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Genetically Modified Crops

Are GM crops safe for people?

The World Health Organisation’s perspective
Adapted from -  20 questions on genetically modified foods

GM food safety testing

With GM foods most national authorities consider that specific assessments are necessary and have set up rigorous evaluation systems for GM organisms and GM foods relative to both human health and the environment. Similar evaluations are generally not performed for traditional foods. Indeed new plants developed through traditional breeding techniques may not be evaluated rigorously using risk assessment techniques. Hence there is a significant difference in the evaluation process prior to marketing for these two groups of food.

How are the potential risks to human health determined?

The safety assessment of GM foods generally investigates:

  1. direct health effects (toxicity),
  2. tendencies to provoke allergic reaction (allergenicity);
  3. specific components thought to have nutritional or toxic properties;
  4. the stability of the inserted gene;
  5. nutritional effects associated with genetic modification; and
  6. any unintended effects which could result from the gene insertion.

Are GM foods safe?

Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods.

According to the WHO, GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved (since 1995/96).

How are GM foods regulated nationally?

The way governments have regulated GM foods varies. In some countries GM foods are not yet regulated. Countries which have legislation in place focus primarily on assessment of risks for consumer health. Countries which have provisions for GM foods usually also regulate GMOs in general, taking into account health and environmental risks, as well as control- and trade-related issues (such as potential testing and labelling regimes). In view of the dynamics of the debate on GM foods, legislation is likely to continue to evolve.

What kind of GM foods are on the market internationally?

All GM crops available on the international market today have been designed using one of three basic traits: resistance to insect damage; resistance to viral infections; and tolerance towards certain herbicides. All the genes used to modify crops are derived from microorganisms.


 Are GM crops safe for the environment?


What's your opinion?

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Current rating: 5/5 (from 1 votes cast)

Read comments

NOT RATED brendan daly [chef in training ] 10-03-11 20:07
this website and pages conting gm have really helped me undrstand more about the transfer and genes and tradional breeding method. good job
GCP APBIO 15-03-13 13:57
I love this article..thanks Ms. Kniebusch!!!
NOT RATED michael james brown 19-03-13 04:38
gm foods are very safe for people but not for the enviroment such as crops that have pesticides in them

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GM crop genes code for proteins, many of which have never been in human bodies before and we don’t know what the reaction will

Jeremy Rifkin, environmental campaigner 

GM products are the most thoroughly studied, thoroughly reviewed agricultural products ever developed by


Source – BBC: “Horizon” (2000) 
'Is GM safe?'

Answer this question after you've read the WHO report left.

Are you comfortable with eating GM food?
Not sure


Find out more detail from:
Food Standards Agency
 Making sure GM food is safe to eat