It is unlikely that the alleged benefits of GMOs can outweigh their potential harm. There is no way to avoid GMOs,because the FDA and USDA do not require these foods to be labeled. A recent poll shows that 53% of Americans say they won’t purchase foods that have been genetically modified, but most are unaware that they already do. More than 90% of U.S. soybean crop is genetically modified. More than three quarters of all corn planted in the U.S. is genetically modified. Up to 70% of all antibiotics in the U.S. are given to healthy livestock. Overall, more than 65% of all grocery store products have genetically modified ingredients. Organic foods can’t contain more than 5percent GMOs by law, but even that is not completely effective today. Once a GMO is out there, there is no taking it back. There has been cross-breeding of natural crops and species with those that have been genetically engineered, which results in mainly GEs and loss of organic crops.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved three new kinds of genetically engineered foods: alfalfa (which becomes hay), a type of corn grown to produce ethanol,and sugar beets. The FDA approved a super-fast-growing salmon, the first genetically modified animal to be sold in the U.S., but probably not the last. You can blame Monsanto, a multinational biotech corporation that’s out to control the world’s food supply, starting with seeds and herbicides, and ending with shutting down hundreds of small farms. The biotech industry has spent over half a billion dollars on G.M.O. lobbyists in the last decade, and Michael Taylor, the F.D.A. deputy commissioner for foods, was once vice president for public policy at Monsanto.
We seem to have it backwards. In Europe, GE crops are barely grown. There are strict bans on imports, and most foods containing more than 0.9 percent GMOs must be labeled. The surge in suicides among Indian farmers has been attributed by some, at least in part, to GE crops. GE products may grow faster, require fewer pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides, and reduce stress on land, water and other resources, but these same goals may be achieved by simple advances in conventional agriculture, such as drip irrigation. What’s needed to feed world hunger is not new technology, but a better distribution system and a reduction of waste. We are the guinea pigs of today’s GMO regulators, mainly Monsanto.