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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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GENETICALLY

ENGINEERED

CROPS

EXPERIENCES AND PROSPECTS

Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops:
Past Experience and Future Prospects

Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Division on Earth and Life Studies

images

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

This activity was supported by Grant 1014345 from The Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Grant 4371 from The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Grant NVFGPA NRC GA 012114 from the New Venture Fund, and Grant 59-0790-4-861 and Grant 2014-33522-22219 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with additional support from the National Academy of Sciences. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-43738-7
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-43738-5
Digital Object Identifier: 10.17226/23395

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (U.S.). Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops: Past Experience and Future Prospects.

Title: Genetically engineered crops : experiences and prospects / Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops: Past Experience and Future Prospects, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Division on Earth and Life Studies.

Description: Washington, DC : National Academies Press, [2016] | Includes bibliographical references.

Identifiers: LCCN 2016044456 | ISBN 9780309437387 (pbk.)

Subjects: LCSH: Transgenic plants--History. | Transgenic plants--Environmental aspects. | Transgenic plants--Health aspects. | Transgenic plants—Safety measures. | Crops--Genetic engineering--History. | Crops—Genetic engineering—Environmental aspects. | Crops—Genetic engineering--Health aspects. | Crops—Genetic engineering—Safety measures.

Classification: LCC SB123.57 .G474 2016 | DDC 631.5/233—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016044456

Additional copies of this report are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.

Copyright 2016 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
×

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The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president.

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Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.national-academies.org.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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COMMITTEE ON GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS: PAST EXPERIENCE AND FUTURE PROSPECTS

Chair

FRED GOULD, NAS1, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

Members

RICHARD M. AMASINO, NAS1, University of Wisconsin–Madison

DOMINIQUE BROSSARD, University of Wisconsin–Madison

C. ROBIN BUELL, Michigan State University, East Lansing

RICHARD A. DIXON, NAS1, University of North Texas, Denton

JOSé B. FALCK-ZEPEDA, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington, DC

MICHAEL A. GALLO, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (retired), Piscataway, NJ

KEN GILLER, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

LELAND GLENNA, Pennsylvania State University, University Park

TIMOTHY S. GRIFFIN, Tufts University, Medford, MA

BRUCE R. HAMAKER, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

PETER M. KAREIVA, NAS1, University of California, Los Angeles

DANIEL MAGRAW, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC

CAROL MALLORY-SMITH, Oregon State University, Corvallis

KEVIN PIXLEY, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Texcoco, Mexico

ELIZABETH P. RANSOM, University of Richmond, VA

MICHAEL RODEMEYER, University of Virginia (formerly), Charlottesville

DAVID M. STELLY, Texas A&M University and Texas A&M AgriLife Research, College Station

C. NEAL STEWART, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

ROBERT J. WHITAKER, Produce Marketing Association, Newark, DE

Staff

KARA N. LANEY, Study Director

JANET M. MULLIGAN, Senior Program Associate for Research (until January 2016)

JENNA BRISCOE, Senior Program Assistant

__________________

1 National Academy of Sciences.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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SAMUEL CROWELL, Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow (until August 2015)

MARIA ORIA, Senior Program Officer

ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Director, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

NORMAN GROSSBLATT, Senior Editor

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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BOARD ON AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Chair

CHARLES W. RICE, Kansas State University, Manhattan

Members

PEGGY F. BARLETT, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

HAROLD L. BERGMAN, University of Wyoming, Laramie

SUSAN CAPALBO, Oregon State University, Corvallis

GAIL CZARNECKI-MAULDEN, Nestle Purina PetCare, St. Louis, MO

RICHARD A. DIXON, NAS1, University of North Texas, Denton

GEBISA EJETA, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

ROBERT B. GOLDBERG, NAS1, University of California, Los Angeles

FRED GOULD, NAS1, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

GARY F. HARTNELL, Monsanto Company, St. Louis, MO (through December 2015)

