Controversies Surrounding GMO Foods
There are many controversies surrounding GMO foods. The issues listed below are but a small sampling of them. Genetic engineering of food sounds good on the surface, and it’s not that some sort of engineering hasn’t taken place as long as crops have been around.
However, it’s the actual altering of the genetic makeup of food crops to the point where they may be causing problems with the environment and farmers’ livelihoods which has caused the outcry. The resulting actual events that are occurring are making people wake up and take action against biotech food companies.
Indian Farmer Mass Suicides
It is estimated that every 30 seconds another Indian farmer commits suicide due to crop failure after using GMO seeds. Many blame Monsanto Company due to their introduction of Bt cotton to Indian cotton farmers in the belief that if they bought these seeds they would not need to use pesticides on their cotton crops.
However, they learned later they would need to buy Monsanto’s pesticides and to add insult to injury they could not reuse the seeds from the first crop – they had to re-buy seeds every single year. Due to these facts many Indian farmers are suffering from bankruptcy. Thus far it is estimated that about 125,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide.
GMO Seed Monopoly by Biotech Companies
Much of our global food system is controlled by four major corporations:
2. DuPont Pioneer
4. Dow AgroSciences
A large portion of major crops used in the production of livestock feed, processed foods, and so forth come from the production of soy, corn, sugar beets, cotton, and canola (with more being developed all the time). These four companies own the intellectual property rights to the development of their GM seeds, and therefore there is huge concern about these companies holding a monopoly on seed production. They require farmers to buy seed each year instead of reusing, and they actively go after farmers who don’t comply.
The fact is, seeds are seeds and they are often carried by wind, bees, and butterflies to damage other nearby plants. For instance, if you were growing organic corn on your farm and a few miles away someone was growing GMO corn, you may lose your certified organic status if cross-pollination occurs.
The problem is, you can’t stop it. This is part of nature. Therefore, one has to ask, is it fair to pollute the world with GMOs that are owned intellectually by a particular company, allowing them to infect all crops? Soon, there may be no organic seeds, and all seeds will be owned by a corporation.
Bees and Butterflies Adversely Affected
When a farmer uses Monsanto’s seeds they must also use Roundup, and other particular pesticides to protect their crop. These chemicals have been shown to have already damaged, maybe irreparably, the bee and butterfly population.
With over 25,000 bees killed in just one small Oregon town and many more millions of bees dying at once in locations across Canada and other areas where GMO plantings of corn has been determined to possibly be a factor, it’s no wonder that there are concerns. Without bees and butterflies there will be no crops – GMO or otherwise.
Even if it turns out that the only issue is food security and an overuse of pesticides, and GMOs are actually not harmful, those two issues alone should cause individuals, cities and nations to take notice and demand more transparency in the biotech food industry.