Dr Chassy: ‘None of the animals and plants we eat today exist ‘in nature’, they have all been extensively genetically modified’

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dna, Gm

What precedent might it set if firms are forced to label foods made using new technologies, even if the end product does not differ in any meaningful way from foods developed by ‘traditional’ methods?

Not a good one, according to Dr Bruce Chassy, Professor Emeritus of Food Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who caught up with FoodNavigator-USA at the IFT show to talk about GMO labeling.

“Consumers interpret a label as a health warning”, ​he said, although he predicted that "this matter willultimately be decided in the courts”.

Conventional breeding is probably riskier as it’s black box stuff… GM techniques are far more precise

Speaking at a session on genetic engineering earlier that day, Dr Chassy reminded the audience that there is nothing ‘natural’ about conventional (non-GM) animal or plant breeding, which uses techniques from inducing mutations in the DNA of the crop via x-rays, to chemical mutagenesis.

Meanwhile, thanks to advanced breeding techniques, the kinds of plants and animals we eat today are nothing like what our ancestors were eating, he pointed out. “We’ve been fiddling with animals and crops for years.”

I don’t even think that the phrase ‘genetically modified’ is really appropriate

He added: “I don’t even think that the phrase ‘genetically modified’ is really appropriate since none of the animals and plants we eat today ​[produced using ‘conventional’ or non-GM agricultural techniques] exist in nature, they have all been extensively genetically modified.

"So it’s foolishness to talk about bio-engineered crops as ‘GM foods’.”

Indeed, “conventional breeding is probably riskier as it’s black box stuff”,​ he said, while GM techniques are “far more precise”.

Click here​ to read all of the latest stories on GM crops and GM labeling.

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2 comments

Sorry - I'm a Bit Far Off From Biting

Posted by Ashley,

Sounds like a bunch of excuse making to me. True, a lack of mutagenesis in today's crops may very well be a thing of the past, but that's not what the average non-GMO'er (the educated one, anyway) is complaining about. It's all the anti-GMO & "GMO's are potentially very dangerous" research that everyone seems keen on ignoring.
The problem isn't with labeling itself, just the fact that they're so opposed to doing so.

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come to think about it!

Posted by Faith,

come to think about it! plants have been undergoing genetic modification since time immemorial

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