GENE HUGOSON, University of Minnesota, St. Paul

MOLLY M. JAHN, University of Wisconsin–Madison

ROBBIN S. JOHNSON, Cargill Foundation, Wayzata, MN

JAMES W. JONES, NAE2, University of Florida, Gainesville

A. G. KAWAMURA, Solutions from the Land, Washington, DC

STEPHEN S. KELLEY, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

JULIA L. KORNEGAY, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

JIM E. RIVIERE, NAM3, Kansas State University, Manhattan

ROGER A. SEDJO, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC (through December 2015)

KATHLEEN SEGERSON, University of Connecticut, Storrs (through December 2015)

MERCEDES VAZQUEZ-AñON, Novus International, Inc., St. Charles, MO (through December 2015)

Staff

ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Director

CAMILLA YANDOC ABLES, Program Officer

JENNA BRISCOE, Senior Program Assistant

KARA N. LANEY, Program Officer

__________________

1 National Academy of Sciences.

2 National Academy of Engineering.

3 National Academy of Medicine.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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JANET M. MULLIGAN, Senior Program Associate for Research (until January 2016)

PEGGY TSAI YIH, Senior Program Officer

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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FOOD AND NUTRITION BOARD

Chair

CUTBERTO GARZA, NAM1, Boston College, MA

Members

CHERYL A. M. ANDERSON, University of California, San Diego

PATSY M. BRANNON, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

SHARON M. DONOVAN, University of Illinois, Urbana

LEE-ANN JAYKUS, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

ALICE H. LICHTENSTEIN, Tufts University, Medford, MA

JOANNE R. LUPTON, NAM1, Texas A&M University, College Station

JAMES M. NTAMBI, University of Wisconsin–Madison

RAFAEL PÉREZ-ESCAMILLA, Yale University, New Haven, CT

A. CATHARINE ROSS, NAS2, Pennsylvania State University, University Park

MARY T. STORY, NAM1, Duke University, Durham, NC

KATHERINE L. TUCKER, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

CONNIE M. WEAVER, NAM1, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Staff

ANN L. YAKTINE, Director

ANNA BURY, Research Assistant

BERNICE CHU, Research Associate

HEATHER COOK, Program Officer

GERALDINE KENNEDO, Administrative Assistant

RENEE GETHERS, Senior Program Assistant

AMANDA NGUYEN, Research Associate

MARIA ORIA, Senior Program Officer

LYNN PARKER, Scholar

MEGHAN QUIRK, Program Officer

AMBAR SAEED, Senior Program Assistant

DARA SHEFSKA, Research Assistant

LESLIE SIM, Senior Program Officer

ALICE VOROSMARTI, Research Associate

__________________

1 National Academy of Medicine.

2 National Academy of Sciences.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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BOARD ON LIFE SCIENCES

Chair

JAMES P. COLLINS, Arizona State University, Tempe

Members

ENRIQUETA C. BOND, NAM1, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Marshall, VA

ROGER D. CONE, NAS2, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN

NANCY D. CONNELL, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark

JOSEPH R. ECKER, NAS2, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, LaJolla, CA

SARAH C. R. ELGIN, Washington University, St. Louis, MO

LINDA G. GRIFFITH, NAE3, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

ELIZABETH HEITMAN, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN

RICHARD A. JOHNSON, Global Helix LLC, Washington, DC

JUDITH KIMBLe, NAS2, University of Wisconsin–Madison

MARY E. MAXON, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Emeryville, CA

JILL P. MESIROV, University of California, San Diego

KAREN E. NELSON, J. Craig Venter Institute, Rockville, MD

CLAIRE POMEROY, NAM1, The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, New York, NY

MARY E. POWER, NAS2, University of California, Berkeley

MARGARET RILEY, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

LANA SKIRBOLL, Sanofi, Washington, DC

JANIS C. WEEKS, University of Oregon, Eugene

Staff

FRANCES E. SHARPLES, Director

JO L. HUSBANDS, Scholar/Senior Project Director

JAY B. LABOV, Senior Scientist/Program Director for Biology Education

LIDA ANESTIDOU, Senior Program Officer, ILAR

KATHERINE W. BOWMAN, Senior Program Officer

MARILEE K. SHELTON-DAVENPORT, Senior Program Officer

KEEGAN SAWYER, Program Officer

AUDREY THEVENON, Associate Program Officer

BETHELHEM M. MEKASHA, Financial Associate

ANGELA KOLESNIKOVA, Administrative Assistant

__________________

1 National Academy of Medicine.

2 National Academy of Sciences.

3 National Academy of Engineering.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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VANESSA LESTER, Research Associate

