Potential risks of genetically modified organisms in agriculture and food. the state of the question

Potential risks of genetically modified organisms in agriculture and food. the state of the question

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By Friends of the Earth

As applied today, genetic engineering is at the service of economic interests and not of humanity. This means that at the moment, the benefits of GMOs developed for agriculture are questionable for farmers and non-existent for consumers, that is to say negligible compared to the potential risks.

Research on genetically modified crops for application in agriculture began in the 1980s, but the first commercial GM crop was harvested in 1992 in China (tobacco). Farmers began sowing transgenic seeds in the United States in 1994 and in 1996 in other countries: Canada, Argentina, Australia, etc.
The progression of the area of ​​transgenic crops in the world has been spectacular: we have gone from less than 200,000 hectares in 1995 to about 52.6 million in 2001. The United States is the largest producer of genetically modified agricultural products, with 68% of the global GM crop. Argentina, Canada and China follow with 22%, 6% and 3% respectively. In other words, only 4 countries account for 99% of the cultivation of transgenic varieties (1). In the United States, 32% of cultivated corn and three-quarters of soybeans are transgenic (2). In the European Union, Spain is the only country that grows genetically modified seeds for commercial purposes, with some 25,000 hectares in 2000 of the genetically modified variety of Bt 176 maize from Novartis (now Syngenta).

Currently, four genetically modified varieties are grown: soybeans with 63% of the total area, corn (19%), cotton (13%) and rapeseed (5%). In addition, the inserted properties are of an agronomic nature (data from the year 2001) (1):

- 77% have a tolerance to a herbicide: the introduced gene allows the use of broad spectrum herbicides (glyphosate or glufosinate ammonium in general) without affecting the transgenic plant; all other plants die. The plant is tolerant to a specific brand of herbicide, sold by the same company that distributes the seeds (eg, Monsanto's Roundup herbicide is used for glyphosate-tolerant plants).

- 15% are resistant to insects: transgenic plants in which the Bt gene (a gene from the Bacillus Thuringiensis bacteria) has been introduced produce a toxin that serves as an insecticide.

- 8% have both properties added.

Furthermore, many transgenic plants have an antibiotic resistance gene (marker gene) incorporated.

Despite the brilliant appearance of transgenic crops and foods, these are not without risks that we will analyze below.

Transgenic crops
Agricultural ecosystems

One of the arguments of biotechnology companies to accept their transgenic seeds is that with these varieties, the impacts of chemical inputs for pest and weed control are reduced. In the case of herbicide tolerant plants, on the contrary, this impact is increased. Thanks to tolerance, herbicides associated with genetically modified plants can be used at any time during plant development, when previously they could only be used in fallow or pre-sowing. Associated herbicides are generally non-selective, as is the case with glyphosate (or Monsanto's Roundup) and glufosinate, thus killing any type of plant that comes into contact with it. The few studies that exist to date are showing that Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans require more herbicides than conventional soybeans, a conclusion reached by Charles Benbrook when he compared the amounts used in RR and conventional soybean fields using data from the Department. of Agriculture of the United States (3). Herbicide tolerant rape is demonstrating the same phenomenon: in Canada, between 1997 and 2000, there have been 2.13 herbicide applications for tolerant varieties versus 1.78 for conventional varieties (4). Even in Bt crops, which by definition would need minor applications of chemicals, the reduction of these is not evident (5).

One of the problems derived from the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture is the appearance of resistance, a phenomenon that occurs both for herbicide-tolerant plants and for Bt plants. In the first case, the repeated use of a single herbicide can cause an evolution of the susceptibility of the weeds to the product in question, rendering it ineffective after a few years. On the other hand, genetic modifications of crops can be transmitted to related wild plants, which in turn develop tolerance with the danger of invasion of agro-ecosystems due to acquired biological advantages.

Also the sprouts of transgenic crops from previous years can present problems as they become unwanted weeds resistant to herbicides.

