An ad that recently ran during the American Public Media show Marketplace, sponsored by Monsanto, the world’s largest corporate agribusiness chemical firm, touted how Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) seeds are going to save the world from environmental catastrophe and human hunger.
The Monsanto ads are, quite simply, false. The premise of the ad is that Monsanto’s GM seeds are going to save the world from environmental catastrophe and human hunger, but the reality of Monsanto’s seeds and the company’s ethics and commitment to fighting world hunger have little to do with either.
Eighty-five percent of all GM seeds are engineered for herbicide tolerance, most of these being Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” cotton, corn, soy, and canola seeds. This allows plants to withstand significant amounts of pesticides being sprayed on it, in effect promoting pesticide use. As a result, there has been an increase in pesticide use in the United States since the introduction of GM seeds. Since the introduction of GM crops in the United States, more than 120 million pounds of additional pesticides were used.
At the same time, not a single GM crop has been commercially introduced that is intended to increase yield. Agronomists and plant scientists made far greater advances in yields through conventional breeding methods than they ever have with GM crops. In fact, there have been several studies which show that there are actually yield losses associated with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans. GM crops are not feeding the world, and they are not enabling us to produce more.
Monsanto wants you to believe their crops are feeding hungry children in Africa, and that they are allowing farmers to use fewer chemicals. But do their actions demonstrate that their concern lies solely in their profits?
Anyone who believes Monsanto’s proclamations of saving the world from environmental catastrophe and hunger is clearly not paying attention to some very blatant signs that this is not true.
It’s unfortunate that the U.S. has yet to follow the decision of several other countries that have already banned genetically modified crops. Germany, for example, recently became the sixth country in the European Union to take a stand against GM corn. Meanwhile, tens of millions of acres of GM corn are being planted in the U.S.
According to the French Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, a molecular endocrinologist and a member of two French government commissions evaluating GM food, the corn variety in question, called MON 810, has shown statistically significant problems in animal studies.
They found the effects of the GM crops were similar to that of pesticides, causing inflammation disorders, and problems with livers and kidneys, two major organs involved with detoxification.
Another scientist, biology professor Bela Darvas of Hungary‘s Debrecen University, discovered that Monsanto’s Mon 810 is lethal to two Hungarian protected species.
So how does Monsanto respond to Darvas’ disturbing findings?
They simply refuse to give him any more Mon 810 corn to use in his tests. They’ve also refused his request for Mon 863, another GM variety. Is that really the enlightened action of an environmentally sensitive company that is looking out for not only your health, but the wellbeing of the planet?
Common GMO Myths
As The GM-Free Ireland Network points out, there are numerous GM biotechnology propaganda myths in circulation, and none of them are true. If you’ve been paying attention to the news about genetically modified plants, you’ve probably heard some of them already. (For the full list, please see this pdf.)
Myth #1: Genetic engineering is a continuation of traditional breeding methods
In fact, most GM crops are modified with the introduction of DNA from other species entirely. This never occurs in nature, or with traditional breeding methods.
Myth #2: Opponents of GM food are anti-science
Leading opponents of GM foods include the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Independent Science Panel, the U.S. Center for Food Safety, and numerous agronomic, environmental, and health scientists.
Myth #3: GM crops have higher yields
GM crop seeds currently on the market do not increase yields, and are not designed to. In fact, GM crops typically render lower yields.
For example, GM soya has decreased yields by up to 20 percent compared with non-GM soya. And up to 100 percent failures of Bt cotton have been recorded in India. This in turn has spurred a staggering number of suicides among India’s farmers. According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, more than 182,900 Indian farmers took their own lives between 1997 and 2007, potentially due to GM crop failures. An estimated 46 Indian farmers commit suicide every day.
Additionally, recent studies by scientists from the USDA and the University of Georgia found that growing GM cotton in the U.S. can result in a drop in income by up to 40 percent.
