Documentarian, Ekaterina Yakovleva set out to better understand genetic engineering and investigate its impact on human health. Yakovleva starts to research the technique and how it’s used. Her quest for answers was captured by the Russian Times in the featured film, “The Peril on Your Plate: Genetic Engineering and Chemical Agriculture.”
What Is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering enables DNA to be transferred not only between different kinds of plants, but even between different kingdoms, meaning scientists can take DNA from an insect or animal and insert it into the genome of a plant.
Many GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is just an extension of natural breeding methods, and just as safe. Nothing could be further from the truth—on both counts. Genetic engineering is radically different from conventional breeding techniques used to improve a crop. For starters, it’s a laboratory-based technique allowing scientists to create a food that could never be created by nature.
U.S. Leads World in GM Crop Production
Yakovleva learns that an estimated 190 million hectares (469.5 acres) of GE crops—an area three times the size of France—are cultivated in 28 countries worldwide. In 2018 the U.S. led the world in GM crop production, growing about 38%.
In the 20 years of commercialization of biotech crops (1996-2015), the United States accrued the highest benefits at $72.9 billion and $6.9 billion for 2015 alone. GE crops in production in the U.S. in 2019 included squash/pumpkin, alfalfa, sugar beet, potato, papaya, rapeseed oil, corn, soy and cotton.
Monsanto, soon to forgo its name and merge with Bayer, controls a vast majority of GE crops including 80% of GE corn and 93% of GE soy in the U.S. The first GE crop to hit the market was tobacco. It was genetically modified in 1983 to be resistant to an antibiotic. It was later altered for other reasons, including to remove a gene that turns nicotine into a carcinogen in tobacco leaves, and to increase the amount of nicotine in cigarettes.
The first genetically engineered food crop was the Flavr Savr tomato, produced by Calgene, a California-based company later bought by Monsanto. The tomato was genetically modified to stay riper longer by inhibiting a gene responsible for producing a protein that makes a tomato soften.
Calgene is reported to have been transparent in its marketing of the tomato, clearly labeling the product and adding an 800 number for people with questions. Monsanto later removed the Flavr Savr tomato from store shelves.
A Growing List of Countries Say No to GMOs
The film highlights regions that are completely GMO-free, including Romania, which stopped cultivating GE crops despite being the first country in geographical Europe to introduce them. Portugal and Spain have reduced the amount of areas under GE crop cultivation, while a number have enacted a total ban including France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Greece, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Russia forbids GE crop cultivation, but does not prevent GMOs from entering the country’s food chain, according to the film.
Long-Term Safety Studies Are Sorely Lacking
Yakovleva and her team reached out to Monsanto regarding the public health concerns tied to its Roundup weed killer, but the company refused to comment, instead directing them to its website which, of course, states that all of their products are safe and environmentally friendly.
The deceptive GMO talking points Yakovleva received from the seed and chemical industry failed to convince her that GE crops are safe for human consumption, as there’s no real evidence to support this claim.
While few in number, longer-term animal feeding studies have been published over the past several years showing there’s definite cause for concern. Liver and kidney toxicity and immune reactions tend to be the most prevalent. Digestive system, inflammation and fertility problems have also been seen.
A major part of the problem is that safety studies conducted for regulatory purposes to gain market approval for a GE product are too short to show the damage that could occur from life-long consumption of the GE food.
Some independent studies looking at lifetime consumption of GMOs have found rather dramatic health effects, whereas the safety studies used to promote GE foods as safe have all been short-term.
There seems to be an agreement among biotech scientists to not test GE foods longer than 90 days in rats, which is only about seven to nine years in human terms. That’s nothing when you consider the average human life span is somewhere in the 70s, and the current generation is fed GMO food from Day 1.
How to Protect Yourself From Toxic Agriculture
The biotech giants have deep pocketbooks and political influence and are fighting to maintain their position of dominance. At the end of the day, we must shatter Monsanto’s grip on the agricultural sector. There is no way to recall GMOs once they have been released into the environment. The stakes could not be higher. Will you continue supporting the corrupt, toxic and unsustainable food system that Monsanto and its industry allies are working so hard to protect?
For more and more people, the answer is no. Consumers are rejecting genetically engineered and pesticide-laden foods. Another positive trend is that there has been strong growth in the global organic and grass-fed sectors. This just proves one thing: We can make a difference if we steadily work toward the same goal.
One of the best things you can do is to buy your foods from a local farmer who runs a small business and uses diverse methods that promote regenerative agriculture. You can also join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, where you can buy a “share” of the vegetables produced by the farm, so that you get a regular supply of fresh food.
I believe that joining a CSA is a powerful investment not only in your own health, but in that of your local community and economy as well. In addition, you should also adopt preventive strategies that can help reduce the toxic chemical pollution that assaults your body.
Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician, as well as a best-selling author and expert in the field of natural health. Article reprinted with permission from www.mercola.com.