When was the last time you thought about how food was made, where it came from, whether and if it was chemically treated? With the first ever Non GMO Month around the corner, an awareness campaign launched by the Non GMO Project, perhaps now is a good time to pay attention. As you look at each food item and its ingredients, consider these fundamental unanswered questions concerning genetically modified (GM) foods — which are most foods that you eat today. Disturbingly, while we are force-fed “wholesome” messages about the alleged benefits of GM foods, a decade and a half after the first GM crops went commercial many of the same concerns persist.
Read on and find out whether you want frankenfood to be your next meal.
1. Human Health Concerns
Many scientists, doctors and health advocates raise concerns about the unintended impact of GMOs on human health. Yes, because there is no independent research (and in fact, seed companies’ agreements forbid the use of seeds for independent research), nobody can say with any degree of certainty that GMOs are safe. And so it is not surprising that there are unresolved questions concerning the potential alteration in human genome, allergenicity of introduced genes and high toxin production in plants andanimals that may lead to long-term health effects.
2. Animal Health Concerns Often less discussed is the impact of GMOs on animal health. While we should be altruistically concerned about the well being of our fellow creatures, the fact is that if they are impacted by GMOs, we are not far behind.
Animals, especially insects who feed off GM crops, are our canaries in a coal mine. Take bees and the colony collapse disorder. Many scientists believe that while several causes may have contributed to the massive bee die-offs of the last four years, at least one contributing factor is the increased use of pesticides.
3. Environmental Concerns
In addition to the threats that GMOs may have on human and animal health, there are also numerous pressing environmental concerns. The list of potential problems highlighted by the Union of Concerned Scientists is long and portentous.
In addition, the World Health Organization also noted that concerns about GMOs impact on the environment include the persistence of the gene after the GMO has been harvested as well as the stability of the gene.
4. Moral and Ethical Concerns In addition to the practical and earthly concerns over the health and ecological impacts of GMOs, there are also considerations of the higher sorts. Since genetic modification, by its very essence, requires manipulation of the genetic make-up of an organism, the very core of its existence, some religious scholars question whether scientifically altered crops and animals are unnatural or threaten the natural order, whether genetic manipulation is tantamount to playing God, whether it is a violation of the laws of nature or tampering with nature.
5. Socioeconomic Concerns
GM crops bring to the forefront issues of dominance, power and control, both, domestically and abroad. As William F. Engdahl exposes in his book “Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation”, “control the food and you control the people.”
Socioeconomic concerns stem in part from intellectual property protection and the profit interest that flows from it. Fundamentally, however, it is not simply the profit-driven perspectives of the biotech industry that have so many civil society advocates concerned. Knowledge that once belonged to everyone, a communal understanding of seeds, crops, farming practices, and an appreciation for biodiversity is now being gobbled up, privatized, patented, and sold to those same farmers in licensed chunks.
6. Labeling Concerns
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: Consumers want to know!
Just recently, an article appearing on The Daily Green reported on a survey about American attitudes on GMOs. According to the survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 53% of Americans would not eat GM foods if given the choice, while 87% believe GM foods should be labeled as such regardless.