Genetically Modified Organisms

Like pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are among agribusiness' most controversial innovations: their drawbacks significantly overshadow their benefits and worry experts worldwide.

What Is a GMO?

According to Quebec's commission on ethics in science and technology (CEST), a GMO is an organism which has been given characteristics that it did not possess by changing its genetic makeup. It is also possible to accentuate characteristics already present or suppress those considered undesirable.

Plant and Animal Modification

In other words, a GMO is a living organism whose genetic makeup has been transformed by a method called transgenesis to modify a specific trait. We modify plants so that they are resistant to insecticides and pesticides or so that they are able to produce their own.

Animals are also genetically modified to accelerate their rate of meat production and growth. There is the example of AquAdvantage transgenic salmon,, the first transgenic animal to be approved for consumption in the United States by the US Food and Drug Administration. It will be only a matter of time before this product is served on our Canadian plates.

The use of different types of GMOs varies from one country to another. While thirty-eight countries – including the twenty-eight member states of the European Union (France, Germany, Greece, etc.) – have banished them from their agricultural practices, others, such as Canada and the United States, continue to jeopardize the health of their citizens who consume GMOs directly or indirectly.

The Dangers of GMOs

Organizations like Greenpeace highlight a number of dangers associated with GMOs. First, they constitute a clear threat to the environment. Since most GMOs acquire increased resistance to herbicides and insecticides, farmers use the latter in greater quantity without fear of altering or killing plants. This results in increased soil and groundwater pollution.

GMOs also pose an ethical problem, since the choice of some farmers to resort to this process makes it difficult for all others, compromising their freedom to use other methods. Among other issues, it is difficult for farmers who do not want to use GMOs to compete or to obtain financing.

Lack of Independent Studies on the Subject

Moreover, GMOs have not been proven to be harmless to human health. Indeed, no independent studies have been conducted to date to measure the potential long-term effects of GMOs on human health.

The only studies that have been conducted on the effects of GMOs have been carried out by those companies and corporations that have an interest in denying the health risks that these products represent. They are motivated to continue to enrich themselves by expanding GMO agricultural production.

We do not believe that politicians who have authorized GMOs have an adequate grasp of the subject. Quite the contrary: political parties that have allowed them have probably been influenced by corporate political donations and the GMO lobby.

Consequently, in the absence of tangible evidence from serious independent studies, we believe that we should ban GMOs from our plates.

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