10 Reasons Why We Dont Need
With the cost of food recently skyrocketing hitting not just
shoppers but the poor and hungry in the developing world
genetically modified (GM) foods are once again being promoted as
the way to feed the world. But this is little short of a confidence
trick. Far from needing more GM foods, there are urgent reasons
why we need to ban them altogether.
1. GM foods wont solve the food crisis
A 2008 World Bank report concluded that increased biofuel production
is the major cause of the increase in food prices. GM giant Monsanto
has been at the heart of the lobbying for biofuels (crops grown
for fuel rather than food) while profiting enormously from
the resulting food crisis and using it as a PR opportunity to promote
The climate crisis was used to boost biofuels, helping
to create the food crisis; and now the food crisis is being used
to revive the fortunes of the GM industry. Daniel
Howden, Africa correspondent of The Independent.
The cynic in me thinks that theyre just using the
current food crisis and the fuel crisis as a springboard to push
GM crops back on to the public agenda. I understand why theyre
doing it, but the danger is that if theyre making these
claims about GM crops solving the problem of drought or feeding
the world, thats bullshit. Prof Denis Murphy,
head of biotechnology at the University of Glamorgan in Wales.
2. GM crops do not increase yield potential
Despite the promises, GM has not increased the yield potential
of any commercialised crops. In fact, studies show that the
most widely grown GM crop, GM soya, has suffered reduced yields.
A report that analyzed nearly two decades worth of peer reviewed
research on the yield of the primary GM food/feed crops, soybeans
and corn (maize), reveals that despite 20 years of research and
13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed
to significantly increase US crop yields. The author, former US
EPA and US FDA biotech specialist Dr Gurian-Sherman, concludes
that when it comes to yield, Traditional breeding outperforms
genetic engineering hands down.
Lets be clear. As of this year , there are
no commercialized GM crops that inherently increase yield. Similarly,
there are no GM crops on the market that were engineered to resist
drought, reduce fertilizer pollution or save soil. Not one.
Dr Doug Gurian-Sherman.
3. GM crops increase pesticide use
US government data shows that in the US, GM crops have produced
an overall increase, not decrease, in pesticide use compared to
The promise was that you could use less chemicals and produce
a greater yield. But let me tell you none of this is true.
Bill Christison, President of the US National Family Farm
4. There are better ways to feed the world
A major UN/World Bank-sponsored report compiled by 400 scientists
and endorsed by 58 countries concluded that GM crops have little
to offer global agriculture and the challenges of poverty, hunger,
and climate change, because better alternatives are available.
In particular, the report championed agroecological
farming as the sustainable way forward for developing countries.
5. Other farm technologies are more successful
Integrated Pest Management and other innovative low-input
or organic methods of controlling pests and boosting yields have
proven highly effective, particularly in the developing world.
Other plant breeding technologies, such as Marker Assisted Selection
(non-GM genetic mapping), are widely expected to boost global
agricultural productivity more effectively and safely than GM.
The quiet revolution is happening in gene mapping, helping
us understand crops better. That is up and running and could have
a far greater impact on agriculture [than GM]. Prof
John Snape, head of the department of crop genetics, John Innes
6. GM foods have not been shown to be safe to eat
Genetic modification is a crude and imprecise way of incorporating
foreign genetic material (e.g. from viruses, bacteria) into crops,
with unpredictable consequences. The resulting GM foods have undergone
little rigorous and no long-term safety testing, but animal feeding
tests have shown worrying health effects. Only one study has been
published on the direct effects on humans of eating a GM food.
It found unexpected effects on gut bacteria, but was never followed
It is claimed that Americans have eaten GM foods for years with
no ill effects. But these foods are unlabeled in the US and no
one has monitored the consequences. With other novel foods like
trans fats, it has taken decades to realize that they have caused
millions of premature deaths.
We are confronted with the most powerful technology the
world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost
no thought whatsoever to its consequences. Dr Suzanne
Wuerthele, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicologist.
7. Stealth GMOs in animal feed -- without consumers consent
Meat, eggs and dairy products from animals raised on the millions
of tons of GM feed imported into Europe do not have to be labelled.
Some studies show that contrary to GM and food industry claims,
animals raised on GM feed ARE different from those raised on non-GM
feed. Other studies show that if GM crops are fed to animals,
GM material can appear in the resulting products and that the
animals health can be affected. So eating stealth
GMOs may affect the health of consumers.
8. GM crops are a long-term economic disaster for farmers
A 2009 report showed that GM seed prices in America have increased
dramatically, compared to non-GM and organic seeds, cutting average
farm incomes for US farmers growing GM crops. The report concluded,
At the present time there is a massive disconnect between
the sometimes lofty rhetoric from those championing biotechnology
as the proven path toward global food security and what is actually
happening on farms in the US that have grown dependent on GM seeds
and are now dealing with the consequences.
9. GM and non-GM cannot co-exist
GM contamination of conventional and organic food is increasing.
An unapproved GM rice that was grown for only one year in field
trials was found to have extensively contaminated the US rice
supply and seed stocks. In Canada, the organic oilseed rape industry
has been destroyed by contamination from GM rape. In Spain, a
study found that GM maize has caused a drastic reduction
in organic cultivations of this grain and is making their coexistence
The time has come to choose between a GM-based, or a non-GM-based,
world food supply.
If some people are allowed to choose to grow, sell and
consume GM foods, soon nobody will be able to choose food, or
a biosphere, free of GM. Its a one way choice, like the
introduction of rabbits or cane toads to Australia; once its
made, it cant be reversed. Roger Levett, specialist
in sustainable development.
10. We cant trust GM companies
The big biotech firms pushing their GM foods have a terrible
history of toxic contamination and public deception. GM is attractive
to them because it gives them patents that allow monopoly control
over the worlds food supply. They have taken to harassing
and intimidating farmers for the crime of saving patented
seed or stealing patented genes even if those
genes got into the farmers fields through accidental contamination
by wind or insects.
Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property
that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell.
Tom Wiley, North Dakota farmer
February 8, 2010