Transgenic crops, 20 years of failures

20 years ago the first genetically modified  ( GMO or transgenic ) crop was planted in the United States with incredible promises of the benefits of new technology. Geenpeace recently published a report challenging those promises.

After two decades, the promises of the benefits of this technology have not stopped growing, but transgenic crops are not fulfilling any of those promises.

This technology was not only going to simplify food and agriculture systems and make them safer and more efficient, but it was going to end hunger in the world and become the key to the fight against climate change.

Despite the marketing carried out in favor of transgenic crops by large and powerful companies, transgenic crops only account for 3% of the world’s agricultural land and the majority of the population rejects them .

The promises have proven to be myths . Some of the advertised benefits have not materialized outside of the laboratory and others have failed in the face of the real-world complexities of agricultural ecosystems and the real needs of farmers. In reality, GM crops have reinforced the broken model of industrial agriculture , with its biodiversity- reducing monocultures , its huge carbon footprint, its economic pressures on small farmers, and its failure to provide safe, healthy and nutritious food for those who they need it.

It is time to question the myths promulgated by the GMO industry, to hide the shortcomings and limitations of this technology.

1 – GM crops can feed the world.

 Reality: There are no GM crops designed to deliver high yields. Genetic engineering is not well adapted to solve the problems underlying hunger and malnutrition, genetic engineering reinforces the model of industrial agriculture that has failed to feed the world so far. It should be remembered that the problems of lack of food are not caused by lack of production, but rather by the unfair distribution of food and because more than 40% of the food produced is thrown away.

2 – GM crops are the key in the fight against climate change.

Fact: Genetic engineering lags far behind traditional cultivation in developing plant varieties that can help agriculture in the face of climate change. Resistance to climate change largely depends on agricultural practices that promote diversity and soil nutrition, not on the monoculture system for which transgenic crops are designed.

3 – GM crops are safe for humans and the environment.

Reality: Long-term health and environmental monitoring programs are either non-existent or insufficient. Independent investigators complain that they are denied access to research material. You can watch the documentary: Genetic Roulette

4 – GM crops simplify crop production.

Reality: After a few years, problems such as weeds and super pests emerge due to their resistance to applied herbicides and GM crops, resulting in the application of additional pesticides.

5 – GM crops are economically viable for farmers.

Reality: The prices of transgenic seeds are protected by patents and their prices have skyrocketed in the last 20 years. The emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds and super-pests increase farmers’ costs, reducing their economic benefits even further.

6 – GM crops can coexist with other agricultural systems.

Reality: GM crops contaminate non-GM crops. About 400 incidents of GMO contamination have been registered around the world so far. Staying GMO-free involves considerable costs, sometimes beyond the reach of farmers. You can watch the documentary: David vs. Monsanto .

7 – Genetic engineering is the most promising avenue of innovation in food systems.

Fact: Advanced non-GMO plant breeding methods are already delivering the same advances promised by GMO crops, including resistance to disease, flooding, and drought tolerance. Not only are GM crops an ineffective type of innovation, they also restrict innovation due to intellectual property rights owned by a handful of multinational corporations.

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