Home Journal Excerpts Genetically Modified Food The Case for A GM-Free Sustainable World
The Case for A GM-Free Sustainable World PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 15 June 2003 00:00
“The consistent finding from independent research and on-farm surveys since 1999 is that GM crops have failed to deliver the promised benefits of significantly increasing yields or reducing herbicide and pesticide use. GM crops have cost the United States an estimated $12 billion in farm subsidies, lost sales and product recalls due to transgenic contamination. Massive failures in Bt cotton of up to 100% were reported in India. Biotech corporations have suffered rapid decline since 2000, and investment advisors forecast no future for the agricultural sector. Meanwhile worldwide resistance to GM has reached a climax when Zambia in 2002 refused GM maize in food aid despite the threat of famine.”

“Triple herbicide-tolerant oilseed rape volunteers that have combined transgenic and non-transgenic traits are now widespread in Canada. Similar multiple herbicide-tolerant volunteers and weeds have emerged in the United States. In the United States, glyphosate-tolerant weeds are plaguing GM cotton and soya fields, and atrazine, one of the most toxic herbicides, has had to be used with glufosinate-tolerant GM maize.”

“The glycoprotein gene gp120 of the AIDS virus HIV-1, incorporated into GM maize as a 'cheap, edible oral vaccine', serves as yet another biological time-bomb, as it can interfere with the immune system and recombine with viruses and bacteria to generate new and unpredictable pathogens.”

“Glufosinate ammonium and glyphosate are used with the herbicide-tolerant transgenic crops that currently account for 75% of all transgenic crops worldwide. Both are systemic metabolic poisons expected to have a wide range of harmful effects, and these have been confirmed. Glufosinate ammonium is linked to neurological, respiratory, gastrointestinal and haematological toxicities, and birth defects in humans and mammals. It is toxic to butterflies and a number of beneficial insects, also to the larvae of clams and oysters, Daphnia and some freshwater fish, especially the rainbow trout. It inhibits beneficial soil bacteria and fungi, especially those that fix nitrogen. Glyphosate is the most frequent cause of complaints and poisoning in the UK. Disturbances of many body functions have been reported after exposures at normal use levels. Glyphosate exposure nearly doubled the risk of late spontaneous abortion, and children born to users of glyphosate had elevated neurobehavioral defects.”

“Roundup caused cell division dysfunction that may be linked to human cancers. The known effects of both glufosinate and glyphosate are sufficiently serious for all further uses of the herbicides to be halted.”

“By far the most insidious dangers of genetic engineering are inherent to the process itself, which greatly enhances the scope and probability of horizontal gene transfer and recombination, the main route to creating viruses and bacteria that cause disease epidemics. This was highlighted, in 2001, by the 'accidental' creation of a killer mouse virus in the course of an apparently innocent genetic engineering experiment.”

“There is already experimental evidence that transgenic DNA from plants has been taken up by bacteria in the soil and in the gut of human volunteers. Antibiotic resistance marker genes can spread from transgenic food to pathogenic bacteria, making infections very difficult to treat.”

“Transgenic DNA is known to survive digestion in the gut and to jump into the genome of mammalian cells, raising the possibility for triggering cancer. The possibility cannot be excluded that feeding GM products such as maize to animals also carries risks, not just for the animals but also for human beings consuming the animal products.”

“Evidence suggests that transgenic constructs with the CaMV 35S promoter might be especially unstable and prone to horizontal gene transfer and recombination, with all the attendant hazards: gene mutations due to random insertion, cancer, reactivation of dormant viruses and generation of new viruses. This promoter is present in most GM crops being grown commercially today.”

“There is no longer any doubt that GM crops are not needed to feed the world, and that hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, and not by inadequate production of food. According to estimates by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, there is enough food produced to feed everyone using only conventional crops, and that will remain the case for at least 25 years and probably far into the future. Furthermore, as Altieri and Rosset have argued, even if hunger is due to a gap between food production and human population growth, current GM crops are not designed to increase yields or for poor small farmers, so they are unlikely to benefit from them. Because the true root cause of hunger is inequality, any method of boosting food production that deepens inequality is bound to fail to reduce hunger. A recent report by ActionAid concludes that, "The widespread adoption of GM crops seems likely to exacerbate the underlying cause of food insecurity, leading to more hungry people, not fewer".”

Mae-Wan Ho and Lim Li Ching, "The Case for A GM-Free Sustainable World", Independent Science Panel, June 15, 2009, Num. 0, 



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Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 June 2009 12:57