Myth #4: Americans have been eating GM foods for 15 years without any health problems
This one is perhaps most deceptive as GM foods are not labeled in the U.S., which makes traceability and accountability impossible. There may or may not be obvious health problems, but it is carefully designed so that no one can find out for sure.
However, according to Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception, what we do know is that between 1994 and 2001 – at the same time as GMO’s flooded the market – food related illnesses DOUBLED.
His findings show that GMO foods can be:
Although the major food giants are carrying on with their claim that GM foods are no different from conventionally grown varieties, the research says otherwise.
For example, GM peas were found to cause lung damage in mice; GM potatoes have been linked to cancer in rats; and bacteria in the human gut has been shown to take up DNA from genetically modified food under certain circumstances.
When viewed as a whole, GM foods are a disaster for the environment, an unviable solution to world hunger, and undoubtedly worse for your health.
GM Crops Fail to Live Up to Advertised Promises Again and Again
The fact remains that GM crops have failed to deliver on virtually every single promise and expectation. After 30 years of GMO experimentation, we have the data to show:No reduction in pesticides use; on the contrary, USDA data shows that GM crops has increased pesticide use by 50 million pounds from 1996 to 2003 in the U.S., and the use of glyphosate went up more than 15-fold between 1994 and 2005, along with increases in other herbicides to cope with rising glyphosate resistant superweeds.
GM crops do harm wildlife, as revealed by UK and U.S. studies.
Bt resistant pests and Roundup tolerant superweeds render the two major GM crop traits useless. The evolution of Bt resistant bollworms worldwide have now been confirmed and documented.
Unpredictable transgene contamination is completely unavoidable, as science has recently revealed that the genome (whether plant, animal or human) is NOT constant and static, which is the scientific base for genetic engineering of plants and animals.
Instead, geneticists have discovered that the genome is remarkably dynamic and changeable, and constantly ‘conversing’ and adapting to the environment. This interaction determines which genes are turned on, when, where, by what and how much, and for how long. They’ve also found that the genetic material itself has the ability to be changed according to experience, passing it on to subsequent generations.
How to Avoid GM Foods
Avoiding GM products in your diet means avoiding an ever-growing number of ingredients, or choosing organic versions of them. This is not an easy task, especially if you eat processed food. However, the four most prevalent GM ingredients to look out for are:
You’ll also want to avoid the offspring of these products, which includes items like maltodextrin, soy lecithin, and high fructose corn syrup.
You CAN Demand Better Food
It’s easy to sit back and think you can’t do a thing to change the current state of affairs, but the fact is, you CAN make a difference. You can demand something better -- food that is still food, grown the way nature intended.First and foremost, you can vote with your pocketbook by avoiding everything that contains GM ingredients, and ask your local supermarket to stock their shelves with more natural organic foods. Some supermarkets will even allow you to special order food items.
And don’t forget about your elected officials. Let them know how you feel about it, and what kind of policies you’re willing to support.
- People in certain professions can play a significant role to advance this cause as well:
- Chefs, restaurants and food companies can switch to non-GM sources
- Retailers can remove or label GM products or offer in-store Non-GMO Shopping Guides
- Religious leaders can help to educate their congregation
- Health practitioners can provide patient education materials
- Those in the education world can help make school cafeterias GM-free
- Reporters can expose the health risks
To get an idea of just how widespread GM ingredients are, I recommend taking a look at The GMO Food Guide. It lists 20 different food categories that include everything from baby food to chocolate.
And the incredible series Seeds of Doubt, written by staffers at the Sacramento Bee, can offer further guidance to fully understand the many problems associated with GM foods.
Last but not least, I urge everyone to watch the video The Future of Food, and forward the link to this video to your friends, family and acquaintances. This in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind genetically modified foods is one of the best documentaries made to date. It will help you understand how and why the genetic engineering we allow to be unleashed today is a very real threat to ALL future generations.
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