A study published in Plant Biotechnology Journal suggests that genetically modified (GM) crops have human health benefits, particularly to small landhold farmers in developing countries. GM crops have been commercialized globally for more than 20 years. Throughout this period, numerous reports about the significant economic and environmental impact of GM crops have surfaced. Stuart Smyth, professor at the University of Saskatchewan and author of the study, decided to take a closer look at the benefits of GM crops to the human health.
According to different studies spanning from 2003 to 2016, the use of Bt cotton have resulted in significant reduction in pesticide poisoning in China, India, Pakistan, and South America. In all four countries, the reduction of pesticide-use likely led to the decreased number of pesticide poisoning-reported cases. The pesticide-use reduction may have also contributed to the decreased levels of mycotoxins in corn, a known carcinogen to humans and animals. In a 21-year study released in 2018, Bt maize was found to have less mycotoxins and fumonisins in it, and consumers are less likely to be exposed to both chemicals therefore possibly leading to the reduction of cancer rates.
Adoption of biofortified GM crops have shown to increase micronutrient availability. Consumers in developing countries get their nutrients mostly through a plant-based diet. With biofortified GM crops, consumers are more likely to obtain their nutritional needs through their food intake alone. The publication emphasizes that it will be interesting to realize the health benefits of biofortified GM crops to childhood nutrition, which may be documented a few decades from now.
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