The Hidden Dangers of GMOs: How Genetically Modified Foods Impact Our Health and the Future of Sustainable Agriculture
While GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) I am talking about, the lab and chemical-introduced varieties were initially introduced as a promising solution to enhance crop yields and feed the growing global population.
Genetically modified food, genetically modified animals, and genetically modified vegetables have sparked considerable controversy. As consumers become more aware of GMOs’ potential health risks and environmental impacts, there is a growing interest in alternative, sustainable agricultural practices.
In this blog post, I will explore on a high level the apparent dangers of GMOs and discuss the benefits of backyard growing, local trading, and organic farming like we are promoting on the Trade Shack.
The Potential Health Risks of GMOs
Several studies have suggested links between GMO consumption and various health issues.
Take, for example, the study conducted by French scientist Gilles-Éric Séralini, titled “Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize” (2012), (the updated one), which found that rats fed with genetically modified corn developed tumours and organ damage. While this study has faced criticism and has been retracted, and since republished by the publishing journal, it raises valid concerns about the long-term effects of GMOs on human health.
What the long-term impacts of GMOs are is everybody’s guess, really, in the scope of evolution we only have used them for a very, very short period. Sure, there are already reasonably long studies, but human, animal and plant organisms are so complex that the likelihood hood nature will throw a curve ball is high. You need to ask, “Are you willing to take the risk?”
Another study, done by Gasnier et al. in 2009 “Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines“, that was published in the journal “Environmental Sciences Europe,” has discovered that glyphosate, which is a key ingredient in the widely used herbicide mainly under the brand name Roundup, may have adverse effects on human gut bacteria.
The gut is key to your overall health and well-being, and for that reason, you must ask yourself. “Are we on the right path with this?”
Roundup (glyphosate) is often used on GMO crops resistant to Roundup, making it easier for farmers to control the weeds. Fewer weeds in the crop mean higher prices because there is less weed contamination when the crop is harvested. That is really the bottom line for using products like Roundup.
Consuming GMO food could lead to imbalances in the gut microbiome, potentially affecting digestion and immunity. The list below shows some of those crops that have traces of glyphosate in them. As you can see, they are crops that provide the bulk ingredients for our day to day food.
Here are some examples of GMO food with glyphosate traces.
- Oats and oat-based products: An 2018 Environmental Working Group (EWG) report found glyphosate residues in nearly all oat-based products tested. The range was between 72.9 and 1,327.1 parts per billion (ppb).
- Cereals: Something that is almost on every breakfast table cereals, such as wheat, barley, and corn, have been found to contain glyphosate residues, with levels ranging from a few ppb to over 1,000 ppb.
- Bread: Glyphosate has been detected in several types of bread, with residue levels ranging from 30 ppb to 400 ppb, depending on the ingredients and manufacturing process.
- Soy products: Because of the vegan trend, Soy became a “cash crop”, an ideal candidate for GMOs to make them glyphosate-resistant, treated with glyphosate. It’s common to find glyphosate residues in soy products such as tofu, soy milk, and soy-based infant formula. Levels can range from 20 ppb to over 1,000 ppb.
- Honey: Glyphosate residues in honey samples range from 10 ppb to 200 ppb, depending on the bees’ exposure to glyphosate-treated plants.
- Snack bars: Some snack bars, especially those containing oats or other grains, have been found to contain glyphosate residues. Levels typically range from 50 ppb to 500 ppb.
- Legumes: Certain legume crops, such as lentils, chickpeas, and peas, have been found to contain glyphosate residues. Levels can range from a few ppb to over 500 ppb.
- Wine and beer: In 2019, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) found that 19 out of 20 wines and beers tested contained traces of glyphosate. The detected levels ranged from 1 ppb to 51 ppb.
The Environmental Impact of GMOs
GMOs also have negative ecological consequences. The widespread use of GMO crops and their associated chemical-driven production has contributed to the decline in biodiversity. The dominance of monoculture farming practices leaves little room for diverse ecosystems to thrive. What that means is time is money, and a square paddock with no trees is easier to manage from a crop planting and harvesting viewpoint. I will write an article about that showing how wrong we are doing so, in relation to food production.
What is more concerning is that the use of pesticides on GMO crops has created superweeds and pesticide-resistant insects, just like the overuse of antibiotics has led to superbugs. We as humans simply do not learn. Our long-term studies run over a mere few decades. Which is the sense of environment and evolution is only a short time. Thanks to the short-term gain, there is now a long-term issue, like superweeds and superbugs, that we might not be able to fix.
One study highlighting the complex and often unpredictable effects of GMOs on the environment was published in the journal “Nature” and is titled “Mirid bug outbreaks in multiple crops correlated with wide-scale adoption of Bt cotton in China” (2010) by Lu et al. This study found that using genetically modified cotton in China led to a resurgence of secondary pests, causing more crop damage than before the introduction of GMOs.
The Implications for Sustainable Agriculture
The growing use of GMOs threatens the future of organic farming and local food production. Organic farms and homesteads like mine, which rely on traditional, non-GMO seeds and sustainable farming practices, can face contamination from nearby GMO crops through cross-pollination. That is why, as part of each postcode community, we need to setup seed trading within that community and grow our food from heirloom seeds.
Furthermore, the consolidation of seed production in the hands of a few multinational corporations reduces the availability of non-GMO seeds, making it increasingly difficult for small farmers to access traditional, non-GMO crop varieties. This can result in reduced crop diversity and negatively impact local food systems.
Alternative Solutions for Healthy and Sustainable Food Production
Fortunately, more people are “waking up”, and concerns about GMOs’ health risks and environmental impacts continue to grow. More people are turning to alternative, sustainable food production methods. Backyard growing, local trading and organic farming (growing your garlic) offer a healthier and more environmentally friendly approach to agriculture.
By growing your food, you can ensure that it is free of GMOs and harmful chemicals and reduce your carbon footprint by cutting down on transportation and packaging. Joining local trading communities like the Trade Shack postcode communities can help you connect with like-minded individuals passionate about sustainable agriculture and healthy living.
While the debate around the safety and sustainability of genetically modified organisms continues, you must be aware of the potential dangers of GMOs. By growing your own food and supporting local, organic agriculture, you can improve your health and contribute to a more sustainable future for our planet. The trade shack postcode communities offer an excellent platform to start that.
By offering a secure and safe website where you can discuss all matters important to you and your local community.