Genetically Modified Foods Scandal Wikileaked
|Posted by Administrator (blb) on Jan 18 2011|
|Newsletter Articles Blog >> group one|
Genetically Modified Foods
Wikileaks' Julian Asange strikes close to the farm!
Genetically modified foods made the news recently when whistleblower website Wikileaks released a document from 2007 by Craig Stapleton, U.S. ambassador to France in 2007 and good friend of then-president George Bush. In his secret cable, Stapleton criticizes the European Union's skepticism of genetically modified organisims (corn in this case) and recommends U.S. officials create a "target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU [European Union]" in order to "strengthen pro-biotech voices."
That pro-biotech voice would primarily be industrial food giant Monsanto's, which has hundreds of patents on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and sells Roundup Ready corn. Perhaps you've heard of Roundup, the powerful herbicide. Well, Monsanto got a form of herbicide into the corn itself to fight weeds growing between the rows so that the farmers wouldn't have to apply it topically. It's amazing that Monsanto was bold enough to name a food after an herbicide. Perhaps they'll sell DDT snacks next.
While Monsanto and other GM companies claim that GM foods help starving populations and could be involved in curing some human diseases, detractors also point to its newness in the market and the lack of adequate time and effort devoted to measure any potential dangers.
Should the French (and the rest of us) be so cautious about GMOs?
First, consider that, in the process of creating a GMO, genes from one species are transferred artificially to another. The DNA in the transferred species allows the cellto create proteins not normally found in that species. In this way, DNA is mixed between organisms that could never breed naturally. It also introduces new traits in the recipient.
When considering genetic engineering and food safety, it's important to first understand that the earth's organisms have evolved together over millions of years, creating a delicate balance of what can be tolerated in our ecosystem. When humans force change on an organism's DNA, it's and abrupt shift in the evolutionary process. After all, the scientists certainly didn't consult with millions of other species before firing up their microscopes and pipettes. While certainly farmers have been crossing plant species for generations, none of those would have been successful if nature hadn't approved and let the reproduction and gestation proceed.
Genetic engineering's side-stepping of natural reproduction lies at the hear of the following concerns that:
- Ordinary familiar foods may become allergenic. A soybean altered to contain genes from a brazil nut was found to produce allergic reactions in persons with nut allergies. The soybean eater never suspected that he would have any problem with soybeans, a food he'd consumed many times before. He didn't know it was genetically engineered.
- Familiar foods may become toxic. Some of the genetically engineered foods create toxins. Each time we eat those foods, we're exposed to that toxin.
- GM crops may fuel antibiotic resistance, making human disease harder to treat. Once resistant genes are into the food chain, more disease causing bacteria may become antibiotic resistant, increasing the problems of public health.
- GM foods have entered the market almost unregulated. Where, usually U.S. regulatory agencies have been proactive in protecting our food supply, they've allowed biotech lobbyists to convince them that GE foods were usually "the same as or substantially similar to substances commonly found in food" and so are not held to the highest testing standards. The FDA's basic understanding was lacking when it opened the floodgates to huge corporations like Monsanto.
- Pesticide resistant crops could poison unrelated species. Scientists have suspected pollen from GM corn in a widespread die-off of Monarch butterfly larvae.
- GM crops could change soil chemistry and affect the organisms therein. The roots of some GM plants have been found to release toxin into the soil. After harvest, decaying plants still contain residual toxin as well.
- GM crops could create GM-resistant insect populations. Nature is usually one step ahead. Constant exposure to crops that repel them will lead certain insect populations to mutate and into what we don't know. Natural selection is efficient and sometimes very quick (mutating in 2 -3 generations).
- Herbicide-tolerant plants encourage the use of even more herbicides. A 1999 study of soybean farming in the United States found that farmers planting GM soybeans used 2 to 5 times as much herbicide than those using non-GM seeds. Worse, they used up to 10 times the amounts used by farmers using integrated weed management systems which reduce the need for chemical herbicides.
- Cross-pollination could create new plant species. Pollen from GM plants could introduce new genes into wild plant populations and into the ecosystem, disrupting the food chain.
- Because of this potential for cross-pollination, farmers whose fields are near GE crops struggle to guarantee their crops as organic.
What's your opinion about genetically modified organisms? Share it with us on our Brian's Markets Facebook page.
Get your free guide to non-GMO shopping.Get more information at Organic Consumers Association.
Last changed: Jan 19 2011 at 4:37 AMBack