Just knowing that GMO foods (Genetically Modified Organisms) are 100% lab-made is in itself enough of a motivation to learn more about GMOs. And considering the increasingly heated debate on the topic (GMO labeling petitions, March Against Monsanto Frankenfood, “GMO OMG!” movie…), it seems that a crowd of both experts and topic educated consumers share this concern about genetically engineered foods making their way up to our plates… Still asking for more reasons to avoid them?The simple possible fact that, as we saw, GMOs are already part of our daily lives, most often without us knowing, is suspicious and scary. Now, going one step further, here are 3 of the top reasons why we are better off avoiding them:
- With GMOs come pesticides, lots of them- GMO seed makers like Monsanto created this (very profitable) business model where they sell both the genetically modified seeds and loads of their pesticides to farmers (use has increased by 404 million pounds from 1996 to 2011). They also patent their seeds (!!) so that farmers have to buy new ones every year. These “Roundup Ready Crops”, named after Monsanto’s key pesticide, are genetically engineered to be immune to it so that weeds get destroyed without killing farmers’ cash crops. But as with germs, the process has spawned Roundup resistant weeds, leading farmers to apply greater and greater doses of the chemical or even resort to more toxic methods to battle back the superweeds. Put in a simple way: Can it be safe to ingest foods meant to resist the coating of an always higher dose of toxic chemicals, sprayed over crops by head to toe, mask included, air-proof covered people?
- GMOs add on to the existing environmental pollution but don’t bring the promised additional crops- A direct consequence from the needed heavy pesticides use is additional contamination of the Earth soil, and with it, of many other non GMO crops. Whether via rain waters or winds, contaminants travel from place to place and build up in previously GMO and/or pesticide-free fields, polluting both crops and soil. GMO seed fields do not yield bigger crops either, as presented to farmers as a way to solve world hunger… But until we remove the very generous subsidies incentivizing farmers to grow huge mono crop fields (explaining why now, even cows and farm raised fish are fed… corn!), the contamination will keep on going and the share of GMOs per acre will not decrease, making the amount of it ending up in our plate, always bigger.
- No existing human or enough product safety studies conducted- The 1994 Flavr Savr tomato was the first genetically engineered food approved for human consumption so this practice is still recent. To date, GMOs have not been proven safe and effects on long-term human health studies have not been conducted. A growing body of peer-reviewed studies has linked these foods to allergies, organ toxicity, and other serious health problems (animal fertility issues, disruptions to kidney and liver‘s functions…). These initial studies must be followed up. However, unlike the strict safety evaluations required for the approval of new drugs, the US Food and Drug Administration does not require safety studies for genetically engineered foods. Without lifetime-like results from appropriate tests, there is no way to say GMOs are safe for human consumption. And until such tests become mandatory to sell GMOs, GE seed makers forbid the use of their seeds to evaluate longer term human health effects. So the question is: Do we want to be guinea pigs until some basic protection of our health is legally required and enforced?
GMO seed makers pour hundreds of millions of dollars to fail all labeling attempts- GE seed makers do everything they can (i.e. lobby with massive amount of dollars) to prevent mandatory GMO labeling to be voted. This happened with California’s Prop37 requesting mandatory GMO labeling so consumers have the possibility to use their right to knowingly and consciously choose GMO foods. This brutal and ongoing behavior begs the question of why such reserve since they so adamantly claim the safety of GMOs?! What do the Syngenta, Dow, Dupont and Monsanto of the world know that we don’t? What are they worried about these tests could bring up?
The result is that cautious consumers are not able to use their right to go by the precautionary principle and choose caution over (senseless) risk taking. But, very simply put, how can we anyway assume it safe to play with plant and animal DNAs and ingest the result when the one thing we know is that whenever the natural gene sequence of any human or plant being is being messed up with, the result is a genetic defect or disease?
Does the general public is well informed about GMOs and just choose to trust unsupported claims over science, or do most consumers suffer from an education gap and if they knew better, they’d reject in-a-lab-man-made foods in higher numbers?
Having established what GMOs are, why we should get educated about them, and why we might be better off avoiding them, the logical next step is to look into actual ways to avoid GMOs…
Check out the GMO series of 4 posts by La Vie En Green, to get all the information you really should want to know about Genetically Engineered food and how GMOs do affect your daily life:
1- GMO 101