The Truth About Genetically Modified Organisms
Greenpeace magazine, Spring 2000
Genetic engineering is merely an extension of traditional breeding
* Genetic engineering is a new technology that has been developed
to overcome the limitations of traditional breeding. Traditional
breeders have never been able to cross fish genes with strawberries.
But genetically engineered "fishberries" are already
in the field. With genetic engineering, these types of new organisms
can be created and released into the environment.
* Food and Drug Administration scientists stated that genetic
engineering is different from traditional breeding, and so are
the risks. Yet the FDA continues to assert that GMOs are not different
and don't require special regulations.
GMOs can make foods better, more nutritious, longer-lasting better-tasting
* The reason for the 70 million acres of GMO crops grown in this
country today has nothing to do with nutrition, flavor or any
other consumer benefit. There is little benefit aside from the
financial gains reaped by the firms producing GMOs. Nearly all
of the GMO corn, soy, potatoes and cotton grown in the United
States has been genetically altered so that it can withstand more
pesticides or produce its own.
GMO crops will reduce chemical use and are necessary for environmentally
sustainable J farming.
* The most widely grown GMO crops are engineered to withstand
high doses of herbicides or to contain their own insecticide.
In the first case, studies have shown that many farmers actually
use more chemicals on their fields. One study of over 8,000 university-based
field trials suggested that farmers who plant Monsanto's engineered
soy use 2.5 times more herbicide than non-GMO farmers who use
integrated weed-control methods. Monsanto created "Roundup
Ready" (RR) soy, corn and cotton specifically so that farmers
would continue to buy Roundup, a chemical weed killer that is
Monsanto's biggest money-maker and that is sold together with
the RR seed.
* GMO crops that produce an insecticide may be the greatest
threat to sustainable agriculture on the planet. Many organic
farmers rely on a natural bacterial spray to control certain crop
pests, but the advent of "insect-resistant" crops is
likely to lead to insects that are no longer killed by this natural
pesticide. When the natural bacteria is rendered ineffective,
other farmers will turn to toxic chemicals to deal with the "superbugs"
created by GMOs-but organic farmers will be out of options.
The Government ensures that genetic engineering is safe for the
environment and human I health.
* Neither the FDA, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), nor the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done any long-term testing
of GMOs in food or the environment, nor has any regulation specific
to bioengineered food been established. Biotech companies are
on the honor system. They have virtually no requirements to show
that this new technology is safe.
* FDA scientists and doctors warned that GMO foods could have
new and different risks such as hidden allergens, increased plant-toxin
levels and the potential to hasten the spread of antibiotic resistant
* The USDA has reviewed more than 5,000 applications for biotech
crop field trials without denying a single one.
* USDA officials claimed they would conduct long-term studies
of GMO crops, but have no plans to require any pre-market or pre-release
assessment. Studies conducted after our environment and food supply
have been contaminated will be too late.
There is no scientific evidence that GMOs harm people J or the
* There is no long-term study showing that GMOs are safe, yet
the biotech industry and government have allowed our environment
and our families to become test subjects in these experiments.
* Laboratory and field evidence do show that GMOs can harm
beneficial insects, damage soils and transfer GMO genes in the
environment, thereby contaminating neighboring crops and potentially
creating uncontrollable weeds.
MYTH: GMOs are necessary to feed the developing world's J
REALITY: · Genetic engineering could actually lead
to an increase in hunger and starvation. Biotech companies eagerly
pursue a genetic engineering technique named "terminator"
technology that would render a crop's seed sterile, making it
impossible for farmers to save seed for replanting. Half the world's
farmers rely on saved seed to produce food that 1.4 billion people
rely on for daily nutrition.