In 1983, the first scientific report on the development of genetically engineered (GE or food biotechnology, also inaccurately referred to as GMOs) plant cells was published (1). Since then, agricultural biotechnology farming has dramatically increased. The 2013 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications report found that more 4 billion people live in countries that plant GE crops. Moreover, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that in 2012, 88% of corn, 94% of cotton, and 93% of soybean harvests originated from GE plantings. These data indicate the pervasive use and impact of GE crops in the domestic and international food supply. However, even with the widespread adoption of GE practices, many have criticized the development and use of GE crops, generating fear and confusion among consumers.
Hundreds of studies have been conducted to assess the impact of GE crops. A recent study, A Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Genetically Modified Crops, aimed to empirically evaluate the agronomic, economic, and environmental impact of GE crops (2). Published in the journal PLoS One, the article by Klümper and Qaim has garnered much attention due to their findings. So what are the overall results of the study? Was the research conducted with scientifically sound methods and analyses? With the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Study Evaluation Checklist, we are able to systematically evaluate the hypothesis, design, methods, and analyses