There are already several proven cases of resistance. Examples include the weed Loliuom rigidum which has become resistant to glyphosate in Australia (6) and canola (a genetically modified variety of rapeseed) which has become a very difficult weed to control and is invading fields in Canada (7). In its report on the accumulation of transgenes in herbicide-tolerant rapeseed, English Nature, an official advisory body to the British government, analyzes this phenomenon. According to the report, rapeseed plants can accumulate various genetic modifications by cross-pollination between different varieties, thus acquiring resistance to various herbicides. Sprouts after harvest are very difficult to remove from fields. "In Canada, these plants are already resistant to different types of widely used herbicides and farmers often have to turn to old herbicides to control them." (4).

Also Bt crops may be victims of the emergence of resistance in pests that they control through their own pesticide production. Experiments have shown that several species have developed resistance to the Bt toxin (8) and it is expected that this phenomenon will worsen with Bt crops. In fact, researchers from the University of Melbourne (USA) studied the appearance of resistance in a cotton moth and predict that the phenomenon will pose a real problem 10 years from now if the cultivation of Bt cotton becomes widespread (9). Likewise, a recent study carried out in China on Bt cotton concludes that the variety will not be able to control pests effectively after 8/10 years of continuous production. Tests showed that pest insects' susceptibility to Bt toxin dropped to 30% after 17 generations and resistance in these insects increased a thousandfold by the 40th generation (10). To delay the emergence of resistance, bioengineers recommend the practice of "shelters", that is to say the planting with non-transgenic varieties around Bt fields. Thus, a part of the pest is not exposed to the toxin, making it much more difficult to develop a resistance. But who guarantees that farmers are well informed and comply with this measure?

The phenomenon of the appearance of resistance as an evolutionary response of the organisms that are intended to combat or as a consequence of the transfer of genes, makes us enter a spiral of creation and consumption of increasingly strong agrochemicals to remedy the problems caused previously. Even if in the short term some transgenic seeds make it possible to reduce the application of chemical products, in the medium and long term, it can be expected that just the opposite effect will occur (11).

Bt plants present another series of problems. First, they endanger beneficial insects, including pollinators (12). Bacillus Thuringiensis is a bacterium that is used as a pesticide in sprays, used in particular in organic farming. In the proportions in which it is applied in this way, it has not brought any notable consequences on the environment so far. But this situation may change with the appearance of Bt plants, which make the Bt gene permanently in the environment, in conditions totally different from those of its natural existence (13). Several studies raise doubts about the safety of Bt plants for butterflies, the most recent being one from the University of Illinois on the larvae of the machaon butterfly (14).

The drastic reduction of insects in the fields, as well as the near disappearance of all weeds due to the use of broad-spectrum herbicides, can produce effects on the ecosystems of agricultural landscapes by modifying, or even interrupting, the food chain (15).

Furthermore, the toxin remains in the soil with the crop residues when farmers plow them, and in some cases, they can persist active for months (16). This can have quite important effects on soil microorganisms and indirectly on soil fertility (17). On this last point, some scientists have warned of another possible effect of genetically modified crops on the microecology of the soil: that of the horizontal transfer of modified DNA to microorganisms, important for the production process. The risk is that the deterioration of soil fertility in this way persists in the long term (18).

The agriculture model with transgenic varieties and monocultures, more vulnerable to pests, has significant potential impacts on agricultural ecosystems: soil contamination, loss of fertility, pests and weeds that become uncontrollable, effects on fauna and flora; which together could jeopardize the durability of agriculture.


The risk to agricultural ecosystems might be acceptable to some if the yields of transgenic crops were higher than conventional ones.
But this fact is not taken for granted either. There are several studies already on Monsanto's RR soy that conclude otherwise. Ed Oplinger, Professor of Agronomy at the University of Wisconsin, for example compared the yields in the 12 states that grow 80% of the soybeans in the United States and showed that on average, the yields of genetically modified soybeans were 4% lower to conventional varieties (3, 19, 20 and 21). Apart from the net yield of the crops, also the transgenic crops appear more unstable. Luke Anderson, in his book GMOs, Genetic Engineering, Food and Our Environment, gives several examples of failures due to the genetic instability of GM seeds (22).

