The Harm of GMO

by Catherine Haug, August 30, 2011

I am deeply dismayed that so many people are ignorant of the threat posed by GMO foods, not only to human health, but also to the health of our environment and planet. Typical misunderstandings:

  • GMO is just another type of Mendelian Breeding to favor a desired trait (See my post Health Hazards of GMO Foods & Crops for a discussion of this topic)
  • GMO foods are no different from non-GMO foods;
  • GMO foods are less expensive;
  • Only GMO can solve world hunger;
  • GMO food production does not harm the planet.

Even if the GMO-nature of the food did not pose problems for humans and the planet, the fact that most GMO foods are far more heavily treated with herbicides and pesticides should send up a red flag. While YOU may not eat roundup-ready corn or soy, that beef steak you had last night likely came from a steer that did, so the steak likely contains GMO product, and now you have it too.

Health problems believed to be caused by GMO foods

Here are just a few of the known problems:

  • Allergies result when the body doesn’t recognize a substance as ‘part of self’ – something natural. Typically, these allergens are proteins, and most GMO foods produce alien proteins that the body would treat as an allergen, and mount an allergic attack. For example, Bt-corn (a GMO crop) produces a toxin known as Bt, which is a protein. (see UCSD: What is Bt? for more on this toxin).
  • Miscarriages from eating Roundup-ready crops.  So far this has only been studied in animals, but the possibility that the same could happen to humans is very real.
  • Birth defects have been observed in animals exposed to Roundup-Ready crops. Roundup is based on glyphosate, known to cause birth defects, and also cancer. This chemical is also killing the soil. See Expert: GMOs to blame for problems in plants, animals from, for more on the health & environmental problems posed by glyphosate.
  • Liver damage results from the liver being overtaxed by having to detox not only the GMO product, but also all the sprays to which the food crop was exposed.
  • Weakened immune system, resulting primarily from pesticide/herbicide sprays used on GMO crops.

See also my earlier post: Our Sick Farms, Our Infected Food.

The true cost of GMO

Although you may pay less for that box of Corn Flakes (made from GMO corn), you pay more for just about everything else, because the demand for GMO crops increases the cost of fuel. This is a multi-layered problem; I’ll discuss only a few of the layers.

  • First, it costs you more to drive to the store to buy the box of Corn Flakes, because gas costs more.
  • Second, fossil-fueled production: the making of your Corn Flakes from GMO corn requires high heat and pressure which require large amounts of electricity, which likely comes from the burning of fossil fuels. The making of the herbicides and pesticides with which the GMO corn crop was treated also requires high heat and pressure from large amounts of fossil-fueled electricity; even the chemicals themselves, as well as the fertilizers used to feed the crops, are made from petroleum.
  • Third, packaging: That box or bag of cereal is protected by a plastic film to retard growth of molds and bacteria in the food. And of course, plastics are usually made from petroleum and require fossil-fueled electricity in their production.
  • Fourth, warehousing and trucking: those Corn Flakes were made and packaged in a distant state, then trucked to a warehouse, and probably at least one more warehouse before being trucked to your grocer. All that trucking requires fuel, causing the price to increase.

Note that when the cost of electricity goes up for industry, it goes up even more for the general public, because industry gets a price-break. The rest of us make up the difference.

Feeding the World

I’ve already discussed this topic in Feeding your Family – Or the World.

Harming our Planet

All that fossil-fueled electricity/power that we consume likely contributes to global warming. This is another topic I’ve discussed previously:

The overuse of pesticides and herbicides on GMO crops is surely poisoning our soil and ground water, and ultimately our families.

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