JENNA OGILVIE, Research Associate

AANIKA SENN, Senior Program Assistant

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Preface

Our committee was given the task of examining the evidence regarding potential negative effects and benefits of currently commercialized genetically engineered (GE) crops and the potential benefits and negative effects of future GE crops. In carrying out this study, the committee members and I were well aware of the controversial nature of genetic engineering in the United States and globally. Before and during the committee’s first meeting, we received comments from people and groups expressing the view that the scientific evidence establishing the safety of current GE crops was so solid and well-reviewed that the only potentially useful task for the committee would be to examine emerging genetic-engineering technologies. We considered those comments but believed that available analyses were not complete and up to date and that an examination of the data on diverse biological and societal aspects of both current and future GE crops would therefore be useful. We received other comments indicating that research studies that found adverse biological or social effects of GE crops had been ignored, and because of our committee’s composition, we too would probably ignore them. We took all of the comments as constructive challenges.

Our committee embraced the National Academies consensus-study process, which requires that “efforts are made to solicit input from individuals who have been directly involved in, or who have special knowledge of, the problem under consideration” and that a study “report should show that the committee has considered all credible views on the topics it addresses, whether or not those views agree with the committee’s final positions. Sources must not be used selectively to justify a preferred outcome.” We listened to presentations from 80 people who had diverse expertise, experi-

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
×

ence, and perspectives on GE crops to augment the diversity represented on the committee; they are listed in Appendixes C and D. We also received and read more than 700 comments and documents sent to us from individuals and organizations about specific risks and benefits that could be associated with GE crops and their accompanying technologies. Beyond those sources of information, our committee carefully examined literature—peer-reviewed and nonreviewed—relevant to benefits and risks associated with GE crops in the United States and elsewhere.

Although it is true that articles exist that summarize much of the literature on GE crops, we committed ourselves to taking a fresh look at the primary literature itself. Our major goal in writing this report was to make available to the public, to researchers, and to policy-makers a comprehensive review of the evidence that has been used in the debates about GE crops and information on relevant studies that are rarely referred to in the debates. Given the immense literature on GE crops, we suspect that we missed some relevant articles and specific results.

We received a number of broad comments that asked us to examine and make judgments about the merits of technology-intensive agriculture compared with more agroecological approaches. That would be an important comparison but was beyond the scope of the specific task given to the committee.

We recognized that some members of the public are skeptical of the literature on GE crops because of concerns that many experiments and results have been conducted or influenced by the industries that are profiting from these crops. Therefore, when we referred to articles in the three major chapters (4, 5, and 6) of the report regarding current GE crops, we identified the affiliations of their primary authors and, when possible, the specific sources of their funding. That information is available on our study’s website (http://nas-sites.org/ge-crops/).

To make the basis of each of our report’s conclusions accessible, we developed a user-friendly interface on the website that can be queried for each specific finding and recommendation in the report. The interface takes a user to the text in the report that culminated in each finding or recommendation. A second interface on the website has a summary list of the comments and questions that were sent to us by the public or brought up in formal presentations; this interface enables a user to read how the committee addressed a specific comment or question.

We worked hard to analyze the existing evidence on GE crops, and we made recommendations based on our findings; ultimately, however, decisions about how to govern new crops need to be made by societies. There is an indisputable case for regulations to be informed by accurate scientific information, but history makes clear that solely “science-based regulation”

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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is rare and not necessarily desirable. As a small example, how would science alone decide on how important it is to prevent a decline in monarch butterfly populations?

We received impassioned requests to give the public a simple, general, authoritative answer about GE crops. Given the complexity of the issues, we did not see that as appropriate. However, we hope that we have given the public and policy-makers abundant evidence and a framework to inform their decisions about individual agricultural products.