Genetic contamination

As they are living beings, genetically modified organisms can transmit their transgenes to other organisms, either by crossing with related species or by other mechanisms (horizontal transfer of genes through the mediation of vectors, a rarer but not negligible phenomenon - see 11 ). These contaminations can affect both conventional crops and wild plants or animals. The European Environment Agency has recently published a report on gene dispersal by pollen from six crops: rape, sugar beet, potato, corn, wheat and barley. Rapeseed, beet, and maize pose high risks of gene transfer by this means, according to the report (23).
There are already many cases of contamination of conventional seeds by transgenic varieties due to the simple fact of cross pollination. To cite only the example of Europe, in the 2000 sowing, cotton, corn, soybeans and rapeseed with various proportions of transgenic material were detected in countries as diverse as Austria, Denmark, England, Germany, Greece and France (24 and 25 ). In the spring of 2001, the French Food Safety Agency carried out tests on rapeseed, soybean and corn. 19 out of 112 officially conventional samples contained proof of the presence of GMOs. For corn, 41% of the samples were contaminated (26). In 2000, the United States was the scene of the largest case of contamination by GMOs when, in September, genetically modified StarLink corn was discovered in tacos of the Kraft Foods brand, although it was not authorized for human consumption.

The mixing of grain handling and cross-pollination are at the origin that the genetic characteristics of the StarLink are found in a large proportion of the corn produced in the United States, including 80 different varieties of yellow corn and varieties of white corn (27 ). In Canada, contamination of rapeseed is becoming widespread, making it increasingly difficult to find GMO-free seeds (51). The Canadien Food Inspection Agency, in a report sent to Friends of the Earth to clarify the case of rapeseed sold by Adventa to European farmers contaminated by an unauthorized transgenic variety, recognized that 77% of the samples analyzed from this company were contaminated by a Monsanto event (28, 29).

The phenomenon of contamination of seeds and crops makes it very difficult to maintain a GMO-free agriculture and a biotechnological agriculture in parallel (coexistence). The Directorate-General for Agriculture of the European Commission has just published a study on this matter which recognizes that "even a proportion of 10% of GM crops in a region causes significant levels of GMO presence in non-GM crops" (30).
On the other hand, there are also cases of contamination to wild species. The most emblematic example is the discovery of the transfer of genes from genetically modified corn to wild corn in Mexico, as recognized by the executive secretary of the Intersecretarial Commission for Biosafety and Genetically Modified Organisms of this country last September. (31). Mexico is one of the centers of diversity for maize, a "warehouse" of genetic resources for agriculture. The genetic contamination of these centers, which could lead to the disappearance of current wild species through bioinvasion, could have dramatic repercussions for the world's food security. As regards Europe, the European Environment Agency highlights that the probability of gene exchange between transgenic rapeseed and sugar beet with their respective wild relatives is high (23).

The risk of invasion by transgenic species cannot be ruled out mainly for two reasons (12). First, because current genetic engineering techniques do not allow one hundred percent control of the effects of the insertion of foreign genes into the DNA of an organism. A greater reason when the genetic modification "escapes" in the middle since it is impossible to predict the behavior of the new genes introduced in complex ecosystems. Scientific knowledge on the functioning of genes is still very limited, in particular on the interrelationships between genes, between genes and the rest of the genome, and between genes and the environment (32). Second, species with new genes may have a selective advantage over normal species and eventually prevail by natural selection. The case of a transgenic animal offers us a good example here. Two researchers from the University of Purgue (Indiana - USA) studied the offspring of fish receiving the human growth hormone (hGH) gene, specifically in the medaka species. The result of computer simulations showed that with the release of some transgenic fish, in the long term the natural population declines and ends up disappearing. Releasing 60 transgenic fish out of 60,000, the entire group disappears in 40 generations (33 and 34).
We see it, agriculture based on biotechnology presents serious risks for agrosystems and more generally for the environment. Its impacts in the medium and long term have not yet been evaluated given the short existence of transgenic varieties. The danger of these lies in the irreversible nature of their effects: organisms with transgenes and recombinant DNA, once released into the environment in an uncontrolled way, have the ability to reproduce, transmit and undergo mutations; the loss of biodiversity that they can cause is hardly recoverable; the resistances developed by pests and weeds are permanent. Furthermore, biotechnological agriculture is hardly compatible with other agricultural models (in particular organic farming) due to the emergence of resistance and genetic contamination.

