Thursday, February 27, 2014

The GMO trade-off

Today, I just want to continue this week's series on the EWG's report on GMOs. On Monday, I told you about a few products to watch for that may or may not be genetically engineered. Yesterday, I listed the Environment Working Group's Factory Four (the most common GE ingredients in food). Now, I thought it would be good to fill you in on some other info we all need to know.

Image by Petr Kratochvil

Did you know that while the U.S. government mandates strict safety evaluations on each new drug before it hits the shelves, there is no requirements to do the same for GMOs. None. Is that because they're safe? Of course not. The fact is there have been few studies, and they've all been conducted by independent scientific institutions. The independent research includes testing for carcinogenicity, for harm to fetuses, and for long term risks to animals and humans. The government hasn't bothered.

As we continue to genetically modify the crops to make them herbicide-tolerant, we reap the "benefits" of what the industry calls "superweeds." These weeds have mutated in order to survive the herbicides sprayed on them. As a result, 61 million plus acres of farmland in the U.S. have Roundup-resistant weeds cropping up everywhere (according to Farm Industry News 2013). So what happens? The farmers have to treat their fields with older, more toxic herbicides (dicamba, and 2,4-D). In addition to posing an increased risk of cancer, these chemicals cause birth defects and reproductive problems. That's not a assumption. It's a documented fact.

So, the bottom line is that these genetically engineered crops have created the need for even more toxic chemicals being sprayed on our food! Does this not make you furious?! According to Charles M. Benbrook, research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, herbicide-tolerant crops that stimulated superweed growth caused farmers to use an estimated 527 million pounds more herbicide between 1997 and 2011 than they would have needed had they planted only non-GE crops. Click here to read more about this issue from Environmental Sciences Europe.

Then there's the problem of cross-contamination. Wind, insects, floods, and machinery all play a part in cross-contamination of crops due from the pollen of GE plants. Wonderful. Some of the results include a potential lost income for organic farmers totally $90 million annually from their corn crops alone -- and that's according to research over a decade ago by the Union of Concerned Scientists!

Do genetically engineered crops produce more? Perhaps. But at what cost? Thanks to Monsanto and the likes, we now have many, many more herbicide-resistant weeds and our exposure to toxic pesticides is higher than ever. Gee, thanks.

On tomorrow's Use This Instead Of This, I'll touch upon some ways to avoid GMOs. All week, I've presented problems. Tomorrow, I'd like to present some solutions.

Caring about you and your families,

Other posts in this series:

Dr. Frankenstein, you've created a monster

The EWG's Factory Four -- can you spot the GMOs?

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