We’ve been naturally genetically modifying our food for hundreds of years, so what’s the big deal, right?
This sort of ignorance in the discussion of GMOs makes me cringe because it shows that Monsanto and their ilk have successfully spread dis-information to further their corporate cause. There is a huge difference between the natural genetic modification we have practiced for hundreds of years and the bio-chemical genetic modification pushed on us by the genetic engineering industry today.
In a recent article “Why GMOs Can Never Be Safe,” Dr. Mercola States:
“Compared with natural genetic modification, artificial genetic modification is inherently hazardous because it lacks the precision of the natural process, while enabling genes to be transferred between species that would never have been exchanged otherwise.” — New York Times Bestselling Author Dr. Mercola
Claiming that GMOs aren’t harmful is like claiming that global warming isn’t happening; all evidence contradicts the denial, no matter how hard corporate giants like Monsanto lobby to shut down our curiosity.
Natural genetic modification
Also known as selective breeding or artificial selection, natural genetic modification has been practiced by farmers and livestock owners for centuries. Plants with the most desirable traits are carefully reproduced until those positive traits are ubiquitous. The resulting breeds are called varieties or cultivars, and combining two varieties results in a hybrid. Thus, when you buy a certain variety of tomato seeds, you’re investing in a naturally modified plant that has been carefully crafted to yield the tastiest, reddest, juiciest fruit, which may also stand up to bugs the best — or whatever other traits have been chosen to enhance.
This agricultural method originated with Charles Darwin and his seminal book Origin of Species. By manipulating natural selection, the human race has been able to produce food to our liking for centuries. This practice traces all the way back to the ancient Romans. Because it happens in the natural environment over time, natural genetic modification is a fairly innocuous practice that allows organisms and their environment to adjust holistically.
“…while artificial genetic engineering is uncontrollable, random and unpredictable, natural genetic engineering is quite precise and repeatable because it is regulated by the organism as a whole. This regulatory system has evolved over hundreds of millions of years. Under steady state conditions, proof-reading, DNA-repair and other mechanisms ensure that the DNA remains constant and stable.” — Mae-Wan Ho, Institute of Science in Society and Department of Biological Sciences
Artificial genetic modification
Artificial genetic modification, or genetic engineering, is not just a lab-controlled version of natural selection. It’s a far more sinister process. Natural breeding practices take place only between like species: tomatoes with other tomatoes, for instance. Combining two different tomato varieties to create a redder hybrid with fewer seeds is certainly possible with natural genetic modification.
But when it comes to artificial genetic modification, sophisticated manipulation of plant genes is enacted in a lab, moving genes from one organism to another instantly, and combining genes in new ways that might not even be possible with natural selection. You can’t get a banana-shaped tomato from splicing other tomatoes together in nature. In a lab, however, you could force a tomato into a banana shape by artificially inserting the “shape” gene from the banana into a tomato. You’d indeed get a banana-shaped tomato. But at what cost?
“The genetic engineering and associated tissue culture processes are imprecise and highly mutagenic, leading to unpredictable changes in the DNA, proteins, and biochemical decomposition of the resulting GM crop that can lead to unexpected toxic or allergenic effects and nutritional disturbances.” — GMO Myths and Truths, an examination published by Earth Open Source
One of the most disturbing effects of GMO crops on our ecology is the drastic decline in the world’s bee population. Multiple studies (including this Purdue study) have now confirmed that bee die-off is most likely due to the use of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, prevalently used on US corn and other crops. Bees rely on our country’s vast corn crops as a primary protein source, particularly in the Midwest, and of the 92 million acres of corn planted in 2012, 94 percent were treated with neonicotinoids. What do pesticides have to do with GMO? Well, the short story is that Monsanto, in an effort to provide corn farmers with “magic corn” that would automatically resist the corn pests that rose up in the ’90s, now controls the market with corn hybrids pre-treated with neonicotinoids. And because Monsanto owns the market on corn, these are the GMO seeds that the great majority of farmers in the US are forced to use.
Bees are essential crop pollinators, so their die-off can and will have major negative consequences for many of our beloved national crops such as apples, cherries, strawberries, and almonds. But GMO crops aren’t just affecting our bees. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has recorded that feeding lab animals GMO foods results in issues that span the spectrum from infertility to immune problems to accelerated aging to major damage to internal organs. In fact, according to the Iowa Source, many animals, when given a choice, will instinctively choose non-GMO foods. We should follow the lead of superior animal instincts when it comes to what we choose to ingest.
Despite the precision required to alter genes in a lab, artificial genetic modification is considered to be a very imprecise process in a holistic view of agriculture, because this process is devoid of the influence of nature and time. In the “real world,” the plant’s environment would affect its growth, and vice versa. When manipulated by man in a lab, there’s no way to know how the plant’s altered DNA will eventually affect the environment and those of us living in it.
And as the use of GMO crops continues over the decades, we’re starting to see that even the original goals of the insidious GMO industry are not working out as well as companies like Monsanto had hoped. For instance, while GMO corn has been genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant (aka “Roundup Ready”) and to produce its own insecticides (Bt toxin) — and therefore never need additional pesticide application while growing — the very opposite is turning out to be true. Over time, we’re seeing that GMO crops actually require more pesticides than natural crops ever have.
Ultimately, GMO pushers can’t control or predict how the DNA of altered plants will affect the humans and animals ingesting them, so when you eat a GMO food item, you’re playing Russian roulette with your very DNA. In this way, genetic modification is actually quite the opposite of natural selection.
So remember that when someone casually mentions that GMO crops are the same as it’s been for hundreds of years! Nope! And here’s a great link for ways to make sure that you and your family are avoiding GMO ingredients:
In good health,