Why Genetically Modified Foods Should NOT be Grown or Eaten


renee-elliottYou could get really angry about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and how the Biotech companies who manufacture them have tried to push them on an unwilling public and on developing nations. There are so many reasons GMOs are just wrong for our world and the people on it.

We have always taken plants with good qualities and cross pollinated them with plants with other good qualities. Biotech companies tell us that GMOs are an extension of hybridisation that mankind has been doing for centuries. This is not true. Geneticists work in labs to extract genes from one thing and implant it in the DNA of another thing. I say thing, because the reason genetic modification is not an extension of traditional hybridisation is that GMOs cross species barriers.

So, instead of cross pollinating a tasty tomato with a really tasty tomato to create a delicious tomato, GM scientists have crossed a tomato with an arctic trout. Yes, they have taken the gene that enables trout not to freeze in icy waters and put it in a tomato so it can withstand frost. Not only do I not see the point in this, but also this brings up ethical/religious/vegetarian issues. Nature doesn’t cross species – if you mate a horse and a donkey, you get a barren mule. I trust nature on this one.

The other way that GM works is to implant gene resistance to a herbicide inside of the plant so that is resistant to the herbicide when it is sprayed in the field. This is because herbicides kill plants and they don’t only kill the weeds, they can also kill the crop. So instead of finding a way to grow crops without using herbicides, GM scientists are trying to create herbicide-resistant crops. One of their biggest commercial crops is Roundup Ready GM Soya, which has a gene for resistance to the herbicide Roundup inside. So people and animals now eat more herbicides because the herbicide is in the soya. Some governments have responded by increasing the recommended daily intake of these herbicides in our diet.

Another problem I have with GMOs is that there is no recall. Once they are released into the environment, there is no way to clean them up. There is a GM oil seed rape, but rape is a crop that cross pollinates very easily in the wind. In Canada, it is now impossible to grow organic rape, because it cross pollinates with GM rape. Wind pollinating GM crops take consumer choice away from buying conventional food and organic food.

The other annoying thing about Biotech companies is that they say they are exploring this technology because it creates higher yields and will therefore create more food for starving people. The fact is that overall GM food crops have not produced higher yields, and now the highest yielding varieties are non-GM.

Biotech companies also say that GM agriculture means less dependence on pesticides. Although this was true for a short while, the truth is that now GM crops require more pesticides because nature adapts very quickly and having the herbicide or pesticide continually on the crop means that weeds and bugs develop resistance much more quickly.

GMOs are not about diversity of foods. Did you know that there are dozens of varieties of things like apples and wheat? Well there are and organic farmers are planting old varieties of foods that have wonderful flavour and variety. But GM is about planting one kind of seed – their seed.

Which brings me to another worrying point about GMOs. Before a drug is allowed on the market to be consumed by people, it has to be tested for two years on rats. The first fact about this that should worry you is that GMOs are not safety tested for consumers – they are assumed to be equivalent to similar non-GM food crops. Little red flag going up for me. Where is the objectivity in this? In fact, farmers who buy GM seed sign a contract agreeing not to give the seed to other scientist for testing in a lab. So when scientists have been able to get a hold of GM seed from a willing farmer and then test it in a lab – and find negative results – the GM companies immediately discredit the study because the scientist did not use ‘official’ GM seed – which is impossible to obtain.

So GM seeds are tested by the GM companies for three months. Interestingly, tumours only ever develop in rats after three months. And only testing for three months ensures that GMOs are not tested in subsequent generations, which is when many problems appear in rats as well. Blood analyses at three months in rats is confidential (!) and all reveal significant effects – up to 50 differences have been noted. The truth is that GMOs are less tested on health than pesticides.

But if you want to get angry about GMOs, listen to the spin from Biotech companies where they say that they are trying to feed starving people. And then Monsanto creates the Terminator Seed. Since mankind started growing food, the farmer has kept his seed to plant the next year and sold any extra at market. Monsanto created a seed that they sell to the farmer. The farmer plants the crop which produces a seed. That seed is sterile and cannot be replanted, so the farmer has to buy more seed from Monsanto the next year. Farmers in developing countries can’t afford to buy seed every year. The concept of the Terminator Seed is so abhorrent that the world said no to Monsanto.

If you want to read about GM crops in America, check out the report done by the Soil Association or take a look at the Youtube clip on the Future of Food.

I just don’t see the point of GMOs. What we need is a system of agriculture that grows the best quality food for people while enhancing the soil and protecting the environment. A GMO is new organism, so chronic toxicology tests with mammals are necessary as well as labelling and traceability, including products from animals eating GMOs. Don’t be part of a huge experiment on public health. Organic agriculture strictly prohibits the use of GMOs. Avoid GM, choose organic.

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One Response to “Why Genetically Modified Foods Should NOT be Grown or Eaten”

  1. Jeff Bayley says:

    Good work Renee.

    The issue of GM keeps coming up, and we are going to have to fight again and again to keep it out of Europe.

    So it is important to have top-of-mind recall of the key points. Your article helps us to do that.

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