ISU professor says “no evidence” of health risk in GMOs
September 5th, 2013 by Ric Hanson
An Iowa State University professor has become a point person in the long-simmering debate over labeling of genetically-modified foods. Ruth MacDonald is chairwoman of I-S-U’s food science and human nutrition programs. “As a scientist, I am very concerned that we, as a society, don’t take a simple, knee-jerk reaction and say: ‘This is a bad technology. We must throw it out and we must fear it,’” she says. “I think that we need to have an open discussion about what these are and how they’re developed and what the real risk/benefits are.”
MacDonald was part of a panel discussion at an event in Ohio in mid-August, debating the safety of genetically-modified foods, and the next week she participated in an Iowa State University Extension “webinar” on the same topic. “When there’s no evidence from a scientific perspective that there’s human health concerns for these foods, I have a problem with the argument that, ‘Well, this is scary. We don’t know what it is, so we just must avoid it,’” MacDonald says.
American consumers and farm animals have been eating genetically-modified food for more than 20 years and MacDonald says “there is no evidence” G-M-Os present a health risk. “We need to be using science and every tool that we have to make sure that we can continue to have the kind of quality foods that we are used to and that we need to survive,” MacDonald says.
Two states have passed laws requiring G-M-O labeling of food, however, and bills have been introduced in another two dozen states that would require such labeling. Critics charge genetically-modified foods can lead to increased allergies or a resistance to antibiotics. MacDonald says it’s hard to determine the actual G-M-O content in food because most products contain a variety of ingredients and while one ingredient may be genetically-modified, only a trace winds up in the final product. MacDonald also finds it ironic that people embrace the latest technology in products like computers, but express fear about using the latest technology in their food.