Mounting scientific evidence of uncertainty, risk, and dangers of GM

Auto Date Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Peter Melchette, director of the UK’s Soil Association, said in his article “Don’t believe the GM apologists” in The Independent on August 21:

Twenty years ago, GM promised unbelievable wonders – fruit that would never freeze, crops needing no fertilizer or sprays and food with vitamins and medicines engineered in. All food would soon be GM. Geneticists would engineer anything we wanted, taking a gene from a fish here, a pig there, adding a bacteria gene and maybe a bit of a virus.

The greatest coup by the GM companies, and their greatest scientific fraud, was to ensure no GM food had to be tested for safety. GM maize could have added virus and antibiotic resistance genes, and a gene that makes it express an insecticide in every leaf, stem and root – but to the US government it looks and grows like maize, so it is safe to eat. GM crops face mounting scientific evidence of uncertainty, risk and danger. But now, because of rising food prices, the GM industry’s claim that GM is needed to feed the world is suddenly newsworthy again. However, a key reason for soaring food prices – higher oil costs leading to higher fertilizer prices – also presents a massive threat to GM crops. All current and planned GM crops depend on artificial, oil-based fertilizer to grow, and all need to be treated with pesticides to survive.

Experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) say there is no evidence that currently available genetically engineered crops strengthen drought tolerance or reduce fertilizer use. Nor do they increase crop yields.  According to Margaret Mellon, director of UCS’s Food and Environment Program in June/July issue of The Organic & Non-GMO Report: 

Increased energy prices, harsh weather, and trade policies are largely to blame for the recent spike in food prices, none of which have much to do with crop breeding technologies.  The biotech industry’s claims about genetically altered crops are perennially overstated. In truth, agricultural biotechnology has almost nothing to offer to the world food crisis in the short term. Let’s be clear: There are no crops on the market today genetically engineered to directly maximize yields.  There are no crops on the market engineered to resist drought. And there are no crops on the market engineered to reduce fertilizer use. Not one.

In 2006, the USDA admitted that “currently available GM crops do not increase yield potential,” a point already made by a 2004 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report which acknowledged that “GM crops can have reduced yields”. A recently published UN report, the work of more than 400 international scientists, concluded that GM crops do not have much to offer.www.TheTruthAboutGMOs.com

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