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Dismantling the GMO Debate Point by Point

Does Monsanto realize their argument supports their opponents?

Last week was a victory for organic farmers and health-conscious consumers when the Monsanto Protection Act was removed from the Senate spending bill. It was a heated and controversial debate that boiled down to organic food availability and transparency in labeling on one hand, versus further proliferation of GMO seeds and a deliberate attempt to conceal the product of those seeds, on the other. While the focus was limited to GMO’s in this case, similar concerns extend to “Natural Flavoring” marketing and certified organic brands that turn out, in fact, not to be 100% organic.

Granted, there are always two sides to every story. On this one, I am not impartial. I believe people have a right to know—and choose—whether they ingest food that has been altered (and by altered I mean injected with DNA from another species) from its natural state and not proven safe over the long term. It seems so simple.

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Yet, both sides argue that the other has significant financial interests who stand to gain or lose substantially—and they do. That’s a given. Now it’s time to move on. I am not here to debate why each side wants what they want. That’s not the point. The point is, while both camps continue to accuse the other of having ulterior motives, there is a seriously flawed argument underway on the part of GMO supporters.

On a website sponsored and paid for by GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association) of which Monsanto is a member, "The Facts About GMOs" are laid out intending to put the public’s mind at ease. For me, it had the opposite effect though. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, they made their opponents’ position stronger—much stronger.  Here’s why…

#1) They say, “GMO's Are Safe—Many of the most influential regulatory agencies and organizations that study the safety of the food supply, including the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, Health Canada, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Academy of Sciences, have found genetically modified food ingredients are safe and there are no negative health effects associated with their use.”

Are they joking? “Influential?” Like that has anything to do with competency, credibility—or humanity and caring about the well-being of other people for that matter. It means nothing of the sort. For those organizations, influential means power and power means money. And so we end up right back where we started, with money paying for special interests, which renders safety and health nothing more than an inconvenience.

But let’s put that aside for a second. How exactly have they found genetically modified food ingredients safe with no negative health effects associated with their use, without one lick of independent, neutral, unbiased research? They claim to study the safety of the food supply? Not this time. They haven’t studied anything. I don’t care that Monsanto funded their own 9-month study. It’s laughable. How can we trust a government agency if they deem something to be safe with no inquiry or cause-and-effect studies? A high school science student knows better.

This is the same USDA and FDA, mind you, that allow chemicals to be used here that are considered toxic and banned in 64 other countries. Not to mention the measly 10 chemicals they ban in cosmetics as compared to 1372 in Europe. So, tell me again, “What criteria do the FDA and USDA use to measure safety?” It is clearly not actual research.

#2) They say, “GMO's Are Not New—GM technology has been around for the past 20 years, and today, 70-80% of the foods we eat in the United States, both at home and away from home, contain ingredients that have been genetically modified.”

Exactly! And our country has never been more sickly. It is estimated that 40 percent of Americans will have cancer in their lifetimes. That’s almost half! Even worse, in those 20 years it never occurred to anyone to run a long term study? If they had, we would know what we are dealing with now. For any legitimate governing body, scientific inquiry would have started 20 years ago before they exposed the public to a complete unknown.

For sure they will claim that the ailing state of health in this country can't be linked to GMOs. But it can't not be linked either. That is if you don't count recent longer term studies that show a plethora of adverse effects in pigs and rats fed GMO diets. All of this, they avoid and ignore, and instead continue parroting the same BS.

#3) They say they are, “Keeping Food Affordable—Ingredients grown using GM technology require fewer pesticides, less water and keep production costs down. In fact, GM technology helps reduce the price of crops used for food, such as corn, soybeans and sugar beets by as much as 15-30%.”

That’s ridiculous too. What we save on crap food we pay for exponentially in healthcare, not to mention the cost of human suffering that accompanies poor health. There is nothing affordable about having the highest healthcare costs in the world.

#4) They say they are, “Protecting Our Environment—GM technology allows farmers to use fewer chemicals, such as pesticides. It also helps them utilize more environmentally friendly planting techniques that cut down on soil erosion, greenhouse gas emissions and water use.”

How do they figure? They just raised the allowable amount of glyphosate (an herbicide), which recent studies have linked to cancer. The reason? Crops are becoming resistant and require MORE, not less, chemicals.

#5) They say they are, “Feeding the World’s Hungry—One in eight people among the world’s growing population of seven billion do not have enough to eat, and safe and effective methods of food production, like crops produced through GM technology, can help us feed the hungry and malnourished in developing nations around the world."

Okay, let’s do the math. If GMOs are so ubiquitous, have been around for twenty years and 80% of our food is genetically modified, why have they not eradicated world hunger?  That’s because world hunger is not a shortage of food, it is a shortage of money among the poor. Poverty is the primary cause for hunger, not food supply. If they really cared about the hungry people in the world, they would use their resources to focus more on poverty, and less on their own wealth and GMO crops.

So, what I want to know is this: “How different is a government that sneaks chemicals into the population’s food supply from a government that launches chemical weapons on unsuspecting citizens?” Sure, the means is to a different end, or is it?

 

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Donna Flagg is the author of Surviving Dreaded Conversations and a New York City-based dancer.

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