Gaia Health

Environment

‘The GMO Emperor Has No Clothes’ – Report Puts the Lie to GMO Claims

the_emperor_has_no_clothesSold as a miracle, the solution to hunger and pests, genetically engineered crops have proven to be the opposite. They have brought us diseases, crop die offs, super weeds, and more. The promises were—and still are—a pack of lies.

The GMO Emperor is identified as Monsanto in a scathing report about genetically modified organisms. The preamble begins:

The GMO Emperor Monsanto has no clothes: its promises to increase crop yields and feed the hungry have proven to be false; its genetic engineering to control weeds and pests have created super weeds and super pests. Yet the Emperor struts around hoping the illusion will last and the courtiers, not wanting to be seen as stupid, will keep applauding and pretending they see the magnificent robes of the GMO emperor.

Are you listening, Bill Gates? Or do you plan to continue applauding, making yourself into the same sort of bumbling ass that Monsanto is?

The GMO Emperor Has No Clothes, A Global Citizens Report on the State of GMOs – False Promises, Failed Technologies” was coordinated by the ever-amazing and talented Vandana Shiva, with Debbie Barker, of the Centre for Food Safety, and Caroline Lockhart, of Navdanya International. (If you’re unfamiliar with Vandana Shiva, you can watch a video of “The Future of Food Is Our Bodies“.)

The list of contributing organizations is impressive:

  • The Americas:
    • Center for Food Safety
    • Center of Studies for Rural Change in Mexico
    • Network for a GE Free Latin America
    • Amigos della Tiera Uruguay
    • Uruguay Sustentable
    • Conservation Land Trust, Patagonia
    • Navdanya International
  • Europe:
    • Confédération Paysanne, Via Campesina, France
    • Save our Seeds (SOS), Germany
    • Italian Association for Organic Agriculture
    • Foundation for organic and biodynamic research, Italy
    • Blueridge Institute, Switzerland
    • International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside, Poland
    • World Peace Culture Fund Genetic Resources Conservation, Russia
  • Africa:
    • African Biodiversity Network
    • Friends of the Earth, Africa
    • Gaia Foundation
  • Asia Pacific:
    • Navdanya, India
    • NO! GMO Campain, Japan
    • Gene Ethics, Australia
    • Madge, Australia

Vandana Shiva’s Commentary

Vandana Shiva’s introduction states:

We have been repeatedly told that genetically engineered (GE) crops will save the world by increasing yields and producing more food. They will save the world by controlling pests and weeds. They will save the world by reducing chemical use in agriculture. They will save the world with GE drought tolerant seeds and other seed traits that will provide resilience in times of climate change…

…All of these claims have been established as false over years of experience all across the world.

The report goes on to prove her point:

  • Not a single crop’s yield has been increased.
  • Genetically engineered crops don’t control pests and weeds. Instead, we’ve been given super weeds and super pests.
  • Instead of reducing the use of chemicals, GE crops have increased them.
  • Climate resilient crops have have not been realized.
  • Claims that GE crops can’t damage health have been well documented to be false by many independent studies.
  • The claim of “substantial equivalence”, the idea that GE crops are so like natural ones that they don’t need to be subjected to safety trials, “has been repeatedly suppressed by bad science.” GE crops are, virtually by definition, not substantially equivalent because they contain genes of other species.
  • The “Don’t look – Don’t see” strategy—the concept of simply not looking for or seeing evidence of harm—doesn’t work. The claims that GE crops don’t hurt ecology are not true. Not seeing and not admitting does not equate to not happening.

Shiva also points out that genetic contamination is inevitable and coexistence is impossible. She decries genetic engineering’s making it possible for corporations to “own” seeds via patents. As she says:

This translates into super profits for Monsanto. For the farmers this means debt.

She decries Monsanto’s spreading its control through contamination. Because their GE crops contaminate others, they sue the farmers who have been harmed, claiming that they’re intellectual property thieves.

Shiva documents the denial of labeling, wherein we are denied information about which products have been genetically engineered. She states that denial of labeling is the denial of the democratic rights to know and to choose.

Her conclusion is that “GMOs are an Issue of Food Democracy”:

Each of us must defend our food freedom and urge our governments to protect the rights of their citizens and stop supporting corporate takeover of our seeds and foods. Each of us is vital in creating food democracy. We invite you to join us to defend the most fundamental freedom: our food freedom.

How They Get Away With It

The report goes on to discuss the realities that Vandana Shiva points out.

How do the pro-GMO forces keep their false claims alive? It’s simple. They lie and do it with a smarmy and condescending manner, as demonstrated by the writing of Debbie Barker later in the report. She tells the tale of a failed GE experiment:

This people-just-don’t-know-what’s-good-for-them platitude belies a few important facts…

For example, in early 2000 Monsanto-trained scientist, Florence Wambugu, directed a project to create a GM virus-resistant sweet potato to be grown in Kenya. Wambugu traveled the world extolling the virtues of GM crops and the media reported widely about great success of the GM sweet potato even before it was field tested. Forbes magazine reported, “While the West debates the ethics of genetically modified food, Florence Wambugu is using it to feed her country.”

While headlines and opinion leaders declared the GM sweet potato to be a triumph, the results of the field trials were quietly published in 2004. Kenya’s Daily Nation reported: “Trials to evelop a virus resistant sweet potato through biotechnology have failed.” Yet, the lore of the GM sweet potato is still repeated as an example of how millions in Africa can be spared from hunger.

Monsanto, of course, disagrees with all this, saying:

In our view the safety and benefits of GM are well established. Hundreds of millions of meals containing food from GM crops have been consumed and there has not been a single substantiated instance of illness or harm associated with GM crops.

As Vandana Shiva says, if you don’t look, you don’t see it. Monsanto is the master of no-look-no-see.

Indeed, the GMO emperor has no clothes.

 

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