Are GMOs Really That Bad?

More and more Americans are becoming aware and concerned of the existence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their invisible presence throughout the food supply. But this awareness comes with a lot of confusion since the processed food and biotechnology industries have spent a lot of money and effort spreading propaganda about GMOs.

On its corporate website, Monsanto clearly expresses its opinion that GMOs are no different from natural crops, and therefore do not need to be independently safety tested. The other companies that manufacture GMOs also claim that the human body is unable to tell the difference between GMOs and natural food. But a 2004 study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology reveals transgenic plant DNA (the cross genetic material that imparts the so called beneficial attributes like pesticide resistance) actually remains in the human gastrointestinal tract upon consumption. According to this important study, which is the closest thing to a human clinical trial that has ever been conducted with GMOs, genetic material from GMOs actually transfers into the DNA of living bacteria in the gut, where it reproduces indefinitely.

If you think about what GMO’s are, pesticides imbedded into bacteria, it isn’t rocket science to suspect eating a diet permeated with GMOs may ultimately cause cancer. The Seralini Study produced solid evidence showing that GMOs are processed by mammals far differently than natural foods. According to this study’s findings, rats fed a lifetime of GMOs sprayed with the Roundup (glyphosate) herbicide developed serious tumors that took over their entire bodies. An earlier study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences reached similar results, with the addition of organ failure as a symptom of GMO consumption. Remember, diseases like cancer take a long time to develop in humans. So, besides the ethical considerations of running tests aimed at feeding human subjects a diet of GMOs, the time factor of decades before cancers might develop makes human testing impractical.

gmos-badContrary to industry claims, GMOs have not reduced the need for pesticide use. In fact, they have greatly expanded it. According to a comprehensive, 16 year review of chemical use which covers the time from introduction of GMOs in 1996, researchers from Washington State University found that the use of herbicides increased by a mind boggling 527 million pounds since GMOs entered the food supply. Roundup, the chemical engineered into many GMOs and sprayed on the crops, does not break down over time but lingers in soil and waterways. It has even been known to contaminate water supplies.

Industry spokespersons and the scientists that represent the corporations tout the supposed environmental benefits of GMOs. In reality, GMOs and the chemicals used to grow them are a major source of environmental pollution. A study published during 2011 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that the Bt (Bacillus thuriengensis) bacteria engineered into Monsanto’s GM corn can now be found in hundreds of streams and waterways throughout the Midwest. Another study published in the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry revealed that Roundup herbicide is also present in many waterways and groundwater sources throughout America as well.

The presence of GMO byproducts in our water and soil would be less concerning if they were just pollutants. According to studies, these chemicals actually degrade and deplete soils of vital minerals and beneficial bacteria, both of which naturally protect crops from pests, viruses, and other threatening elements. Glyphosate, the active component in Roundup, does not break down, which means it is continually accumulating unchecked in the environment, perpetually altering soil composition and contaminating natural resources.

The argument for planting GMO crops maintains that artificially engineering crops with resistance to chemicals applied at a strength, which would kill unmodified crops, can improve yields and protect the environment. This built-in resistance has allowed farmers to indiscriminately spray chemicals like Roundup on their crops without worrying about killing them. The flaw in the system is becoming apparent. The weeds and pests targeted by GMO technologies mutated and developed resistance to crop chemicals and Bt toxin. GMOs are contributing to a rise in superbugs and weeds, which could bring about eventual disaster for the food supply.

One of the major complaints about GMOs is that they easily pass their traits onto non-GMO, organic, and native crops and other plants. GMOs damage native species by permanently destroying their genetic integrity. Hundreds of farmers have actually been sued by Monsanto and other biotech corporations over the years after their crops were inadvertently contaminated by GMOs. GMOs are also responsible for killing off bees, bats, butterflies, and other pollinators, whose bodies are unable to handle the onslaught of altered DNA and chemicals that are characteristic of GMO technologies.

So are they really that bad? You tell me…

Image courtesy of iStockphoto.

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