A newly released peer-reviewed paper appears to have drawn attention to environmental challenges associated with genetically-modified (GM) crops, as well as the gaps in scientific knowledge of their effects.
GM crops are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering methods. In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species.
Tagged “Environmental impacts of genetically modified plants: A review,” the scientific review made some vivid remarks on the environmental impacts and regulatory assessment of GM plants.
Reviewed by scientists Aristidis M. Tsatsakis, Muhammad Amjad Nawaz, Demetrios Kouretas, Georgios Balias, Kai Savolainen, Victor A. Tutelyan, Kirill S. Golokhvast, Jeong Dong Lee, Seung Hwan Yang and Gyuhwa Chung, the publication emphasises that GM crops negatively impact the environment such as modification in crop pervasiveness or invasiveness, the emergence of herbicide and insecticide tolerance, transgene stacking and disturbed biodiversity.
According to them, recent claims of consensus over the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) seem to be an artificial and misguided perpetuated construct – regardless of contradictory evidences published during the last three decades which lead scientific community to reconsider that the debate on the topic isn’t over yet.
“Current regulatory pathological and toxicological tests are confined on only one mammal and for 90 days which is insufficient and could not be generalised. So, toxicology studies should be prolonged to full life span of the test organism and other experimental mammals should also be considered for such tests,” say the authors, adding:
“Safety studies involving GM plants produced as a result of ds-RNA mediated gene silencing should be conducted and after effects of administering GM foods having artificial siRNAs must be examined on a laboratory scale especially for their unintended effects on humans.
“Sub-lethal effects on nontarget species should be assessed for several successive generations rather than single or two generations.”
The reviewers stress that the current state of knowledge notwithstanding, impacts of GMO crops on the environment require a more in-depth view and critical research so as to unveil further facts.
They point out that most of the reviewed scientific resources provide similar conclusions and there currently seems to be an insufficient amount of data available and, up until today, the impression is that the consumption of GM plant products are safe for consumption to a greater extent with few exceptions.
The paper updated what the reviewers tag “the undesirable impacts of GM crops and their products” on target and non-target species, while attempting to shed light on the emerging challenges and threats associated with it.
While discussing future prospects, the underpinning research also realises the influence of GM crops on a disturbance in biodiversity, development of resistance and evolution slightly resembles with the effects of non-GM cultivation.