Building on the propaganda about the benefits of chemical agriculture, the agrochemical/biotechnology industry has promoted in the last decades the false promise that its genetically engineered crops would feed the world, produce higher yields, resist climate change and reduce the use of pesticides. But none of these promises has been fulfilled:
- The vast majority of GM crops, such as corn and soy, are primarily used as animal feed or converted into biofuels
- Evidence shows that there has been no significant increase in yields;
- Indigenous seeds are more resilient and practices of seed breeding in synergy with any natural environment conditions maintain the evolutionary potential of crops, which is needed to cope with climate change;
- Pesticides use has increased with the introduction of GM crops, due to weeds and pests developing resistance and needing additional or more powerful chemicals.
Further common myths about GMOs, which are widely spread and promoted by an aggressive PR campaign by the biotech industry have been debunked in the report “GMO Myths and Truths: A Citizen’s Guide to the Evidence on the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods”, by Claire Robinson, Michael Antoniou PhD and John Fagan PhD. It argues that:
- GMOs are not an extension of natural breeding, they are laboratory-made and pose different risks from non-GM crops;
- GMOs are neither safe to eat nor adequately regulated for safety. They can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts;
- GMOs neither benefit the environment nor can help solve problems caused by climate change. They harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, reduce biodiversity and do not offer effective solutions to climate change.
- GMOs do not Reduce energy use, but are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
Furthermore, as Dr. Vandana Shiva has often pointed out:
- Genetic engineering does not create a plant or an organism and therefore GMOs are not an “invention” of corporations that can be patented and owned,; it is merely a tool to transfer genes across species. Living organisms are self-organizing, self-replicating systems. They make themselves. Unlike machines, they cannot be engineered.
- Genetic engineering is not more accurate and precise than conventional breeding. The introduction of genes from unrelated species is a blind technology, neither accurate nor precise. When genes are introduced into the cells of a plant using a gene gun, it is not known if the cell has absorbed the gene or not.
- Genetic engineering is based on an obsolete paradigm of genetic determinism, a linear and deterministic flow of information from genes, called “master molecules,” to proteins. Genetic determinism assumes that genes are atoms of biological determinism, with one gene carrying one trait, and determining the traits in an organism. But these are assumptions that come from the idea of control and domination; this is patriarchal ideology, not science. Cutting-edge science teaches us that these assumptions are false. Genes are fluid, not fixed. Each gene contributes to multiple traits; each trait is an expression of many genes acting in concert.
There is no free choice with GMOs. The myth of “free choice” begins with a “free market” and “free trade.” When a handful of transnational corporations control the seed market, it is not a free market, it is a cartel. When corporations write the rules of “free trade,” it is corporate dictatorship, not free trade. When enforcing patents and intellectual property rights (IPR) laws written by themselves, corporations prevent farmers from saving seed; it is not “free choice,” it is seed slavery.