Genetic Engineers Blast GM Crops

In discussions with friends who have only vague ideas about all the GMO (genetically modified organisms) controversy, I have often wished for a handy guide to the main arguments, pro and con. Now I finally have it, thanks to a new report: “GMO Myths and Truths: An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops.”

The report’s authors include two genetic engineers and a writer and editor with extensive knowledge of the issues. They have clustered the main arguments used by supporters of genetically modified crops into seven areas and then deconstructed each of them.

For those wanting to dive into the technical issues and academic studies, dozens of references are provided for every section. Those preferring an easily understood summary will be pleased by the simple language used to explain complex issues.

The summary of claims made by the GM crop industry and its supporters will sound familiar to most people. According to those promoting the crops, they:

  • Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops
  • Are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops
  • Are strictly regulated for safety
  • Increase crop yields
  • Reduce pesticide use
  • Benefit farmers and make their lives easier
  • Bring economic benefits
  • Benefit the environment
  • Can help solve problems caused by climate change
  • Reduce energy use
  • Will help feed the world.

The authors of GMO Myths and Truths refute those claims point by point and conclude GM crops:

  • Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GM crops
  • Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
  • Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety
  • Do not increase yield potential
  • Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
  • Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
  • Have mixed economic effects
  • Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
  • Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
  • Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
  • Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.

With battle lines drawn, the pro- and anti-GMO sides face each other across a deep chasm of mistrust. Lined up in favor are such formidable proponents as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (major investor in Monsanto), many governments, the biotech industry and a cadre of scientists (not all of them industry supported). On the other side are nervous consumers, a lot of farmers, and an increasing number of independent researchers.

The report lobs the ball into the pro-GMO court by refuting its claims one by one. In the face of a growing body of research that raises red flags, proponents of the technology have an opportunity to present evidence for their claims instead of the usual huffy dismissal of very real concerns.

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Label It Yourself: Take Action to Expose GMOs

California Gets Mandatory GMO Labeling on the Ballot

Say No to GMO with True Food Shopper’s Guide

The Gates Foundation Invests Millions in Monsanto

Genetically-Engineered Canola Goes Wild Across North Dakota

Photo credits: Thinkstock

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117 comments

Dr Clue
Dr Clue3 years ago

Man and all aspects of nature are the product of billions of years of evolution with intricate interactions so numerous that even something as simple as the mechanized process of homogenizing milk leads to heart disease.

The idea that a company can claim to have accounted for every conceivable outcome and adverse consequence when we have yet to even fully understand the mechanics of DNA is simply a fraud.

As mentioned elsewhere on care2 farmers in Brazil are tearing out GMO crops and replacing them with natural crops , and achieving far better results.

The puffery of corporations has about as much truth as late night TV ads promising products for ABSOLUTELY FREE ...plus s&h

Jose M. C.
JOSE M. C.3 years ago

The poll question is a bit misleading. It should read "Are the currently popular GM crops needed..." The technology for genetic manipulation of organisms is not inherently evil, and anyone who immediately judges it as such might as well go grab their torch and pitchfork. The problem is that so much of it is being misused by companies like Monsanto to maximize their profits with little or no improvements in the quality and long-term effects of their products. In other words, they sell what is quick and cheap in the short term, but care little about what it produces down the road. In responsible hands, GMOs could eventually be made that really do make better, hardier, more nutritious foods, as well as testing them thoroughly for safety.

I wouldn't be surprised if such varieties already exist but are being kept in storage somewhere until they become "sufficiently profitable." Some of you may read this and recall similar ideas of past generations, like the rumor that GM (or Ford, Chrysler, etc.) has a design for a 100mpg carburetor that they've held back since the 1950s. Am I convinced things like this really exist? Not really. But if they do I wouldn't be surprised. And I firmly believe that corporations have infinite patience in holding back truly revolutionary changes. Especially when they can make more money by releasing improvements in tiny increments and duping their customers into thinking they're buying the cutting edge of technology when it's not even close.

Aurea Walker

Monsatan is only about the money and the control they can exert globally! Damn the consequences, and they will continue to do so until WE hold them accountable and that goes for the crook politicians they have bought off. Same goes for the crooks at the FDA, are they all bad? Perhaps not all but the vast majority ARE! it is all about the money period. We the public need to put their feet to the fire and hold them accountable for the destruction monsatan is causing! Big fat FINE$ is the only way they will get the message, not millions but the threat of billion$ in fines will set us free!

Mark Donners
Mark Donners3 years ago

Monsanto is an unethical, criminal organization and must be stopped

june t.
june t.3 years ago

The world produces a lot of food, but the problem is that poor people can't afford to buy it. Also, companies like Monsanto want to make it so that nobody can save seeds to grow their own food.

Hope Foley
Hope Foley3 years ago

Brilliant! As a naturopathy student, I've just been gifted a very valuable source of information. Thanks so much for the link.

federico bortoletto

Grazie per le informazioni.

federico bortoletto

Grazie per le informazioni.

Mit Wes
Mit Wes3 years ago

And, now, more of, "Tales from the Tall Grass", Ralph.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:KfWPb64FuPAJ:haysagriculture.blogspot.com/2012/06/potential-toxicity-issues-with-tifton.html+http://haysagriculture.blogspot.com/2012/06/potential-toxicity-issues-with-tifton.html+cache&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

It seems that it wasn't Cyanide at all and wasn't related to GM at all. In fact, Tifton 85 isn't even GM !

Heather Marvin
Heather Marv3 years ago

Mother Nature knows best. Man just cannot compare and when he tries to improve on the natural model he fails miserably.I can't help thinking of the reports of Indian farmers who were made big promises and when these failed they took their lives.