GMOs? No thanks

GMOs? No thanks

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By Carmelo Ruiz Marrero

These crops were not genetically altered to yield more or to be more nutritious or to reduce the use of toxic agrochemicals. Even in doses diluted a thousand times, Roundup herbicides stimulate the death of human embryo cells, which could cause malformations, abortions, hormonal, genital or reproductive problems, as well as different types of cancers ”, according to Seralini.

Transgenic (genetically modified) crops and foods are the subject of intense controversy around the world. From doctors and scientists to peasant movements, international organizations and political leaders participate in this controversy, and has reached the point of arrests, violent repression and the persecution of scientists who have had the audacity to contradict the official discourse on biotechnology. This debate has produced numerous books, press and television reports, short and long-film documentaries, scientific symposia, contentious international negotiations, and even protests and civil disobedience marches.

Transgenic is understood to be an organism into whose genetic code genes from another species have been inserted through genetic engineering or transgenesis. Genetic engineering breaks down cellular barriers to make genetic combinations that could never have occurred in nature, and has been used in agriculture and food since the 1990s. Currently there are tens of millions of hectares planted with transgenic crops in the world, the the vast majority of them in four countries of our American hemisphere: the United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina. Adding those from Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, we have almost all of the world's GM crops there. Most are soy and corn, and the rest is mostly cotton and canola (rapeseed).

These crops were not genetically altered to yield more or to be more nutritious or to reduce the use of toxic agrochemicals. The others produce their own pesticide, and are called Bt crops. These soybeans and corn are used to make, among other things, flour, starch, cooking oil, sweeteners, biofuels, and food to feed the farm animals they feed us. meat, dairy and eggs.

That herbicide, is it safe?

Needless to say, foods derived from Roundup Ready crops must have substantial traces of Roundup. How safe is that herbicide for human consumption?

In 2010 the scientific journal Chemical Research in Toxicology published a peer-reviewed study, written by the Argentine embryologist Andrés Carrasco, principal investigator of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet) and director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology at the University of Buenos Aires, which determines that glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, is extremely toxic to amphibian embryos even in much lower doses (up to 1,540 times lower) than those used in agricultural fumigations.

In 2008, that same journal had published a study by Frenchman Giles-Eric Seralini, a specialist in molecular biology and professor at the University of Caen, which indicates that Roundup is lethal for human cells. According to his research, doses far below those used in soybean crops cause cell death in a few hours.

"Even in doses diluted a thousand times, Roundup herbicides stimulate the death of human embryo cells, which could cause malformations, abortions, hormonal, genital or reproductive problems, as well as different types of cancers," Seralini told the Argentine newspaper Page 12.

In the March 2012 issue of Ecological Applications biologist Rick Relyea, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, published a study indicating that sublethal doses of Roundup can change the morphology of amphibians. "Herbicides are not designed to affect animals, but we are learning that they can have a wide range of surprising effects by altering how hormones work," Relyea said. "This is important because amphibians not only serve as barometers of ecosystem health, but also as indicators of potential dangers to other species in the food chain, including humans."

Insecticidal plants

Biotechnology companies assure us that the insecticidal toxin present in Bt crops is harmless to humans and that it dissolves in our digestive system. Today we know that this is not true.

Doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec, Canada, found the Bt toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their fetuses, as well as non-pregnant women. Specifically, the study found the toxin in 93% of 30 pregnant women, and in the umbilical blood of 80% of fetuses, and 67% of 39 non-pregnant women.

In 2008 research funded by the Government of Italy found that mice fed Monsanto's Bt corn had elevated IgG and IgE antibodies, typically associated with allergies and infections. They also had abnormally high levels of interleukins, which is associated with various diseases in humans, from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis to multiple sclerosis and Lou Gehrig's disease. The mice also had elevated levels of gamma delta T cells, which are associated with asthma, food allergies and juvenile arthritis.

In India there are thousands of agricultural workers who work with transgenic Bt cotton plants that “according to reports and files from doctors, hospitals and pharmacies, as well as numerous investigative reports and case studies, constantly fight against itches and skin rashes; some take antihistamines every day to get to work, ”according to researcher Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception.

I quote Smit again: “When cattle were left to graze on Bt cotton plants, after harvest, thousands of sheep, goats and buffalo died. Numerous others fell ill. I visited a village where for seven or eight years their cattle had been allowed to graze natural cotton plants without incident. But on January 3, 2008, they allowed their 13 buffalo to graze Bt cotton plants for the first time. After just one day's exposure, they all died. The village also lost 26 goats and sheep. A small study in Andhra Pradesh reported that all six sheep that grazed on Bt cotton plants died within one month, while three controls that were fed wild cotton plants showed no adverse symptoms. "

This has been but a very brief compendium of the health risks caused by transgenic products that companies like Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta are developing and marketing in Latin America. For more resources, go to the website of the Network for a GMO-Free Latin America:

Carmelo Ruiz Marrero He is an author, investigative journalist and environmental educator.

05/11 / 12.- CCS City

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