Transgenic foods

Very few scientific studies exist to date on the safety of GMOs for health. After having carried out a bibliographic review of the scientific articles published on the health risks of genetically modified foods, Dr. Domingo Roig, toxicologist at the University of Tarragona, concluded that "not enough experimental studies have been carried out on the potential adverse effects of genetically modified foods on animal health and, of course, on human health, which may serve as a basis to justify the safety of these products "(35).
This fully justifies the application of the precautionary principle, which of course is valid for both health and environmental effects. In the presentation of the Royal Society of Canada report on the future of transgenic foods, which advocates the application of this principle, Conrad Brunk, from the University of Waterloo (Canada) and director of the study, stated that "when it comes to safety for the environment and humans, there should be clear proof of the lack of risks; the mere lack of evidence (of risks) is not enough "(36 and 37).
Recently two official scientific institutions in two Member States of the European Union have recommended a more comprehensive assessment of the safety of GM foods. In its opinion of January 29, 2002, the French Food Safety Agency indicates, among other recommendations, that "it is essential to take precautions to minimize the risks of allergic reactions to GM products" and that "studies are necessary of toxicity on laboratory animals to evaluate the effects of a prolonged exposure to small doses of GMOs on vital systems, in particular the immune, hormonal and reproductive systems "(38).

For its part, the British Royal Society recommends, in a report published last February, greater attention to GM ingredients in products for young children and to possible allergic phenomena due to inhalation. It suggests a follow-up after GM products are placed on the market, in particular to monitor the eventual appearance of allergies in groups at risk, such as children (39).
GMOs: the safest foods?
It is often heard that in Europe, transgenic foods are the safest, because they go through a risk analysis that conventional foods are not subjected to. This argument is not valid. In the first place, because, in the European process for the authorization of a GMO, the person responsible for carrying out and providing the authorities with scientific safety studies is the biotechnology company that requests authorization. This means that at no time are independent studies required. To illustrate this fact, we can cite the finding of a small piece of unknown DNA in Roundup Ready soybeans (or RR soybeans) from Monsanto, the best-selling genetically modified plant in the world. At the moment the possible effects of this fragment of genetic material are not known.
In its request for authorization to the European Union, Monsanto did not describe this part of the DNA different from that of conventional soybeans or its possible effects (40).

Apart from this, it has been shown with the example of Aventis T25 maize that the risk analysis mechanisms of the European Union do not always work correctly. In the case of this maize, Friends of the Earth demonstrated that it was authorized both for commercial release into the environment and for human consumption despite very poor scientific studies and procedures by the authorities on the verge of illegality (41). As a result of this report, Friends of the Earth formally asked the European Commission to revoke the authorizations for cultivation, marketing and use in feeding of the maize in question.
Apart from all these considerations, most of the genetically modified ingredients authorized in the European Union to enter the composition of our food are considered "substantially equivalent" to their conventional counterparts: they are considered equivalent in terms of their composition, their nutritional value, their metabolism, their intended use and their content of undesirable substances (42). This exempts producers from conducting a human health risk analysis before placing these products on the market. 10 products from different rapeseed and different corn are currently authorized in the European Union through this route. Its equivalence
Substantial derives from the fact that, in the case of highly processed products (oils, starches, etc.), they no longer contain DNA or GM proteins. The concept of substantial equivalence is increasingly questioned. For example, the French Food Safety Agency considers that "risk assessment using the concept of substantial equivalence should not exempt GM products from an evaluation according to full experimental protocols" (38).


