Much of the debate around GMO’s has centered around labeling foods that are genetically modified, but what about the crops themselves? In order to have GMO foods, we must have genetically modified crops. What you may find out in these statistics may just surprise you.
In the United States, there is over 150 million acres of genetically modified corn and soybeans being grown every year.
Genetically Modified Crops
Genetically modified foods have been around for quite some time, but most of them are grown in the United States. More than 70 million hectares of the 175 million hectares of GMO crops grown worldwide comes from the US. For GMO soybeans, the percentage is even greater. Nearly three-quarters of genetically modified soybeans are grown in the United States.
- 71% of US farmers state that their main reason for adopting genetically engineered corn is that it can increased their overall yields.
- The overall percentage of genetically modified crops in every product has grown by at least 600% since 1994. Some products, like genetically modified corn, have grown by over 1000% in the same period.
- At least 90% of the key agricultural crops that are sold in the United States have been genetically engineered in some way.
- Most GMO crops have been engineered to either produce a pesticide within their tissues, or they are resistant to a pesticide like Roundup.
- In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMO’s.
- Regulatory agencies in 59 countries have conducted extensive scientific reviews and affirmed the safety of GM crops with 2,497 approvals on 319 different GMO traits in 25 crops.
- In 1989, 37 people died and about 1,500 were sickened after ingesting L-tryptophan that was manufactured by a strain of GMO bacteria.
The fears behind genetically modified crops seem to be more about control over the food chain more than anything else. People want to know how their foods were made. They desire knowledge about the engineering process so they can know what is being processed by their digestive tracts. The fear of substituting real foods for food like products is very real to people. That’s why genetically modified crops have been banned by so many countries today. Maybe if we all had more information about what was really in these foods and what is being eaten readily available, the acceptance of them would be more common.
Could Genetically Modified Crops Be More Dangerous Than We Think?
- The human genome has just under 25,000 genes, yet our bodies function with approximately 100,000 proteins.
- Genetic modification has been based on the theory that one gene equals one protein, which was proven to be a false assumption in 2002.
- Despite this realization, GMO crops have continued to have an increased influence on the daily eating habits of people around the world.
- In a December 2013 study, scientists at the University of Washington discovered a second code “hiding” inside DNA.
- The reality is that gene modification is not predictable, precise, or specific.
- Modifying one segment of DNA does not have a single direct result; instead it can cause a spiraling effect of unintended consequences.
- The most dramatic achievement to date of the $3 billion Human Genome Project is the refutation of its own scientific rationale.
The more we have discovered about genetics, whether it be in humans or in crops, the less we have realized that we actually know. Because there inherent flaws in genetically manufactured crops because the science is not 100% there, then there could be hidden dangers in genetically modified foods that are being consumed. Forget for a moment that the world’s largest pesticide manufacturer is creating food products for the human food chain. One of the saddest facts about genetically engineered crops is that farmers were promised that they’d have to spend less on pesticides or herbicides to get a good yield. In 2012, Monsanto’s profits hit record highs because farmers were having to purchase seeds and up to three different pesticides at the same time.
Is Genetically Engineered Food Really Just Biological Pollution?
- Pesticide use has increased by 404 million pounds since genetically engineered crops were first introduced in 1996 to 2011.
- Migrating birds are spreading GMO seeds to other fields and Monsanto’s instructions to farmers is to pull the unwanted plants because their own weed sprays can’t kill their spray resistant plants.
- Developmental defects, sterility, and growth reduction are proven long-term effects of genetic engineering on the plant itself.
- Studies have also shown that soil biology is negatively impacted when it’s used to grow GMO crops.
- In 2011, 3 separate universities and the USGS found that RoundUp (glyphosate) is present in both the water, and the air, in significant levels.
- Every stream sample examined in Missouri over a 2 year period found the key ingredient in RoundUp in the waters.
- Monsanto has repeatedly filed patent infringement lawsuits against farmers who may have inadvertently harvested GM crops mixed into their non-GM crops.
What’s the solution to stop the spread of GMO crops? To plant non-GMO crops around a field of genetically modified ones and then not harvest them at all. A buffer zone would have to be at least 30 meters wide in some instances to prevent cross-pollination and even that’s not a guarantee. One good wind storm and there are genetically modified seeds flying about everywhere. The idea behind genetically modified crops is good. In some ways, natural genetic modifications have benefited humanity by creating bigger, more flavorful foods. With current research under question, however, and the amount of soil degradation that is seen with these crops, taking a second look at planting crops with genetic modifications should become a priority.