GMOs Don’t Offer Food Security

GMOs Don’t Offer Food Security

With the world’s growing population, it is often argued that factory farming is the only way to ensure that enough food is being produced in a large-scale. However, with the increasing awareness of the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), there has been a rise of not only the organic food movement, but also the return to locally grown food.

GMOs are plants or animals created through gene splicing biotechnology. Also known as gene engineering, genes from one species is transferred to another, the end product being something that is not found in nature. In the U.S., 80% of out food contains GMOs. In 2011, approximately 88% of corn, and approximately 94% of soy grown in the U.S. was genetically modified.

Those who are against the use of GMOs argue that GMOs are bad for the body, for the farmer, and for the environment.

From a health perspective, the safety of consuming GMO products is unknown. There is a lack of long-term analysis on what health outcomes GMOs cause. Scientists are fearful that that once a GMO is consumed, the mutant genes could be passed on to bacterium in our digestive system. Studies have found that female rats that were fed GMO soybeans have birth to a litter of stunted and sterile rats. Studies have linked genetically modified foods to allergies, cancer, and reproductive, pancreatic disorders.

Many foods that contain GMOs are not labeled in the United States. Furthermore, the European Union, Australia, Japan, and two-dozen other countries have all banned the use of GMOs.

Once a GMO seed enters the soil, it passes on its traits, contaminating other seeds. This results in new strains of plants. In Japan, a new strain of amino acid was created as a result of this and used in protein drinks. It was later banned after it was linked to metabolic damage and death.

Diversity in plants is reduced once GMOs enter the picture. Plants that do not have diverse genes cannot fight off insects, fungus, or even survive droughts compared to naturally grown and developed plants. GMO crops need large quantities of pesticides, which are also harmful for our health—not to mention are open run off into our water.

Those who are pro-GMO argue that genetically altering food could create more nutritious produce that contains more vitamins. They argue these crops could withstand drought and pests. While they believe GMOs are safe (and are backed by the FDA) and promote biodiversity (even though Monsanto is developing seeds that become sterile after the first generation), their biggest argument is that GMOs will end world famine.

Hence, “golden rice,” which contains genes from viruses spliced with daffodils, was created as a solution to the millions of children who die each year from a Vitamin A deficiency. Golden rice produces beta-carotene that naturally is converted to Vitamin A in our bodies. However, the rice was unable to grow in the areas it was most needed because of the type of soil. The rice needed massive pesticides and fertilizers, as well as water and irrigation systems, causing the project to be too expensive for real-world use.

India passed a bill last year aimed at delivering subsided food made from GMOs to more than 800 million Indian people.

Dilnavaz Variava, who heads the consumer issues division of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, told the Wall Street Journal that GMO food will not help India’s food crisis.” India has enough food grain — almost two-and-a-half times the required buffer stock — and yet 200 million Indians go hungry,” she stated.

“The problem of sufficiency is not one of production, but of economic and physical access, which the Food Security Bill attempts to address. Poverty, mounds of rotting food grain, wastage and leakages in the Public Distribution System are the real causes of food insecurity. GMO food cannot address this.”

She believes that the new bill is promoting not regulating GMOs and the solution lies in argo-ecological approaches focused on small-scale farming. More than 1 million Indian farmers are growing pesticide-free crops successfully, making this way of farming safer and an equally effective way to feed the poor.

While 65% of land contains genetically modified crops, hunger increased from 12.6% in 2004-2006 to 25.5% in 2010-2012. In comparison, food insecurity in the U.S. has rose from 12% in 1995 (pre-GMO) to 15% in 2011.