Photo by Peter Blanchard via flickr
Just a few centuries ago, crops all across the world were flourishing without the use of insecticides and man-made chemicals. That was, of course, before the pesticide era – also known as the 1940s and 1950s. For almost two centuries the side effects of this synthetic chemical were mostly unknown. A discovery in the 1960s changed that by confirming that the DDT in the insecticide being used on crops posed a serious threat to biodiversity by preventing fish-eating birds from reproducing.
At first glance this may seam to mean nothing in relation to the topic of genetically engineered (GE) crops, since DDT was banned under the Stockholm Convention in 2001, but the politics of its similarities are strikingly vivid. Just like the careless use of pesticides from the period of 1940 to 1960 were done so without sufficient testing on what effect it would have on biodiversity and life itself, the same is currently true for the use of genetically engineered crops. We are now in the blind years of what can justifiably be compared to the 1940s and 1960s era of walking a dark, unknown path with blinders on.
In their video, Greenpeace calls Genetically Engineered Crops and Agriculture, “a worldwide experiment on people, animals and nature.” Though we know little about the effects of GE crops, what we do know is enough to raise a red flag in the mind of any living, breathing, thinking creature on the planet.
90% of the cultivation occurs in the Americas – mostly in the US, Argentina, Brazil, and Canada. It is now widely known that GE crops are uncontrollable, can self-replicate and pass on their genes to other crops. This, however, goes against the wishes and will of the farmers who want to cultivate their crops without genetic engineering. Many times, farmers have no choice but to buy into GE crops and take seeds from corporate giants due to false claims being made that GE crops produce higher yields. This is not true, according to Greenpeace, and the claim has adverse effects on the lives of these farmers and the community.
In addition to synthetically altered seeds, GE seed giants also produce pesticides and herbicides. The GE company makes seeds that are either resistant to weeds or release toxic herbicides onto the crops and into the atmosphere. Because of this, other field growth and living creatures are killed as a result. But since nature has a way of adapting, pests and weeds develop resistance to the super-seeds, causing an increasing amount of stronger pesticides to be used on crops and grave consequences to emerge.
The video also addresses the popular debate that genetically engineered crops solve the increasingly urgent need to feed the planet. Since food made from GE crops is not distributed fairly, it cannot possibly be the solution to solve world hunger. Instead, the extra food is manufactured and processed with livestock, ending up in meat or dairy products that are then sold in supermarkets. And since much of the world survives on less than a $1 a day, they are not likely to be hitting up their neighborhood supermakert for some GE food to solve their impending hunger problem. The fact is, we have enough food to feed the world, we just need to learn to distribute it properly.
The blaring warnings over GE crops are immense, but the fact remains that the effect of GE crops on the health of humans and animals is still undetermined. Greenpeace urges people to carefully consider which products they buy by checking labels, consuming locally and supporting ecological products. In the words of Greenpeace,“get informed and get involved, because our world is not a testing ground.”