One of the health risks of GM foods is the emergence of new allergies. These foods introduce new proteins into the food chain that we have never eaten before.
Until September 2000, there were some indications of possible allergenic effects (5, 11 and 13) but it can be said that the first verified case of allergy to a transgenic food is that of StarLink corn from the company Aventis Crop Science mentioned above. This corn was found in the human food chain when it was authorized for animal consumption only in the United States, and since this discovery, the United States administration has received several dozen complaints from consumers of possible allergic poisoning due to StarLink. On June 27, 2001, a panel of experts from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) advised against the authorization of said corn for human consumption, rejecting a request from Aventis, arguing that at the moment it cannot be considered insurance for human health (for more information on the StarLink case, see 43 and 27).
The fact that StarLink corn causes allergies in some people was found because, according to some reported, reactions can be severe.

But it is possible that other transgenic foods introduce less potent allergenic substances and that a direct relationship cannot be established between the appearance of new allergies and the ingestion of these foods. A greater reason when the labeling system is deficient and does not provide all the necessary information on the content of genetically modified ingredients in products.

Antibiotic resistance

One of the techniques used in the laboratory to verify the success of genetic modifications is the insertion of a gene for resistance to an antibiotic. The added gene is only useful when developing the GMO and does not express a property with agronomic or food value. Many of the transgenic plants marketed today have this characteristic. The risks in this case reside in the possible appearance of resistance of bacteria that are pathogenic for humans to the antibiotics that we are currently using to combat them. This phenomenon is already taking place without talking about transgenic crops, due to the bad and excessive use that we make of these drugs, but it is to be expected that with the massive introduction of GMOs in agriculture and food, it will worsen (11 and 44).
In May 1999, the British Physicians Association declared: "Marker genes that induce resistance to antibiotics should be banned in transgenic food, as risks to human health from microorganisms that are developing resistance to antibiotics are one of the the biggest threats to public health that we will face in the 21st century. The risk that marker genes, from the food chain, transfer resistance against antibiotics to bacteria that are pathogenic for humans cannot be excluded for the time being "(45 ).

Biotech agriculture

Biotech agriculture is based on very expensive research. For this reason, practically all the developments of transgenic varieties occur in the northern countries. Furthermore, the vast majority of these varieties are owned by a few dozen multinationals and the five largest (DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta, Aventis and Dow Chemical Co, all American or European) sell almost 100% of the transgenic seeds in the world. world. This creates a very strong oligopoly situation, which gives rise to all kinds of political pressure. The profits that are at stake are enormous and, in a biotech agriculture model, they are assured for these few multinationals. First, because their inventions are protected under international rules for the protection of intellectual property.
This "justifies" that seeds are more expensive than conventional ones and that farmers have the obligation to buy them every year, without being able to sow their crops from one year to the next (for more information on patents on life, see pages Grain website and ETC, formerly Rafi, Second, companies that sell transgenic seeds also provide the associated chemicals. Not surprisingly, nearly 70% of transgenic plants on the market today are herbicide resistant. They constitute a golden opportunity to increase the market for these agrochemicals. And finally, if biotechnology is imposed as the basis of world agriculture, food security in terms of food availability will fall into very few hands.
These economic interests mean that we are witnessing very strong political pressures.

Of course by biotech companies, but also by governments. To cite just one example, the current US government has a very pro-GM position (in fact, several of its components have a past linked to the biotechnology industrial sector - see 46) and tries to impose them on third countries. The European Union is debating two Draft Directives that propose the traceability and labeling of all products obtained through genetic engineering (47 and 48). This would involve a system to track information about all GMOs "from field to plate". Well, the United States is exerting pressure on the European authorities to renounce these projects, even threatening to bring the matter before the World Trade Organization (49 and 50).
The social repercussions of the introduction of GMOs in agriculture can also be considered as a risk (see a case study in Canada, Brazil and India at 51). As happened with the green revolution (introduction of hybrids and agriculture based on chemicals), small farmers can hardly afford more expensive seeds, every year, accompanied by the associated agrochemicals. They can hardly compete against the greats and end up losing their land, which is very often the only livelihood for the family. This process generates more poverty, so it is possible that instead of solving the problems of hunger in the world, which are due to a poor distribution of wealth and not a lack of food, it worsens them. (For a good analysis of the international implications of GMOs in agriculture, see 44).


