I recently spoke with knowledgeable individuals from Europe, Africa, and Asia about their concerns with genetically modified crops grown in the United States. I explained that GMOs, genetically modified organisms, have been in use for nearly two decades, and we have been assured they are safe. Genetic modification involves inserting genetic material from one species into another to produce new properties. Current GMO technology has two purposes: pesticide production and herbicide resistance. The first technology, “Bt,” inserts genetic material from Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium into plants to produce bacterial toxins to kill insects. The second technology involves creating “Roundup-Ready” crops resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in the broadleaf week killer Roundup.
An article published in Mother Earth News, “The Threats from Genetically Modified Foods,” http://www.motherearthnews.com/sustainable-farming/genetically-modified-foods-zm0z12amzmat.aspx, points to possible health risks. Though we have been told by the makers of GMO seed and glyphosate of their safety, the article strongly questions this. It explains that the manufacturers make it nearly impossible for independent scientists to study genetically modified seeds. Researchers point to possible risks to human health with Bt crops causing damage to the small intestines and glyphosate causing malformations in animals. Also, glyphosate causes damage to wetlands through run-off, and causes soil damage. Researchers state that glyphosate “can significantly increase the severity of various plant diseases, impair plant defense to pathogens and disease, and immobilize soil and plant nutrients, rendering them unavailable for plant use.” These researchers also warn that glyphosate “may have dire consequences for agriculture such as rendering soils infertile, crops nonproductive and plants less nutritious.” Glyphosate herbicide can lead to disease and toxins in plants including toxin levels in straw high enough to make cattle and pigs infertile. In another GMO technology, “rBST,” genetically modified cattle growth hormone is injected into dairy cattle to increase milk production, resulting in high levels of a milk protein that increases the risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Surely, GMO crops deserve independent scientific investigation. Photo: GMO Corn.--Richard