Jul
18

IS GMO STILL AN ISSUE?

dna

Little Changes Somewhere in There…

This is a re-post of our blog on GMO from 3 years ago. We’re making it available now because of what we perceive as sustained lack of awareness on the part of many consumers who we talk with about their food purchase decisions. 

Our position on food is simple–as much as possible, acquire your foods from your own gardens and/or local farmers whose operations you can observe. This puts you, the consumer, in control, not the large conglomerates whose interest is primarily monetary and whose technological resources are virtually endless. To be in control, though, requires that you know as much as you can so you can make the best decisions about the food you eat. Imagine if we ALL simply said “No” to GMO!

Here’s our 2013 blog for your consideration:

 

What are we to say to those who ask whether GMO food is the saviour or nemesis of human-kind (or owls)?  Is the issue even as bi-polar as that, or is there some middle ground?

Let’s start with an accepted definition: Genetically Modified Organisms include foods that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. That is, GMO foods have had one or more of their identifying genes altered, deleted, or added to through a human-directed engineering process.

The bottom line: Humans have intentionally modified “natural” foods to meet their changing needs using means other than traditional breeding.

For example, tomatoes have been engineered to be more flavourful (the famous Flavr-Savr that got the marketing of GMO foods started back in 1994); apples have been engineered to not turn brown for weeks after being sliced open (an application for a GMO orchard in the Shuswap in on the books); corn has been modified to be resistant to pests and weeds; soy has been engineered for huge increases in yield. And so on. There really is no known limit to what GMO science can do.

Is GMO safe? Will the world’s food supply be enhanced and improved? Or will we be put at high risk if we continue to employ GMO processes to change our food sources?

We can tell you that many people (cultures, societies, scientists, citizens) fear possible toxic effects from plants made resistant to pesticides like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) or glyphosate (a herbicide used to kill weeds). As well, they fear they might experience an allergic reaction that might occur if they eat a GMO food engineered with a foreign nut gene.

But the proponents of GMO manipulation of our food crops say that GM crops, among other things:

  • 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, and
  • Reduce pesticide use

Nevertheless, the opponents counter with their claim that none of this is true, and that strong evidence exists that GM crops:

  • Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GMO 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

The list for what GMO can and can not do goes on for both proponents and opponents alike (see (http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/58 for more).

Many of the proponents and opponents alike appear to have the credentials and resources to understand and respond to GMO food processes, so what are we to make of their conflicting views?

But a short article like this one can not tell you all you need to determine whether GMO food is right for you and yours.

Many people think that GMO = Monsanto. I’m afraid there’s more to it than that, and it is not simple to understand. GMO is a science, not a company; a process, not a food.

So I recommend, with enthusiasm, that you download the following three sources (a YouTube video and two pdf documents) of extended discussion and information.

These are a good start because they come from credible sources and reflect varied approaches for your consideration. The first is a local, B.C., perspective (Dr. Thierry Vrain who worked as a GMO/ROUNDUP scientist until recently) and two international sides of the argument, each well-written and resourced:

1. GENE REVOLUTION, a video presentation by Dr. Thierry Vrain (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXLCJLrZv8w) who spoke in Salmon Arm in late 2013 to a full house.

Overview

Dr. Vrain is a controversial whistleblower on the GMO/RoundUp industry with the experience and education to warrant viewer’s trust in his credibility. He presently lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, and invites people to visit him on his model farm that employs neither GMO or Round Up.

2. A DECADE OF EU-FUNDED GMO RESEARCH (PDF: A decade of EU-funded GMO research).

Overview

“This is the second volume of results (from a European organization) studying different aspects of genetically modified organisms. It is part of an initiative of research programmes and activities commenced 25 years ago in response to policymakers’ and public concerns regarding the safety of the technology.” (p. 10)

“The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies. Another very important conclusion is that today’s biotechnological research and applications are much more diverse than they were 25 years ago, which is also reflected by the current 7th EU Framework Programme.” (p. 18)

3. GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS (http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/58).

Overview

“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 breeding, 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.” (p. 8)

And here’s another way of joining the conversation: I will be hosting some local farmers/distributors on my radio food show WHAT?/SO WHAT? in the next few months. Listen in at CKVS 93.7 FM, or listen on your computer at voiceoftheshuswap.ca (just click on LISTEN LIVE). The show is on Mondays at 4:00 p.m. and repeated on Thursdays at 8:00 a.m. and again on Sundays at 8:00 p.m.

There are a lot of “positions” on the topic of GMOs, and that is because the truth, if it is available at all right now, is difficult to get at. The emotions are charged, lines have been drawn, resources have been allocated, and there is virtually no place in the world where GMO crops are not in the market place, as whole or prepared foods, in spite of bans and partial bans. I hope the sources I’ve provided here help give you a voice in the matter, and I welcome hearing what you have to say.

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