GMO Dangers: How Much More Proof Do We Need?
Last week, a reader posted a critical comment on an article I wrote that explained why, in my opinion, we as consumers should be concerned about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) entering our food supply.
Here’s some of what he had to say:
“Despite all the assertions and hype, the author cites not a single reference to a specific peer reviewed study on the harmful effects of GMOs. You can get such damning papers for asbestos, nicotine, dioxin and PCBs, but good luck on finding it for GMOs. What the author also fails to mention, GMOs, developed for the 3rd world are designed to be pest and drought resistant as well as increase yield sizes. Compared to organics, which indisputably use twice the land and resources for similar yields as conventional farming (as reflected in the price), how can you reconcile your flat out rejection of GMOs as being environmentally friendly?….Do you hope to get a few billion more notches in your belt by banning GMO’s while you sit safe and sound in the West, nibbling on your overpriced organic carrots?”
My initial reaction upon reading this comment was that it was a classic example of GMO “greenwashing.” This is the term applied when non-green practices and products are made to seem green – usually by the PR departments of large companies. I recently read a Food & Water Watch fact sheet on the greenwashing of genetically engineered crops by Big Agra companies like Monsanto. These companies and their supporters claim that GMO crops are needed to solve the global food production problems caused by climate change.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Monsanto advertises that biotech crops can feed the world “from a raindrop,” suggesting that GE crops are especially climate change resistant. In 2011, Roger Beachy, then director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s primary research agency, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, suggested to Scientific American magazine that GE crops protect traditional small farmers by reducing the need for agrochemicals. But this greenwashing doesn’t change what is just agribusiness as usual: more agrochemicals, more fossil fuels and more intensive agricultural production.”
I encourage you to download the full fact sheet and read it in its entirety to learn more about how GMOs benefit Big Agra companies — not farmers, not American consumers, and not even people in areas of the world facing food shortages.
The other bogus claim that Big Agra makes is that GMO foods are perfectly safe. Yet there is undeniable scientific evidence that proves the contrary — GMOs pose a grave threat to human health.
1) 19 studies link GMOs to organ disruption
Here are two examples of condemning research that has been in the news just in the last few weeks:
In April, disturbing headlines announced that a review of 19 studies concluded that consuming GMO corn or soybeans leads to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, particularly in livers and kidneys. The researchers who conducted the review stated that the GMO soybean and corn varieties used in the studies “constitute 83% of the commercialized GMOs” that Americans currently consume.”
Writing about the review in the Institute for Responsible Technology’s blog, Jeffrey Smith explains that Big Agra often makes excuses when study findings point to health risks associated with GMOs:
“If statistically significant problems show up in their studies, biotech company researchers often attempt to explain away the adverse findings. But the authors of this review paper describe their excuses as unscientific, obsolete, or unjustified.”
2) Toxic insecticide found in human blood
According to an article that appeared on NaturalNews.com the results of new research, which detected a GMO insecticide chemical, known as Bt toxin, in human blood is proof that its widespread use is a threat to human health and a major public health concer.
“The biotechnology industry’s house of cards appears to be crumbling, as a new study out of the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, recently found Bt toxin, a component of certain genetically-modified (GM) crops, in human blood samples for the first time. Set to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology the new study shreds the false notion that Bt is broken down by the digestive system, and instead shows that the toxin definitively persists in the bloodstream….Upon taking blood samples, researchers detected the Bt Cry1Ab toxin in a shocking 93 percent of maternal and 80 percent of fetal blood samples. And 69 percent of non-pregnant women tested positive for the toxin in their blood….The fact that Bt toxin was detected even in unborn babies shows that the chemical is easily passed from mother to child, and that it persists far longer than the biotechnology industry claims it does.”
These two studies are certainly cause for concern, in my opinion, and these are just a few of the most recent ones. There may not yet be a vast body of peer-reviewed clinical research (i.e. hundreds or thousands of studies) demonstrating the grave dangers of consuming GMOs, but the fact is GMOs are relatively new and many long term human studies have yet to be completed. In the absence of these studies, to just assume that GMOs do not pose a threat to human health defies all logic. Do we really need to wait…until it’s too late?
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM)’s official position on GMOs is that they “have not been properly tested and pose a serious health risk” and that a moratorium on GMO foods should be put in place until long-term studies demonstrate their safety. Many other environmental, public health and consumer protection organizations around the world have echoed these sentiments.
My final parting comment is this. If Monsanto and the other Big Agra companies are so sure that GMOs are completely safe, why do they vigorously lobby against any efforts to label foods containing GMOs? If their GMOs are so amazing and solve so many problems, wouldn’t they want to flaunt it, rather than hide it? I think they surely would, unless they have something to hide, and are concerned about liability.
So, I challenge anyone out there who thinks they have proof that GMOs are in fact safe, to post a comment below with a link to such a study. Or, if you have additional evidence that GMOs are dangerous, I encourage you to share that as well!
Article updated on: February 13th, 2012