Op-Ed in Response to G & M article

I felt moved to write this letter after reading a biased and poorly-informed opinion in the Globe and Mail.  The Globe and Mail didn’t publish my opinion and so I posted it into the comments section.  I thought that I would share it with you.

Re: “Activists muddy the water on GMOs and fracking, Globe and Mail”, November 4th 2013

In the article Activists muddy the Water on GMOs and Fracking, Gwyn Morgan says that both GMOs and Fracking are based on activist propaganda and have no scientific backing.  I respectfully disagree and would like to address his comments on GMOs in particular.

Contrary to what was stated in the article, there is no scientific consensus regarding the safety of GMOs nor is there any independent peer-reviewed long-term impact research on human health.  There are however countless peer-reviewed studies showing cause for alarm.  In the past couple of weeks alone 230 scientists, physicians and legal experts around the world have signed a group statement attesting to the fact that there is no consensus on the safety of GMOs.

Dr. Belinda Martineau from University of California agrees.  She was part of the team that commercialized the Flavr Savr GMO tomato that failed in 1994. In relation to the group statement Dr Martineau expresses that she, “wholeheartedly support[s] this thorough, thoughtful and professional statement describing the lack of scientific consensus on the safety of genetically engineered (GM/GE) crops and other GM/GE organisms (also referred to as GMOs). Society’s debate over how best to utilize the powerful technology of genetic engineering is clearly not over. For its supporters to assume it is, is little more than wishful thinking.”

Despite the marvellous hype about feeding the world, almost all GMO crops currently grown in North America have no superior qualities apart from being able to withstand toxic and carcinogenic herbicide, the residues of which contaminate our food and environment,  poison the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soils we grow our food in. As a society we currently throw away half the food we produce. Production isn’t the issue. It’s distribution.

What about yields, you may say?  GMOs give higher yields, right? Not necessarily. According to the Rodale Institute’s 30 year farm study, over the long term organic crop yields are higher than conventional especially in years of drought when conditions are not perfect.

Only a handful of gigantic monopolies are benefiting from this risky technology. Since GMOs were introduced less than two decades ago, 90% of corn, soy, canola and sugar beets are now GMO—more than one hundred million acres. In the US alone in the 1990s there was 1.5 million pounds of glyphosate being doused on our crops.  By 2011 there was 90 million tons of gylphosate primarily due to GMOs.  And we don’t have any mandatory labelling to inform us, the consuming public in the event we want to avoid these ingredients until we’re convinced they’re safe.  If there’s nothing wrong with GMOs, why not label them?

People should be empowered to stop and question what they feed their families, and whether the agriculture we practice is sustainable and necessary for our fragile earth.

Gurdeep Stephens

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