GMOs – An easy breakdown on common myths 

Global grassroots organization Slow Food International has recently published a short myth-busting article with the most common, but wrong and misleading assumptions about the promises of New Genomic Techniques (NGTs or new GMOs). 

New genomic techniques should be traceable, risk-assessed & labelled! 

European legislation on NGTs is planned for the second quarter of 2023, which may exempt certain new Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) from the current, strict regulatory framework – one that insists on safeguards like traceability, risk assessment, and labelling. The existing GMO legal framework guarantees food producers’ choice to use or not use GMO crops, transparency and freedom of choice for consumers to eat GM-free food. This is informed by strong vested interests from large corporations and industry-linked science. 

Myths Slow Food International’s debunks 

Myth#1: Changes brought by certain NGTs alter plants the same way as can happen naturally or through conventional breeding 

Distinguishing GMOs produced by NGTs and older genetic modification techniques is merely a marketing strategy to avoid consumer skepticism. However, GMOs produced by NGTs are technically and legally GM techniques, produce genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and fall within the scope of EU GMO laws, as confirmed by the European Court of Justice ruling of 2018. New GM techniques are not breeding techniques because they use artificial techniques that require direct human intervention in the genome. 

Myth #2: New GMOs will help reduce the use of pesticides, including herbicides 

New GMOs are likely to meet the same fate as older-style GM crops: pests and weeds can rapidly become resistant to plants genetically engineered to repel pests, rending the GMO useless and requiring an ever-increasing use of pesticides.  

Myth #3: We need GMOs for food security and population growth 

Hunger is caused by poverty, inequality, food waste, not scarcity.  So, new GMOs cannot solve the problem of hunger because the issue does not lie in food production but the current agri-food industry that sustains an intensive, polluting, and unfair food system. 

Myth #4: New GM techniques make precise and controlled changes to the DNA, with predictable outcomes 

A large and ever-growing number of scientific studies in human, animal and plant cells show that new GMOs are far less precise than what is being claimed and give rise to numerous genetic errors and researchers are highlighting the need to test for these unintended mutations.  

Myth #5: New GMOs are vital to adapt agriculture to climate change 

We don’t need more GM supposedly “climate-ready-crops”, we need climate-ready agroecological systems founded on proven methods, which also ensure farmers’ sovereignty free from patents. 

For more information on (new) GMOs and IFOAM Organics Europe’s work on this issue, please visit our website and contact [email protected]

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