New York Times Approves of GM Foods


Times health columnist Jane Brody's article "Facing Biotech Foods Without the Fear Factor" points out that a trillion servings later there has not been a single example of anyone who has been harmed by eating foods made from biotech crops.

"To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population," concludes a new report, Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods, by the National Academy of Sciences, cited by Ms. Brody. The NAS report also notes that the European Union's regulations require that all food products enhanced by gene splicing be evaluated prior to commercialization, but exempts from similar evaluation all other foods that are more crudely genetically modified by means of mutagenesis or cross breeding. The NAS correctly concludes that "the policy to assess products based exclusively on their method of breeding is scientifically unjustified."

Brody appropriately ends: "A risk-based protocol for safety evaluations would greatly reduce the time and costs involved in developing most new gene-spliced crops, many of which could raise the standard of living worldwide and better protect the planet from chemical contamination."

Ms. Brody should be careful. When her colleague, Times science reporter Gina Kolata expressed skepticism about the great environmental estrogen scare in 1996, the Environmental Information Center (now the National Environmental Trust) bought a quarter-page ad on the Times' own editorial page to denounce her. The environmentalist lobby now plays hardball.