GM FOODS MIGHT POSE HEALTH RISKS • Genetically modifying food crops may unintentionally introduce a new allergen • Bacteria in our gut could pick up antibiotic –resistance genes found in many GM foods & spread disease-causing bacteria that can withstand our antibiotics
GM FOODS PROMISE MANY HEALTH BENEFITS • GM foods will have a longer shelf life & be better for us – low-calorie sugar beets and oils with lower saturated fat content are already in the works • GM foods will be safer to eat – GM corn has lower fungal toxin content than non-GM corn
GM FOODS PROMISE MANY HEALTH BENEFITS • Farmers typically use fewer pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers to produce GM crop • Crops may be modified to add vitamins & minerals – “golden rice” • “Eatable vaccines” may be developed by genetically adding vaccines to bananas or tomatoes = easier to ship, store, & administer
GM CROP TECHNOLOGY WILL HURT SMALL FARMERS • Patenting genetically altered crops will make small farmers indentured to big firms – Monsanto is currently suing dozens of N. American farmers whom it claims has raised its patented GM crops without paying for the privilege. (farmers have responded that pollen from Monsanto crops blew in from neighboring fields.) • GM crops might prove too expensive for poor farmers in developing countries – an often unspoken side effect of the Green Revolution was that many farmers had to use such expensive inputs that they were forced into debt or off of their land
GM CROP TECHNOLOGY WILL HURT SMALL FARMERS • Farmers in developing countries could be hurt if their export crops (ex: quinoa, a high-protein grain grown primarily in Bolivia) were no longer needed because they were being grown elsewhere using GM technology • GM crops will further our reliance on vast monocultures – 15 food crops supply 90% of the world’s food & energy intake. Many small farmers maintain a rich diversity – Indian farmers raise over 50,000 plant varieties that thrive under different climatic & environmental conditions. • Farmers of monocultures are vulnerable to lethal attacks by disease & pests.
FARMERS WILL REAP GREAT BENEFITS FROM BIOTECHNOLOGY • Crops genetically engineered to resist pest allow growers to avoid losses and bring produce to market at less cost • GM soybeans that are resistant to a single broad-spectrum herbicide can be grown with only a single application – this can also help reduce land degradation by enabling farmers to use “no-till” agriculture, which reduces soil erosion
FARMERS WILL REAP GREAT BENEFITS FROM BIOTECHNOLOGY • GM technologies being developed include putting an antifreeze gene into tomato plants to resist frost; drought- and salt-tolerant plants as well as disease resistant plants are also being attempted • GM crops will improve harvests, could triple crop yields without requiring any additional farmland
GM CROPS CAN HARM THE ENVIRONMENT • GM technology is a “Pandora’s lunchbox” – an uncontrolled experiment with unknown consequences for surrounding ecosystems. Reminders: DDT, PCBs, dioxin, leaded gas. . . • Close to half of Monarch butterfly larvae died when fed milkweed plants containing GM corn pollen in the lab (all larvae fed milkweed leaves with traditional corn pollen survived) • Insects may become ‘superbugs’ resistant to the pesticides engineered into GM crops – ‘superweeds’ may also evolve
GM CROPS CAN HARM THE ENVIRONMENT • GM crops may themselves become weeds, invading nearby traditional fields • Crop viruses may take resistant traits from GM crops and infect a whole range of plants that were previously unaffected
GM TECHNOLOGY WILL HELP THE ENVIRONMENT • GM crops require less pesticides – GM cotton were sprayed 1 – 2 times rather than 8 – 10 times (21% less) • GM crops could be created so that they are male-sterile (produce no pollen) so that they don’t cross pollinate with weeds • Farmers can create buffer zones of traditional crops for insects to feed on so they are not selectively pressured to adapt to the anti-pest plant
MODIFYING ORGANISMS GOES AGAINST NATURE • Fiddling with genetic makeup of plants and animals is unnatural. Nature takes millions of years to effect genetic change. What right do we have to make changes overnight, as it were? • Nature does not mix apples & oranges, much less flounder & strawberries (scientists placed an antifreeze gene from the fish into the fruit in a failed attempt to help strawberries withstand frost)
MODIFYING ORGANISMS GOES AGAINST NATURE • We do not have the wisdom or right to play God - such acts are immoral & sacrilegious • If you are a vegetarian, how would you feel if you learned the vegetable you just ate bore an animal gene? • If you observe kosher dietary laws, how would you feel knowing the tomato in your salad carried a pig gene • Just the beginning of an army of GM flora – Monsanto is developing new varieties of GM grass that will give homeowner the chance to choose the color of their front lawn
SCIENTISTS SAY THE GENETICALLY MODIFYING PLANTS IS NATURAL • Plants and animals genetically modify themselves all the time, it’s the basis of evolution and agriculture • Manipulating a single mustard species generated vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage • Grapes, potatoes, etc. all went through countless generations of careful hybridization & breeding to improve yields, taste, size, texture, etc.
