Furthermore, current GE crops enter our food supply primarily as highly processed ingredients that are essentially free of the engineered DNA and its
protein products. High-fructose corn syrup and corn oil made from GE corn, soybean oil from GE soybeans, and sugar from GE sugar beets are identical to
ingredients made from non-GE crops.
While current GE foods are not harmful, they haven't improved our diet, though that may change. Farmers have started growing soybeans that produce
high-oleic oil that could substitute for trans-fat-rich partially hydrogenated oil. And the long-awaited "golden rice," engineered with beta carotene to
combat vitamin A deficiency, is expected to be grown by Southeast Asian farmers in 2014.
Myth: FDA approves GE foods before we eat them.
Despite industry claims, the FDA does not formally approve the foods or ingredients made from GE crops. Laws only requires pre-market approval of "food
additives" such as aspartame or dyes. In 1992, FDA decided that inserting a gene into a crop does not make the protein it produces a food additive.
Instead, FDA adopted a voluntary process whereby seed developers submit data showing that the GE crop is "substantially equivalent" to its traditional
counterparts and does not pose novel health risks. FDA reviews those data and alerts developers to any concerns, but doesn't formally approve the seeds or
foods made from the crops.
It is worth noting that many traditional crop varieties, such as some red grapefruit and barley varieties, which could even be grown on organic farms,
were developed by blasting seeds with mutagenic chemicals or gamma radiation. In theory, those human-modified crops could pose similar risks as GE crops. But they are not subject to special regulation (and have never caused problems).
Senator Richard Durbin has supported legislation that would establish an approval process, but it has failed to win support from either ardent GE
advocates or opponents.
Myth: Monsanto and other seed developers are the main beneficiaries of GE crops.
Seed developers have certainly benefited from engineered crops. They spend millions developing them and then charge hefty premiums to recoup their costs
and make a nice profit. However, others also obtain significant benefits.
American farmers growing GE cotton that contains a biological insecticide have greatly reduced their use of highly poisonous insecticides. That cuts their
costs and the harms from using those chemical insecticides.
Outside the United States, small-scale farmers growing GE cotton in India and China cut their use of insecticides sharply, obtained increased yields, and
enjoyed higher income. In China, studies have documented that reduced insecticide use has led to fewer hospitalizations of farmers and reduced harm to
beneficial insects and other species.