By, David Schubert, Ph.D., professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Most people like to know what they are eating. However, labeling for genetically modified organisms is not required in any state. This is largely because of the money expended by GM seed producers toward blocking food-labeling laws.
A common claim made by this group is that GM foods have been proved safe to eat and that there is a global scientific consensus to support this statement; therefore, no labeling is needed.
However, an examination of the scientific data, along with discussions on this topic in other countries, show that both claims are blatantly false. What is the evidence that some GM foods are hazardous to human health and that consumers should be able to make a choice based upon this information? When GMOs were introduced nearly 20 years ago, there was the promise of crops with increased yields and resistant to flooding and salt. Since then, traditional breeding methods have created commercial varieties with these traits, while genetic engineering has created none. For example, recently published data show that conventional breeding of corn and soy increases yields to a greater extent than GM technologies.
With the promise of reducing the use of agricultural chemicals, most of the current GM crops are supposedly either insect or herbicide resistant. In reality, GM crops have fostered an epidemic of herbicide resistant weeds and insects that are no longer killed by the built-in toxins.
The result is a massive increase in herbicide use – an additional 527 million pounds over the past 16 years. The major herbicide, glyphosate, is found inside the GM plants we eat, leading to its detection in people. Future GM crops will likely trigger a greater use of more toxic herbicides such as 2,4-D, a component of the Agent Orange defoliant deployed in Vietnam. In addition to these problems, there is increasing evidence that GM crops and the chemicals required for their production are harmful to humans.
A version of this article was originally published on Eatocracy, a CNN blog. © David Schubert. It is reprinted here by permission.
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Dave R. Schubert, professor and head of the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, studies hormones and other substances that affect the activities and survival of brain cells. Much of his research is providing new insights into Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain disorders.