As you could certainly saw in some of my articles (if you've read them in french ^^), I'm not realy the kind of girl who like GMO's.
About three month ago, I thought I should work on this subject, just to have few pieces of this giant game of Monopoli. I wasn't be decieved... I first watch "The World according to Monsanto" that I truely recommand to you. Then I saw "Solutions locales pour un désordre global" which was also full of informations. And then I surch on the net and found so many thing that I thought I'll never could resume it into a short file. Finaly, I end with a six-pages of Word document and cut a lot of part of it to stay as clear as possible.
Hopping this document will light you a little more about GMO's .... (Don't be frighten, take a look !)
Ø Introduction : definition
Ø I. Why GMOs?
Ø II. One firm, one goal but is it the good one?
Ø III. Hidden behind falsified studies and conflict of interests, the truth which could frighten…
Ø IV. Alternatives of organic agriculture.
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are organisms that genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. They have been created to resist some pesticides or climate conditions they usually can’t resist. Said like that, it could be “the big solution” to feed Humanity for the next years. But there is a hidden face of this miracle of biotechnology which could affect as much the Earth as this Humanity more than we could expect…
I. Why GMOs?
Man discovered agriculture 10 000 years ago. Since then, agriculture hasn’t stopped to progress but it’s only about 50 years ago that the Man really developed this one. After Second World War, with the creation of tank, the over production of petrol, thpre creation of the atomic bomb… the agriculture changed.
What’s the link between those things aforementioned and the agriculture evolutiont? Tanks were transformed into stronger tractor-machine to plow deeper. The petrol is now put into all the pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. The synthesis of ammoniac for the atomic bomb was recycled for the production of chemical fertilizers. Sulfur mustard, which has been spread over Viet Nam and caused so much death and still causes damages on the news-birth, is nowadays put into most of the pesticides used in the field where grow our food.
Those changes were made with a common goal, recycling the war industry into an “industry” all new but that has always been there: the agriculture (now also known as agronomic and biotechnological industries).
Furthermore, genetic advanced as the same and was quickly caught by this new industry to work on seeds. The F1 Hybrid was born, forcing farmers to buy every year new seeds. What forced the farmers to buy it again and again is that those seeds were and still are sterile or degenerative… F1 Hybrids also need more care because they were and still are weaker than natural seeds, a good thing for pesticides/fertilizer sellers, isn’t it?
Now, have a look back 70 years ago, when 120 billion tons of manure was spread every year on French fields, where farmers used to keep their seed one year to another. They were independent and didn’t had to pay for natural and free things.
No accusations here, but we just have to know that in 1961, after all those changes, only 5 multinational industries controlled more than 75 % of seeds and sell nearly all chemical products aforementioned. At the top of this sellers list: the giant firm MONSANTO. And nowadays? Have a guess just for fun...
II. One firm, one goal but is it the good one?
Once the cultures of Hybrids F1 began to be impossible because of the overuse of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers which literally killed the soil, after the planet has been over polluted, MONSANTO (who controls nowadays more than 90 % of GM seeds and a big part of hybrid F1 seeds) came with this great idea of GM food. Studies made by this firm bragged about the efficiency, the resistance to pesticides and rude conditions and the benefits for environment of these modified plants. According to them, Humanity could be saved and the Earth could stay clean, the GMOs were the solution!
So they started to export GMOs all around the world, mostly to poor countries like India and Argentina. Then, in Europe, some GMOs were accepted with conditions but still with “a blind trust” toward the studies published by MONSANTO. In the USA, where all GM products have started, the government supported the firm for economic reasons and closed the eyes even in its borders. But when we look closer, we can see links between government representatives and MONSANTO employees. Working one year for MONSANTO, then two years as member of government and again working for the big firm for three years… This is called the revolving doors.
In the other hand, some country straightly refused GM food or seeds in their borders. In Mexico, the GM corn was refused because of the natural diversity and ancestral quality of Mexican corn and the fear of a GM contamination of these cultures. Unfortunately, some “white bag” of seeds came illegally into the country and began to affect the non GM corn. Many culture were devastated because of the crossing between healthy and GM corn. This crossing gave birth to monstrous plants which can’t produce safe corn. That’s how Mexico becam one of the biggest GM corn importers, buying every year tons of GM corn from MONSANTO…
An international firm like MONSANTO has only one goal: expansion for profits.
III. Hidden behind falsified studies and conflicts of interests, the truth that could frighten…
Before GMOs, MONSANTO had already hidden a lot of things about several of its activities. There was the scandal of BGHr (Bovine Growth Hormone recombinant) to make the cow produce more milk. There was also the case of false advertisments about the Roundup supposed to be biodegradable and inoffensive for human beings. And then the modified organism amino acids, with a precipitate try which ended quickly with 37 deaths and thousands handicapped… What about the GMOs ?
