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But Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union, which is critical of the crops, pointed to the lack of a significant increase in yield.

“Despite industry claims, these crops are clearly not the answer to world hunger,” he said in a statement.

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Perhaps because of the sensitivity and complexity of the issue, many of the document’s conclusions are hedged by caveats.

“We received impassioned requests to give the public a simple, general, authoritative answer about G.E. crops,” Fred Gould, a professor of entomology at North Carolina State University and chairman of the committee that compiled the report, wrote in the preface. “Given the complexity of G.E. issues, we did not see that as appropriate.”–bmI6HGzB_g&sig2=-ZYkX9DtGfOXypMN7V8Czg–bmI6HGzB_g&sig2=-ZYkX9DtGfOXypMN7V8Czg

The report says use of the insect-resistant crops has clearly led to a decrease in the spraying of chemical insecticides. Conversely, the use of herbicide-resistant crops might have led to an increase in the spraying of chemical weed killers in some cases. Overuse of glyphosate has spurred evolution of weeds resistant to that chemical, vexing farmers.

The committee concludes that the use of crops has generally provided economic benefits for the farmers and can increase their output in certain cases, for instance, by protecting crops from insect damage. Nonetheless, it says that nationwide, the introduction of the crops does not appear to have accelerated the rate at which corn, soybean and cotton yields were already improving.

“There’s no change in the slope, at least no significant change in the slope,’’ Dr. Gould said in presenting the results Tuesday, saying the finding was somewhat puzzling. While the influence on yields could conceivably be greater in developing countries, the report questions how essential genetic engineering will be to feeding the world as the population grows.

The report does not reach firm conclusions on two controversies: whether foods made from the crops should be labeled and whether glyphosate can cause cancer. It says there is no safety reason to label such foods, though it may be justified for other reasons like consumers’ right to know.

Wayne Parrott, a professor of crop and soil sciences at the University of Georgia and a proponent of biotechnology, said in a statement distributed through the Genetic Expert News Service: “The inescapable conclusion, after reading the report, is the G.E. crops are pretty much just crops. They are not the panacea that some proponents claim, nor the dreaded monsters that others claim.”