In Defense of a Sustainable World Without GMOs

In Defense of a Sustainable World Without GMOs

Why GMO-free?

1. GM crops did not produce the promised benefits

The overwhelming results of independent research and on-farm studies since 1999 prove that transgenic crops did not bring the promised benefits of significantly increasing yields or reducing the use of herbicides and pesticides. GM crops are estimated to have cost the United States about $ 12 billion in farm subsidies, lost sales, and product claims due to GM contamination. In India, large-scale losses of up to 100% were recorded in insect resistant Bt cotton crops.

Biotech companies have suffered a rapid decline since 2000, and investment advisers announce they have no future in agriculture. Meanwhile, global resistance to GMOs reached its highest point when in 2002 Zambia, despite the threat of famine looming over the country, rejected GMO maize sent as food aid.

2. Transgenic crops pose more and more problems in agriculture

The instability of transgenic lines has plagued the industry from the beginning, and could be responsible for several major failures of transgenic crops. A 1994 study established that: “While there are some examples of plants showing stable expression of a transgene, that could prove that they are the exceptions to the rule. In an informal survey of more than 30 companies involved in the commercialization of transgenic crops ... almost all respondents indicated that they had observed some degree of transgene inaction. Many indicated that the majority of cases of transgene inactivity never reached the specialized literature.?

Herbicide triple tolerant rapeseed volunteers * having combined transgenic and non-transgenic traits have become widespread in Canada. Volunteers and similar weeds with multiple herbicide tolerance have appeared in the United States. In the United States, glyphosate-tolerant weeds plague GM cotton and soybean fields, and for glufosinate-tolerant GM corn they turned to atrazine, one of the most toxic herbicides.

Simultaneously, certain characteristics of the biological pesticide Bt threaten to create super weeds and pests resistant to Bt.

3. The inexorability of widespread transgenic contamination

Creole breeds of corn grown in remote regions of Mexico have been contaminated with transgenes, despite the fact that since 1998 there has been an official moratorium on the cultivation of transgenic corn in the country. Since then a high degree of contamination has been found in Canada. In a test of 33 certified rape seed samples, 32 were found to be contaminated.

New research reveals that transgenic pollen, spread by the wind and deposited on different sides, or that has fallen directly to the ground, is a major source of transgenic contamination. Contamination is widely accepted, hence transgenic and non-transgenic crops cannot coexist.

4. GM crops are not safe

Contrary to their proponents, GM crops have not been shown to be safe. The regulatory framework has been seriously flawed from the start. It was based on an anti-predatory approach designed to achieve expedited approval of products at the expense of safety considerations.

The principle of? Substantial equivalence ?, on which the risk assessment is based, is intentionally vague and poorly defined, giving companies carte blanche to argue that transgenic products are? Substantially equivalent? to non-GMOs, and therefore are "safe".

5. GMO Foods Raise Serious Safety Fears

Even though there have been very few reliable studies on the safety of GM foods, the existing results are cause for concern. In the only systematic investigation on transgenic foods carried out in the world so far, effects of the? Simile growth factor? in the stomach and small intestine of young rats that were not fully attributable to the transgenic product, therefore they were attributed to the transgenic process or the transgenic construction, and therefore could be present in a generalized way in all transgenic foods.
There have been at least two other? More limited? Studies. which also raised serious security concerns.

6. Dangerous genetic products are incorporated into crops

Bt proteins, incorporated into 25% of all transgenic crops in the world, have been found to be harmful to a large number of uncontacted insects, and some also have potent immunogens and allergens. A team of scientists has warned about the release of Bt cultures for human use.

More and more food crops are used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and medicines, including cytokines known for their ability to suppress the immune system, induce disease and cause central nervous system toxicity; alpha interferon, of which there are records of causing dementia, neurotoxicity, and cognitive and character side effects; vaccines and viral sequences such as the gene for the protein? spike? pig coronavirus, from the same family as the SARS virus associated with the current global epidemic. The gene for the glycoprotein gp 120 of the HIV-1 AIDS virus, incorporated into transgenic corn as a? Cheap edible oral vaccine? It is another biological time bomb as it can interfere with the immune system and recombine with viruses and bacteria to generate new and unpredictable pathogens.

7. Terminator cultures propagate male sterility

The crops manipulated with? Suicide? To achieve male sterility, they have been promoted as a way to "contain", that is, to prevent the spread of transgenes. In reality, hybrid crops sold to farmers propagate both male-sterility genes and herbicide tolerance genes through pollen.