In May 1992, the US government signed a law to reduce the regulation for biotechnology industries. The goal of this law was to expand faster this type of industry and to remain the world leader in biotechnologies. In results of this law a lot of studies were botched or not even made and many things were hidden.
Mike Taylor was a major actor in the publication of this law. In July 1991 he became Deputy Commissioner for Policy at the FDA (Food & Drugs Agency) and he wrote a letter to support the law with a contain quite similar to the actual law. Before that, he worked seven year as a lawyer to defend MONSANTO company. After his quick passage at the FDA, he came back to MONSANTO as the Vice President for Policy of the firm. In 2010, the FDA announced that Mike Taylor joined the agency as “senior advisor to the commissioner”. There is here a good example of “revolving doors”.
According to several scientist all around the world, the GMOs haven’t been enough tested before their launch on the market. Some intern documents revealed to the press shown there was no consensus made about GM food at the FDA. A lot of FDA scientist experts were concerned about the results of the study they worked on. But nothing has ever been said about this worry.
Recently an independent Norwegian scientist reviewed the study which gave the opening on the market to the GMOs. He saw a lot of incomplete information or data, leaks on the protocol and missing data which he can’t obtain from the FDA or MONSANTO. According to him, this study shows nothing but the need to hide something embarrassing.
There was also a study led in 1998 in Scotland by ABERDEEN, a great research laboratory. The scientists worked on GM potatoes included in rats food. They thought all would be fine but unlike they expected to, the study revealed changes in the immune-system of the rats, mostly in the stomach. They immediately contacted their superior and planed an interview with the press for the next day. After this interview, the all have been fired and discredited without ever knowing what really happened, even if they had an idea.
But this is in the real fields that most damages were observed. In India for example the BT cotton cultures led thousand farmers killed themselves every year. The BT cotton is a plant which is supposed to produce his own pesticide by a genetic modification. Thereby the farmers shouldn’t need more pesticides and would save money. Unfortunately it doesn’t work this way. This GM cotton brought a new disease to the other cotton and furthermore it finally needs more pesticides than before to treat the cultures, even the BT cotton culture. So, many Indian farmers had to loan money so they can afford pesticides, chemical products and GM new seeds for the next year. Despite this loan, they couldn’t afford their needs and ended by killing themselves with pesticides. It is a strong message which should be listened by all of us and make ourselves think about GMOs and their real impact. But are there any alternatives to grow food for Humanity on a dead soil?
IV. Alternatives of organic and reasoned agriculture.
For a long time the organic agriculture has been decried. A lot of people thought it wasn’t as much efficient as the “chemical agriculture”, or it was just a vogue, or it couldn’t be applied to big cultivations… But several experiences into different countries shown it was completely possible and even more: it could be more efficient or more economic.
In Ukraine, an exploitation of more than 8000 hectares had fully tried and tested the organic agriculture. In the 70s Soviet Union imposed to farmers working in the kolkhoz production quotas for the year. One of them asked if it was possible to do this production without using chemicals and the government approved saying as long he kept its quota, he could do the way he want. The method of this farmer relied on three bases: no plowing, vegetal fertilizer (no chemicals used) and rotaries culture with a rest of the land. Not only he kept the quota but he generally produced more than the other farmers. Today his exploitation doesn’t stop growing. He buys old chemical cultivations that he converts into organic cultivation. However, it takes some time to give back to the soil the required quality to grow plants and to have enough efficiency. On average it takes on 5 to 7 years. But Antoney the farmer thinks it’s worth.
There is also associations all around the world which are trying to move the things. Kokopelli is one of them based in France. They are helping the populations in India, in Africa and in Latin America to make organic cultivation. They teach them how to make organic and natural pesticides and fertilizers; they give them organic seeds and ask them to multiply them so they can give some to other farmers and they explain the benefits of the diversity in agriculture. In France, this association sells seeds of “old” and “endangered” vegetables and fruits species to keep this diversity going. Thanks to Kokopelli association, the farmers they are working with became independent from all chemical products and now produce enough to live and to sell.
There are a lot of other examples of organic cultivation which works in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, in America, in Oceania and which shows there are alternatives to the destruction of the planet with chemicals and GMOs.
The GMOs imposed by one of the more influent firm of the world aren’t really a solution to feed the world for the next years. All the independent scientists agreed to say this is dangerous for environment but also for human beings. Despite that, the links between governments and biotechnological industries and the influence of these firms on the economic system make the debate about GMOs more complicated than it should be. However, there are other solutions and that is what we need to know. If everybody is aware of that and make a step of his own, maybe it could invert the tendency and preserve the few of the capital the Earth has left.
So, What do you think about GMO's ?