10 Reasons to Say No to Genetically Engineered Crops and Foods
1. Insect Resistance
Most genetically engineered (GE) crops are either engineered to produce their own pesticide in the form of Bacillus thurengiensis (Bt) or are engineered to be resistant to herbicides, which include "Roundup-Ready" crops. Bt is used by organic farmers as a least-toxic alternative to control bugs. Organic farmers use Bt sparingly and only as a last resort, but thousands of acres of GE crops contain Bt. It's only a matter of time before insects become resistant to Bt, some scientists say as little as 3-5 years. Then organic farmers will be left without this important tool. "Roundup-Ready" crops allow farmers to spray their fields with the herbicide RoundupTM (glyphosate) without harming the herbicide resistant crop. This practice has led to increased use of glyphosate and insect resistance to the herbicide.
Herbicide resistant crops have been shown to cross-pollinate with weeds in the same family, creating super-weeds that are also resistant to herbicides. This will lead to ineffective increased herbicide use because farmers will spray the superweeds repeatedly, unaware that the weeds are herbicide-resistant. Also, weeds that have cross-pollinated with GE crops bred to resist insect may become invasive, spreading beyond their natural habitat and out-competing native plants.
3. Pollen Drift
Pollen from GE crops has the potential to drift. If organic farmers' crops become polluted with genetically engineered pollen, they may be subject to loss of their organic certification and financial losses. Because of GE pollen drifting form a neighboring farm, non-organic farmers have been accused of using GE crops without paying for them. A Canadian canola farmer was sued by Monsanto for patent infringement after the company allegedly found their GE crops on his property. The farmer says he has never planted Monsanto's seeds.
4. Harm to Wildlife
In a study published in Nature, Cornell University scientists found that Monarch butterfly caterpillars are harmed by consuming Bt corn pollen dusted on milkweed. European scientists have found that beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and green lacewings, are similarly harmed. A 1997 study published in New Scientist found that honeybees may be harmed from feeding on GE canola flowers.
5. Harm to Soil
New York University microbiologists recently found that Bt corn leaks Bt into the soil from its roots. The Bt can remain in the soil for 200+ days and can harm non-target organisms, said the study, which was published in Nature.
6. Harm to Human Health
The biotech industry and government assures us that GE foods are safe, but scientific studies suggest this is not the case. A study published in Journal of Medicinal Food shows that herbicide resistant soy varieties contain lower levels of beneficial plant estrogens, when compared to non GE soybeans. A 1996 study, published in the International Journal of Heath Services, reported that milk from cows injected with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), a synthetically produced hormone that makes cows produce more milk, contains increased levels of a growth factor that has been linked to breast and gastrointestinal cancers in humans.
7. Hidden Allergens
Scientists have found that soybeans genetically engineered to contain proteins from a Brazil nut can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to nuts, as reported in a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Based on these findings, the company decided not to sell the GE soybean, but next time the public may not be so lucky. Since GE foods are not labeled, the public has no way of knowing if food that they buy contains genes from species that they are allergic to.
8. Religious and Moral Considerations
Fish genes have been incorporated into tomatoes to prevent freezing at low temperatures and chicken DNA has been added to potatoes to increase disease resistance. Many people who choose to not eat meat for religious or moral reasons will begin to wonder if their vegetables are 100% meat-free and do not know when they consume these GE vegetables. Also, by genetically engineering our food and taking DNA from one species and splicing it into another, we are essentially "playing God" with nature.
9. Antibiotic Resistance
In process of genetically engineering a product, antibiotic marker genes are used to help with the transfer of DNA from one life form to another. Scientists worry that this process could lead to increased antibiotic resistance, which is already a serious problem.
10. GE Is Unfair to Farmers
Biotechnology companies force farmers to sign contracts when purchasing their genetically engineered seeds and crops. These grower's contracts prevent farmers from being able to store seeds from year to year, which the biotech companies claim would be a patent infringement. Additionally, "terminator technology," which is not currently being commercialized but is owned by a major seed company and USDA, will produce plants with sterile seeds, making the practice of seed saving impossible.