8. Broad spectrum herbicides are very toxic to humans and other species

Glufosinate-ammonium and glyphosate are used in herbicide-tolerant transgenic crops, which currently represent 75% of all transgenic crops in the world. Both are systemic metabolic poisons that it is feared could have a wide range of harmful effects. Those fears have been confirmed.

Glufosinate-ammonium is associated with neurological, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and hematological toxicity as well as birth defects in humans and mammals. It is toxic to butterflies and numerous beneficial insects, to clam and oyster larvae, Daphnia, and certain freshwater fish, particularly rainbow trout. It also inhibits the growth of beneficial soil bacteria and fungi, especially those that fix nitrogen.

Glyphosate is the most frequent cause of poisoning claims and cases in the UK. Disorders of numerous physiological functions have been reported after exposure to normal use levels. Exposure to glyphosate nearly doubled the risk of miscarriage, and the children of those working with glyphosate had a high rate of neurobehavioral disorders. Glyphosate caused a delay in the development of the fetal skeleton in laboratory rats [83].

Glyphosate inhibits steroid synthesis and is a genotoxic agent in mammals, fish, and toads. Exposure of the worms to the doses routinely applied in the field resulted in mortality of at least 50% and significant intestinal damage among the surviving worms. Roundup caused dysfunctions in cell division, which could be associated with some types of cancer in humans.
The known effects of both glufosinate and glyphosate are severe enough to stop the use of herbicides.

9. Genetic engineering creates superviruses

By far the most serious dangers of genetic engineering are inherent in the process itself, which greatly increases the scope and likelihood of horizontal gene transfer and recombination, which is the main pathway for the creation of viruses and bacteria that cause epidemic diseases. This became apparent in 2001, with the? Accidental? Creation. of a virus lethal to the mouse, in the course of a seemingly innocent genetic engineering experiment.

New techniques, such as "DNA mixing" (shuffling), allow geneticists to create in the laboratory, in a matter of minutes, millions of recombinant viruses that have never existed in billions of years of evolution. Viruses and bacteria and their genetic material, which cause diseases, are the main materials and tools of genetic engineering, as well as of the planned manufacture of biological weapons.

10. Transgenic DNA in food absorbed by bacteria in the human intestine

There is experimental evidence that plant transgenic DNA has been taken up by bacteria, from the soil, and from the intestines of human volunteers. Antibiotic resistance marker genes can spread from GMO foods to pathogenic bacteria, making it difficult to treat infections.

11. Transgenic DNA and Cancer

It is known that transgenic DNA can survive digestion in the gut and jump into the genome of mammalian cells, increasing the possibility of cancer development.

The possibility of feeding animals with transgenic products such as corn cannot be excluded. It can carry risks, not only for animals but also for human beings who consume animal products.

12. The CaMV 35S promoter increases horizontal gene transfer

There is evidence to indicate that transgenic constructs that include the CaMV 35S promoter could be particularly unstable and prone to horizontal gene transfer and gene recombination, with all the associated risks: genetic mutations due to random insertion, cancer, reactivation of sleeping viruses and generation of new viruses. This promoter is present in most of the transgenic crops that today are cultivated for commercial purposes.

13. A long history of distortion and concealment of scientific evidence

There is a long history of distortion of facts and omission of scientific evidence, especially regarding horizontal gene transfer. There were fundamental experiments that were not done, or were done incorrectly, and then the results were distorted. Many did not have complementary experiments, as in the case of the CaMV 35S promoter, in which no research was done to verify if it is responsible for the effects of the? Simile growth factor? observed in young rats fed transgenic potatoes.

In conclusion, GM crops have not delivered the promised benefits and pose increasing problems for farmers. It is now widely known that GMO contamination is inevitable, and therefore GMO and non-GMO crops cannot coexist. Most importantly, GM crops have not been proven safe. On the contrary, enough evidence has emerged to raise serious concerns about their safety, which if ignored could mean irreversible damage to health and the environment. Therefore, GM crops should be strongly rejected.

Why sustainable agriculture?

