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8 Reasons GMO’s are NOT Bad for You

I’m not going to actually give a list of reasons why GMO crops are not bad, as no matter how many reasons I stated, mindless activists would still likely make up new reasons.  Instead, I’m going to try to think critically about the 8 points made in this article:

8 Reasons GMOs Are Bad For You

1. The health consequences of eating genetically modified organisms are largely unknown. Genetically engineered foods have not been shown to be safe to eat and may have unpredictable consequences. When trans-fats were first introduced, corporations battled to get them onto your grocery shelves – and it is only decades later that this once novel food has been proven to be extremely unhealthful. Many scientists are worried that the genetically altered foods, once consumed, may pass on their mutant genes to bacterium in the digestive system, just like the canola plants on the roadsides of North Dakota. How these new strains of bacteria may affect our body systems’ balance is anybody’s guess.

The health effects of eating genetically modified foods have been extensively studied, contrary to this contention.  In fact, focusing on plants, the genes added to create GMO crops come from other plants.  Genes are translated into proteins.  So, the new genes basically provide plants with proteins you are already eating.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at this report by the European Union. http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf

The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies. Another very important conclusion is that today’s biotechnological research and applications are much more diverse than they were 25 years ago, which is also reflected by the current 7th EU Framework Programme. – Page 16

Yep. They’ve been studied for over 25 years. Nothing bad has come out yet.

2. Food items that contain GMOs are unlabeled in America. Why so sneaky? The European Union has banned GMOs, as have Australia, Japan, the UK and two dozen other countries that recognize that a lack of long term studies and testing may be hiding disastrous health defects.

This is most likely to do with the fact that, as stated above, after 25 years, we haven’t found any reason for them to be unsafe.  Why would they need to be labeled? It’s less sneaky, more…why put in the extra effort. So while laziness might be a culprit, vast conspiracies are less likely to be so.  In fact, vast conspiracies are often not likely at all.

3. Genetic engineering reduces genetic diversity. When genes are more diverse, they are more robust; this is why a pure bred dog tends to have greater health problems than the dear old mutt. Plants with reduced genetic diversity cannot handle drought, fungus invasions or insects nearly as well as natural plants, which could have dire consequences for farmers and communities dependent on GMO crops for survival.

This does not make any sense. How would it decrease genetic diversity, unless it were per chance a superior organism. Regardless, GMO crops increase the genetic diversity of targeted crops by physically adding genes that were not present in the crop before.  This claim is nonsense.

4. Once the mutant genes are out of the bag, there is no going back. Genetically modified organisms contaminate existing seeds with their altered material, passing on modified traits to non-target species. This creates a new strain of plant that was never intended in the laboratory. In North Dakota, recent studies show that 80% of wild canola plants tested contained at least one transgene. In Japan, a modified bacteria created a new amino acid not found in nature; it was used in protein drinks and before it was recalled it cause severe mental and metabolic damage to hundreds as well as several deaths. Japan banned GMOs after this horrific experience. Monarch butterflies have also died after their favorite food, milkweed, was cross-pollinated from Bt corn which rendered it toxic to the endangered species.

This is true.  But, we are not really eating bacteria, and we are not genetically engineering foods with brand new proteins.  That wouldn’t make sense. If we wanted to increase crop yield, are we going to spend decades and billions creating brand new amino acids to test? Or are we going to take known genes, a few years, and a few million and add those genes instead? This claim does not stand up to the “Definition of For-Profit Corporation Test.”  As for cross-pollination, as stated previously, existing GMO crops use genes from other plants. If cross-pollination is apparent, it is likely that those genes might have ended up in the wild previously.  Despite this, do we really worry if a gene that makes one crop cold-resistant makes other crops cold-resistant as well?

5. GMOs are not the answer for global food security. Genetically engineered crops have shown no increase in yield and no decrease in pesticide use. In many cases other farm technology has proven much more successful, and even Monsanto agrees that its genetically engineered crops yield less than conventional farming.

1.  Why is Monsanto always involved. There are so many other companies that produce chemicals and/or GMO crops.  Why does it always boil down to Monsanto? I think it is because Monsanto is a fun word to say – Mon-san-to.  2. GMO crops often do actually have a higher yield. That is why they are being adopted. Or they have other characteristics, like being resistant to cold, droughts, insects, or fungi.  3. I wish these claims were sourced better, from actual peer-reviewed and verified studies, rather than parroted from one environmental group to the next.

6. Genetically engineered foods have not been proven to be safe, but the few studies conducted don’t look so hot. The organs of rats who ate genetically modified potatoes showed signs of chronic wasting, and female rates fed a diet of herbicide-resistant soybeans gave birth to stunted and sterile pups.

This is basically a reiteration of the first point. I have to think that the author had written 8 and really wanted to hit that number.  As shown in the meta-study linked to above, there has been decades of research and the studies look alright.  You can be sure that if market-ready GMO crops were producing sterility, it would have been at least off-handedly mentioned.  Or maybe it’s part of the non-existent coverup.

7. Big biotech firms have very sketchy track records, but then again what would you expect from organizations who want to patent the world’s food supply? These massive biotech companies have a history of toxic contamination, deceiving the public and suing small farmers when their patented seeds blew across the fence. Biotech firms sell sterile seeds to African farmers- meaning the seeds are only good for one season, because the plants that grow up will not be able to reproduce. Farmers must buy new seeds every year instead of growing from the previous year’s yield. GMOs are not the farmers’ friend.

Most large companies have sketchy parts of their history.  Let’s not limit it to biotech companies, which are under a great deal more scrutiny then say Whole Foods or Nature’s Best.  It is largely a myth that biotech companies sue innocent farmers.  Those farmers are generally found to have discovered GM contamination in their crops, then willfully planted the seeds, to sell the enhanced crops.  In essence, those farmers were thieves.  At least, that’s how I read the court records (I actually bothered to read them). Then again, nobody has made the claim that GM producing companies are not trying to make money, I’m just claiming that such is not a valid point to dismiss the safety of those crops.

Really, think about it. If you could simply by the seed, grow it, harvest it, and plant it again without ever paying, how would the company that produced the seed ever recoup the research costs of developing it?

8. GMOs require massive amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. These things are poisons, and should not be eaten or allowed to run off into our water supply. But they are, every day, by companies who care far more about the bottom line than they do about your health, your environment or your children’s future.

This final point is absolutely ridiculous.  The largest part of GM research goes into making those plants inherently resistant to pests and fungi.  They’re actually trying to make crops that require less of these chemicals than the average non-GM crop.

In the end, I really have to question, why do activists think these were developed and then adopted in the first place? If they really are unsafe, unproductive, and more costly than the average crop – why would farmers have begun to grow them? They seem to think they can shout “Money!” really loud and make it true, while ignoring all of the evidence contrary to their outright lies and misunderstandings.

-Derek Dorr

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