Crop Biotechnology Impact on Developing Countries Part 2

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Since 1996, the net economic benefit of crop biotechnology at the farm level has been $133.5 billion. In a previous post, we asked Zintro experts to share their thoughts about the report GM crops: global socio-economic and environmental impacts 1996-2013.  Let’s look at two more responses.

Jimm Grimm is the Owner and Chief Consultant of JHG Associates, a plastics and coatings consultant business. “Growing GMO crops is a two sided coin,” says Grimm. “Both sides must be considered. On the bright side, there is no doubt that you can get much more production with a lot less labor. These short-term gains are very impressive; so the method has been adopted widely. The promoters have documented financial advantages, and this information is readily available. On the less bright side, farmers lose control of where their seeds come from, and large and diverse groups of researchers are questioning the long-term health of people and animals who consume the crops, and of people who consume the animals that have been raised on these crops. The information provided by these groups is less available but growing.

“The big picture looks at the people of the USA, who adopted GMO crops early and widely. Their once healthy and robust population is now plagued with increases in obesity, diabetes, cancers, food allergies, and dementia. Have GMO crops brought this on? That is easy to question and difficult to prove. I am a hobby farmer. I grow some “heritage” plants; so I can recover my own seeds for next years plantings. I also grow some hybrids getting nicer fruits and veggies and better yields; so I have voluntarily given up control of some of my seed sources. I have personally resisted using “no-till” GMO methods until the safety becomes clearer. That does not mean I am right; it only means that I am cautious.”

As an Independent Researcher and Consultant with Beyond Organic Consulting, Inc., Dr. Jana Bogs works in Hawaii and on the mainland with farmers,  food and supplement manufacturers, and wholesalers and retailers–ensuring the absolute best quality products from farm to table. She has strong feelings about GMO crops.

“Top researchers who have studied the effects of these genetically-engineered ‘foods’ on laboratory animals found serious health risks associated with the consumption of these foods, such as tumors, lung damage, inability to reproduce, altered DNA function, immune responses commonly associated with diseases, significant organ disruptions, autistic-like behavior and early death,” explains Dr. Bogs. “Humans are also reported to have had serious negative consequences from GMOs.  For example, some people have allergic reactions to GMO soybeans, but not to non-GMO soybeans. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine asks physicians to advise patients to avoid GMOs due to associated health risks. You may find it interesting to know that, in at least one cafeteria for employees at a Monsanto factory, GM soy and corn have such a bad reputation that they are not served.

“According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), genetic modification of crops has not increased yields. They cite a report sponsored by the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank, compiled by 400 scientists and endorsed by 58 countries which concluded, ‘GM crops have little to offer to the challenges of poverty, hunger, and climate change.’ Furthermore, the OCA states that scientists warn of potential dangers from the use of GMOs such as:

-Harming beneficial insects, i.e. honeybees
-Producing dangerous toxins
-Increasing the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides
-Creating super-pests, super-weeds, and new plant viruses
-Producing antibiotic-resistant pathogens
-Damaging soil fertility
-Contaminating organic and non-GMO crops

“The corporate whitewashing used to ‘sell’ GMO to governmental authorities and the public claims that genetic modification is a good and necessary action to produce more and/or higher quality foods to feed a hungry world. Often the genetic modifications are an attempt to circumvent a disease condition in the plants. Unfortunately, what has been seen is other plant disease conditions, which used to be minor concerns, becoming more serious due to the plants’ overall diminished cellular integrity. I contend there is nothing wrong with the natural plant genetics; it is the soils that have not been properly managed to supply the plants with nutrients they need to be healthy and resist diseases. These same nutrients are needed in the plants for humans to be able to consume them and be healthy as well. The bottom line is we do not need genetically engineered foods to feed the world; we need well-grown food.”

The Zintro blog will follow up with more information about the future of GMO crops. Earlier this month, the White House decided to appoint three U.S. agencies to review the regulation regarding biotech crop products. The President’s Office of Science and Technology made the decision as a result of many requests from consumers and various organizations.

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