12 Reasons To Avoid GMOs

by guest blogger Alberto Gonzalez, founder and CEO of GustOrganics

I love talking to people about food. And these days at my restaurant, I inevitably end up talking about GMOs. Often, people ask me the reasons why I do not allow any GMO foods at GustOrganics. In fact, this happens so often that I started creating a list in my head of all the reasons I choose not to offer them to my customers. The list started to get so big that I decided to write it down and I thought I’d share it with you, dear readers.

First, a little background: GMO stands for genetically modified organisms; some people also refer to them as GE (genetically engineered). According to the FDA, GMO foods are made using recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) technology. The agency commonly refers to them as “bioengineered foods,” or foods that have undergone genetic modification, meaning they’ve been engineered and altered at the genetic level “using any technique, new or traditional.”

Many years ago, I started reading studies about GMOs, and I discovered that most of the outcomes of the studies favored whoever was financing the research, which in most cases was the agrochemical companies. A few years later, I came across a book called The World According to Monsanto, by Marie-Monique Robin, and it was true eye-opener for me. Then, I read The Wheel of Life, by Debbie Barker from The Center for Food Safety, and I recommend this paper to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between food, climate, human rights, and economy.

Now I do everything I can, at home and at my restaurant, to avoid GMOs. It’s not easy to do, since more than 80 percent of processed foods contain GMOs. Buying certified-organic food is the only way you can truly stay away from GMOs right now, since GMO foods are not labeled. But, honestly, the likelihood that GMO crops will cross-pollinate with organics gets higher every year as more and more GMOs are planted.

So, back to my list. Here are my reasons for avoiding GMO foods, compiled mostly from the sources named above:

Health harms.

1. GMOs are grown with toxic chemicals and resulting pesticide residues are known to be harmful to human health.

2. Research has shown that laboratory mammals fed GMOs suffer adverse effects that include damage to kidneys, liver, adrenal glands, spleen, and heart. Additionally, their immune systems were compromised and in some cases brain size was reduced.

Environmental harms.

3. GMO crops require huge amounts of chemicals that are harmful to soil, water, the atmosphere, and creatures. Although they are promoted as a technology to reduce pesticide usage, GM crops in the U.S. used greater than 26 percent more pesticides per acre in 2008 than non-GMO crops, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data.

4. GMOs are actually increasing the need for stronger and more poisonous pesticides. For example, one agrochemical company is awaiting USDA approval of corn and soybeans resistant to 2, 4-D, a chemical related to Agent Orange.

5. GMOs are causing a growing epidemic of “superweeds.” These massive weeds have evolved a resistance to glyphosate, a chemical used on GM crops. Stronger toxic chemicals and soil-eroding tillage operations are required in order to eliminate superweeds.

6. GMOs contribute to global warming: GM crops require synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, which are responsible for approximately 60 percent of total emissions of nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas nearly 300 times more potent than CO2). GM crops use high amounts of fossil fuels through the production of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers.

7. GMO practices contaminate our organic and local food systems. A report titled, Gone to Seed, found that 50 percent or more of non-GMO corn, canola, and soybean seed have been contaminated with GM genes.

8. Beneficial insects can be harmed. A Cornell University study showed that monarch butterflies suffered higher mortality rates when consuming milkweed leaves dusted with the Bt toxin associated with GM crops. And recently, pesticides called neonicotinoids have been blamed for the collapsing bee populations.

Harms to social and human rights.

9. GMOs are promoted as way to feed the world and mitigate hunger; however, numerous studies demonstrate that the GM crops do not produce higher yields as claimed. As one example, a USDA publication reports that “GM crops do not increase the yield potential.”

10. GMOs lead to corporate control over seed and food: Today only one company controls about 95 percent of GM seeds. This limits access to seeds, which are the center of food and life.

11. These large agri-corporations do not let farmers save seeds, a basic practice that has continued for centuries to ensure food security.

12. GMO agriculture is an extension of current industrial-farming practices that have resulted in the loss of family farms and farmer livelihoods around the globe.

For all of these reasons, and more that I’m just not thinking of right now, we at GustOrganics choose another path. We believe organic agriculture is the only way to go. Organic agriculture has equal or higher yields than factory farming. Organics don’t contain any synthetic hormones, antibiotics, chemicals or GMOs. And independent studies prove that organic food has more vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants than conventional food (which, at this point, is just another way of saying GMO food).

Talk to your friends about GMOs and help them to be aware of the facts. And go to justlabelit.org and help send 1 million signatures to the Food and Drug Administration to let them know that we want GMO foods labeled.

Alberto Gonzalez is the founder and CEO of GustOrganics, the world’s first certified-organic restaurant using 100 percent organic ingredients, and one of the greenest and most progressive restaurants on the planet, gustorganics.com.

