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What you should know about GMO

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Rachel   |   2016-06-06

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms, and GE stands for Genetically Engineered. These terms are used to describe crops that have had their genetic structures modified by scientists. Genes from other plants, viruses, bacteria, animals, etc. are inserted into the genes of certain products ( such as corn and soybeans) to make them more stable and resistant to drought, disease and pesticides. However, because of this cross - breeding, the safety of such foods has not been able to have been proven and other countries have banned the modified foods from being imported and/or grown.

I. Fundamental Weaknesses
II. Health Hazards
III. Environmental Hazards

Fundamental Weaknesses

Imprecise Technology — A genetic engineer moves genes from one organism to another. A gene can be cut precisely from the DNA of an organism, but the insertion into the DNA of the target organism is basically random. There is a risk that it may disrupt the functioning of other genes essential to the life of that organism.

Side Effects — Scientists do not yet understand living systems completely enough to perform DNA surgery without creating mutations which could be harmful to the environment and our health.

Widespread Crop Failure — When a farmer plants GE seeds, all the seeds have identical genetic structure. As a result, if a fungus, a virus, or a pest develops which can attack this particular crop, there could be widespread crop failure.

Threatens our Entire Food Supply — Insects, birds, and wind can carry GE altered seeds into neighboring fields and beyond. All crops are vulnerable to contamination from cross - pollination.

Health Hazards

No Long - term safety testing — Genetic engineering uses material from organisms that have never been a part of the human food supply. The only tests that have been done on their safety have been done by the makers of these GE org anisms, and have only been done in the short term. Tests on animals who consume GE products have shown genetic disruptions, hormone imbalances, and birth defects.

Toxins — The main ingredient in the herbicides used on GE crops is called Glyphosate. Glyphosate exposure is linked to obesity, learning disabilities, birth defects, infertility, and potentially irreversible metabolic damage. Even scarier — there is current legislation pending to approve the use of 2,4 - D on GE crops. 2,4 - D is the main ingredient in Agent Orange!

Allergic Reactions — When plants are crossbred with entirely new species, new proteins are introduced into the crop, and food allergies can develop if your immune system attacks those new proteins and treats them like foreign invaders.

Decreased Nutritional Value — A luscious looking, bright red genetically engineered tomato could be several weeks old and of little nutritional worth.

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria — Genetic engineers use antibiotic - resistant genes to mark genetically engine ered cells. This means that genetically engineered crops contain genes which confer resistance to antibiotics. These genes may be picked up by bacteria which may infect us.

Problems Cannot be Traced — Without labels, our public health agencies are powerle ss to trace problems of any kind back to their source.

Environmental Hazards

Increased Water Use — The use of mono - cropping with GE plants leads to degraded soil. Degraded soil retains less moisture, and therefore requires much more frequent watering than organic fields.

Increased Water Pollution — Nitrogen - rich fertilizers used on GE crops can run off into our water supply, creating huge “dead zones” in our lakes and oceans. They grow into huge algae plumes that use all the oxygen in the water and suffocat e all natural animal and plant life.

Increased use of Pesticides -- evidence from organic groups like The Organic Center have shown that GE crops have actually increased farmers' reliance on pesticides by as much as 200 percent — despite repeated promises that plants genetically engineered to produce their own pesticides would lower reliance on toxic chemicals.

Increased use of Herbicides — over time, weeds have begun to develop resistance to certain herbicides used. That means that the producers of GE pro ducts must keep producing stronger and stronger, and therefore more and more dangerous chemical herbicides to keep crops safe from weeds. Ecological Damage — GE organisms compete with wild relatives and cause unforeseen changes in the environment.

Gene Pollution — Once GE bacteria and viruses are released into the environment, it is impossible to contain or recall them. The negative effects are irreversible.

CLAIMS VS. FACTS

Claim: GE foods are more drought resistant

Fact: Rodale Institute data shows that, during normal weather, organic and conventional farming produce about the same amount of food. But when weather starts to act up, organic wins out, producing 30 percent more in years of drought. That's notable considering t hat the biotechnology firms that produce genetically engineered seeds are always bragging that biotech, not organic agriculture, is what farmers need to adapt to climate change. When the Institute introduced GE crops into the trials, it found that so - called "drought - tolerant" GE varieties only saw 7 to 13 percent improvement in crop yields during a drought.

Claim: GE foods will save the developing world

FACT: Biotech companies patent their seeds. To protect their investment, the farmers that use the seed s ign a contract which prohibits saving, reselling, or exchanging seed. The family farms of the poorer nations dep end on saved seed for survival. Biotech companies also patent other people's seeds, like basmati rice, neem, and quinoa, taking advantage of ind igenous knowledge and centuries of selective breeding by small farmers without giving anything in return. The same companies, backed by the U.S. government, proposed to protect their seed patents through the terminator technology. A terminator seed will grow, but the seeds it produces are sterile. Any nation that buys such seeds will swiftly lose any vestige of agricultural self - sufficiency. Furthermore, genetically engineered seeds are designed for agribusiness farming, not for the capabilities of the small family farms of the developing nations. Further, small farms would not be able to purchase the chemicals necessary for GE seeds.

Claim : Genetic engineering is simply an extension of traditional crossbreeding

FACT: Crossbreeding cannot transfer genes across species barriers. Genetic engineering transfers genes between species that could never be crossbred. Also, crossbreeding lets nature manage the delicate activity of combining the DNA of the parents to form the DNA of the child. Genetic engineering shoots the new gene into the host organism without reference to any holistic principle at all.

Questions? Email Rachel@grantfarms.com

Tags: ge, gmo


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