Right on the heels of my post on sodium, I found a leaflet produced by Canadian Farmers that included a section on GMO. The article stated that these farmers were pro GMO and believe genetically modified foods to be safe, after all “this is the food we feed our families”. I was opposed to GMO but that was based more on the fact that I don’t like anyone messing around with my food than on actual knowledge. What did the farmers know that I didn’t?
First, what is a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)? This is an organism, like a seed, that has had its genes (DNA) altered to act in a way that does not happen naturally and/or contains genes from another organism. Source: eatrightontario.ca
GMO is a most controversial subject and I will only present what I’ve discovered. There is an immense amount of information, pro and con, much more than can be condensed into one post. However, the following document is the one – of the many papers I found – that most impressed me. Anyone seriously wanting to know about GMO is encouraged to read this 123 page document. Below I am quoting word for word from their executive summary.
#GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS
An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops, Version 1.3
By: Michael Antoniou, Claire Robinson, John Fagan, June 2012
#EarthOpenSource, www.earthopensource.org, 2nd Floor 145-157, St. John St. London EC1V 4PY UK
Genetically modified (GM) crops are promoted on the basis of a range of far-reaching claims from the GM crop industry and its supporters. They say that GM crops:
- Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops
- Are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops
- Are strictly regulated for safety
- Increase crop yields
- Reduce pesticide use
- Benefit farmers and make their lives easier
- Bring economic benefits
- Benefit the environment
- Can help solve problems caused by climate change
- Reduce energy use
- Will help feed the world
However, a large and growing body of scientific and other authoritative evidence shows that these claims are not true. On the contrary, evidence presented in this report indicates that GM crops:
- Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GM crops
- Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
- Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety
- Do not increase yield potential
- Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
- Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
- Have mixed economic effects
- Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
- Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
- Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
- Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.
Based on the evidence presented in this report, there is no need to take risks with GM crops when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that GM technology is claimed to address already exist. Conventional plant breading, in some cases helped by safe modern technologies like gene mapping and marker assisted selection, continues to outperform GM in producing high-yield, drought-tolerant, and pest- and disease-resistant crops that can meet our present and future food needs.
End of Executive Summary.
Lead researcher Alessandro Nicolia, applied biologist at the University of Perugia, told Real Clear Science and reported by John Entine, Forbes Magazine contributor, “We tried to give a balanced view informing about what has been debated, the conclusions reached so far, and emerging issues.”
“In short, genetically modified foods are among the most extensively studied scientific subjects in history. This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of GM technology, and the paper’s conclusion is unequivocal: there is no credible evidence that GMOs pose any unique threat to the environment or the public’s health. The reason for the public’s distrust of GMOs lies in psychology, politics and false debates.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2013/10/14/2000-reasons-why-gmos-are-safe-to-eat-and-environmentally-sustainable/2/
World Health Organization: 20 Questions on Genetically Modified Foods: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/
According to Just Label It – http://www.justlabelit.org/right-to-know-center/labeling-around-the-world/ “64 countries around the world require labeling of genetically modified foods. Unlike most other developed countries – such as 28 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and even China – the USA (and Canada) has no laws requiring labeling of genetically modified foods.”
My question – WHY NOT? This is an area where I will express my opinion as this is of some concern to me. We have fairly strong labeling laws in Canada and it seems a little suspicious to me that GMO doesn’t need to be identified on the label – almost like there is something to hide. How can we be informed consumers if products aren’t labeled? Shouldn’t we have to right to eat non-GMO foods if we so desire?
One way you can be sure to eat non-GMO foods is to buy organic…………but here again you need to know your labels:
Is Organic Always GMO Free? Source: http://gmo-awareness.com/2011/05/05/is-organic-always-gmo-free/
Organic is USUALLY GMO free, but you need to understand the labels. I did a post a while ago about how labels could be manipulated to let people think they are buying organic, when in fact the label was nothing more than a marketing ploy. http://frugalforeveryone.ca/buying-organic-what-do-the-labels-really-mean/
- Certified 100% Organic means just that – may not contain any GMOs;
- Certified Organic – 95% must be organic – the remaining ingredients must consist of approved substances and GMOs are NOT included – this one has loopholes. For instance: The casings for organic sausages can come from conventionally raised animals that have been fed antibiotics or GMO-laden corn. The hops in your favourite organic beer can be sprayed with all manner of chemical pesticides and fertilizers;
- Made with Organic: Up to 70% of the ingredients are organic – the remaining ingredients may be produced without prohibited practices, including GMOs.
Some other sources:
Center for Food Safety – TRUE FOODS SHOPPER’S GUIDE – How to Avoid Foods made with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/fact-sheets/1974/true-food-shoppers-guide-to-avoiding-ge-food
The G.M.O Boycott List – http://healthwyze.org/index.php/component/content/article/605
There is much more to read on this subject but I believe what I’ve presented gives you a fair overview of GMO and where to go for more information to help you make an informed decision.
Do you believe GMO will help solve world hunger or do you think we will be sorry we ever started down this path? Please have your say in the comments below.
Talk to you again next week,