Note on June 17, 2014: Because post replied to a note on a semi-private page, it was written on a page that doesn’t show up on my home page and I have not promoted on any social media site.
My sister sent me the following information from a Mommy and Me page. The information isn’t necessarily wrong but it presented in a scary way. I’m not an expert on GM foods but will try to address some of the concerns.
The genetic modification here is selected genes, not ones the occur naturally. It’s akin to choosing manipulating your own genes to produce a blue eyed blonde boy when you are 100% Asian. Sure it’s possible because the gene sequence is there and exists and it might naturally evolve that way, but it might not. The other thing about genetically modified plants is that they are selecting things to add it subtract that they deem good or bad traits. Golden rice is hailed as a life saver for poor countries because of limited access to fruits and vegetables. But will this rice be at the same cost? Giant water companies went into the poorest countries in the world with promise of clean water access. Everyone pat themselves on the back until you realize there’s access but you pay a premium. So now the wells are dry because of water companies and there’s even less access for those who need it.
First, we have been manipulating our crops unnaturally throughout agriculture. We’ve taken the ‘best’ crops and hybridized them to hopefully get the best of both worlds. Manipulating genes is more efficient but I don’t know if it is inherently less safe. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a FAQ page on GM foods. Note: The WHO is one of the many organizations that consider GM foods safe. One thing that was interesting to me is that GM foods have to go through extra assessments in regards to human health.
Golden Rice can help save lives and eyesight by providing vitamin A to people in areas where people aren’t getting a varied diet that includes fruits and vegetables. The Pope has given his personal blessing for the use of Golden Rice in November 2013. There is now a backlash starting against Greenpeace for their condemnation against a workable solution. (Greenpeace suggests that people should take vitamin A pills or grow their own vegetables – but that won’t work in these areas.) In terms of cost, the latest version of Golden Rice is available for humanitarian use in developing countries, free of charge. [Note: I’ve referenced the Golden Rice website because they have collected all the news and recent scientific papers here – but they are definitely promoting this food.]
Monsanto is a company that creates GMO seeds. They have terminator seeds which mean seeds produced at maturity are sterile. They will not produce another crop. Okay, maybe some farmers don’t mind paying yearly for their resistant crops. But these terminator seeds breed with nearby crops rendering them sterile as well.
In theory, there can be seed transfer between crops. I don’t know how a sterile seed can breed with its neighbours – if you know or have examples, please share in the comments – my understanding is that they are sterile to prevent spread. There have been examples of outcrossing (breeding with neighbours) so many places introduce physical barriers or separation to help prevent hybridization.
It’s become such a wide spread fear, there are currently seed banks saving the worlds seeds before they become extinct.
This sort of comes out of nowhere. We have seed banks – I got to visit one in the Norwegian Arctic! – but this is a general precaution, not in response to GM foods. Seeds are kept to help maintain biodiversity and do scientific research.
There’s a bigger picture here that goes beyond our pocketbook. It’s voting with our dollars saying yes, pollute our waterways (pesticides like round up are harmful for us, it’s banned for garden use in Canada) and modify our food.
It is perfectly acceptable to vote with our pocketbooks and we do it often. I agree that less pesticide use is better and encourage ways to make sure that happens. (And always wash your fruits and vegetables well!). However, the GM Corn Rat study in Sept 2012 that linked Round-Up with increased tumours and deaths was very flawed and it was retracted a year later in November 2013.
It’s a huge what if, so I know it’s difficult to suspend your belief. Get educated, understand your food supply. Our predicted life expectancy is shorter than our parents. We definitely need to look at food as one of the reasons (not just pesticides/GMO but also quality and quantity).
It is true that our predicted life expectancy is shorter than our parents -but I don’t think that we can jump to GM foods as the answer. We are less healthy (heavier, sitting more, etc) and that will contribute to shorter lifespans.
Whether you choose organic or not, we eat food everyday. You should know what goes into getting it to your table. It’s more vital to your health than anything else.
Food is important. But organic* is expensive and not everybody has the means to afford this lifestyle. I think the first step is making sure that we are eating a varied diet with all the nutrients. Please don’t make people feel bad if they can’t afford organic food. And let’s not prevent solutions to worldwide health concerns by dismissing genetic modification in all circumstances.
*Non-GM foods are not necessarily organic. Organic foods use different pesticides and have different processing.
Update April 24: if organic was the same price as GMO, would you still buy GMO? My answer: Yes, I would still buy GMO (see added note about organic). My preference is to buy from local sources but I have no preference for non-GMO.