A statement signed by over 300 scientists and legal experts challenging the prevailing view that there is scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs for humans, animals, and the environment has been published in a peer-reviewed journal:
No Scientific Consensus On GMO Safety, Environmental Sciences Europe, 24 January 2015
A broad community of independent scientific researchers and scholars challenges recent claims of a consensus over the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the following joint statement, the claimed consensus is shown to be an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated through diverse fora. Irrespective of contradictory evidence in the refereed literature, as documented below, the claim that there is now a consensus on the safety of GMOs continues to be widely and often uncritically aired. For decades, the safety of GMOs has been a hotly controversial topic that has been much debated around the world. Published results are contradictory, in part due to the range of different research methods employed, an inadequacy of available procedures, and differences in the analysis and interpretation of data. Such a lack of consensus on safety is also evidenced by the agreement of policymakers from over 160 countries – in the UN?s Cartagena Biosafety Protocol and the Guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius – to authorize careful case-by-case assessment of each GMO by national authorities to determine whether the particular construct satisfies the national criteria for `safe?. Rigorous assessment of GMO safety has been hampered by the lack of funding independent of proprietary interests. Research for the public good has been further constrained by property rights issues, and by denial of access to research material for researchers unwilling to sign contractual agreements with the developers, which confer unacceptable control over publication to the proprietary interests. The joint statement developed and signed by over 300 independent researchers, and reproduced and published below, does not assert that GMOs are unsafe or safe. Rather, the statement concludes that the scarcity and contradictory nature of the scientific evidence published to date prevents conclusive claims of safety, or of lack of safety, of GMOs. Claims of consensus on the safety of GMOs are not supported by an objective analysis of the refereed literature.
The part I highlighted is the issue I see as the biggest problem. To study GMOs you need to get your hands on them, but the people who own them won’t hand them over unless they can control what you say about what you discover.
I liked this, from the press release:
A signatory of the statement, Dr Belinda Martineau, former member of the Michelmore Lab at the UC Davis Genome Center, University of California, who helped commercialize the world’s first GM whole food, the Flavr Savr tomato, said:
“I wholeheartedly support this thorough, thoughtful and professional statement describing the lack of scientific consensus on the safety of genetically engineered crops and organisms. Society’s debate over how best to utilize the powerful technology of genetic engineering is clearly not over. For its supporters to assume it is, is little more than wishful thinking.”