The questionable practice of modifying the genetic code for profit under the guise of improving our world is indeed a global problem that reaches far beyond food production issues that currently headline the news.
Next time you buy a cotton t-shirt that is not certified organic think about this:
By far the most commonly planted cottonseed is genetically modified. The first and original largescale modification was the creation of Bt cotton.
Genetically modified (GM) cotton was developed to reduce the heavy reliance on pesticides. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) naturally produces a chemical harmful only to a small fraction of insects, most notably the larvae of moths and butterflies, beetles, and flies, and harmless to other forms of life. The gene coding for Bt toxin has been inserted into cotton, causing cotton to produce this natural insecticide in its tissues. In many regions, the main pests in commercial cotton are lepidopteran larvae, which are killed by the Bt protein in the transgenic cotton they eat. This eliminates the need to use large amounts of broad-spectrum insecticides to kill lepidopteran pests (some of which have developed pyrethroid resistance). This spares natural insect predators in the farm ecology and further contributes to noninsecticide pest management.
Indirect side effects are rarely considered. After all this is a crop for textile production not for eating, but even as far back as 1998, there was considerable international concern about the contamination of the human food chain with StarLink corn containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin Cry 9. Bt Cry 9 toxin had evident allergenicity in test animals.
Every time a farmer wants to plant a GM seed, he or she has to buy the seed from the patent owner or licensee.
Taking GMO up a notch
The next level was to make the cotton resistant to large-scale herbicide application to remove competitive weeds in the cotton fields.
In 2011 genetically modified “Roundup Ready” cotton (including the BT gene) patented by Monsanto was planted on an area of 25 million hectares. This was 69% of the worldwide total area planted in cotton. (In India, where most of our cotton comes from it was 88% of the total planted cotton). 70% percent of the cotton grown in the US (the second largest producer in the world) is “Roundup Ready”. China is right behind as the third largest producer.
Curious about the total acreage with biotech crops in the US? 69 MILION (about 1/5 of all land used for crop planting are planted with GM maize, soybean, cotton, canola, sugar beet, alfalfa, papaya and squash and maybe wheat??? -but I digress.)
Roundup Ready crops are predesigned for – you guessed it “Roundup” (Glycophosate) a weedkiller– conveniently made by – you guessed it again: Monsanto.
Twenty-one weed species around the world are now resistant to glyphosate, up from zero in 1996 — the year Monsanto started marketing its genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops.
Now we’re dealing with so-called super weeds. The weeds are not only making Monsanto’s promises that their GM crops would reduce pesticide use completely laughable — since farmers are being forced to use multiple, and more, pesticides to keep weeds in their GM crops under control
The consolidation in the seed business has left 53 percent of the global market in the hands of three corporations: Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta. According to The New York Times, from 1995-2011, the average cost to plant one acre of cotton shot up 516 percent.
The level to which these companies hold farmers hostage is disgraceful. From forcing farmers to buy seeds for every crop to misleading consumers on the effects of GM the impact is overwhelming.
Certified organic products strictly refuse the use of any GMO content. The US and Canadian governments do not allow manufacturers to label something 100% organic if that food has been genetically modified or been fed genetically modified feed.
When you buy a certified 100% organic product, whether food, clothing or cosmetics none of the ingredients will come from GM sources (among other useful and healthy qualities).