A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there. It is an organism that does not occur naturally.
Over the past 20 years GMO’s have been entering the food chain at an alarming rate. The impact of this human intervention in the natural order of things is yet to be fully understood but what we know already should be enough to call a halt to the genetic recoding of the food we eat.
The ‘Big 6’ of Pesticide and GM corporations are :-
- Dow Chemical Company
They are so called because they own the worlds seed, pesticide and biotechnology industries.
20 years ago a company now owned by Monsanto introduced the “Flavr Savr’ tomato. This was the first GM product approved to be used in the US. Since this day GM products have been entering the food market at a consistently alarming rate.
- 88% of all corn planted in the USA is GMO.
- 94% of all soy in the USA is now GM.
- Sugar beets provide half of all consumable sugar in the USA, 95% of those sugar beets are grown using GM seed
- 80% of processed foods in the US contain GMO’s
- 88% of the corn fed to cows contains GMO’s
The “need” that GM crops was meant to meet was the rapid growth in the worlds population, estimated to be 9 billion in 2050. There was a concern that we would not be able to meet the high demand for food unless we made the food supply chain more efficient and productive.
A herbicide called “Roundup” was produced by Monsanto in the 1970’s which was designed to eliminate all foilage /weeds it came into contact with and thus allow higher yielding crops whilst at the same time reducing the need for large quantities of environmentally harmful pesticides.
The first Roundup ready crops were developed in 1996. Roundup ready plants are resistant to the Roundup herbicide. Genetically modified soybeans were the first Roundup resistant crop to hit the market.
By altering the genetic code of the soybean and other products since, Monsanto were then able to patent the seed. They effectively owned the soybean seed. This then meant they were able to licence the use of the seed to farmers. Farmers now had to pay a technology fee to buy the Monsanto patented Roundup ready seeds. They had to sign a detailed contract one of the stipulations of which being that they could not save, clean and reuse the seeds year on year which had been the normal farming practice. They could buy the seeds for one year only and then must throw them away and order new seed for the next year. Monsanto had turned traditional farming on its head and at the same time had taken all power away from the farmers.
In effect Monsanto were offering a “package deal” buy our herbicide and at the same time the seed that’s resistant to it. Farmers had to some degree had become “locked in” with Monsanto as once they chose to use the herbicide they had to also use the grain.
The Impact of the Monsanto Way
- Farmers lose their rights and power as they become “locked in” to the corporation and have no freedom of choice regarding grain suppliers
- A breakdown in local communities as Monsanto encourage farmers to call a freephone number and report neighbouring farmers using the the Roundup ready seed without a licence
- Once a GM product is farmed in an area – it spreads and contaminates other surrounding farms who do not choose to be GM farms. Once contamination has occurred it is difficult to control and distinguish GM and non GM crop
- The traditional way of farming is eradicated as one year life span “terminator seeds” which become sterile after one seasons use, replace the clean and reuse process
- Weeds have become resistant to the Roundup herbicide and “super weeds” have evolved which require even more herbicide to eliminate them. The idea of one spray with Roundup is no longer a reality and this has a negative impact on surrounding waterways and natural wildlife
- The elimination of all natural foliage has led to habitat destruction for local wildlife and Insects and a drop in their numbers. The Monarch butterfly is near distinction as Milkweed the caterpillars sole source of food is eradicated.
- Concerns over the human health issues around the active ingredient in Roundup “glyphosate” which the WHO in 2016 declared is a probable carcinogen.
- As yet unknown Impact on human and animal health of ingesting genetically modified food substances
The UK and Overseas
The impact of Monsanto and the other “Big 6” corporations is not just confined to the USA. This is now a global issue. Genetically modified foods are imported Into the UK and the rest of Europe in large quantities for use in animal feed. Soybean, maize, sugar beet and oil rape seed (canola) are exported from the U.S. around the world.
In the UK it is currently not mandatory to label foods that have come from animals fed with GM animal feed such as milk, meat and eggs. Nor is labelling required for goods produced with help from a GM enzyme such as cheese and bakery products produced with the help of Amylase.
In the UK for many years supermarkets went out of their way to source meat and dairy products that did not come from animals that were fed GM products. However since 2013 one by one the super markets have broken ranks starting with Morrisons and Asda and then followed shortly after by Tesco, Sainsburys, the Coop and M&S. They now all supply food on their shelves that comes from GM fed animals.
This goes against public opinion and what the British buyer wants. Supermarkets however claim there is not enough non GM fed animals out there to choose from to allow them to source GM free animal products. However non GM soy providers in Brazil claim there is an abundant supply of non GM feed but the supermarkets don’t seem to be able to hear them.
Are GMO’s Really Bad for You?
We can continue to ignorantly consume food products without questioning what it actually is we are putting in our bodies or we can start to take an interest in the produce that is meant to nourish and maintain us and we can start asking questions like “Are gmo’s really bad for you?” and start making ourselves heard.
The questions to ask yourself are:-
- Are you happy putting GM food products into your body knowing the WHO have told us that the main ingredient “glysophate” that is in Roundup – is carconogenic?
- Are you happy that the health implications of GM foods is not yet fully understood and that tests carried out on mice who were fed a lifelong diet of GM corn in France have shown results of multiple organ damage and cancer tumors.
- Are you happy feeding GM foods to your children?
- Are you happy that every day you don’t know that you are buying and consuming GM foods because the labels don’t tell you this? So even when you think you are making healthy choices, you actually aren’t.
- Are you happy that the level of nutrition in your food is declining?
- Are you happy that the residue of herbicides and pesticides are left on your food and that you consume this daily?
- Are you happy that all rights and power have been taken away from farmers who have looked after and fed us for hundreds of years and that this power now lies in the hands of corporations whose only interest is making a profit at the cost of our health?
- Are you happy that the biotechnology corporations are taking the place of nature and patenting the seeds of life and calling them their own?
Are you happy about any of this? I know I’m not. I want us to be heard. I want the people of this world who all need food to survive to stand up for their rights and their health and the health of the planet and be heard. I want you all to say NO to GM foods. I want you to put this into action by refusing to buy food that is not organic. The supermarkets will have to respond and source non GM foods and this will start the chain reaction that is required to stop the Biotech companies thinking that they control the food supply of the world and therefore the health of the worlds population.
We can make a difference every day in our actions and choices. We are not just one person standing alone, we are a world of people and when we unite we are stronger than any corporation no matter who they are. If there is no demand then there will be no supply. Vote with your purchasing power, every day.
Make a difference, make the change, go veggie