NC State Extension

How Long Has the Health Benefit / Risk of GMO in Our Foods Been Studied? Are There Any Long-Term Studies Examining the Effects of GMO Products on Humans?

Of course we have been eating GE food for almost 2 decades with no reports of health problems, but that is not a study. GE crops are the most studied foods in the history of man. There have been over 2000 studies conducted on GE foods. How many are long term? That of course depends on what you consider long term. Ninety days is generally considered sufficient in order to evaluate the health effects of GM feed. There have been longer studies, some multi-generation studies. Here is a paper that reviews long term studies on the health impact of GM plants.

Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials: A literature review

GENERA maintains a list of many of the studies conducted on GE crops. You can find the list here. There is also a search function if you would like to narrow down the list.

Many scientists find it ironic that there is so much health related studies of GE crops. No other form of plant breeding requires testing. Crops created using chemically or radiologically induced mutations require no testing even though this technique is much less precise than genetic engineering. Mutation and other forms of plant breeding change much more DNA and have a less known genetic outcome than genetically engineered crops.

There are no long-term studies investigating the effects of genetically engineered food on humans that I am aware of. There have been some specific studies involving human subjects on specific concerns like potential allergen responses and protein digestibility, but long-term human clinical trials are not part of the normal regulatory process for genetically engineered food or any other food. Human clinical trials are generally not conducted are several reasons including: DNA and RNA are digestible and generally recognized as safe (GRAS), they are not required for foods created from other means such as mutagenesis, human trials would have to include higher than normal levels of intake of a particular food over long periods of time. It is much easier to subject animals to high levels of intake of the same food over a period of time.

Keith Edmisten, Professor of Crop Science

Written By

Photo of Keith Edmisten, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionDr. Keith EdmistenProfessor of Crop Science & Extension Cotton Specialist (919) 515-4069 keith_edmisten@ncsu.eduCrop and Soil Sciences - NC State University
Page Last Updated: 3 years ago
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