What’s wrong with genetically modified foods?
5 April 2023
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a living organism created with technology that allows genes from viruses, bacteria, plants, animals and even humans to be inserted into a plant or animal.
For example, biotechnologists can take a gene from a bacterium and insert it into corn. In this way, they create a completely new organism to produce pesticides. In addition, a drug-resistant gene can be produced.
This technique allows biotechnologists to bypass natural selection by exchanging genes between species, and even kingdoms, that would not naturally interbreed.
The goal of biotechnology applied to agriculture is to control food production to achieve higher profits for companies such as Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont-Pioneer, and Dow AgroSciences. By developing these organisms, they seek to dominate the basic grains that feed humanity: corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, sorghum, rice, and wheat.
In 2015, more than 300 independent researchers signed a joint position statement in which they determined that there was no scientific consensus on the safety of GM crops and called for a case-by-case assessment for safety.
Impacts on the environment
The environmental impacts of these crops are becoming increasingly evident: a drastic increase in the use of pesticides in the field, growing resistance by insects and weeds, soil contamination, genetic contamination of wild species, and loss of biodiversity, among other impacts. In this sense, non-GM agriculture is at risk: it is very difficult to protect traditional and organic crops from GMO contamination. Continuous cases of crop contamination discourage farmers from planting organic corn and the difficulty of finding organic feedstuffs slows down the advance of this type of livestock farming.
What are the crops and where are they grown?
The main crops grown are four: corn, soybeans, rapeseed, and cotton. None of them are destined for direct human consumption, but they end up in our food, as they are used for animal feed, as well as for other industrial uses such as agrofuels, textiles, etc.
99% of existing transgenic crops are genetically modified to be tolerant to herbicides or to resist pests. Despite the publicity, there are no transgenic crops that are more nutritious, more productive, or adapted to climate change.
According to the latest data, only six countries grow more than 90% of the world’s GM crops: the United States, Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada, and China.
Who benefits from GM crops?
A few companies monopolize 100% of the GM seed market: Dupont, Bayer, Monsanto, Syngenta, BASF, and Dow. But they also control almost all biotechnology research and 76% of herbicide and pesticide sales worldwide.
Spain, Europe’s transgenic paradise
Spain is the only country in the European Union that cultivates GMOs on a large scale, while most of our neighbors have banned their cultivation. However, the lack of information on the subject is so great that it is not known how many transgenic crops are grown in our territory or where. The data of the state administration do not coincide with those of the Autonomous Communities.
On the other hand, Spain has hosted for years more than half of the transgenic experiments in Europe.
In addition to being the gateway to these crops, we are their experimental field.