GMO1 traits are sometimes used for the purposes of controlling weeds, insects, and diseases in crop production. Questions sometimes arise as to the safety of consuming GMO crops. Hundreds of studies have been published to address these questions. The public is certainly welcome to read all of those studies; many of them are listed in an Excel file available online. However, a much quicker way to gauge the present state of scientific findings is to read position papers published by well-recognized scientific societies.
Position papers produced by credible scientific societies are carefully crafted, conservative summaries of the state of scientific knowledge on issues of importance to society. These position papers are designed to help the public understand what we know–and do not know–about these issues. A discussion of the value of position papers from scientific societies is available in the Extension article, Scientific Consensus as a Foundation for Extension Programming.
Numerous prestigious scientific societies have published position papers on the topic of consuming genetically engineered crops. Selected quotes from these position papers are available in the document, Consumption of GMO Crops: Examples of Quotes from Position Papers of Scientific Organizations. This document also provides links to all position papers listed, so that you can read them for yourself. In reading this document, it is very important to distinguish scientific societies from activist organizations. Activism plays an important role in a democracy, but activist organizations are not scientific organizations. This document cites position papers only from well-recognized scientific organizations.
By Paul Vincelli, Extension Plant Pathologist; Janet Mullins, Extension Specialist in Food & Nutrition; Ric Bessin, Extension Entomologist
1“GMO” or “genetically modified organism” is an imprecise term that is commonly understood to refer to genetically engineered crops. In fact, biotech crops can originate from a wide variety of distinct crop-improvement techniques, including genetic engineering. Furthermore, even genetic engineering is accomplished using diverse laboratory techniques. It is important to understand that “GMO” crops differ greatly amongst themselves.
(This content also recently appeared in the University of Kentucky Grain Blog.)