Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are also known as Genetically Engineered (Organisms) (GE’s or GEO’s). Recently, GMO’s and their dangers have become prevalent. Here is a look at why the science of genetically mutated food is not sustainable, and what methodologies should be used instead.
Although the use of GMO’s in agriculture is intended to provide benefits, the benefits are short-lived, not to mention they are largely based on the financial profit of agricultural companies rather than environmental health. For simplicity’s sake, only two types of genetically mutated crops are mentioned here: those that provide pest resistance and those that provide herbicide resistance. Although these sound advantageous, the long term environmental harm greatly exceeds the perceived benefits.
Through the wonders of natural selection (which occurs rapidly in the insect realm), pests will do one of two things: evolve to become resistant to the pest-resistant gene in the crop, or die off and be replaced by another pest. One of the ways to counteract this problem is with pesticide application, causing environmental degradation mainly in the form of water pollution. Pesticides are also indiscriminate killers, eradicating all insects, even those that are beneficial to soil.
Farmers spray herbicides on their land to kill weeds while leaving crops intact. Weeds behave like pests, and the cycle continues with the need for a stronger herbicide and therefore a further genetically mutated crop to tolerate said herbicide.
Forgotten issues include biodiversity loss and cross-contamination. Farmers who use GMO’s lose seed varieties, which means future pest or disease resistance. Genetic mutations can be transferred to other crops via pollen, resulting in cross-contamination of nearby organic farms; sustainable farming intentions are then disrupted.
For more information regarding these issues, negative effects on human health, increased death tolls in livestock, and a host of economic and political problems associated with GMO’s, look here: http://www.saynotogmos.org/
Using part science and part common sense, farmers can still choose sustainable agriculture. Crop rotation and soil enrichment are just two examples of these methods. Crop rotation is self-explanatory, and its result is that pests are not provided with a year-round food supply; therefore populations are kept in check, reducing the need for genetically modified crops. One of the mechanisms of soil enrichment is simply leaving remnants of the previous harvest on the ground, providing the proper nutrients necessary for good soil, further decreasing the need for genetically modified crops. For detailed information, look here: http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/science/sustainable-agriculture.html
The best course of action to take when you’re considering buying that can of GMO corn: put it down, walk out of the grocery store, and head to one of the Farmer’s Markets in Greensboro. Reducing America’s demand for GMO’s is critical, and it starts at the individual level. Don’t be a genetically modified organism.