Genetic modification (GM) is recombinant DNA technology, also called genetic engineering or GE. With genetic engineering scientists can change plants or animals at the molecular level by inserting genes or DNA segments from other organisms. Unlike conventional breeding and hybridization, the process of genetic engineering enables the direct transfer of genes between different species or kingdoms that would not breed in nature.
GM foods are on the market
Corn, soy, canola and white sugar beet (for sugar processing) are commonly grown in Canada and in the US. These are widely used as ingredients in processed foods such as corn flakes, corn chips, cornstarch, corn syrup and other corn ingredients, in sweeteners like glucose/fructose (HFCS), as well as in eggs, milk and meat. There is also now some GM sweet corn grown in Ontario and more could be grown in the future.
- GM papaya, cotton and some types of squash are grown in the U.S. and can be imported, mostly as processed food ingredients such as vegetable oil used in potato chips, zucchini, milk solids and powder found in frozen desserts and other dairy foods made in the US.
- GM Potatoes: Monsanto took GM potatoes off the market because of consumer rejection.
- GM Wheat: In 2004, Monsanto withdrew its request for approval of GM wheat in Canada and the US because of consumer and farmer protest. Monsanto has relaunched its GM wheat research.
- Most of the GM corn is hard corn used for animal feed or processed food ingredients. However, there are a few varieties of GM sweetcorn now being sold in the North American market.
GMO risks for health and environment
We don’t know what impacts GM foods could have on our health. There are many unanswered safety questions.
Many scientists warn that:
• The process of genetic engineering could create new allergens.
• Foreign DNA may be able to survive in the human gut, which could increase cancer risks.
• Animal feeding studies show liver and kidney problems.
GM foods are approved for human consumption based on company-produced science. The data is secret and is not peer-reviewed by independent scientists. Health Canada nor the FDA do their own testing. There is no mandatory labeling, and no tracking or monitoring of possible health impacts.
Once GM plants are released into the environment they cannot be controlled or recalled. Genetic pollution is irreversible living pollution that self-replicates. Contamination of other plants is a major problem because the genes from any crop can move, via seed and pollen flow. GM crops are resulting in increased pesticide use, herbicide tolerant weeds, and the expansion of industrial farming.
The Monsanto empire
GM technology facilitates corporate control because patents on genetic sequences mean that corporations can own seeds. Monsanto is the largest seed company in the world and owns about 86% of GM seeds sown globally.
Article source: Canadian Biotechnology Action Network