WHAT ARE GMO’S OR GE’S?
A GMO (genetically modified organism) or GE (genetically engineered) food is created when the DNA of different species is fused to form a type of plant or food that does not exist in nature or is not created by traditional cross-breeding. Foreign genes from one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal usually in a laboratory.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
The major benefit of all commercial GMO’s is that they are bred to either tolerate direct application of herbicides and/or have the ability to produce their own pesticides. They have not been bred to increase yield, become drought tolerant, improve nutrition or to have any other benefit to the consumer. So at present they have no health benefit, their benefits are purely economic.
HAVEN’T FARMERS BEEN DOING THIS FOR YEARS?
No they have not! Traditional breeding makes it possible to mate a pig with a different pig to create a new variety of pig, the same with hybridizing different tomato seeds for example. They never combined totally unrelated species such as plants and animals together. With genetic engineering however, scientists can now overcome the barriers established by nature and create traits that are almost impossible to achieve through natural processes such as cross-breeding or grafting. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes.
ARE GMO FOODS LABELLED AS SUCH?
No they are not, despite the fact that 80% of processed foods are believed to contain GMO’s. Political influence and money has once again wielded its power and prevented the passing of labeling laws even though 87% of Americans are in favor of labeling them and 53% would not eat GM foods.
This is in sharp contrast to most other developed nations around the world, where there are significant restrictions or outright bans on GMO’s because they’re not considered proven safe. The industry is fighting hard to prevent labeling of GM foods, so we, the consumers, need to make a stand.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OTHER PLACES AROUND THE WORLD?
Many parts of the world are demanding an end to GMO crop cultivation. In Europe, over 175 regions and over 4500 municipalities have declared themselves GM-free zones. And in 2009, Germany along with France, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Austria, Poland and Romania banned Monsanto’s MON 810 GM corn because of its documented dangers to biodiversity and human health. Additionally, states in Australia, regions in New Zealand and Brazil and the countries like Venezuela, Zambia, Sudan, Angola and others, all want to be GM-free.The balanced reporting of the press in Europe of the dangers of GMO’s made a significant contribution to the decision to reject GMO’s.
ARE THERE ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS?
Yes there are. Except for soy which does not cross-pollinate, pollen from GM crops can contaminate nearby crops of the same kind. In Mexico for example, it has been found that almost all heritage varieties of corn have some contamination. In addition, studies are showing that pesticide producing crops (GMO crops) are contaminating nearby streams thereby affecting aquatic life too. Additionally, beneficial insects may be harmed too and super weeds are evolving as the develop resistance to herbicides. When that happens, more herbicide is used to try to control the weeds and the benefits of herbicide resistant crops is decreased or negated. There is little doubt then that the long- term effects on the environment can be disastrous.
These have been adapted from http://www.responsibletechnology.org/ and a few other sources.
If you want to watch an indepth video of GMO foods, please watch this excellent video https://www.bewell.com/blog/video-on-gmo-foods/