Monthly Archives: April 2014

Genetically Modified Organisms: An Agricultural Students Perspective (part 4 of 4)

Two major alternatives to GMO’s are conventional agriculture and organic agriculture.  Many of the dangers associated with GMO’s are associated with conventional agriculture, such as: pesticide runoff, potential monoculture failure, and topsoil erosion.  These concerns are unacceptable as well.  The successes of organic agriculture in terms of yield and soil are clear. (Kremer, 2012)  The current successes of bio intensive agricultural techniques are intriguing as well.  I suggest the reemphasis of local agricultural communities reminiscent to the victory gardens of World War II.  I insist that individuals grow gardens for themselves and their community.  A shift toward the localization of agriculture would be beneficial on many levels. 

These levels include:

1.Healthier food choices through the decrease of mass-produced empty calories.

2.Increases in topsoil quality and decreases in erosion.

3.Increased food security through greater biodiversity of fruit and vegetable crops in the United States.

4.Greater national security through decreased dependence on petroleum products.  Agriculturalists can achieve this through decreased shipping distances of food as well as decreased pesticide use through organic pest management practices.

5.A general decline of chronic disease in the individual and a healthier medical system due to a healthier environment.

6.Localization would encourage decreases in farm size, which would lead to an opportunity for greater agricultural entrepreneurship.

The debate over the benefits of GMO’s will continue for some time.  The mainstream peer reviewed evidence itself has difficulty demonstrating the safety of GMO’s. Government economists refuse to state health benefits of GMO’s.  In contrast, there is evidence of side effects and harm to the environment.  The lax regulation of GMO’s in concert with the collusion of the leaders of industry and members of government allow speculation of the motives of those individuals involved.  Furthermore, there is strong evidence against any benefit of GMO’s in terms of crop yields. It is clear that GMO’s have yet to be studied thoroughly enough to quiet the concerns of the public. Therefore, for the health of this world, I believe in the removal of transgenic GMO’s from production pending further investigation. 

End of 4 of 4: References posted at end of 1 of 4

UPDATE: Since the writing of this paper I have discovered that Pamela Ronald (cited in the above paper) retracted two of her pro-GMO studies that have been cited by more than 120 other paper.  The article where I discovered this is here.

Genetically Modified Organisms: An Agricultural Students Perspective (part 3 or 4)

It is important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not and does not require safety testing of transgenic GMO crops.  The government simply requires a voluntary consultation process.  The FDA never required safety tests of GMO’s prior to the use of GMO’s.  The FDA’s view of transgenic GMO crops is that the crops are safe unless evidence to the contrary exists.  Without prior safety tests there never was any evidence to the contrary.  Mike Livingston, a government economist, recently stated in a Reuter’s article “We are not characterizing them (GMO crops) as bad or good.  We are just providing information” when discussing a recent report that he coauthored. (Gillam, 2014)  The inability to confidently state the safety of GMO’s is particularly worrisome due to the wide spread use of GMO’s and the collusion that exists between major seed companies, such as Monsanto and the regulatory committees that oversee them.  (Refer to image 2)

A lack of long-term safety testing of these crops prior to release is a major concern for consumers.  The public is essentially the testing ground for these crops.  The Institute for Responsible Technology lists ten reasons to avoid GMO’s.  These reasons are as follows:

1.GMO’s are unhealthy.  

2.GMO’s contaminate – forever.  

3.GMO’s increase herbicide use.  

4.Genetic engineering creates dangerous side effects.  

5.Government oversight is dangerously lax.  

6.The biotech industry uses “tobacco science” to claim product safety.

7.Independent research and reporting is attacked and suppressed.  

8.GMO’s harm the environment.  

9.GMO’s do not increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world. 

10.By avoiding GMO’s you can contribute to the coming tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply. (10 Reasons to Avoid GMO; 10 Reasons to Avoid GMO)

There are concerns for human health and the environment.  The Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) cites animal studies showing damage to the multiple organ systems, fertility and aging.  The DNA of GMO’s may cross-pollinate indefinitely through natural processes of plant propagation.  The natural selection of weeds requires the agricultural industry to use increased amounts of herbicide in order to achieve the same amount of weed suppression.  Furthermore, GMO’s potentially have many unknown side effects.  So far, researchers know that transgenic GMO crops have harmed the animal kingdom and soil organisms.  Monarch butterflies populations have decreased 50%.  (10 Reasons to Avoid GMO)  Honeybee populations have suffered colony collapses in recent years as well. 

In addition, “The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report…stated that GM crop yields were “highly variable” and in some cases, “yields declined”… “Assessment of the technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable.” They determined that the current GMOs have nothing to offer the goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability.”  (10 Reasons to Avoid GMO)

The close ties of the US government regulatory organizations and Monsanto call into question the ability of the regulatory organizations to faithfully monitor certain corporate food companies.  Additionally, industry purposefully funds research to avoid demonstrating the dangers of GMO’s.  In addition, because of independent research, independent researchers receive threats of gag orders, having funding pulled, and attacks of character and ability.  After several years of widespread use, the discovery of once unknown dangers of GMO’s may now be upon us. (10 Reasons to Avoid GMO)

In 2012, a French study concluded that transgenic GMO’s caused cancer.  The retraction of this study validates the safety of transgenic GMO’s to many.  The study is similar to a previous study, in number of and type of rats, published year’s prior.  (Times, 2013)  The same journal published both studies.  However, the previous study, performed by Monsanto lasted 90 days.  The Monsanto study did not reveal any problems with transgenic GMO’s.  In contrast, the retracted study was for two years.  Therefore, the only difference between the studies was the length of the study.  It is curious that the only study retracted by the journal was the study that portrayed GMO’s as negative. (Hansen, 2013)

End of 3 of 4: References posted at end of 1 of 4

UPDATE: Since the writing of this paper I have discovered that Pamela Ronald (cited in the above paper) retracted two of her pro-GMO studies that have been cited by more than 120 other paper.  The article where I discovered this is here.