Skip to comments.Answering Objections about Genetically Modified Organisms
Posted on 12/07/2017 4:01:09 PM PST by Kaslin
Opponents of genetically modified (GM) crops raise a number of questions and objections to growing them and including them in the food supply. Although they cite scientific research to support their claims, a careful review of the literature suggests there is very little evidence to support any of the claims about harmful health effects of GM food. For this reason, combined with the many potential benefits, governments should not restrict the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Opponents place a great deal of emphasis on the fact that many GM crops have been engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, the active chemical in Roundup herbicide. Glyphosate is used with genetically modified corn, soybeans, sugar cane, canola, and other crops grown in the US. Critics claim that glyphosate is an endocrine disrupter. It allegedly harms gut bacteria, and contributes to a variety of health problems including cancer, autism, allergies, obesity, and Alzheimers.
The claims about the negative health effects of glyphosate are not borne out by epidemiological studies of glyphosate and health outcomes or glyphosate and cancer. The most prominent arguments for the harmful health effects of glyphosate are not presented by people with expertise in relevant fields such biology, epidemiology, or chemistry. Consequently, the European Union just voted to renew the license for glyphosate use, siding with sound science against radical activists.
There is also little evidence of harm caused by consuming GM foods. Several scientific organizations including the American Medical Association and the World Food Organization have issued statements that GMOs are not likely to present risks for human health. Many scientists have rigorously tested assertions of anti-GMO advocacy groups, such as the Institute for Responsible Technology, about the health effects of GMOs, and have found little statistical evidence of toxicity caused by GMOs.
Studies that have found harmful effects have been found to be flawed or have results that have not been replicated by follow-up studies. For example, one study claiming that GM corn causes cancer involved a breed of rats that are naturally prone to tumors and was subsequently retracted by the journal.
GM foods have not been around long enough to determine whether they have harmful long-term health effects on humans. Thus, some argue that GMOs should be prohibited until we know more about their long-term effects. If governments used a precautionary principle to prohibit the use of every technology that might someday be found to have harmful effects, many improvements that have raised our standard of living, improved health, and extended lives would never have become commercially available.
After biotech crop varieties, many of which were resistant to glyphosate, became commercially available in 1996, numerous farmers around the globe adopted them. Using glyphosate to control weeds means farmers can save time and fuel with reduced soil erosion by not plowing to control weeds.
Although research studies have generally been unable to find evidence of harmful health effects from glyphosate, some evidence suggests it does cause some other harmful consequences, such as reducing earthworm populations. It may also harm other beneficial bacteria that live in the soil. The longer it and other chemical herbicides and pesticides are used, the more weeds evolve to adapt to it so that higher and higher doses are required.
Life inevitably involves tradeoffs. We accept some risks (e.g., of dying in an accident commuting to work) to reduce others (starving for lack of income). This principle applies to environmental risks just as much as to any others.
The environmental harms that can be attributed to glyphosate and GMOs should be compared to the benefits. Glyphosate is often used instead of more toxic herbicides. Likewise, some crops have been genetically modified to be resistant to insects, reducing the need for pesticides. Genetic modification combined with the use of glyphosate reduces production costs and increases yields. It enables farmers to conserve energy, soil and water, reducing their production costs and the amount of soil washing into rivers and streams.
Over time, there may be a need to find new and better ways to control weeds and insects, as existing weeds and insects develop resistance to herbicides and natural pesticides released by GM crops. Nevertheless, genetic modification, herbicides, and pesticides have made important contributions to the supply of abundant, low-cost food that has benefitted billions around the world. As Ive noted before, genetic modification offers promise for the development of more nutritional varieties of crops that can be grown in parts of Africa, where malnutrition continues to contribute to death and the poor health of millions.
Herbicides and pesticides increase yields in a cost-effective way or farmers would not use them. Careful research, government regulation, and consumer choice have led to the demise of many of the most harmful pesticides and herbicides, with insect resistant crops and glyphosate replacing them. According to one estimate, the adoption of GM insect resistant and herbicide tolerant technology has reduced global pesticide spraying by 8.1%. A recent study estimated that banning glyphosate in the UK would decrease yields of wheat and oilseed rape by 1214 percent due to more weeds.
Because of modern agricultural methods including pesticide and herbicide use, GMOs, chemical fertilizers, and factory farming, food has become much more abundant and affordable in many parts of the world today than it was even 30-40 years ago. The improvement in human health and wellbeing from a more abundant and nutritious food supply far exceeds any side effects that may have occurred from the use of pesticides or herbicides. Good research continues to discover new crop varieties and alternatives to the most harmful pesticides and herbicides and may also reveal better alternatives than some existing GMO crop varieties. In many cases, developing, planting, and cultivating genetically modified crops can improve nutrition and contribute to better stewardship of the land and soil.
