NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

FEARS OVER "FRANKENFOODS" ARE UNFOUNDED

January 19, 2005

Anti-biotech advocates have successfully created hype over genetically-modified foods, claiming them unsafe to eat. However, scientific research has so far been rigorous and extensive, and in no way indicates that such foods are dangerous for human consumption, say authors Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko.

In their new book, "The Frankenfood Myth," the authors contend:

  • Genetically-altered foods in some form or another have existed since the early 20th century; in fact, the types of wheat used in making bread and pasta are a result of cross-breeding programs that combined different types of plants with wheat.
  • In thousands of containment laboratories across the United States and Europe, there has been no evidence of an adverse reaction to gene-spliced microorganisms -- in humans, animals or the environment.
  • In fact, gene-spliced corn has been documented to benefit public health; it has lower levels of fumonism, a fungal toxin that can increase esophageal cancer in humans.
  • A 2001 EPA rule requires repeated testing and case-by-case reviews of pest-resistant genetically-engineered foods, much stricter requirements than for conventional cross-breeding.

It is important to recognize that life is filled with risks, and the production, distribution and sale of food are not exceptions. There is also a risk in rejecting new technologies and products, and in establishing a public policy principle against innovation. When public policy discriminates against the use of a product or technology with benefit and risk characteristics that are overwhelmingly positive, which is the case with the new biotech today, all of society loses, says Jay Lehr, science director for the Heartland Institute.

Sources: Jay Lehr, "Scientific Evidence Puts the Lie to Concerns Over Genetically Modified Food," Heartland Institute, October 2004; Henry L. Miller and Gregory Conko, "The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution," George C. Marshall Institute, September 20, 2004.

For Miller and Conko text:

http://www.marshall.org/article.php?id=246

 

Browse more articles on Environment Issues