“When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow. ” – Ursula K. Le Guin. No matter what good some people believe they are doing, everything seems to come with a consequence, and the question is whether or not the good overpowers the bad. Many experts argue that Genetically Modified foods are actually beneficial to, not only people, but animals, plants, and the world overall. Some experts even state that, not only are they beneficial, but that they also protect the environment and aid food productivity.
Most farmers actually recommend GMO’s because they are easier to grow, maintain, and tend to be more profitable; however, countless other experts have come to realize that GMO foods are untested, unsafe, and unhealthy. Studies indicate that these “acclaimed” GMO foods will not, feed the world, end hunger, increase the profit of farmers, or reduce the cost of farming. GMO’s even have long term effects that haven’t been adequately tested, and the effects could be catastrophic if they are not handled with caution. Although some experts claim, “GM foods reduce effectiveness of pesticides.
” However, that is the point. GM foods are created in order to decrease the amount of pesticides. It is a healthier and safer option than the use of chemicals going into your body. For example, members of the Northern Canola Growers Association express, “GM foods such as BT corn can help eliminate the application of chemical pesticides. ” Because pesticides are harmful to humans, GM foods are the better solution; they decrease the danger. This quote shows that GM foods are already being produced in foods such as corn, and nothing has gone wrong yet. They are actually healthier because pesticides aren’t used.
In a 2000 Washington Post editorial, Hassan Adamu, Nigeria’s minister of Agriculture, explains to readers that, “in Africa, GM foods could almost literally weed out poverty. ” And, “many African countries face poor growing conditions that thwart any attempts to grow traditional crops. ” Since the world population is growing rapidly everywhere each day, eventually there will not be enough land to feed everyone. GM foods wound not only create more food for people all over the world, but would also create more jobs across the world. GM foods would increase food production and decrease world hunger and unemployment.
Contrary to popular belief, most farmers actually recommend the use of genetically modified foods, because they are easier to grow, and are more profitable. An example of how they are easier to grow is that genetically modifying plants can make them more resilient and tolerant to harsh conditions. According to UC Southern California Professor of Biology Terrel Edwards, “a gene from the grey manganese has been genetically implanted into tobacco in order to make it tolerant to salt and many other ionic stresses. ” These recent developments in biotechnology make it possible for plants to grow in places that have harsh conditions such as deserts.
This is good for farmers around the world, because they can utilize land that was once useless, and baron land is extremely cheap, so farmers could make more profit. Furthermore, GMO crops have been in use since the early nineties in the United States, and have changed the way farming has been done forever. According to Hembree Brandon, an advisor to the National Research Institute, “In 2009, GE crops have accounted for more than 80 percent of all soybean, corn, and cotton acres. ” Clearly, modified foods have already been in our society for over eighteen years.
Also, GE crops are more profitable, because a farmer yields more crops per acre than ever before, like in corn. Farmers are now getting six times more corn out of a crop, making the need for gargantuan farms go down. This downsizing makes room for more homes and different crops. In addition, GE crops are easier to grow. For some crops, it’s not cost efficient to remove weeds by physical means, such as tilling, so famers will often spray large quantities of different herbicides to destroy weeds, a time consuming and expensive process that requires care so that the herbicides don’t harm the plants or environment.
A farmer grows these soybeans which then only require one application of weed killer instead of multiple applications, reducing production cost and limiting the dangers of agricultural waste. In initiation, Agribusinesses, who promote their GMO foods, have asserted fallacies about their GMO’s, stating that they will save the world from hunger by generating more food, create more productive crops, and reduce the cost of farming; those of which have all been invalidated by experts.
For example, Andrew Kimbrell , the executive director of the International Centre for Technology Assessment, argues that food production is not the problem , and in fact “The world produces more than enough food to feed its current population”, that the problem is in distribution. The world actually produces so much food that “enough is available to provide 4. 3 pounds of food to every person, every day” (Kimbrell 1998). Agribusinesses lie to the people claiming that their GMO’s are saving people, and ending hunger in the world to try and convince you to buy their product, when in effect food production is not the problem.
Secondarily, GMO’s are said to be more productive, and create greater yields; however Stated by Kimbrell, “there are currently two principal types of biotech seeds in production: Herbicide Resistant, and ‘Pest’ resistant seeds. And in “A Two year study by the University of Nebraska” revealed that the GMO “Soya beans actually resulted in lower productivity that achieves with conventional Soya beans” (Kimbrell 2003). The claims that GMO’s will produce more yields are false and will hurt farmers everywhere. The GMO manufacturers have brought nothing good to the table, and are only deceiving people with fallacies in order to make money.
As a final point, GMO’s are supposed to reduce the cost of farming and create cheaper products; all the same, GMO’s have failed to do that as well. GMO companies have created what is called “Terminator Technology”. “TT” is when the companies genetically engineer plants to “Produce a sterile seed after a single growing season” (Kimbrell 2003) ensuring that farmers cannot save their seed, having to buy their seed every year. With “More than half of the world’s farmers relying on saved seeds for their harvest” this technology can have a cataclysmic impact on food production, the cost of food, and could spark mass starvation.
GMO’s have yet to bring a single product to the table that actually benefits consumers, or farmers. These products are only full of risks, more costs, and dangerous effects on the market; therefore they aren’t the solution, only a major part of the problem. Genetically modified foods have long term effects that have not been adequately tested, and in order to assure the consumer that what they’re purchasing is safe, extensive testing is mandatory, otherwise, there could possibly be catastrophic effects in the future no one suspected to occur.