In 1999, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman gave a speech1 about biotechnology in which he stated that “with all that biotechnology has to offer, it is nothing if it’s not accepted. This boils down to a matter of trust. Trust in the science behind the process, but particularly trust in the regulatory process that ensures thorough review—including complete and open public involvement.” Trust must be based on more than authority and appealing arguments for or against genetic engineering. In this regard, while we recognize that no individual report can be completely balanced, we offer our report as a sincere effort at thoroughness and openness in examining the evidence related to prevalent claims about GE crops.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First and foremost, our committee is grateful to Kara Laney, our study director. Without her perseverance, dedication to excellence, amazing grasp of the literature, writing skills, and talent for coaxing the best possible efforts from committee members, this report would have been a shadow of itself. Jenna Briscoe provided incredible behind-the-scenes support for everything that the committee did. Janet Mulligan, our senior program associate for research, enabled access to nearly inaccessible documents and kept incoming public comments and articles organized. Maria Oria, a senior program officer with the National Academies Food and Nutrition Board, provided expert assistance with food-safety sections of the report. Norman Grossblatt substantially improved the language in our report. We thank Robin Schoen, director of the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, for encouraging the committee to abandon preconceived notions, listen to diverse voices, and dig deeply into the evidence regarding risks and benefits associated with GE crops. The committee’s thinking was challenged, broadened, and deepened by the many people who participated in committee meetings and webinars and the organizations and individuals that

__________________

1 Glickman, D. 1999. Speech to the National Press Club, Washington, DC, July 13. Reprinted on pp. 45–58 in Environmental Politics Casebook: Genetically Modified Foods, N. Miller, ed. Boca Raton, FL: Lewis Publishers.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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submitted comments to us. We are thankful for their insights. Finally, we thank all the external reviewers of the report for helping us to improve its accuracy.

Fred Gould, Chair
Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops:
Past Experience and Future Prospects

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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Acknowledgment of Reviewers

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Katie Allen, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Alan Bennett, UC Davis–Chile Life Sciences Innovation Center

Steve Bradbury, Iowa State University

A. Stanley Culpepper, University of Georgia

Gebisa Ejeta, Purdue University

Aaron Gassmann, Iowa State University

Dominic Glover, University of Sussex

Luis Herrera-Estrella, Center for Research and Advanced Studies

Peter Barton Hutt, Covington & Burling LLP

Harvey James, University of Missouri

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, University of Pennsylvania

Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard Kennedy School

Lisa Kelly, Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Fred Kirschenmann, Iowa State University

Marcel Kuntz, French National Centre for Scientific Research

Ajjamada Kushalappa, McGill University

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23395.
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Ruth MacDonald, Iowa State University

Marion Nestle, New York University

Hector Quemada, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

G. Philip Robertson, Michigan State University

Joseph Rodricks, Ramboll Environ

Roger Schmidt, IBM Corporation

Melinda Smale, Michigan State University

Elizabeth Waigmann, European Food Safety Authority

L. LaReesa Wolfenbarger, University of Nebraska, Omaha

Yinong Yang, Pennsylvania State University

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the report’s conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Lynn Goldman, George Washington University, and Allison A. Snow, Ohio State University. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

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Genetically engineered (GE) crops were first introduced commercially in the 1990s. After two decades of production, some groups and individuals remain critical of the technology based on their concerns about possible adverse effects on human health, the environment, and ethical considerations. At the same time, others are concerned that the technology is not reaching its potential to improve human health and the environment because of stringent regulations and reduced public funding to develop products offering more benefits to society. While the debate about these and other questions related to the genetic engineering techniques of the first 20 years goes on, emerging genetic-engineering technologies are adding new complexities to the conversation.

Genetically Engineered Crops builds on previous related Academies reports published between 1987 and 2010 by undertaking a retrospective examination of the purported positive and adverse effects of GE crops and to anticipate what emerging genetic-engineering technologies hold for the future. This report indicates where there are uncertainties about the economic, agronomic, health, safety, or other impacts of GE crops and food, and makes recommendations to fill gaps in safety assessments, increase regulatory clarity, and improve innovations in and access to GE technology.

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