 

 

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23 Responses to 12 Reasons To Avoid GMOs

  1. This is a fantastic article. It’s something I’m really concerned about. I found this post via a link on the Christian Homekeeper’s Network. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  2. Eating healthy and having proper diet is about feeling great, having more energy, and keeping yourself as healthy as possible. Healthy eating is about more than the food on your plate-it is also about how you think about food.

  3. Amy Pearson says:

    If you’re truly interested in living organic you must take action by learning more about genetically engineered food and GMOs.

  4. Darlene Gordon says:

    This country, and the people who live here, are being harmed by small farms selling out to THE BIG GUY who just looks for the money angle. Everything about GMO’S is against the health of this earth and thus all living things. Pure seeds, planted in rich organic soils, watered with clean water preserves our seed bank and provides us with nutrient rich food aiding our health. The chemicals in altered food crops create a war in our bodies trying to get rid of them, and all of nature suffers terribly. Go Organic !

  5. Ann Belonger says:

    Good for GustOrganics, here’s hoping more follow in your footsteps. You are right, if it’s not organic you really don’t know what you are eating.

  6. GMOS have been around for a long time. Slinking around the background. It is soooo simple! You don’t mess with mother nature. It will be many years before we know how much damage this has done. Plus Monsanto has destroyed the lives of thousands of farmers refusing to use their seeds! Do your homework and watch what we feed our children!

  7. “Evils and designs in the hearts of conspiring men” describes the profit motives of these giant chemical businesses that have such formidable power over agriculture in the USA. And do they pay off USDA? Something needs to happen. What can we do?

  8. JimBo' says:

    I have found that one of the best defense to GMO is growing your own food but use heirloom seed since these date back from 1940 and earlier. It is also,important that when shopping for fruits and vegetables that you ask the produce manager where the food comes from and demand GMO and buy organic when possible.
    The problem we face is enormous ,a massive effort by ALL is it’s goin to take to beat Monsantos. I have not heard lately any thing about the lobbying in Californian for labeling of GMO.

  9. JimBo' says:

    Sorry I left a word out that should read “demand non GMO”.

  10. Adam says:

    you’re presenting your arguments as though all genetically modified organisms have had the same modifications.

    Of course some modifications will end up being harmful to humans in the long run, and considering they are a relatively new technology we should expect that. The solution to that is clear, More experimentation and testing to produce better modifications in organisms.

    Biotechnology is growing fast, and its becoming easier and easier to sequence genomes. The more research, the easier it will be to identify and produce crops with a higher yield and more food specific genes.

    like I said, your making sweeping generalizations about GMO’s, and acting like they all contain the same modifications. I’m not saying all GMO’s are great, but they have potential to do far more for humans than you are giving them credit for.

  11. Chris says:

    I agree with Adam. Besides, nearly all of your objections to GMO’s are actually about the pesticides and farming practices used on GMO’s, not on GMO’s as such. Unless you can present a convincing argument for why GMO’s must, as necessary consequence of their being genetically modified, use more pesticides, use more chemical fertilizer, etc., I’m afraid you’ve given us little more than a red herring, or, at best, a good argument for why GMO farming practices need to change. I particularly take issue with point 2: which genetic modifications are increasing mortality and why? Not all GMO’s are created equally. rDNA that increase thiamin content is not the same as rDNA that provides resistance to tomato horn worms. Unfortunately, the site you link to merely mentions “studies” without citing them, the hallmark of poor, even deceptive, scholarship.

  12. Maria Zulueta says:

    I find this article very informative. Will pass it on to all my friends. Thanks for making us aware about GMO’s.

  13. karen says:

    Here’s a question I never hear anyone (but me) ask:

    IF GMO crops are bred to be pesticide, pest and drought resistant, doesn’t it also stand to reason that they would be digestive resistant?!

    Just a thought.

  14. Alejandro M Jaume says:

    very good

  15. Tom Canham says:

    The problem is, you can’t simply lump all GMO’s together. Some genetic modifications are benign — such as a longer fruiting time. Many others are related to pesticide resistance, and these tend to have the biggest negative consequences; higher pesticide resistance leads to more pesticides which leads to more harmful effects from consuming the plants. In fact, in this case it’s safe to say that it’s the pesticide use, not the genetic modification that is the root problem.

    The thing is that genetic modification can be used to increase crop yield or nutritional value — something that the non-rich portions of the world desperately needs. Banning GMO’s essentially says “my (often unfounded) fears trump your access to food.” This is just not a reasonable balance to strike.

    I think that the only sane response to crop genetic modification has to be “it depends” — it depends on the specific modification, it depends on the profit motive, it depends on the harm-vs-reward equation. You can’t simply rule it out; it might cause a little harm but a huge amount of good.

