Genetically modified seeds
Genetically modified (GM) seeds have been created in a laboratory. In genetic engineering, the ‘genes’ responsible for a specific characteristic (called traits) are taken from one organism and forced into the DNA of another organism. Scientists are not sure what impacts these new crops might have on our bodies or on the environment over time. It is just too soon to tell as the science is too new and not enough independent research is being done.
What’s happening to our seeds?
Seeds can be categorised into three groups:
- Those that are farmers’ varieties have been selected and bred naturally over time with open pollination, some call them heirloom as they have been passed down for generations.
- Hybrid seeds that are specially bred in labs to get better yields. (tomato A with tomato B)
3. GM’s that are artificially made in laboratories using genetic engineering techniques.
Dangers of GM food
In America 80% of food contains GMO’s. I am unclear on the percentages in South Africa as I can’t find facts.
While there isn’t really enough studies to prove GMO’s are the direct cause of cancer, ADHD, allergies, gluten intolerance and auto immune diseases, these conditions are on the rise with no real cause identified. There is research tha you can find in books like “Seeds of destruction” by Jeff Smith
Rats fed GM potatoes had smaller livers, hearts, testicles and brains, damaged immune systems, and showed structural changes in their white blood cells making them more vulnerable to infection and disease Thymus and spleen damage showed up; enlarged tissues, including the pancreas and intestines; and there were cases of liver atrophy as well as significant proliferation of stomach and intestines cells that could be a sign of greater future risk of cancer. Equally alarming, results showed up after 10 days of testing, and they persisted after 110 days that’s the human equivalent of 10 years.
Consider corn varieties engineered to produce a pesticidal protein called Bt-toxin. Farmers use it in spray form. People exposed to the spray develop allergic-type symptoms, mice ingesting Bt had powerful immune responses and abnormal and excessive cell growth, and a growing number of human and livestock illnesses are linked to Bt crops.
Results of animals fed GM foods – Independent studies showed stunted growth, impaired immune systems, bleeding stomachs, abnormal and potentially precancerous cell growth in the intestines, impaired blood cell development, misshaped cell structures in the liver, pancreas and testicles, altered gene expression and cell metabolism, liver and kidney lesions, partially atrophied livers, inflamed kidneys, less developed organs, reduced digestive enzymes, higher blood sugar, inflamed lung tissue, increased death rates and higher offspring mortality as well.
Farmers have reported their pigs and cows fed GM corn became sterile, 71 shepherds said 25% of their sheep fed Bt cotton plants died, and other reports showed the same effects on cows, chickens, water buffaloes and horses. After GM soy was introduced in the UK, allergies from the product skyrocketed by 50%, and in the US in the 1980s, a GM food supplement killed dozens and left five to ten thousand others sick or disabled.
All type GM foods, not just crops, carry risks. Milk, for example, from cows injected with Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone (rbGH), has much higher levels of the hormone IGF-1 that risks breast, prostate, colon, lung and other cancers. The milk also has lower nutritional value. GM food additives also pose health risks, and their use has proliferated in processed foods.
There is a lot more research available online if you want to find out more.
What can you do?
Eat less processed and packaged foods. Look at the labels to make sure there is no GMO’s. Buy organic produce where the farmers use heirloom or open pollinated seed. Food to watch out for are potatoes, corn, soya, all milk products, vegetable oils however I am not sure which vegetable and fruit variety seeds available in South Africa have been genetically modified so again – try buy organic.
Source: African centre for biosafety. www.acbio.org.za, www.motherearthnews.com,