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Surprising Science

Why Not to Fear Genetically Modified Food

Biochemist Dr. Simon Easterbrook-Smith says there is no difference between eating a tomato containing a GM protein from fish, for example, and eating an unmodified tomato with a piece of fish.

What’s the Latests Development?

Dr. Simon Easterbrook-Smith leads a team of biochemists at the University of Sydney in Australia; the doctor says his team’s research into genetic modification has given insight into diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Easterbrook-Smith says research has convinced him that consuming genetically modified foods represents no threat to the population’s general health. What’s more, solving difficult problems like world hunger will depend on a robust supply of GM crops: “Feeding the world’s growing population is a big challenge; the world will need 70 to 100 per cent more food by 2050. GM crops can make an important contribution to this,” says Easterbrook-Smith.

What’s the Big Idea?

Dangerous science or brilliant discovery? Genetically modified foods have drawn the ire of traditionalists and praise from futurists, but the science behind GM foods is very new and conclusions about the long-term health consequences of consuming them is difficult to come by. Dr. Easterbrook-Smith insists that, beyond food, serious medical problems could be solved through the development and use of genetically modified foods: “Most of the insulin used to treat people with Type I diabetes is made in GM yeast. The HPV vaccine, which protects women against cervical cancer, is made using GM methods.”


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