Genetically modified organisms have been introduced, in some countries on a large scale, in agriculture and food, before studies of their impacts in the medium and long term have been carried out. In light of the potential risks they present, the precautionary principle should be applied, for both environmental and health reasons.
As applied today, genetic engineering is at the service of economic interests and not of humanity.
This means that at the moment, the benefits of GMOs developed for agriculture are questionable for farmers and non-existent for consumers, that is to say negligible compared to the potential risks.
If the course taken in recent years is followed, genetic engineering will help solve neither pollution problems nor poverty problems.
As Albert Einstein said, you cannot solve problems with the same level of reasoning that created them.

Summary: Potential benefits and risks of the introduction of GMOs in food and agriculture

The introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture and food goes back only a few years ago and yet they are already very present in our fields and in the products we consume. This rapid appearance of transgenics contrasts with the little information and research available on their possible environmental, health and social impacts.
The biotech industry tries to sell genetic engineering as a technique that will bring benefits to humanity. But many of these potential benefits (most of which remain to be demonstrated) are outweighed by the risks posed by genetic manipulations. The table below allows you to take stock of the benefits and potential risks of this technique applied to agriculture and food


Assumed benefits Potential risks

? In the short term, less use of chemicals (eg Bt corn produces its own toxin and no need to use added pesticide in your fields).
? In the short, medium and long term, increase in chemical contamination (eg with herbicide-tolerant plants, the farmer can use large amounts of that herbicide; the appearance of resistance in weeds forces to increase the use of chemical products to fight them).
? Soil contamination due to the accumulation of the Bt toxin.
? Genetic contamination:
- The genetic modification can be transmitted to wild species related to the transgenic plant (eg, in Central America the modified maize transgene can be transferred to natural maize plants; in Europe, rapeseed is a high risk crop).
- Wild plants thus contaminated can make the original plants disappear (bioinvasion).
- Genetic contamination has the ability to reproduce and expand (they are living beings). Once in the environment, the pollution can never be "cleaned up".
- The effects of transgenes on wild plants are completely unpredictable.
? Biodiversity disappearance:
- due to the increased use of chemical products (effects on flora and fauna);
- by toxins made by plants (they kill beneficial insects);
- by genetic contamination.
"The precautionary principle should be applied in the development of genetically modified crops or foods, since we cannot know if they present serious risks to the environment or human health. The adverse effects are probably irreversible; once released into the environment GMOs cannot be controlled. Therefore it is essential that their release does not take place until there is sufficient scientific certainty to make the risk acceptable. " British Association of Physicians. 1999

Assumed benefits Potential risks

? Greater efficiency of genetic engineering compared to the traditional improvement of plants by crossing (a certain property is implanted with a specific gene).
? Creation of plants resistant to organisms harmful to them (eg Bt maize kills the larvae of a pest).
? Creation of plants that support large amounts of chemicals.
? Resistance to diseases (viruses, bacteria, fungi).
? Resistance to difficult climatic or soil conditions (eg droughts, salinity).
? Increase in crop yield.
? Genetic engineering jumps the species barrier (eg introduces a gene from a bacterium into a plant), which raises an ethical problem: How far can we go?
? Resistance emergence:
- Organisms attacked by toxins from transgenic plants become resistant. This toxin then loses its effectiveness and can no longer be used as a pesticide in agriculture.
- The gene for resistance to a herbicide is transferred to other plants (eg weeds) and / or the weeds naturally develop resistance to the herbicide. This becomes ineffective and the transgenic plant useless. Increasingly stronger chemicals must be used.
? Genetic contamination: if conventional and transgenic crops are not separated by great distances, the genetic modification ends up being found in the plants of the conventional field.
? Farmers' reliance on a few multinationals that control seeds and associated chemicals.
? For farmers, risks inherent in a not yet well established market for transgenic crops (particularly in Europe).
"Genetic engineering does not respect the inherent nature of plants and animals since it treats living things as a mere factor of production that can be recombined as if they were machines." Bernward Geier - Executive Director of IFOAM

