Genetically modified foods should be tested by the FDA

It is gratifying to read that University at Buffalo professor Mark O’Brian believes that genetically modified foods should be labeled, noting that the fierce opposition to GMO labeling by Big Ag has only increased distrust on the part of the public. In this, he credits the public with more common sense than the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s board of directors, which has stated that putting labels on GM foods could “mislead and falsely alarm consumers.”

In his April 6 Viewpoints article, O’Brian asserts that a committee report from the National Academy of Sciences “found that” no adverse health effects attributed to GMOs have been documented in the human population. This is, in fact, a direct quote from page 8 of the executive summary of the report. But this is somewhat misleading – not to say disingenuous – in that the thrust of the whole report is to indicate, precisely, the need for testing for such effects! O’Brian can’t say such effects haven’t been “found” if no one has been looking for them.

But this would be to ignore a growing body of evidence that there are reasons to be concerned about the safety, in terms of possible toxicological and even carcinogenic effects, of GMOs, not to mention the likely, according to the above-mentioned report, allergenic effects, and, by analogy with drug-testing, the “efficacy” of GMOs, which is to say, their nutritional value.

And this is exactly what Big Ag fears the most – that the Food and Drug Administration might actually do its job and require testing GMOs in the same way as new drugs are tested. Instead, we are all either unwitting or unwilling test subjects in a grand national experiment.

Douglas Aerie