1. Higher productivity and performance, especially in the Third World

Around 8.98 million farmers in Asia, Latin America and Africa have adopted sustainable agricultural practices on 28.92 million hectares. Reliable data from 89 projects show higher productivity and yields: an increase of 50 to 100% in harvests of rain crops, and of 5 to 10% in irrigated agriculture. Among the most successful experiences are Burkina Faso, which went from a cereal production deficit of 644 kilos per year to an annual surplus of 153 kilos; Ethiopia, where 12,500 households benefited from a 60% increase in harvests; and Honduras and Guatemala, where 45,000 families increased their crop yields from 400-600 kilos / hectare to 2,000-2,500 kilos / hectare.

Long-term studies in industrialized countries show harvests of organic crops equivalent to those of conventional agriculture and even higher in some cases.

2. Better soils

Sustainable agricultural practices tend to reduce soil erosion, as well as to improve the physical structure of the soil and its water-holding capacity, two elements that are crucial to avoid crop failure in periods of drought.

Many sustainable agricultural practices maintain or increase soil fertility. Studies reveal that the levels of organic matter and nitrogen in the soil are higher in organic fields than in conventional ones.

Biological activity has also been found to be higher in organic soils. There are more worms, arthropods, mycorrhizae and other fungi, and microorganisms, all of which are beneficial for the recycling of nutrients and the elimination of diseases.

3. A cleaner environment

Sustainable agriculture does not use, or uses minimally polluting chemical inputs. In addition, research reveals that less nitrate (N) and phosphorus (P) leak into groundwater from organic soils.
Organic systems have better water infiltration rates, therefore they are less prone to erosion and are less likely to contribute to water contamination by surface runoff.

4. Less pesticides without increased pests

Organic farming prohibits the regular application of pesticides. Integrated pest management has reduced the number of pesticide sprays in Vietnam from 3.4 to 1 per season; in Sri Lanka from 2.9 to 0.5 per season, and in Indonesia from 2.9 to 1.1 per season.

An investigation around the production of Californian tomato in which the application of synthetic insecticides was suppressed showed that there was no increase in the loss of crops due to the action of pests.

It is possible to control pests without pesticides, reversing crop losses, using, for example,? Trap crops? to attract the stem borer, a major pest of East Africa. When pesticide application is avoided, other benefits arise from utilizing the complex interrelationships between species in an ecosystem.

5. Supporting and using diversity

Sustainable agriculture promotes agricultural biodiversity, which is vital for food security and rural life. Organic agriculture can also promote much greater biological diversity, favoring species that have been significantly reduced.

Biodiverse systems are more productive than monocultures. In Cuba, integrated agricultural systems are 1.45 to 2.82 times more productive than monocultures. Thousands of Chinese rice farmers have doubled their crop yields and virtually eliminated the most devastating diseases simply by combining plantations of two varieties.

The biological diversity of the soil increases with organic practices, providing beneficial effects such as the recovery and rehabilitation of degraded soils, improvements in soil structure and in water infiltration.

6. Environmentally and economically sustainable

An investigation of apple production systems ranked the organic system in first place in environmental and economic sustainability, in second place the integrated system and the conventional in last place. Organic apples were more profitable due to the better price paid for their high quality condition, a faster return on investment, and less time to cost recovery.

A study carried out at the scale of the entire European continent showed that organic agriculture performs better than conventional agriculture in most environmental indicators. An analysis by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), concluded that well-managed organic agriculture generates more favorable in all environmental aspects.

7. Buffering from climate change by direct and indirect reduction of energy use

Organic agriculture uses energy much more efficiently and significantly reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compared to conventional agriculture, both in direct consumption of energy in fuel and oil and in indirect consumption in fertilizers and pesticides. .

Sustainable agriculture restores the organic matter content of the soil, increasing carbon sequestration in the underground plane and thus recovering an important carbon sink. Organic systems have been shown to have a significant capacity to absorb and retain carbon, increasing the possibility that sustainable agricultural practices can help reduce the impact of global warming. Organic agriculture is likely to emit less nitrous oxide (N2O), another important greenhouse gas and also one of the causes of the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer.

8. Efficient and profitable production

Any yield decline in organic farming is more than offset by what is gained ecologically and efficiently. Research has shown that the organic approach can be commercially viable in the long term, producing more food per unit of energy or resources.

The data show that small farmers produce much more per unit area than the large plantations characteristic of conventional agriculture. While the yield per unit area of ​​a crop may be lower on a small rural farm than a large monoculture, the total production per unit area, often composed of more than a dozen crops and various animal products, can be much older. The production costs of organic agriculture are many times lower than those of conventional agriculture, which results in equivalent or higher net profits even without the price premium of organic products. If premiums are included in the calculation, organic systems are almost always more profitable.

