View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news

‘All GM food is safe/unsafe’ is a fallacy


Stories of GM being bad for health rumble on (though Seralini is still winning on this one) and they need some context.

It is impossible to say all GM food is safe to consume or that all GM is dangerous – every variety is different and should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Even if a technique used for the modification proved to be dangerous (and I have no reason to believe it might be), this doesn’t mean that all GM food will be dangerous – ever more sophisticated techniques are being developed.

In the EU all GM products must go through a rigorous safety assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) before reaching approval. To date there has been no scientific evidence showing that GM products are any higher risk to the environment or human health than products produced through conventional breeding techniques. This conclusion is supported by organisations such as the European Commission (EC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and evidence has been extensively reviewed.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do ongoing tests on the safety of individual varieties, it just means we need to distrust anyone who says that the GM industry faces the fatal blow that “GM food poses significant risks to human health”.

Instead, I leave you with the wise words of the WHO:

“Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods.

“GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

If you’re concerned about your health, eat less sugar and do more exercise. And while you’re at it, please pester me to do the same.

Author: Rebecca Nesbit

I am author of a popular science book 'Is that Fish in your Tomato?' exploring the fact and fiction of GM crops. In my work and leisure so far, I have trained bees to detect explosives, used a radar to study butterflies for my PhD, written a novel, taken the train from London to China, organised Biology Week, sold science jewellery on Etsy, and traveled to four continents with Nobel Laureates. Best off all, I've made lots of friends whose support I very much appreciate. Thank you! Please visit my website:

2 thoughts on “‘All GM food is safe/unsafe’ is a fallacy

  1. Why sugar and exercise, I dont disagree but isnt there more to it than that??

  2. I just chose two of the ways to have the largest difference to health. I realise ‘smoke less and drink less’ is probably better advice to some people, I just chose the advice I’d give to myself.

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