Several years ago I asked Alan McHughen if long term trials on consuming GMOs had been conducted in humans. Alan is a public sector educator, molecular geneticist and consumer advocate at UC Riverside, and one of the authors of the comprehensive Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods published by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
His concise reply was:
• In short, no food has ever undergone a long term human feeding trial.
• It is impossible to design a scientifically valid study because foods (unlike drugs) are composed of thousands of chemicals, and it is impossible to control each one.
• In addition, it is unethical to conduct a human study and ask subjects to control food intake over a long period.
• Should GM foods be evaluated for safety to the same degree organic foods are tested?
Layla Katiraee recently provided an in-depth discussion on how the safety of GE food is determined without having to conduct studies in humans, and it is an excellent educational resource:
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A very common question or criticism of GMOs is that they are not properly tested, particularly on humans. The spouse and I had a discussion about this a while back and he asked why GMOs weren’t tested like drugs since they’re regulated by the FDA. I’ve read comments such as “I won’t believe GMOs are safe until they’re tested for 5 years on humans and we examine long-term impact”, so I thought we should explore this point.
The regulation of GMOs is based on the principle of “substantial equivalence”, meaning that the nutritional content of the GE crop and the non-GE crop that it originated from is the same. In the past, I’ve reviewed papers that have done comparisons between crops generated by transgenesis (the method used to make GMOs) vs crops generated by traditional cross breeding and mutagenesis. The transgenic crops had far fewer unintended consequences than the crops generated by traditional breeding methods. What remains to be demonstrated is that the protein introduced poses no greater risk to human health than non-GE crops, which is why studies on allergenicity and animal feeding studies are performed.
Read the full article @ Why there are no long term GMO studies on humans
Genetic Literacy Project, January 13, 2016
Additional post on January 14, 2016 by Layla Katiraee: GMO Feeding Studies
Related publication: Genetically Engineered Plants and Foods: A Scientist’s Analysis of the Issues (Part I), Annual Review of Plant Biology by Peggy Lemaux.