SCIENTISTS SAY THE GENETICALLY MODIFYING PLANTS IS NATURAL • Modern GM procedures are simply more precise and much faster than traditional plant breeding.
BIOTECH COMPANIES ARE PROFIT-DRIVEN WITH LITTLE CONCERN FOR POTENTIAL RISKS • GM companies invest heavily in research & development and naturally, want to recoup their investment. But in their rush to secure patents and reap profits, they deliberately over-promote the benefits and underestimate possible health, socioeconomic, and environmental hazards • These companies concentrate their efforts in high-volume corps such as soybeans, corn, and cotton rather than in crops that might help feed the billions of people in poor countries.
BIOTECH COMPANIES ARE PROFIT-DRIVEN WITH LITTLE CONCERN FOR POTENTIAL RISKS • The “greed-not-need” ethic may soon operate in an Orwellian agricultural climate in which the power to produce and distribute food is concentrated in the hands of a few gigantic biotech firms.
COMPANIES THAT FASHION GM SEEDS SAY THAT GM CROPS HOLD GREATEST HOPE FOR ADEQUATELY FEEDING OUT RAPIDLY EXPANDING WORLD POPULATION • Innovation is the only way to meet the worlds expanding needs in a rapidly shrinking and scarred natural environment. Innovation requires costly and time-consuming research & testing, which will only happen if it’s paid for. The best way to do this is through intellectual property protection. Patents should operate world-wide because markets are increasingly global in nature.
GM FOODS SUFFER FROM DANGEROUSLY POOR OVERSIGHT & REGULATION • GM crops are being developed & deployed too quickly and too broadly without adequate testing and public debate • The three government bodies that oversee the industry (FDA, Dept. of Agriculture, & EPA) are too lax in their scrutiny & regulation
GM FOODS SUFFER FROM DANGEROUSLY POOR OVERSIGHT & REGULATION • FDA has long maintained that most GM foods are “substantially equivalent” to unmodified foods and are thus not subject to FDA regulation • Labeling of GM foods is not required in the U.S.
GM CROPS ARE THE MOST THOROGHLY TESTED & HIGHLY REGULATED FOOD PLANTS • Every GM crop is thoroughly tested for possible health effects • Scientists compare GM plants to conventionally bred plants to see if an newly introduced gene alters the chemical makeup or nutritional value • If the only difference is the protein made from the new gene, scientists test that protein for toxicity by feeding it to animals in amounts thousands of times higher than a person would ever eat.
GM CROPS ARE THE MOST THOROGHLY TESTED & HIGHLY REGULATED FOOD PLANTS • Scientists also check for allergy-inducing potential by comparing the chemistry of each new protein against those of ~500 known allergens • When testing shows a problem, the experiment is discontinued or approved only for animal feed.
GM CROPS ARE THE MOST THOROGHLY TESTED & HIGHLY REGULATED FOOD PLANTS • Three U.S. government agencies have their say about each GM crop. Dept. of Agriculture judges whether it is safe to grow, EPA assesses whether it’s safe for the environment, and the FDA deems whether it’s safe to eat. These agencies have stepped up their vigilance as a result of pressure from activists.
SOURCE: • http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/harvest/exist/arguments.html