Genetically modified food crops and public health
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SummaryThe progress made in plant biotechnology has provided an opportunity to new food crops being developed having desirable traits for improving crop yield, reducing the use of agrochemicals and adding nutritional properties to staple crops. However, genetically modified (GM) crops have become a subject of intense debate in which opponents argue that GM crops represent a threat to individual freedom, the environment, public health and traditional economies. Despite the advances in food crop agriculture, the current world situation is still characterised by massive hunger and chronic malnutrition, representing a major public health problem. Biofortified GM crops have been considered an important and complementary strategy for delivering naturally-fortified staple foods to malnourished populations. Expert advice and public concern have led to designing strategies for assessing the potential risks involved in cultivating and consuming GM crops. The present critical review was aimed at expressing some conflicting points of view about the potential risks of GM crops for public health. It was concluded that GM food crops are no more risky than those genetically modified by conventional methods and that these GM crops might contribute towards reducing the amount of malnourished people around the world. However, all this needs to be complemented by effective political action aimed at increasing the income of people living below the poverty-line.
- Acta Biológica Colombiana