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Do GM Crops Produce Safer Foods?

At a recent conference of Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Research Economics in Canberra, Dr. Phil Larkin from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization said traditionally bred crops generate far more genetic risks than genetically modified (GM) crops. Dr. Larkin claimed that the GM crops are the safest food ever introduced in human diet.

He stated that during conventional cross breeding, researchers could accidentally create gene rearrangements that “create poisons,” offering as an example some new varieties of celery (psoralens) and potatoes (solanines), formed in that manner, and known to contain toxins. Dr. Larkin bred a nematode-resistant tomato by introducing a gene from related poisonous species that also contained about 500 other genes. He compared this work with a GM tomato containing the resistant gene. For the conventional breed of tomato, no regulatory approval is required, but the GM tomato is subject to a maze of questions and restrictions, even though the risk, in this case, is greater with the conventionally bred tomato than the GM tomato.

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