For example, Dr. Keith Kantor, who was appointed CEO of Service Foods, Inc. in 1994, all the while working with food sciences for 27 years, expresses that GMO’s have antibiotic features included within them, making them “resistant to certain diseases and viruses”. At first glance, this fact appears to be a plus side of GMO foods, but Kantor explains how, when humans consume GMO’s, our very own genetic structure changes and the “antibiotic features persist in our bodies and make actual antibiotic medications less effective”.
In addition, Kantor’s own studies with his patients involved with nutrition were observed to have an improved state of being, both in weight and health, when they discontinued the use of all GMO products; therefore, Dr. Kantor does “not recommend using any GMO foods until more testing is done”. Next, Jeffery M. Smith, world’s bestseller on the topic of GMO foods – “Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating” and “Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods” –, has many expert opinions and horrifying facts about these products.
Smith reviews the few tests that have been done on rats and mice and produces shocking evidence of genetically modified food dangers; some of the mice and rats who were fed strictly GMO foods ended up developing tumors, widespread organ damage, premature death (50% males, 70% female), most of their babies dying in the womb, the babies that were born were smaller in size and quantity and grew up to have problems becoming pregnant, and some embryos had significant changes in their DNA. Male rats and mice became infertile or had altered sperm during these tests as well.
All these signs not only appear in test rats and mice, but in our world’s livestock, such as in the US, where various farmers reported that “thousands of pigs became sterile after consuming GM corn varieties”. Some of the pigs had “false pregnancies” while “others gave birth to bags of water”. Not only have there been effects on animals, but on humans as well; Smith’s research shows that, in the Pacific Northwest, about “five-hundred people reported allergy or flu-like symptoms”, and some of those same people “had to go to the emergency room” because the effects were so severe.
These same symptoms were repeatedly reported in India in 2008 by farm workers who worked around GMO cotton containing Bt, or a self-produced herbicide built inside the engineered foods. Yes, herbicides are used in organically grown crops, but the built-in herbicides contained in GMO crops are “thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray”, so it’s basically food covered in poison, and since it is built-in, one cannot wash it off the plants.
Not only does this affect humans, but ecosystems; ecosystems are in danger from the pollen coming from these plants since they could perish from all the toxins built inside them to kill weeds, and when the plants start to die out, so do the herbivores who eat them. Moreover, even if the purpose of the built-in herbicides are to kill the weeds, there would be cross-pollination that would create a “superweed”, continuing to compromise ecosystems as it would overtake other plants and become immune to current made weed-killers.
Every story has two points of view; however, it’s up to the individual to decide for oneself what the truth is. Many experts argue that GMO foods are actually beneficial not only to people, but animals and plants as well. Some experts even go as far as to say that not only is it beneficial, but also protects the environment and aids food productivity. With any positive side, there are adverse effects, however.
GMO foods have long term fallouts which are somewhat unknown due to lack of testing from agribusinesses, but the ones made clear consist of animal deaths and cancer. GMO foods are becoming part of our society whether we like it or not. Many truths have been stated in this argument, but one has to decide for his or herself what they believe. GMO’s will be on shelves, labeled and unlabeled, whether they are an iniquity to life as we know it, or the cure and wonderful elucidation to all our problems.
By Dr. Keith Kantor Sc.D, PhD
GMO’s are microorganisms, plants, and animals that have their genes altered. Usually they are modified either to further scientific research or to alter the food supply. Common genetic modifications include: adding antibacterial genes to plants, introducing genes that make the organism bigger or hardier, making new foods by adding genes from existing foods, and adding animals genes to plants and vice versa.
Most American crops are now genetically modified and the percentage of GMO’s in our food supply is growing extremely rapidly. Products that are genetically modified do not have to be labeled as such.
The government and agribusiness tout the benefits of GMO’s to the public. They say that they are doing this to increase the food supply, help underfed nations, and assist farmers.
Some of the benefits they claim are better food quality and taste, and making crops disease resistant so we have higher yields and more efficient production. GMO’s allow farmer to skip steps in the production process, like spraying herbicides and pesticides, because the crops are already resistant. In some crops they claim the foods are modified to contain additional vitamins and minerals. These are supposed to be beneficial to people in countries that do not have an adequate supply of these nutrients. They claim that since fewer pesticides are used, it is good for the environment. Their most important claim is that GMO’s are safe for human consumption.
The biggest concern is that there has not been enough testing of GMO’s and no real long term testing to detect possible problems.
Another problem is allergic reactions; genetic modification often mixes or adds proteins that weren’t indigenous to the original plant, causing new allergic reactions to the human body, according to Brown University.
Some GMO foods have had antibiotic features added to them so they are resistant to certain diseases and viruses. When humans eat them, these antibiotics features persist in our bodies and make actual antibiotic medications less effective, according to Iowa State University.
Another risk is that the modified genes may escape into the wild. Brown University warns if herbicide resistant genes cross into wild weeds, a super weed that is resistant to herbicides can be created. Making plants resistant to bacteria can cause bacteria to become stronger and harder to kill.
There have been isolated cases of animals dying after eating genetically modified foods.
Dr. William Davis says, “The new genetically modified wheat has a new protein call gliadin. This gliadin binds to the opiate receptors in our brain and in most people stimulates appetites, such that we consume 440 more calories per day.” Davis claims clinical studies show this happening to hundreds of thousands of people. He suggests totally avoiding wheat.
In my own practice, while testing for food allergens using the elimination diet, I have found several patients that improved when all GMO’s were eliminated from their diet.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to this issue. I wanted to try and discuss both sides of the issue so you can make your own decision. At the present time I do not recommend using any GMO foods until more testing is done, and true long-term studies can alleviate my concerns.
• Brown University: What is Genetically Modified Food?
• University of California: San Diego: 20 Questions About GMO Food
• Iowa State University: The Debate on Labeling Genetically Modified Food
• Oklahoma State University: GMO Facts
• Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations: Weighing the GMO Arguments