. Other GMOs take a gene from one species and add it to another species. These types of GMOs don't concern very much. GMOs that develop new genes and that produce new proteins should be carefully monitored.

  289. The industry term is GE: genetically engineered. GMO is a convenient PR term in that it allows just the sort of ambiguity you are alluding to. Genetic engineering involves the direct manipulation of genetic material, as opposed to indirect methods, such as selective breeding or infecting organisms with virii.

  290. QUESTION. What is the name of potato genetically modified with fish genes? ANSWER. Fish’n’chips.

  291. Too funny but also very accurate. When someone eats a meal of fish and chips they consume DNA from the fish and DNA from the potato. No one seems upset with this reality.

  292. I assume the anti-GMO crowd will be discarding their pets, most of which (especially dogs) are the result of selective breeding, or genetic modification.

  293. There is a kinder and more socially acceptable solution: don't eat pets and don't insert the genes of other organisms, some of which may not be from animals at all, into their DNA.

  294. You know better than to confuse selective breeding with adding genes from another species. My Rat Terrier was not created by including salmon genes.

  295. There is a simple and clear argument against the false parallel of the GMO process being just like selective breeding. I have posted it in my comment above and others have as well. Have you read it?

  296. As a trained journalist myself, I find this article biased and one-sided. Why is there absolutely no coverage of the real problem with GMOs which is that they require MORE (not less) pesticide usage as promised. Dr. Phillip Landrigan, from Mount Sinai Medical school talks about the harms to our children especially from pesticides and links it to increased cancers and lower IQ and other health consequences that have very real impact on society which, again, does not make them safe. And goes to the heart of your article - yet which you completely ignore. Additionally, GMOs also upset the ability for poor to feed themselves by taking seeds from one harvest to use for the next. The socio-economic impact of this is far from "safe". If you haven't already, you might want to read WHAT'S MAKING ORU CHILDREN SICK by Perro and Adams. This article is shamefully biased. The other side deserves to at least be written by a reporter who isn't blatantly pro-biotech. The New York Times needs to do better.

  297. It's finally an article that is not written by a sky is falling reactionary. Thus the shock you feel in reading it.

  298. I would suggest you download "Planting the Future" by the European Academies Science Advisory Council 2013 to learn about the real history of GE crop development and use. Cheers

  299. Except that the EU has banned GMOs since then. 2013 was a long time ago