Are We Breeding Fruits and Vegetables of Doom?

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No one is going to keep you from eating your favorite summer staple, corn on the cob. But before you take your next buttery bite, you may want to think twice: Those perfect-looking kernels were designed specially to withstand swarms of summer bugs without sustaining so much as an unwanted nibble. The problem, according to the National Academy of Sciences, is that the very characteristics in your food that are keeping insects at bay may also be launching an unseen attack on your body — and your lawn. The NAS scientists convened in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and reviewed the risk of existing genetically engineered foods.

Predictably, the scientists are keeping the red flag raised, despite the absence of concrete evidence to support their fears. While the panel did not come across any specific dangers in their research, the fact remains that despite genetically modified foods' near-saturation of the produce market, no one knows for sure what effects biologically engineered products could have on the environment or consumers. "This is another chance for American scientists to formally urge caution," says TIME science writer Jeffrey Kluger. "And it represents another pebble in the pan tipping the scales away from the seemingly indiscriminate use of modified food technology." Americans may not follow the lead of our European peers and panic at the mere mention of engineered foods, but science will force us to buckle down over the next few years and formulate a plan for our modified food industry — hopefully one that treads the fine line separating paranoia from complacency.