A STUDY conducted at the Iowa State University analysed dozens of previous scientific studies on the safety of Bt corn and provides an overview of the risk assessment process applied to genetically modified (GM) crops. Walter Suza, an adjunct assistant professor of agronomy at Iowa State and a co-author of the study, said that Bt corn could help farmers in Africa to combat an emerging pest capable of devastating their crops, but fear of GM
crops has slowed adoption of the technology in the continent.
He cites the problem of fall army worm, an emerging pest spreading rapidly through Africa. He said Bt corn could help fight the pest immediately, while developing resistance through traditional plant breeding will take years.
The review found that delaying the adoption of GM crops such as Bt corn in the developing world presents risks to both humans and the environment. The paper published in the journal Global Food Security upholds the conclusion that GM crops are safe for humans and the environment, and that risks associated with GM crops have proven to be low to non-existent.
It concludes that GM technologies can be used to develop stress-tolerant and
more nutritious crop varieties, and to protect natural resources and human health. It also states that while each new GM product is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, approved commercial products, such as those containing Bt genes, have been subjected to rigorous scientific scrutiny.
GM traits, including but not limited to plant-incorporated Bt protection, should be considered as a tool for improving crop yields, food safety, and income for food insecure farmers.