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GMO Answers Takes on Claims from Food Babe’s Recent Book

June 30, 2015
Earlier this year, Vani Hari, also known as Food Babe, published her book, The Food Babe Way: Break Free from the Hidden Toxins in Your Food and Lose Weight, Look Years Younger, and Get Healthy in Just 21 Days. In this post, we’ll explore several of the inaccurate claims made in the book related to GMOs and provide expert perspectives on these topics. Read the entire post on the GMO Answers website here.

Claim: "The government has allowed the introduction of GMOs into the food supply without any required safety assessments."

Clarification: Before a GM crop can come to market, it must undergo extensive testing and reviewGM crops must be shown to be “substantially equivalent” to non-gm crops, meaning that the GM plant is, in essence, no different from a non-GM plant (with the knowledge that the non-GM plant has an established history of safe consumption). The GM crop must also be tested to ensure it does not introduce any new allergens.

Claim: "A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant or animal that has had DNA genes from another organism artificially forced into its own DNA. These foreign genes are extracted from bacteria, viruses, insects, and animals."

Clarification: It’s a common misconception that animal DNA is in GM crops. There aren’t any GM crops with “animal DNA” in them, and rumors about this have come from confusion between an experiment in a lab and the short-lived Flavr Savr tomato, which was last commercially available in the late 90s. The Flavr Savr did not make use of any fish or animal DNA, and the experimental tomato was never brought to market. To date, no GM crop uses DNA from animal sources.

Claim: "The goal of mixing genes of different species is to create greater crop yields and increase pest resistance. With little understanding of how these alterations might adversely affect our health or the environment, the Big Ag industry has plowed ahead quickly in introducing these foods to the public."

Clarification: In fact, most GM crop traits are intended to protect crop yields from various types of damage, not necessarily to increase them, and many of the crop plants that are currently commercially available as GM varieties do include traits for insect resistance, herbicide resistance and disease resistance. But, GM crops can accomplish much more than this, including crops that provide enhanced nutrition or are drought resistant.

Claim: "To date, there have been no long-term independent studies on the safety of GMO exposure to humans . . . Most GMO safety research has been funded by the very biotech companies that create GMOs."

Clarification: Before GM crops can be released to the market, they are tested in ways that conventional and organic crops are not. During the development of a new GM seed, safety testing is done largely by certified independent third-party laboratories using protocols required by the government. If a study were ever to yield a result that raised any food safety concern, it is required by law that the information to be presented to the FDA. GM crops are also tested for their safety as feed and in the environment and regulated by authorities, such as USDA and EPA

Claim: "Studies in which animals were fed genetically modified corn have shown that GMOs cause a slew of liver disorders (for example, atrophied livers and altered liver cells) and several reproductive problems (infant mortality, altered sperm cells, infertility).”

Clarification: In addition to anecdotal evidence, scientific data confirms the safety of livestock feed derived from GM crops for animal health. A meta-analysis covering more than 30 years, and including data sets from more than 100 billion animals, does not indicate any negative effects on livestock health and productivity from feed derived from GM crops. This study, conducted by Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam Amy Young at the University of California, Davis, is open access and available online here.