Genetic Modification (GM) of Foods Has Advantages and Disadvantages
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 10, 2013
Proactive Health Alert:
Genetic Modification (GM) of Foods Has
Advantages and Disadvantages
A Service of Bio-Logic Aqua Research/Fresh Water and Dehydration/Nature's Tears® EyeMist® for dry dye
One of the most controversial issues facing consumers is the debate over genetic modification of foods (called GM, which stands for "genetically modified," or GMO). Bio-Logic Aqua Research founder Sharon Kleyne has researched both sides of this important issue. In keeping with the philosophy that proactive health education is essential for survival in our rapidly changing world, Sharon Kleyne and the Bio-Logic Aqua Research Center herewith presents an unbiased summary of the positives and negatives of the use of GM foods.
Genetic modification differs from cross-breeding or hybridization. Hybridization attempts to develop strains of plants or animals with desirable traits using the existing natural gene pool of that species and capitalizing on occasional natural mutation. Thus, if a tree proves naturally more disease resistant or faster growing than other trees, it can be cross-bred or cross-pollinated with other trees having these desirable traits to develop hybridized seeds for commercial use.
With genetic modification, the actual genetic structure of the organism, be it yeast, corn, cotton, soybeans or sheep, is altered using artificial means.
With respect to foods, genetic engineering has been used to produce pigs that are better able to digest certain nutrients, thus cutting down on the expense of dietary supplements. GM has been used to make cow milk more similar to human milk and it has been used to make field crops such as corn faster growing, more disease, pest and pesticide resistant, and more nutritious.
Many health and environmental groups oppose the use of genetic engineering in foods and have been aggressively lobbying to either require labeling of GM foods or to keep them out of the marketplace entirely.
Points in favor of GM foods.
- The scientific consensus to date indicates no health danger to humans from ingesting genetically modified foods, whether plants or animal. There have been no reports of ill effects of any kind.
- Labeling of GM foods is opposed by the industry because it implies that there is a danger.
- The risk of GM crops cross-pollinating with non-GM crops on neighboring farms can be managed.
- The industry is constantly attempting to identify and manage any potential risks.
- GM can greatly increase crop yield per acre and disease resistance, resulting in an ability for one acre of land to feed more people with less water, less fertilizer and decreased loss to disease, pests and weed pesticides.
- There have been no reports of ill effects to humans from eating livestock raised on GM feed.
- GM corn has been a financial boon, particularly to farmers raising corn for ethanol (bio-fuel) and animal feed.
- GM foods have the potential to save millions of lives in underdeveloped countries.
- Long-term human studies of the possible ill-effects of ingesting GM foods have not proved feasible because advocates of such testing have been unable even to present a testable hypothesis or list testable dangers.
Points against GM foods.
- Opponents of GM foods believe the food is not safe to eat and that testing by regulators and by the industry has not been objective.
- Opponents of GM foods are concerned that these foods will cross-pollinate with and contaminate neighboring organic or non-GM crops.
- There is concern that large corporations that develop GM foods, could use their positioning to gain total control over American and world agriculture.
- There is concern about the morality of "tampering with nature."
- There is concern that potential ill effects of eating GM foods could concentrate as they move up the food chain in the same way that pesticides and growth hormones used in the production of animal feed can concentrate in meat and potentially harm humans.
- GM foods are essentially monotypes (every plant has the exact same DNA as every other plant) with little genetic variation or adaptive ability. This makes them less "natural," and more susceptible to unanticipated pests, diseases and environmental pressures.
- There is a possibility that "novel hazards" could emerge from eating GM foods that have not been seen before.
- GM seed is considered intellectual property (IP) owned by the company that developed and produced it. The proprietary nature of GM seed has restricted its availability to independent, unbiased researchers.
- GM crops engineered to be pest or pesticide resistant (enabling farmers to spray weeds without damaging the crop) could cross-pollinate with the weeds and give them a similar resistance. This has happened.
- Insects have the ability to rapidly adapt to changing environmental conditions. To maintain its benefits, GM seed, like flu vaccine, would have to be constantly updated.
- Because GM seed is IP protected, there could be legal issues in applying this technology to underdeveloped countries to raise their standard of living.
- The increase in crop yield has not been as great as predicted.
- Food shortages in underdeveloped countries are often a function of poor government and food distribution and not necessarily poor production.
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AAAS Board, "Legally mandating GM foods could mislead and falsely alarm consumers." 2012.
Directorate General for Agriculture,."Economic impact of genetically modified crops - Glossary." EU, 2000.
Eagle Seed Co. "Roundup ready seed" webpage. 2012.
Gurain-Sherman, D. Failure to Yield. UCS-USA, 2009.
Monsanto. "Cotton in India." 2010.
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