Gardening

Transgenics: what they are, impacts on the environment and health, how to avoid them and alternatives

What are GMOs?

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or transgenic organisms are living beings that are obtained through genetic engineering. This technology breaks the barriers between species and creates living beings that could not be obtained in nature or with traditional genetic improvement techniques.

Transgenic crops were introduced into our agriculture and food ten years ago without studies to guarantee their safety on the environment and health, with great promises to alleviate hunger in the world and solve the problems of farmers.
But reality shows that they have not brought benefits for the consumer or small farmers, while uncertainties about their effects on health grow and their environmental impacts are increasingly evident.
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What impacts do they have on the environment?

The impacts of transgenic crops are increasingly evident: increased use of pesticides in the field, genetic contamination of wild species, acceleration of the loss of biodiversity, insects and weeds that become resistant to conventional treatments … It is practically impossible to protect non-GMO agriculture from GMO contamination, making it very difficult to turn back once released into the environment
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What impacts do they have on health?

GMOs have been introduced into our diet without the impacts on consumers’ health having been adequately evaluated. There are too many uncertainties, such as the appearance of new toxins in food, new allergies or resistance to antibiotics
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Are there GMOs in Spain?

Spain has been growing transgenic corn since 1998, and it is the only country in the European Union that does so on a large scale.

In 2006, 53,000 hectares were cultivated.
This culture is carried out in conditions of absolute lack of transparency and control.
Multiple cases have already been reported of farmers seeing their corn fields contaminated by transgenic pollen, which poses a great threat to the sector, especially for organic farming.
In addition, our country imports large quantities of transgenic soybeans. There is little or no control of these crops by the authorities and measures to prevent negative effects on the environment and the rest of agriculture are practically non-existent. The right to free choice of the farmer and consumer of a GM-free agriculture and food is not being respected.
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Do they help solve world hunger?

The introduction of transgenic crops in agriculture has been proven to increase situations of poverty, social exclusion and injustice. Furthermore, available GMOs are neither more productive nor more nutritious.
However, the economic interests at stake give rise to all kinds of political pressures on the part of biotechnology multinationals, which try to control world agriculture and food while disregarding social and environmental considerations.
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NO to GMOs

Opposition to the introduction of GMOs into the environment and food is growing. While the multinationals reap the benefits and the governments decide, it is the consumers who, together with the farmers, assume the risks and suffer the problems derived from these crops.
At present, from Friends of the Earth we carry out a campaign for the declaration of GMO-Free Zones. With it we intend to force an urgent change in the legislation to allow the municipalities and local authorities that so wish to declare their zone free of transgenics in order to protect the health of their consumers, the environment and the agriculture of their zone.
In Europe, more than 170 regions and 3,400 municipalities have made the declaration. In collaboration with many other organizations of farmers, environmentalists or consumers, Asturias, the Basque Country, the islands of Menorca and Mallorca and several municipalities have taken this step in defense of the right to grow and eat GM-free products.
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Can we know if a product contains GMOs?

It is mandatory to label all foods derived from GMOs. However, the legislation admits 0.9% contamination of an ingredient by GMOs without the need for it to appear on the label. There is also no obligation to label food such as meat, eggs or milk from animals fed GMOs. If to this we add that there is no control of contamination or of the fate of transgenic crops, today these products are entering our diet without being properly informed and without consumers having the right to choose a GMO-free food.
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How can we avoid eating GMOs?

Although with current legislation and conditions it is difficult for consumers to exercise our right not to consume GMOs, there are things we can do:
〈Do not buy products that contain the phrase “genetically modified” corn or soy on the label. This label appears on few products: soy lecithin, margarines, mayonnaise, corn …
〈Avoid processed and precooked products as much as possible, since they usually contain flour, starch or corn or soybean oil, with a high probability of containing GMOs.
〈Consume organic products as much as possible. The eco-label certifies that they are free of GMOs.
Here you can see foods that are transgenic
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What are the alternatives?

We need to move towards a sustainable agriculture that maintains the biological and cultural diversity and the fertility of the land. We only have one planet and we want it to last for future generations.
We can promote a more respectful agriculture with the environment through our consumption decisions. In addition to avoiding GMOs, if we choose seasonal fruits and vegetables, we will be saving energy and reducing our contribution to climate change. If we also buy food produced as closely as possible, we will also save energy used in transport and favor local agriculture
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Organic farming

The organic farming excludes the use of transgenic and synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides or antibiotics in order to preserve the environment, maintaining or increasing the fertility of soil and provide food with all its natural properties.
Organic farming does not mean a setback in the modernization of agriculture. It is about making traditional agricultural practices compatible with modern technical and scientific knowledge, in order to obtain food in an environmentally and socially sustainable way.
To find organic producers and buy them directly, click here
You can also join a Consumer Group , through which you buy directly from the producer in large quantities, which causes prices to decrease. This type of collaborative and responsible consumption drives the local economy, allows us to maintain the diversity of the area and we also eat healthy and seasonal foods.
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More information at Friends of the Earth
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