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Against GM Foods

Agriculture Engineering: There is a Price to Pay

Why are environmentalists and organic food proponents against GM foods? Because genetic engineering in agriculture is harmful to our environmental health. Understand the impact of agriculture engineering and genetically modified plants.

What are genetically modified foods? Genetically modified produce and GM crops are growing more readily available yet they are not good for the environment.

There are many reasons why a growing number of people are against GM foods. Impact on the environment. Impact on animals and other wildlife. Impact on humans. These are just a few reasons why genetically modified foods are finding resistance, instead of acceptance.

When companies, or research projects for that matter, genetically modify foods, they typically test the effects of the modified food on animals. Not good.

But it is even worse when the testing of GM foods occurs directly on young children.

A recent event with the testing of genetically modified rice on children has even the scientists protesting. A formal letter of protest was sent by 22 scientists to the Tufts University School of Medicine in the US; they were protesting that the trials of Golden Rice were a breach of the medical ethics code.

Medical ethics codes, such as: the Nuremberg code wherein it is defined that children are not legally capable of giving consent to participation in experiments; and the Belmont Report guidelines which define children as one of a group that are potentially vulnerable and require special protection) are in place to protect.

Against GM Foods; For Organic Food

organic carrots, organic foodThe recent protest is over genetically modified rice (known as 'Golden Rice' because of the introduction of enhanced levels of beta carotene) that was tested on children under the age of 10 in the United States (US) and China.

Children cannot give informed consent. And some parents are willing to consent to testing on their children.

However the scientists who have raised this issue believe that

  • " is completely immoral to feed this rice to children without proper safety testing ... [i]t's like putting a new drug on the market with no toxicology or safety trials"
  • (Professor David Schubert, Salk Institute of Biological Studies)

Not surprisingly, the Golden Rice Organization has a different perspective. They've resorted to name calling; on their site's home page they talk about "unwarranted attacks by die-hard luddites" on their project.

(I actually had to research the word luddites: the definition is those who oppose technological progress - rather a one-sided perspective against scientists and environmentalists who are opposed to unethical testing and opposed to genetic modification).

The Golden Rice Organization press release talks about how

  • "...using the correct Chinese and US government approved processes, the trials in China went ahead last year with the formal approval of their parents and the understanding of the children".

But I'd argue that by anyone's ethical standards, it must be apparent that children would not understand what they were ingesting and what the risks, or rewards, of testing the modified foods were to them individually and on a long term basis.

The Golden Rice Organization claims no breach of ethics, saying the experiment was reviewed by an ethical review panel.

However the 22 scientists who signed and sent the protest letter state the following concerns:

  • "It is a genetically modified product which has not been shown to be distinctive, uniform and stable over time. It has never been through a regulatory / approvals process anywhere in the world.

    There is now a large body of evidence that shows that GM crops and GM foods production are highly prone to inadvertent and unpredictable pleiotropic effects, which can result in health damaging effects when GM food products are fed to animals".

  • "Our greatest concern is that this rice, which is engineered to overproduce beta carotene, has never been tested in animals, and there is an extensive medical literature showing that retinoids that can be derived from beta carotene are both toxic and cause birth defects".

Ironically, this agriculture engineering experiment was funded and administered by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Against GM Foods:
Why No to GM Foods and Yes to Organic Foods?

Using children in testing is unethical by any standard. The excuse that parents approved that testing is unacceptable.

Furthermore, genetic engineering in agriculture is growing at an alarming rate; and producing genetically modified plants, produce and foods.

According to the Golden Rice Organization,

  • " 2008, 13.3 million farmers in 25 countries, 90 percent of them smallholders in less developed countries, were growing genetically modified crops on 125 million hectares, a number that has been constantly increasing for the last 12 years".

And while these scientists, companies and farmers focus on growing more, and arguably 'better' products, other scientists, companies, farmers, and individuals are trying to preserve seeds in a vault in Norway.

The goal is to preserve as wide a variety of plant seeds (unmodified) as possible from around the globe. It has been established as a storage facility ‘of last resort’ in case of a regional, national, or global crisis.

This need to preserve unmodified seeds is part of a disaster planning scenario; but will we be able to reverse the damage we are doing by genetically modifying foods today?

Against GM Foods: How Can You Make A Difference?

This argument against GM foods can seem overwhelming. How can an individual or a family or a group of people resist this GM foods trend and demonstrate that they are against GM foods?

The answer is that you can take one step in a better direction,
then another step, and another.

You can encourage your friends and family and neighbours to do the same.

We try to take our 'one step' in a better direction by buying organic foods and by planting our organic vegetable garden. We can make a difference if more people take at least one step in a better direction each day, each week, each month and each year.

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Disclaimer: The content of this page is an opinion and is not meant to be medical advice. We do not make any therapeutic claims for herbal supplements. This site is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in providing medical advice or professional services. Please consult with your doctor, health care practioner or professional service provider for specific problems or advice. Many recipes have been tested however some are submissions: no guarantee is given that the ingredients or directions provided are correct and complete.

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