How are genetically modified food tested for safety?


Quick Answer

The Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency test genetically modified foods for safety by examining their potential for toxicity and ability to cause an allergic response. The proteins in genetically engineered foods are also examined for their similarities to existing allergens and their digestive stability.

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Full Answer

Genetically modified crops are safety-tested by the EPA to ensure that they cannot transfer genetic traits to their wild counterparts. To pass a safety inspection, an engineered crop must not contain any characteristics of weeds. The ability of a genetically engineered plant to exchange pollen with nearby vegetation is also examined before allowing it to cultivate. Risk assessments are performed on the crops by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and EPA in order to stay ahead of potentially harmful consequences.

The USDA asses risks to wildlife, such as birds, insects and mammals, from genetically modified crops. Crops that are engineered to resist certain types of insects are evaluated on their potential impact to the environment and field-tested before being commercially released. Safety tests are performed on honeybees, earthworms and fish to ensure the crops have no unintended environmental repercussions.

Scientists in the FDA also test the long-term safety of genetically modified foods by analyzing information on the augmented genetic traits and the traditional performance of the non-modified crop. As of 2015, the FDA has not approved any genetically engineered animals into the food supply.

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