Scientific Studies and Guidelines
A number of scientific studies done over the benefits and risks of GM crops were in collaboration with GM corporations themselves. Many third party scientists believe the conflict of interest associated with research scientists working under GM corporation guidelines increases the risk for bias in study results to unfairly favor GM products. Many GM corporations respond by stating they comply with GM crop approval guidelines for mainstream consumption.
Possible Bias in Research Studies
There are no studies that have looked or are currently looking at long-term effects of GM crops on the exposed human population. Close positive relationships between scientific researchers and GM corporation's interests have led to concerns for possible influences of financial conflicts of interest create bias results in favor of GM corporations. Diels observed a positive association between scientific research and GM industries relationships and financial conflicts of interests. For example, scientists from Monsanto's headquarters spearheaded counterarguments against Seralini and colleagues' results showing GM foods (produced by Monsanto) caused tumors in research rats, Conflict of interest in GM funded scientific research presents a risk of GM funded studies influencing study results. Funding from outside the GM industry such as government agencies and NGOs influence research outcomes as well.
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Nature's October 2009 issue found contractual agreements, publication restrictions, and other scientific dependencies on GM corporations were present in research on risk analysis of GM crops. \\ This is interesting...would like some follow-up, e.g. link to article \\
Current crops being sold in the food market were tested and approved for consumption by the FDA. The FDA issued a statement in regards to GM safety: "We recognize and appreciate the strong interest that many consumers have in knowing whether a food was produced using bioengineering. FDA supports voluntary labeling that provides consumers with this information and has issued draft guidance to industry regarding such labeling. One of FDA's top priorities is food safety, which means ensuring that foods, whether genetically engineered or not, meet applicable requirements for safety and labeling."
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization first proposed comparative approaches to safety assessments for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Comparative safety assessments are meant to be a starting point for a safety assessment and not a safety assessment in itself. However, there are some studies such as Constable and colleagues that claimed a comparative safety assessment between novel foods and GM crops does not correctly describe the safety profile of GM crops. The comparative safety assessment is focused on the safety evaluation of GM crop foods – structured outline of any potential differences between novel foods and GM crops in terms of the safety implications through appropriate methods and approaches as outlined by the OECD.
Traditional foods are inherently noted as safe due to a long history of consumption as opposed to systematic toxicological and nutritional assessment. The disconnect between comparative safety assessments and the safety of traditional foods create a false/imprecise checklist of criteria to determine whether GM crops are safe or harmful. It is important to note that the history of safe use is largely determined by the context of its traditional use, population consuming the food product and ways the traditional foods are prepared and processed. Conducting a comparative safety assessment is more of a benchmark location as to where GM crops' safety is relative to the perceived safety of traditional foods. \\ Make this paragraph briefer and more concise \\
Important information in regards to both traditional and GM crops to conduct a comparative safety assessment include (Constable et al., 2007):
- Toxiocology data including details of known natural toxicants
- Nutritional data including details of known natural antinutritional factors
- Pathogenicity (for micro-organisms)
- Known health compromising contaminants (nature and level of)
- Bioactive substances
- Metabolic and/or gastrointestinal effects in humans
There are detailed guidelines for the preparation and presentation of application for approval for human consumption of GMO crops. The approval process of GMO crops into mainstream consumption requires a number of testing and the ability to pass multiple criteria to ensure safety. A history of safe use is needed to determine the regulatory status of a food, whether it is appropriate to conduct research and/or evaluate the safety of a food. The assessment, as a whole, will then be reviewed to determine the safety of GM crops for human consumption.
Below are the criteria to determine a history of safe use taken from Constable et al. 2007.
History of Safe Use - Key Issues