Assumed benefits Potential risks

? Creation of foods with additional nutritional values ​​(eg rice with vitamin A).
? Creation of foods with therapeutic properties (eg foods with incorporated vaccines).
? Creation of food with better qualities: flavor, texture, shape (eg wine with a higher aroma). (Foods with these properties are not yet marketed.)
? Increased contamination in food due to increased use of chemical products.
? Appearance of new toxins in food (eg due to Bt cultures).
? Appearance of new allergies due to the introduction of new proteins in food.
? Resistance of human pathogenic bacteria to antibiotics and reduction of the effectiveness of these drugs to combat human diseases.
"There are no scientists who can deny the possibility that changing the fundamental genetic makeup of a food can cause new diseases or health problems. There are no long-term studies that prove the safety of genetically modified crops. Despite this, GM crops are being tested on consumers. " Miguel Altieri - Professor of Agroecology at the University of California-Berkeley

Assumed benefits Potential risks

? Transgenic plants can contribute to providing more food in the world with:
- your best performance
- its resistance to climatic factors.
? Transgenic plants can provide more nutritional value (eg rice with vitamin A to combat malnutrition).
? The Earth produces food in sufficient quantities to feed the entire population. The problem of hunger is due to the poor distribution of resources and must be resolved with political decisions (eg 78% of malnourished children under 5 years of age in the South live in countries with surplus food). In the current conditions of market organization, an increase in production would not serve to supply the most needy.
? The deficit in micronutrients in the diets (many are missing, not only vitamin A) is a consequence of the lack of vegetables and fruit. It is accentuated with this model of agriculture that encourages monoculture.
? The introduction of GMOs into agriculture creates the monopoly of a few northern multinationals on food production, which endangers the sovereignty of peoples and countries.
? The promise of the green revolution to eradicate hunger in the world has not been fulfilled but has created more inequalities: it sank the poorest farmers and thus deprived millions of families of their only source of food. Biotechnology exacerbates this phenomenon.
Even if transgenic crops are proven to increase agricultural productivity (far from being a reality today), their environmental and social dangers suggest that biotechnology is not an adequate solution to hunger in the world, but rather that it can aggravate it .
"You cannot solve problems with the same level of reasoning that created them." Albert Einstein


The large companies that develop and commercialize GMOs are patenting the genetic material of living beings, which should rather be considered as world heritage. They are creating a monopoly on world food and agriculture, in a model of society where the few make profits at the expense of the majority and where the gap between rich and poor is exacerbated.
Due to its environmental and social implications, biotech agriculture is deeply unsustainable. It does not guarantee a development that, according to the definition of sustainability, "ensures the satisfaction of the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own."


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() and
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rate of black swallowtail caterpillars - Press release 09/10/2001
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- February 2001 -
(37) The Royal Society of Canada - Expert panel on the future of food biotechnology -
(38) Agence Française de Securité Sanitaire des aliments - Evaluation des risques relatifs à la
Consommation of produits alimentaires composés ou issus d'organismes genetically modified -
01/02 -
(39) The Royal Society (UK) - Genetically modified plants for food use and human health; an
update - 02/02 -
(40) A mysterious fragment of genetic material discovered in Monsanto's soybeans - A. Aguirre de
Cárcer - ABC - 08/17/2001
(41) The case of T25 corn - Negligence and painful science in the European approval of a corn
transgenic - Friends of the Earth - 07/2001 -
(42) Regulation CE / 258/1997 of the European Parliament and of the Council of January 27, 1997 on
new foods and new food ingredients
(43) Friends of the Earth Bulletin-OMG nº 17, 18, 19 and 20 -
(44) Jorge Riechmann - What are transgenic foods - Integral editions - 03/2002
(45) The Impact of Genetic Modification on Agriculture, Food and Health - British Medical Association,
BMA - 05/1999
(46) Friends of the Earth Bulletin-OMG nº18 -
(49) USA: U.S. sees EU GMO labeling rules as impeding trade - Reuters - WASHINGTON, 10/10/2001
(50) Vers une offensive américaine sur les GMOs - Susan George - Le Monde Diplomatique - 05/2002
(51) Three voices against transgenics - The fertility of the Earth nº9, summer 2002, p19-23

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Video: What are the Disadvantages of genetically modified organisms GMOs and their adverse effects (June 2022).