March 1, 2017

Statement by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine regarding PLOS ONE article on our study of genetically engineered crops

The National Academies' Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops: Past Experiences and Future Prospects authored an almost 600-page landmark report, released in May 2016.  It was perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of genetically engineered crops to date.  The committee reviewed approximately 1,000 publications.  It held three public meetings and 15 webinars to hear expert presentations and gather public input.  To directly address concerns about bias in sources of information used by the committee, the source of funding for hundreds of references in the report were documented and posted online.  The committee reached consensus on its findings and recommendations, and its report underwent the Academies' usual rigorous, external, and anonymous peer-review process before it was approved for publication.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have a stringent, well-defined, and transparent conflict-of-interest policy, with which all members of this study committee complied.  It is unfair and disingenuous for the authors of the PLOS article to apply their own perception of conflict of interest to our committee in place of our tested and trusted conflict-of-interest policies.

We are grateful for the dedication that our committee members – who served without compensation – showed in conducting such an exhaustive and thoughtful study of this important issue. The nation is fortunate to have so many experts willing to volunteer their time to participate in studies by the National Academies, which provide evidence-based advice to inform policymaking and public discourse.  We stand by our committee and are proud of its report.  We are particularly proud of the report’s worldwide impact:  As of today, there have been 33,618 downloads of the report from 169 countries.

William Kearney
Deputy Executive Director & Director of Media Relations
Office of News and Public Information
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Tel. 202-334-2138; E-mail