Assessment of GM crops in commercial agriculture

The caliber of recent discourse regarding geneticallymodified organisms (GMOs) has suffered from a lack of consensuson terminology, from the scarcity of evidence upon which toassess risk to health and to the environment, and from valuedifferences between proponents and opponents of GMOs. Towardsaddressing these issues, we present the thesis that GM should bedefined as the forcible insertion of DNA into a host genome,irrespective of the source of the DNA, and exclusive ofconventional or mutation breeding.Some defenders of the commercial use of GMOs have referred to thescientific work of GMO critics as ``junk science.'''' Such a claim isfalse and misleading, given that many papers critical of both theutility and safety of GMOs have been published in peer reviewedjournals by respected scientists. In contrast, there is a dearthof peer reviewed work to substantiate the frequently heardassertions of either safety or utility in GMOs. The polarity,which now characterizes much of the public discourse on GMOs,reflects not simply scientific disagreement, but alsodisagreement in underlying value assumptions. Value differencesstrongly affect the assessment of both benefit and harm fromGMOs.
Keywords biotechnology  genetic engineering  junk science  risk assessment  substantial equivalence
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DOI 10.1023/A:1011321103091
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