Today, the United States ranks as the largest producer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the world. Despite ongoing debate over the benefits and dangers of creating and consuming GMOs, the country has yet to mandate proper labeling of these items. A CBS news poll was conducted not too long ago and revealed that 87% of Americans want proper disclosure, while 53% said they would not even buy GMOs as they are aware of their potential harm to health.
There have been numerous contrasting studies on the safety of GMOs. A researcher from the University of North Texas (UNT), Richard Dixon, was recently appointed by the National Research Council to be a member of a committee focused on understanding the truth about GMOs.
Dixon is aware of the crucial role GMOs play in meeting the demands of a rapidly-growing population, while adapting to unnatural conditions caused by climate change, but also believes there is an urgent need to support the deployment of these crops with strong scientific evidence of their overall safety.
This committee’s research efforts will seek evidence-based answers to the following chief aspects of GMOs:
- The history of the development and introduction of engineered crops around the world
- Purported benefits and drawbacks of engineered crops, including changes in pesticide use and effects on human health
- The scientific foundation of environmental and food safety assessments for engineered crops and possible needs for additional assessments
- New developments, opportunities and challenges in genetically engineered crop science and technology
The committee’s findings will be published by the National Academy of Sciences.
Aside from conducting studies and gathering information on the issues listed above, it is also within the committee’s scope to research and identify missing information on the implications of GMOs and their impact on the economy, agriculture, consumer health, and environment through suggesting possible future research projects. From these findings, the committee will take on the responsibility of releasing all pertinent information to the public, while bearing in mind present and future global needs.
When it comes to food safety, GMOs are not the only threats to food. A herbicide popularly used in the US, atrazine, has been shown to have the ability to disrupt hormones in animal models, causing abnormalities in male reproductive tissues.