I have long been opposed to GMO foods, and having recently produced music for the “Don’t Eat It,” music video, [http://youtu.be/YR-Ke6Y5ziY] I realized it would be useful to reflect upon my perspective and re-examine my reasons.
There’s a much debate about Genetically Modified foods (GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms), with “life-and-death” arguments on both sides. Some argue GM foods can feed the world and we have a moral obligation to do so. Others say GMOs are destroying our health and our environment.
There are many reasons why people say “No” to GMOs. Here are my personal Top Five reasons, all of which relate to the practice, rather than the principle, of genetic modification of food. The way this technology is being applied today is on the wrong track, although I don’t think genetic modification is wrong per se. Perhaps you have some more to add, or wish to rebut some of these points? I’ll appreciate both.
5. GM foods are not the right solution to our food problems. A common pro-GMO argument is that we need engineered foods to feed the poor. This is framed as if children are ailing and starving because they lack GMO products. In reality, they are starving because of resource mismanagement, government corruption and economic disparity. We already produce more than enough food to feed everybody on this planet, but because our distribution and processing systems are so inefficient and wasteful, one-third to one-half of all the food produced is wasted. More GMOs aren’t going to solve that. By using technology that works with nature’s abundance rather than against it, and by getting more people involved in their own food production, we can feed an even greater population.
It’s much harder to address the root causes of starvation, especially when enticed by quick-fix promises of bigger yields and higher nutrient density – but these are superficial solutions at best. If we want to end starvation, we need to change our relationship with food and with waste. The world is NOT overpopulated, but our resources ARE mismanaged.
4. Not enough research. I’ve heard GMO defenders like Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, say there haven’t been any confirmed cases of illness due to GM foods. That because no-one’s conducted any long-term human trials. We just don’t know what effects GM foods will have in the long run, and the majority of research that has been done was conducted by the very companies who stand to profit from GMO sales. That’s a clear conflict of interest.
In a way, people who eat GMO diets ARE part of a massive human experiment. I believe we will see the true health effects in one or two generations’ time. Personally, I will not be part of this test group, nor will my loved ones.
3. Novel proteins cause inflammation. Genetically modifying an organism changes its proteins and the human digestive system is not equipped to deal with novel proteins. Holistic nutrition teaches undigested protein in the body causes inflammation. Inflammation-related illnesses are ubiquitous and are an underlying cause of a many of diseases: asthma, acne, bowel problems, arthritis, gout and anything with the “-itis” suffix. There are many other causes for inflammation besides novel GM protein, and most of them are related to poor lifestyle and diet choices.
A study published in the June 2013 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Organic Systems showed that pigs fed exclusively GM food has much higher rates of severe stomach inflammation than non-GMO fed pigs.
2. Pesticides and Herbicides. The most common types of GMO crops fall into two categories – either they’re engineered to be resistant to herbicides (the “Roundup-Ready” crops), or are spliced with DNA from the Bacillus thurengiensis (Bt) bacteria to produce a pesticide toxin of their own. The Bt toxin gene allows crops like corn to manufacture their own pest-killing toxins that work by exploding the stomachs of insects. This kind of corn is officially registered as a pesticide by the FDA. As for the Roundup herbicide that’s sprayed on resistant crops, its active ingredient is glyphosate, which is known to be acutely toxic to humans, wildlife and intestinal microflora.
By eating GM foods, you are eating herbicides and pesticides through residues on the food (those don’t wash off with water) or via the endemic Bt toxin. These literal poisons do all kinds of harm to our bodies by adding to the overall toxic load, by unbalancing our hormones and by disrupting intestinal microflora, the good bacteria that live in our guts. Unfortunately, most doctors are oblivious to the central role our gut microflora play in keeping us healthy, so this aspect is overlooked.
Plus, more GMO crops mean more pesticide and herbicide use, giving rise to resistant superbugs and superweeds.
And the #1 reason why I support the Non-GMO Movement:
1. Immoral companies should be prevented from monopolizing our food supply. One company, Monsanto, is now synonymous with GMOs. Monsanto is a chemical company whose previous efforts brought us many products that are now banned throughout the civilized world: Agent Orange, DDT, the BGH cow growth hormone and cancer-causing PCBs.
Why focus on Monsanto? Because 90% of GM corn, soybean, cotton, sugar beet, and canola crops planted in the USA use their tech. Today, GM corn is pretty much ubiquitous thanks to huge subsidies from the US government. As the basis of the cheap food system, GM corn is closely linked to the costs of staple commodities like meat, milk and eggs. Corn and its derivatives are used everywhere: all manner of foods and drinks, vitamin supplements, makeup, adhesives and much, much more.
Monsanto has repeatedly shown aggressive and predatory behaviour in the marketplace and I do not trust a company that consistently produces deadly poisons with so much control over the food supply.
Those are my top 5 reasons, but there are many more. I’ll appreciate any feedback or thoughts you may have, as my perspective on this issue is ever-evolving. Food is one of the most important things in our world, and if we should do the right thing for our bodies, our societies and our environment.
For further reading, may I recommend this very detailed and well-sourced report, GMO Myths and Facts:http://earthopensource.org/index.php/executive-summary