Recently, a group of 109 Nobel Prize laureates released a statement to the effect of telling Greenpeace and other environmental movements to “stop bashing GMOs”. This is because of a growing need to solve world hunger issues. At the same time, other experts are saying that genetically-modified foods are not helping the issue and pose risks. What is the truth?
Better Crops or Not?
The whole idea of using genetically-modified produce crops is to produce heartier food that is more resistant to diseases and pests. This would then result in greater crop yields, making more food per acre than would otherwise be achieved.
Evidence from recent studies shows that there has been no significant increase in crop yields as a result of this scientific effort in the United States and Canada. At the same time, experts are saying that it has improved crops in other countries, Europe excluded, and that this is helping to defeat malnutrition, disease, and death from vitamin A deficiencies in Asia and Africa.
Proponents and Opponents
It is very difficult to separate the political and individual agendas of groups when they state either one way or the other that genetically-modified food is a good way to go. Proponents currently say that the modification creates the ideal vehicle for nutrient delivery to the masses and, this is true to a large extent.
Opponents say that the GMO crops will contaminate conventional crops and that the GMO foods do not have any added nutritional value. As it turns out, everyone is correct, depending on where you stand.
It is true that genetically-modified crops are more resistant to diseases and pests. Since the introduction of GMO crops, the use of pesticides in the United States and Canada has declined. On the flip-side, these crops have been shown to take on more fungal infections specifically, requiring the use of anti-fungal agents which are of questionable safety.
However, proponents have evidence to show that the food is safe. Also, it is clear that these crops do produce large amounts of vitamins for nutrition and that is a good thing. The only problem is that all of these crops grow in depleted soil and no amount of engineering is going to increase essential mineral content, which has been found to be very low in GMO foods.
Who is Correct?
Considering the global problem of nutrient deficiencies, it seems that continuing with the genetically-modified crops and research to improve them is a good move. Opponents of this do not always have the best evidence to present.
One thing is clear, however, and that is the increased use of glyphosate herbicide on crops is clearly causing health problems such as cancer. In fact, Monsanto Corporation, the makers of Roundup and Roundup-Ready soybeans, are currently facing a major lawsuit for using the press to hide information about the dangers of GMOs.
Who is right? Once again, it seems as if both opponents and proponents have valid points but more research will need to be done.