On October 21, 2013, the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) posted a statement, “No scientific consensus on GMO safety”, to let the world know there are some very bright minds with very real oppositions to genetically modified organisms. In the short time that it’s been live, the number of signatures on the statement has grown considerably to 231, including one scientist who helped to commercialize the first GM food, the Flavr Savr tomato.
Dr. Belinda Martineau is a former member of the Michelmore Lab at the University of California Davis Genome Center, where she worked on the technology for the first GM-whole food. Now, however, she isn’t so convinced about its value.
In backing the statement against GMO safety, Dr. Martineau wrote:
“I wholeheartedly support this thorough, thoughtful and professional statement describing the lack of scientific consensus on the safety of genetically engineered (GM) crops and other GM organisms (also referred to as GMOs). 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.”
Martineau isn’t alone. Numerous other esteemed scientists have stepped forward to voice their concerns with GM technology. While companies behind genetically-modified foods would have you believe there is nothing to worry about and that all GMOs are risk-free, positive additions to the food system, they simply aren’t telling the whole truth.
Scientists who add their name to the statement agree:
“We feel compelled to issue this statement because the claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist. The claim that it does exist is misleading and misrepresents the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of opinion among scientists on this issue. Moreover, the claim encourages a climate of complacency that could lead to a lack of regulatory and scientific rigour and appropriate caution, potentially endangering the health of humans, animals, and the environment.”
These scientists object to the GMO machine’s allegations that there is a consensus in the scientific community about the safety of these foods. No such consensus exists. Many scientists oppose such language because it misleads the public into thinking no risks exist when there simply isn’t enough information to call GM foods safe, and there is information to the contrary.
While critics of the statement are quick to say the signatories on the statement are all members of the ENSSER, that simply isn’t true. Though some are, most are not, and the ENSSER’s role, according to the organization itself, has only been to coordinate and publish the statement, not to campaign for signatures.