Safety of Foods Derived From Genetically Modified Plants

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Abstract of Journal Article -- March 2003  

By John A. Thomas, PhD  

Biopharmaceuticals have been available for clinical use for nearly three decades, but foods derived from agribiotechnology have been available for just under a decade.

Controversy surrounding foods from genetically modified (GM) plants has focused primarily upon their allergenicity, with lesser concerns about antibiotic resistance genes. Concerns are related to possible environmental impacts on nonhuman species, including effects on nontarget species (eg, butterflies) and on the development of so-called "super weeds."

Food allergies are no more prevalent in foods from GM plants than in conventional foods. Further, the use of antibiotics in the development of GM plants does not pose a significant risk to the human population. Foods from the current GM plant products have been shown not to pose any detrimental effects to humans, and, in fact, nutritionally enhanced products are being developed.

GM foods are subjected globally to intense regulatory scrutiny, and extensive data have been provided consistently to regulatory agencies in the United States on a voluntary basis, with mandatory reporting of data soon to be in force. Existing environmental concerns appear to be unjustified on the basis of existing data and experience.

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