There’s a subject I’ve been learning more about the past years, which is not really that relevant for me personally. It’s not really something I come in contact with, since it’s forbidden where I live, The Netherlands. However, I do like to learn about global challenges and problems. One opposed solution to the global food crisis are genetically modified organisms. Today I’d like to tell you my point of view about it.
Modified food and Genetically Modified Organisms
There’s a difference between modified food and genetically modified organisms. I was confused about it at first, because they seem quite alike on labels. Dutch labels do mention modified starch or another modified type of produce. Yet, this just means that the structure of the produce is altered, it is not genetically modified (source). What I am talking about today is genetically modified food. This means that the genes of plants (or animals if you eat those) are modified. What companies do is that they alter a plants genes to make it so to say ‘better’. In a way that they are resistant to some pests, or grow faster. It’s also called gentech sometimes.
If you don’t know much about the matter (like me), this might seem like a good way to produce more food. Yet, I’ve seen some documentaries that I’m about to share which address the issue. I have to say: so far I’ve only seen negative things. Besides, we don’t need more food. We have enough food to feed the entire world already, we just mismanage it by feeding it to animals, throwing it away or during transport. Also, even if we managed it right the real problem here is poverty. People who starve to death can’t afford the food, that does not mean it’s not there. They don’t have the economic welfare to pay for it and that’s where the real problem lies. Anyway, back to GMO’s, today I’d like to name a few risks concerning genetically modified organisms which I’ve found in the documentaries listed below.
- Patents and power
Whenever you genetically modify a crop, you practically own that seed. If you create a ‘super crop’ and own it, every other farmer depends on you for these seeds. This gives massive power to certain corporations like Monsanto. A huge misbalance in power is never good in my opinion.
- Environmental issues
When a seed is genetically modified, it can sort of contaminate other plants. It’s kind of complicated, but when all seeds are contaminated and act alike, a pest can create immense food scarcity.
- Health issues
In one of the documentaries mentioned below they test the health aspects of GMO’s and I must say it’s not pretty. The rats that are used for the tests (horrible in my opinion) have huge masses and health problems. Of course nothing can be said with certainty, but health risks are mentioned often when talking about GMO’s.
Alike with food, in some countries businesses are in charge of the research that is done. If a company like Monsanto does the research, we can all understand that their conclusion will be that GMO’s are safe. But is this reliable? And since GMO’s are still quite new. For research to be conclusive it needs to be done over a long period, multiple times. There’s a lot of uncertainty.
Like I mentioned above, seeds spread and affect other plants. If other plants are fertilized with GMO-seeds, they’ll be altered too. If you have a farm next to a GMO-farm, you’re screwed. The GMO’s spread and at a certain point this can’t be traced anymore. And because of this, Monsanto sues a lot of farmers claiming they’re using their seeds without paying for it.
Three Documentaries about GMO’s
If you want to know more about GMO’s and form an opinion about the subject, there are three documentaries which I would recommend.
Consumed is a documentary, but it is projected as a film. That sound quite complicated haha. It’s about genetically modified organisms, but there’s a story line. In Consumed you see a mother who’s concerned about her son’s health, he is sick but no doctor can seem to find out why. During her journey she finds out more and more about GMO’s. There’s a second story line in which you see researchers who research GMO’s and find out the horrible truth.
The Future of Food (2004)
This documentary is rather informative. It is more of an information boom, you get thrown facts and information all documentary long. It also highlights the views from farmers, what do they think of GMO’s? In this documentary there’s a lot of information about the patent concerns. Big companies sue small famers because their seeds has been contaminated by the GMO’s.
OMG GMO (2013)
I would say OMG GMO is a mix of the upper two documentaries because it is a documentary, but it has a story line in it as well so it has the feeling of a film too. It’s about a father who learns more about genetically modified organisms. He and his family travel around the world and find out more about GMO’s. What I found concerning is that most people on the street don’t even know what GMO’s are. This documentary also highlights a big company in the GMO-market: Monsanto.
Have you formed an opinion about GMO’s? If yes, what is it?