    Ultimately, I think people want simplistic answers, like “genetic modification bad, organic good.” But life is never that simple; many “organic” practices, such as cross-pollination, are a form of genetic modification in themselves! Just because it doesn’t happen in a test tube or wearing a white coat doesn’t make it inherently safer or better. So, it depends — you have to look at the result and decide “is this REALLY an improvement, or just a profit booster for Monsanto?”

    Unfortunately, people don’t like complicated, real-world answers to real-world questions. This is a shame, because wise genetic modification truly offers the chance to feed the world in a way that organic farming — bless it, but it will NEVER scale up to the level of big agribusiness, as much as I wish it would… — cannot.

  16. Sam says:

    I’m a little confused. Most of the reasons listed here have to do with harmful pesticides. This is a very valid health concern, of course, but why would GM crops have more pesticide treatment than non-GM crops? Hypothetically the whole point of GM crops is to reduce the need for pesticides (as well as increased yield and drought tolerance).

  17. Ryan says:

    9. Laughing out loud. Really, numerous reports? Were they also published in 2006 and prior? Yields have increased significantly over the years with correlation to booming technology and PESTICIDES. Do you know how many more crop eating insects are out there today compared to five, ten or fifteen years ago? How about the Asian aphids that almost wiped out the majority of the soybean crop? Without pesticides many family farmers (including my family) would be living on welfare. Then we can listen to all the city folk bitch about farmers robbing the government through welfare. Commodity markets are tough enough to make a decent living and now you’re saying we can’t use pesticides to prevent little bugs from eating our paychecks? It’s great when people don’t take a macro perspective before jumping to conclusions. Let me ask you, what would you do if you had an insect infestation in your restaurant? Would you let them harvest on your expensive organic inventories, drive away business and lose your reputation? I assume you would fumigate to kill the insects. You people that bash agriculture practices disgust me. The funny thing is when you shop at your organic food store to boycott, you lose! Most of those foods are actually manufactured by the large industrial farms, a polar opposite to the small family farm displayed on the package! It’s great that you and many others point out a huge problem for the health of society, yet I am puzzled no one can provide a feasible solution . . .

  18. Jason says:

    I used to care about these things, and looked for products labelled fair trade, organic, locally grown, etc. Then I went to this pizza place that charged me $ 20+ because the stuff was “organic.” Also, I would come across these commercials about “natural” vitamin C pills that were somehow superior because they were manufactured in Europe. This movement to eat healthy and socially conscious is all cool, but somewhere down the line things started to become ridiculous.

  19. james says:

    The real problem is Monsanto is letting their seeds cross pollinate with neighbors then sueing them for having the new unwanted strains. This is littering untested products then blaming the other guy. Monopily on the seeds. I love the ney sayers excuses, but they just don’t stand up to scrutiny. Having your own board members appointed to the FDA for political favors, then firing responsible workers because of reports not favorable to the wants of Monsanto is a form of esponage. This is rackateering and crimes against all humanity. Financial boycot against these monovelant buisnesses is real and growing. The truth is coming out more every day from Psycologists, neurologists and Physicians all coming to the same conclusion that when taking patients off high fructose corn syrup their patients always show positive health effects. Putting rat poison in corn coated with (GMO Beet sugar) and feeding it to children with additives like flame retardent, is just not a good idea. GET IT!!!!

  20. Great article, GMO’s also enlarge your digestive organs! I discovered this studying for my major/minor; I learned a lot in my courses at university. I also found out that they increase allergies, which makes sense why more and more people are becoming allergic to foods.

  21. Nora Williams says:

    All this really boils down to governmental control, needless to say most of the heads of these company’s came from the f.d.a. and other government agencies. Bottom line since the food safety act was redone it is now against the law to save your seeds nor can you illegally share any of your produce with others.

    Don’t believe me look it up or better yet get in touch with me and I will send you the info where you can read it for yourself.

  22. Heather Berlett says:

    Nora Williams, (commented July 29, 2013)
    Please send your contact info. or provide your references.
    I believe you are probably right about “All this boils down to governmental control…”. In spite of the $$$ lobbyists throw at them, our government leaders should not give/sell our rights and protections away.
    In my mind, as guilty as Monsanto is, our government is worse are for allowing it! Government leaders should be held accountable to oversee and control for the greed that may get out of hand in the business world.
    I don’t know the details but it sounds like Monsanto should be told that natural cross pollination happens! If you don’t want your (?) DNA spread around, design YOUR crop to be infertile beyond harvest or keep it from being carried off YOUR customers crop to others’.

  23. 2scicrazed says:

    Though I’m against GMOs, your statement in #9 is not backed up by the actual USDA document. Copied and pasted from document summary:

    “The economic impact of GE crops on producers varies by crop and technology. Herbicide-tolerant cotton and corn
    were associated with increased returns, as were insect-resistant cotton and corn when pest infestations were more
    prevalent.”

    This is an example of why every reader should follow links themselves. This author shows bias and misquotes original documents.

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