Objections to GMOs has led to millions of deaths from starvation.
, a careful review of the literature suggests there is very little evidence to support any of the claims
The human body is INCREDIBLY adaptable and resilient.
Yes I’ll say it again :)
I was told 10 years ago that any improvement from a head injury would occur in the next 2 years. That was IT!
10 years later and another residual symptom has stopped recently.
GMOs will not be the downfall of the human race.
We’ve faced worse and adapted.
Why mess with God’s Creation in this way? Much healthier to eat unadulterated foods.
freedumb2003, is this your opinion you are posting, or do you have any documentation of this claim?
I’m not particularly concerned about health effects from GMO foods.
But, I really don’t like how so many are tasteless. Sacrifice flavor for extended shelf life. Is it worth it? Decide for yourselves...
As an organic farmer, I agree with your line of thinking.
HOWEVER, I think the ‘horrors’ of glysophate, which is just a very high concentration of SALT, are overblown.
OMG! Why couldn’t *I* have patented Round-Up AGES ago? Grandma used a mixture of salt and boiling vinegar to kill the weeds in her garden and in the cracks of the sidewalk! Arrest her for harming Mudder Erf!
If the EnviroWeenies get their way, we’ll ALL starve to death, the REST of the world, included. Well, those parts that aren’t ALREADY starving due to Evil Dictatorships and such. Control the food supply, control the people, Eh, Comrades? ;)
But I’ll be fine. I know how to grow food, hunt, fish, butcher, preserve, make my own sourdough starter and I can bake bread from scratch; when it all goes to h#ll, I shall reign supreme! They will build monuments to me and my loaves, LOL! :)
P.S. I’m kinda looking forward to that, so don’t screw it up for me! ;)
Oh, “organisms”, read that wrong the 1st time.
Opinion but I can reconstruct my reasoning.
If you need it let me know.
My flight has been delayed 2 times and I will be getting home 5 hours after my original time and I am flagging a bit.
“Sacrifice flavor for extended shelf life. Is it worth it? Decide for yourselves...”
It sure isn’t worth it when it comes to tomatoes! I ate our last heirloom tomato, ‘Cherokee Purple’ two weeks ago in a BLT.
And then I put out the word that other than in pasta sauce and salsa that I canned this summer, there would be NO fresh tomatoes until late July of next year...as I do every year. ;)
I REFUSE to buy those red-painted tennis balls they sell as ‘tomatoes’ the remainder of the Fall, Winter and Spring! Blech!
“GM foods have not been around long enough to determine whether they have harmful long-term health effects on humans.”
Talk about a stupid statement to promote GMOs.
Well, what if they do. Irreparable damage will have been done.
A man whom I greatly respect, norman Borlaug, who pioneered higher yielding crops in poor soil to feed the world using traditional cross-pollination has gone over to the GMO side.
It bothers me because I share in growing GMO corn and soybeans and wonder if I should get out of it, not that there are viable alternatives in the area. My partner wouldn't revert to the older crops, looked into it extensively before he went over to it, and it requires a change in methods, seeds and chemicals as the article says.
We are small, don't irrigate, not enough ground water to irrigate with, generally adequate rainfall and water retention in soil, apply fall fertilizer, but yields are everything to stay competitive. Other farmers around the country are going for high yields, and it causes surpluses on the market which has driven prices down. Further affecting the market are Argentina now competes, our trade with Mexico who has bought a lot of our corn is being renegotiated (overall a plus imo), Russia won't use GMO along with much of Europe, plus the sanctions on Russia affect exporters of American food leaving primarily China and Japan for export. Also many farmers are putting more ground into soybeans because they yield less per acre but tend to bring higher prices per bushes; i.e., more cost and profit effective.
Label the foods and let the public decide what to purchase.
GM foods have not been around long enough to determine whether they have harmful long-term health effects on humans.
Humans have been consuming GM foods since we invented agriculture. It is, in fact, quite difficult to find non GMO foods.
Our techniques have improved greatly in the last few decades, but we've been genetically modifying foods for millennia.
Every single bite of food you put in your mouth has been genetically modified one way or the other.
Every single bite.
Besides, what would they do with all the free EBT food folks pick up at Walmart.
Too soon to tell how this will be affected by the departure of Sen. Franken.
I really like Campari tomatoes. Don’t know if they’re GMO or not, but I’ll buy them whenever they’re on sale for $1/lb...which isn’t very often.
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