Who can assure GM food is safe?

Controversies about genetically modified food safety have never stopped since GM food became commercially available in the United States. Advocates say 10 years of planting show the technology is safe. Critics say the technology is poorly regulated. However, the controversies between them cannot reveal the truth: Is GM food really safe or not? And who can assure that?

GM foods are developed and marketed because there is some perceived advantage either to the producer or consumer of these foods. They have the potential to solve many of the world’s hunger and malnutrition problems, and to help protect and preserve the environment by increasing yield and reducing reliance upon chemical pesticides and herbicides. This is meant to translate into a product with a lower price, greater benefit (in terms of durability or nutritional value) or both.

At the meantime, environmental activists, religious organizations, public interest groups, professional associations and other scientists and government officials have all raised concerns about GM foods. Most concerns about GM foods fall into three categories: environmental hazards, human health risks, and economic concerns.

However, these different opinions do nothing but make the consumers more confused about the issue of GM food safety. Who can assure their points of views are correct, or at least are the closest to the truth? The most likely supporters are those biotechnology companies that are developing and selling the GM foods. Because they will be the most benefited group in the world, they are trying to persuade the public to believe there is no evidence of any greater health risk from a GM crop than from its non-GM counterpart. It is often claimed by them that there have been millions of people consuming GM foods over several years in the US, but without any ill-effects. What is not added is that there have been no health checks to find out and there still leaves uncertainties in the safety area. Even some politicians of different nations also support GM food because of the economic benefits. As the three largest producers of GM food in the world, U.S., Canada and Argentina will gain the substantial benefits through selling their biotech foods. And as the two most populated nations in the world, China and India need to find the most efficient way, having GM crops, to feed the large population. On the other hand, some opponents are also has a desire to protect their own benefits except the reasons that GM foods are unsafe. French, for example, is against GM food not only because of the potential unsafety but also because of the hostility to U.S. imports and a desire to protect French farmers. The reasons they support or oppose GM food seem not objective. Unlike the benefit groups, the non-benefit groups hold a more impersonal view. According to WHO, different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods. There still needs time and experiments to examine the potential negative effects on human health of the consumption of food produced through genetic modification.

In my opinion, the question still remains to be answered adequately:Is GM food safe? Nobody can answer this question so far. We know little about the long-term influence on human beings caused by GM food and further research should be taken. We must proceed with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health and the environment as a result of our enthusiasm for this powerful technology before we get the answer.