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The Professional Views of Doctors on GM Foods

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 2 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Gm Foods Doctors Professional Views

With all of the controversy around genetically modified (GM) foods, many of us wonder just what doctors think about the technology. For a lot of people in Britain, we place a great deal of faith in our doctors and we are keen to understand their assessment of GM foods - whether or not these foods truly are safe or if they pose a harm to our health.

Unfortunately, the controversy extends in the medical field as much as it does to other professional areas. With some doctors believing that there is no risk to consuming these foods, others disagree and cite concerns about health risks from these products.

Doctors in Support of GM Foods

The British Medical Association (BMA) supports GM foods from the point-of-view that there is not yet any compelling evidence to prove that they pose a threat to health. However, they do note that much more research is encouraged and needed to show that GM foods are safe for both the people who consume them and the environment.

Support for the Benefits of GM Foods

The BMA also acknowledges the benefits of GM foods in comparison with traditional crops and farming techniques. Still, they do further explain that long-term research is needed, primarily in the areas of human allergies. For now, short-term studies don't show any real harm, according to the BMA.

They also go on to report that research should further focus on groups of people who are considered vulnerable. This includes older individuals and infants as well as those with chronic health conditions, particularly immune-compromised people.

Close Monitoring

Another belief is that close monitoring should be performed of GM foods, which means research looking at its effects, especially over the long-term. While current short-term studies can be accepted and supported, the BMA does not feel it is enough to simply leave it at that and conduct no further research or monitoring of GM foods.

Doctors Against GM Foods

Despite the statement of the BMA, which does seemingly represent all of the doctors in the UK, there are still physicians and medical experts who do not believe that GM foods are safe. Instead, they are concerned about health effects from this technology. Their premise is that the evidence thus far is simply not enough to say that GM foods are safe.

The concern over a lack of long-term studies should mean that GM foods are banned until we can properly establish their safety for production and consumption. One group of doctors that is focused on bio-safety have called for a halt to GM trials in India. They are particularly worried about the use of antibiotic biomarkers, which they feel will have a strong effect on India because of the abundance of diseases in the country.

Their opinion is that all of the key, national health campaigns will be jeopardised. They are concerned about recent research that suggests an effect on reproduction in animals, which means there could be an issue with human health as well.

Unbiased, Independent Research

These doctors and medical experts also firmly believe that unbiased, independent research teams must conduct these studies. To date, there are many ties between researchers and biotechnology corporations as well as research teams hired specifically by some of these companies.

Future of GM Foods

It's difficult for the public to decide if GM foods are safe when even doctors can't seem to agree on whether the technology is acceptable for human health. For now, it's best to critically examine all of the evidence and try to make informed, wise decisions about whether you want to purchase GM foods. You can read labels and be a savvy shopper or you can simply eat your food regardless of whether it is a GM food or not.

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