Institute making anti-GMO claims not reliable: medical expert in US


 “Great news! Breakthrough made in GMO research in the US! The US officially announces that GMOs are toxic!” Chinese social media were flooded with anti-GMO headlines. “According to American Academy of Environmental Medicine, GMOs are found to be associated with serious health risks – from infertility to immune problems to cardiac diseases.”


This new ‘study’ stems from an American anti-GMO blog published by the website: responsibletechnology.org.


It further claims that the genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function. This means that long after we stop eating GMO foods, we may still have their GM proteins produced continuously inside us.


It claims that “the GMOs are believed to be the cause of the rising health problems faced by human kind.”


Widely circulated in Chinese social media, the message also indicates that FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GMO foods can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems.


It also provides tips on how to identify GMOs – from soy beans and potatoes to wheat and rice. It calls for heightened alert against the GMOs, claiming that AAEM asks physicians to advise consumers to abandon GMO foods altogether.


While GMO safety dispute never ceases to exist in the international community, it has caused greater concerns among Chinese consumers who face scandal after scandal of food safety issues at home. As the information has gone viral in China, it has also resonated well with Chinese consumers in Canada. It has quickly become the topic of discussions on family dinner tables and among friends and social groups. The anti-GMO claims from a seemingly scientific organization in the US have suddenly validated their suspicions and concerns that GMOs are harmful, and are the culprit of a slew of health conditions and diseases.


But before we are convinced by these anti-GMO claims and choose to avoid GMOs in supermarket aisles, it may be worthwhile to examine the perceived credibility of the institute that has made the claims and the website blog that quoted it. Chinese News has contacted a medical communication expert in the US and the FDA to verify the credibility and the reliability of the widely distributed information.


According to Dr. Stephen Barrett, a retired psychiatrist and a renowned author, editor and an active consumer advocate in US, AAEM is not a credible organization and the information based on its findings is not valid and reliable.


“I would not trust anything that this organization says. Nobody who is trustworthy would quote the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. Those who founded it do not have any science-based credentials listed in their biographies. ”


According to Dr. Barrett, as of June 2015, AAEM online directory has only 217 physicians. Among the 150 medial or osteopathic physicians, at least 25 of its members – including three its former leaders -- have been disciplined by their licensing boards.


“AAEM is a fringe professional organization whose members subscribe to pseudoscientific notions about allergy and the environment that are not accepted by the scientific community,” Dr. Barrett writes in an email to Chinese News.


GMO foods have been consumed for the past 15 years in trillions of meals. There is a scientific consensus, after a decade of study that GMOs are safe, and the studies that anti-GMOs are based on are flawed and have sparked widespread criticism from the global scientific community.


Information from the FDA also debunks the claims that it has ever issued warnings against GMOs’ safety. Instead, it states, through an emailed link to Chinese News, that thorough studies have shown GMO foods are not less nutritious than conventional food. Nor is it more likely to cause allergic or toxic reactions.


Many anti GMO claims are preposterous and do not withstand scientific scrutiny.  Some claims employ activist tactic to mislead consumers, such as “my allergy went away after I stop eating GMOs.” These anecdotal claims lack scientific evidence, and prompt the need for consumers to verify the validity of the claims and examine the credibility and the track records of their writers.


In fact, the US medical community has never made the claim that GMOs are toxic. “It is important to present the view of the scientists who say there is nothing to fear (of the GMOs)” said Dr. Barrett.


Note: The story was published in Chinese News in June, 2015.

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