9. Improvements in food security and benefits for local communities

A study of sustainable agriculture projects in developing countries showed that average food production per household increased 1.71 tons per year (an increase of 73%) for 4.42 million farmers on 3.58 million hectares, providing food safety and health benefits.

Increasing agricultural productivity has been shown to also increase food availability and income, thereby reducing poverty, expanding access to food, reducing malnutrition, and improving health, livelihoods and livelihoods.

Sustainable agriculture strategies are largely based on traditional and indigenous knowledge, and emphasize the experience and innovation capacity of farmers. Therefore, appropriate, low-cost and easily affordable local resources are used, while improving the position and autonomy of farmers, improving social and cultural relations within local communities.

Local avenues of sale and distribution can generate more money for the local economy. For every £ 1 spent on a Cusgarne Organics (UK) organic basket system, £ 2.59 is generated for the local economy; But for every £ 1 spent in a supermarket, only £ 1.40 is generated for the local economy.

10. Better quality food for health

Organic food is safer, as organic farming prohibits the regular application of pesticides and herbicides, so they rarely contain hazardous chemical residues. Organic production also prohibits the use of artificial additives, such as hydrogenated fats, phosphoric acid, aspartame, and monosodium glutamate, which have been associated with health problems as diverse as heart disease, osteoporosis, migraines, and hyperactivity.

Some studies have shown that, on average, organic foods have a higher content of vitamin C, higher levels of minerals and a higher content of plant phenolics - plant compounds that can fight cancer and heart disease, and combat age-related neurological disorders ? and a substantially lower content of nitrates, a toxic compound.

Sustainable agricultural practices have proven beneficial in all aspects that have to do with health and the environment. In addition, they provide food security and social and cultural well-being to local communities in all parts of the world. There is a pressing need for a global shift towards all forms of sustainable agriculture.

* Volunteers are plants germinated from seeds of a previous crop planted in the same field and which has now become a weed.

Independent Science Group
Written by: Mae-Wan Ho and Lim Li Ching
In collaboration with:
Joe Cummins, Malcolm Hooper, Miguel Altieri, Peter Rosset, Arpad Pusztai, Stanley Ewen,
Michel Pimbert, Peter Saunders, Edward Goldsmith, David Quist, Eva Novotny, Vyvyan Howard, Brian John and other members of the Group.

July 15, 2003 - London

and the support of: GRAIN - (International Action for Genetic Resources)

Original English title: The Case For A GM-Free Sustainable World
Published by:
Institute of Science in Society
Post Box 32097
London NW1 0XR, UK
Third World Network
121-S Jalan Utama
10450 Penang, Malaysia


Independent Science Group

Some members of the Independent Science Group (ISP) dedicated to the study of transgenic organisms have had the opportunity to analyze numerous scientific and other tests related to genetic engineering, recorded over the last decades. Many of these members are among the more than 600 scientists from 72 countries who have signed an? Open Letter from the World's Scientists to All Governments? [1], a campaign started in 1999 that called for a moratorium on the release into the environment of genetically modified organisms, the prohibition of patents on living processes, organisms, seeds, cell lines and genes, and the implementation of a comprehensive public research on the future of agriculture and food security.

Events that have occurred since 1999 both in science and beyond have confirmed our fears about the unsafeness of genetic engineering, GM crops and food security. At the same time, the good results and advantages of different forms of sustainable agriculture are undeniable. The evidence, now collected in a systematic way, presents well-founded arguments in favor of imposing a global ban on the release into the environment of transgenic crops, which allows agriculture to make a profound change of course and move towards agroecology, sustainable agriculture and organic agricultural production.

Parts 1 and 2 present the evidence that shows why GM crops are not a viable option for a sustainable future, while Part 3 provides evidence of the good results and benefits of agricultural practices sustainable.


This Report is a compendium of a vast bibliography. We have included as many primary sources as possible, but many of the documents cited in the list of bibliographic references are in turn extensive reviews of scientific and other bibliography, submitted to various national and international bodies that demanded the presentation of evidence.

In the preparation of the ISP Report, the members of the commission are responsible for the fields in which each of them has specific competence, at the same time that they give a general endorsement to the Report as a whole. Each ISP member also acknowledges the expertise and authority of the other ISP members in those areas in which he or she has no specific competence.

Video: Pesticides, GMOs, and Sustainable AG in Hawaii - Juanita Kawamoto Brown (September 2021).