Where they are grown, genetically modified crops are linked to massive increases in herbicide use, the expansion of mono-cultural farming practices, and increased costs all along the food chain. The resulting social, environmental and economic impacts are severe, contributing to small farmers losing their land and livelihoods, and failing to alleviate poverty. That is why it is so important for all of us to get involved, raise awareness and take action to stop the spread of genetically modified crops. We need a future of food and farming that benefits people and planet, and not just the pockets of big business.
Most GM crops fall in to one of two categories. They are either engineered to resist chemical herbicides, or they are engineered to produce insecticides in the plants themselves. Herbicide resistant crops increase the use of herbicides, increasing costs for farmers as well as creating environmental and health problems, affecting poorer communities who live near large GM farms in developing countries, as well as causing pollution. Insecticide crops are constantly producing toxins when they’re not even necessary, and can indiscriminately kill other insects beneficial for the environment.
GM crops are patented, allowing research, breeding and ultimately the entire food chain of GM crops to be controlled by a few multinational companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Pioneer and Dow. The GM market is driven by these companies’ desire to sell herbicides as well as seeds, in their aggressive pursuit of profit. Traditional crops and local varieties in combination with modern plant breeding are invariably cheaper and better suited to local conditions.
The cultivation and trade of GM crops adds costs not only for farmers but also for companies in the organic and conventional food and feed supply chain. The costs of keeping seeds, crop and foods separate from GM varieties to avoid contamination is borne by the non-GM producers. This is profoundly unfair — essentially placing the economic burden on the victim, not the polluter.
GM crops do not tackle hunger or poverty
Continued industry promises about the ability of GM crops to tackle the world’s growing social problems are pure myth: there is still not a single commercial GM crop with increased yield or salt-tolerance, enhanced nutrition or other ‘beneficial’ traits. GM crops are confined to a handful of countries with highly industrialised agricultural sectors where GM-cash-crops are grown to be sold on the world market for textiles, feed and fuel, and not to feed people.
So what can you do?
- Spread the word. Tell people about what’s happening with GM and things they can do. Write about GM issues in your local newspaper, zene, blog, etc. Do you have your own website? Link to ours!
- Boycott GM food. Don’t buy food or animal feed with a GM label. Protest and boycott retailers who sell it. Shop at independent whole food shops who are committed to only selling GM free food.
- Call for accurate labelling. Accurate labelling of meat and dairy products that come from animals fed on GM feed is vital so that people have a choice. At the moment there is no way to tell whether food comes from animals fed on GM animal feed or not. Urge your government and elected representatives to act on clearer labelling of meat and dairy products from animals fed on GM.
- Tell supermarkets to keep our food GM-free. There is currently a big push by the biotech industry to force GM foods onto supermarket shelves. Whether they succeed is largely in the hands of the supermarkets, which have most power over the European food supply. Until now the supermarkets, under pressure from consumers, have banned GM ingredients from their own-brand products but hardly any have so far banned the use of GM animal feed in their meat, dairy or egg production lines.You can find lots of useful info on writing to supermarkets including sample letters at GM Freeze. Friends of the Earth have also compiled a league table of supermarkets and their stance on GM animal feed, plus sample letters to supermarkets.