Opponents of GMOs have no scientific proof: environment chief

August 27, 2017

TEHRAN — Those voicing their opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have no scientific or convincing proof, Iran’s chief of the Department of Environment said on Saturday.

“Some 16 million hectares of land are planted with genetically modified crops worldwide,” Isa Kalantari said, adding, seven years ago a comprehensive research was conducted in association with 70 universities worldwide by allocating $500 million examining the possible disadvantages of GM crops on human health.

“The extensive research did not support any assumptions about the adverse effects of the genetically modified crops,” Kalantari stated. 

A great deal of cooking oil, corn, and soybeans imported to the country are genetically modified, “I personally do not oppose genetically modified crop domestic production and believe that those opposing it are all talk.” 

There is no rational reasoning behind such claims, those who are against the GM crop are merely relying on political reasons, he suggested.  

In Iran, the biosafety working group (affiliated with the Department of Environment) is tasked with imposing regulations and investigating the negative impacts of GMOs both on environment and human health. 

The working group is established in 2010 following Iran becoming a party to Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs)).

Further the ministries of health and agriculture are also in charge of providing consents for production of GMOs in the country. 

Genetically modified food controversies are disputes over the use of foods and other goods derived from genetically modified crops instead of conventional crops, and other uses of genetic engineering in food production. 

The dispute involves consumers, farmers, biotechnology companies, governmental regulators, non-governmental organizations, and scientists. 

The key areas of controversy related to genetically modified food are whether such food should be labeled, the role of government regulators, the objectivity of scientific research and publication, the effect of genetically modified crops on health and the environment, the effect on pesticide resistance, the impact of such crops for farmers, and the role of the crops in feeding the world population. 

Some scientists argue that in humans, the number one most common side effect of consuming GM foods is allergic reaction. A GM food may also increase its production of toxins at levels already harmful to humans.

Some genetically modified foods have been reported to be void of nutritional value. Because genetic engineering tends to focus more on increasing their production, prolonging their lifespan and ability to deter pest, the nutritional value of some crops is sometimes being compromised.

In terms of its environmental effects, toxicity is a huge issue concerning GM crops. In addition to that, the long term effects of GMOs are not certain. Scientists fear that excessive production of genetically modified foods that have toxin producing property will be rendered ineffective over time. This is because the pests that these toxins used to deter might eventually develop resistance towards them.

The production of GM foods imposes high risks to the disruption of biodiversity. This is because the “better” traits produced from engineering genes can result to the favoring of one organism. Furthermore, the introduction of genetically modified organisms can eventually disrupt the natural process of gene flow.


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