There are many food activists out there, but they often fall on deaf ears due to a lack real information. This is because most people want proof and not just ‘wild’ theories. Born out of general care for the environment and scientific curiosity, here are 5 feasible questions that should be asked regarding genetically modified organisms:
1.) Will they really solve the issue of world hunger?
While the argument seems viable, many people will realize that there are holes in this story. Will the people that suffer from world hunger have the money and the means to acquire such food? Unless GMO makers plan on growing and shipping this food to these people free of charge, there’s a lot left to be desired.
2.) What about fresh water and soil contamination?
Is pesticide runoff contaminating our drinking water? It seems so. While this may not seem like a problem enough in itself, as pesticide use increases then so will contamination. Rain water has been found to carry some glysophate in it as well, which can result in wide-spread contamination. Since only 1% of the world’s water supply is human-accessible, contaminating it should be of great concern.
3.) Why is pesticide use increasing and not decreasing?
While I personally don’t advocate any genetically modified crop, the glysophate-resistant crops should be the most concerning. While the company that made them denied the possibility of any evolution as a result of pest or weed resistance, it seems it has become a reality. Unfortunately, their solution to the problem was to up the chemical usage; so one can only imagine how much the chemical cap will be 50 years down the road.
4.) Do they threaten biodiversity?
One big argument is that that genetic modification occurs naturally in nature; this is false, however. Genetic modification and hybridization are two different aspects of ‘manipulation’ in biology. Bacteria doesn’t cross pollinate with a plant in nature, but plants can cross pollinate (thus hybridizing) in nature. Genetically modifying plants means inserting a bacterial gene to ‘cross’ with a plant gene; this is an unnatural means of ‘hybridizing.’ GMO crop pollen can also travel and contaminate non-GMO crops with each successive generation. Glysophate, the main ingredient in GMO crop pesticides, harms beneficial insects, plants, and bacteria that occur naturally in nature. The beneficial organisms in soil are also threatened by the use of pesticides, rendering it almost infertile to non-GMO plants.Thus, there is much speculation that GMOs will only cause a further loss in biodiversity.
5.) Are they sustainable?
Sustainability should be a most important and most sought after way of life; especially for those inflicted by poverty or poor economic conditions. Being able to survive on your own is often vital to these people, and the less financial loss, the better. Sustainable doesn’t mean having to repurchase seeds year after year. It also doesn’t mean having to buy chemical pesticides to grow your crops year after year. Therefore, GMO crops don’t seem very sustainable.
An excellent example of sustainability is the picture that Dr. Willie Smits paints with his Palm Sugar hubs, and this is what the foundation of sustainability should be built on.
My advice to you, as a health advocate, is to question everything; especially that which seems too good to be true or too ‘main stream.’ Personally, I’d recommend leaving the chemical companies to their chemicals and not the food supply.
Note: I am in no way affiliated with or sponsored by any of the hyper-linked organizations or people that are sourced above.
Environmental Protection Agency. “Technical Factsheet on: Glysophate.” . http://www.epa.gov/safewater/pdfs/factsheets/soc/tech/glyphosa.pdf (accessed May 1, 2014).
Environmental Sciences Europe. “Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years.” Environmental Sciences Europe. http://www.enveurope.com/content/24/1/24/abstract (accessed May 1, 2014).
Global Change. “Human Appropriation of the World’s Fresh Water Supply.” Human Appropriation of the World’s Fresh Water Supply. http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/freshwater_supply/freshwater.html (accessed May 1, 2014).
Harvard. “Genetically Modified Foods.” The Center for Health and the Global Environment. http://chge.med.harvard.edu/topic/genetically-modified-foods (accessed May 1, 2014).
“This Guy’s Creation Is Absolutely Sweet And Astounding | 9gag.tv.” 9GAG.tv. http://9gag.tv/p/KGDEd/village-hub-a-sweet-sustainable-solution-sugar-palm-dr-willie-smits (accessed May 1, 2014).
“USGS Newsroom.” USGS Release: Widely Used Herbicide Commonly Found in Rain and Streams in the Mississippi River Basin (8/29/2011 8:19:35 AM). http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2909#.U2Jn_vmqCuJ (accessed May 1, 2014).
World Health Organization. “20 questions on genetically modified foods.” WHO. http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/20questions/en/. (accessed May 1, 2014).