In honor of World Food Day, I thought it was important to take a look at the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), and specifically gene-modified food, as championed by agribusiness giant Monsanto.
We’ve talked a lot about GMOs here at Red Green and Blue:
- How Monsanto and other large scale agribusiness dominates the seed market in the US and other parts of the world. (See: An alfalfa farmer explains why he sued Monsanto)
- How Monsanto is very cozy with the government regulators who should be keeping GMOs safe from problems (in many cases the regulators are former Monsanto employees! (See: Monsanto employees in the halls of government)
- How Monsanto has worked to block independent research into GMO safety. (See: Monsanto blocks research on GMO safety, harasses scientists)
- … and deny the research that DOES say there are problems (See: It’s official: Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide causes birth defects)
- How Monsanto is working to undermine (and coopt) the organic food system. (See: GMOs: Devaluing the definition of “Organic”)
I’ve been asked why we’re writing so much about Monsanto and genetically modified food. “It’s been tested,” they say. “It’s safe,” they say. “There’s nothing to fear. Why are you spreading disinformation?”
I’m not a geneticist. If I say “We don’t know enough about this,” I’m just one guy. So I’ll let a geneticist answer those questions.
David Suzuki is a geneticist. He’s one of the top scientists in Canada, his textbook is one of the most widely-used in the world, he’s published more than 30 books. As head of the David Suzuki Foundation, he’s both a promoter of science and a popularizer.
So when David Suzuki speaks, I listen (see the end of this article for a list of sources). And David Suzuki says,
“Because we aren’t certain about the effects of GMOs, we must consider one of the guiding principles in science, the precautionary principle. Under this principle, if a policy or action could harm human health or the environment, we must not proceed until we know for sure what the impact will be. And it is up to those proposing the action or policy to prove that it is not harmful.”