Genetically Modified Crops or GM crops have been a a hot topic in science communities around the world as some are arguing that these crops do not increase the yields, and also these can be harmful to human consumption due to various reasons.
Genetically engineered crops were first introduced to commercial cultivation in 1996 and since then many countries around the world started cultivating GE crops aiming higher productivity in their crops. Total land area used for GE crop cultivation increased from 1.7 million hectares to 185.1 million hectares in 2016. This accounts for about 12% of the total cultivated land area in the world.
But despite the extensive cultivation of GE crops and a considerable number of scientific reports, the concerns about their safety has led 38 countries worldwide, including 19 in Europe, to officially prohibit their cultivation, though allowing the import of food and feed derived from or consisting of GE plants.
In a recent study by a team headed by Elisa Pellegrino from the Institute of Life Sciences in Italy it is found that the GE crops have increased the yield by 5.6 to 24.5 percent and have cut down the concentration of some major mycotoxins as well.
In this study the team has analyzed more than 6000 peer-reviewed literature (from 1996 to 2016) on yield, grain quality, non-target organisms (NTOs), target organisms (TOs) and soil biomass decomposition.
“Results provided strong evidence that GE maize performed better than its near isogenic line: grain yield was 5.6 to 24.5% higher with lower concentrations of mycotoxins (−28.8%), fumonisin (−30.6%) and thricotecens (−36.5%). The NTOs analyzed were not affected by GE maize, except for Braconidae, represented by a parasitoid of European corn borer, the target of Lepidoptera active Bt maize. Biogeochemical cycle parameters such as lignin content in stalks and leaves did not vary, whereas biomass decomposition was higher in GE maize. The results support the cultivation of GE maize, mainly due to enhanced grain quality and reduction of human exposure to mycotoxins. Furthermore, the reduction of the parasitoid of the target and the lack of consistent effects on other NTOs are confirmed.” The team wrote in their paper published in Scientific Reports,
According to the results in this analysis the discussion on weather GE/GM crops are good for human consumption or not will take an interesting turn, experts believe.