Whether you type GMO foods or non GMO foods into Google, in either case you get an avalanche of information, misinformation, claims and counterclaims. It’s hard to make sense of it all, so it’s great to hear from an actual geneticist what it is that companies like Monsanto are feeding us. And why we should be concerned.
Canadian geneticist David Suzuki has expressed his alarm at the ubiquitous presence of genetically modified organisms in our food.
In fact, he calls our consumption of genetically modified food participation a massive experiment. An experiment that we, the subjects, have not agreed to.
In this video the following video Dr Suzuki explains that we have no idea what the long-term consequences of these genetic manipulations will be on the public:
“There is no way that our health authorities can test all possible combinations and permutations over a large enough population over a long enough period to be able to say with certainty that they’re harmless.”
Here’s his key point:
By slipping GMOs into our food without our knowledge, we have unwittingly been made part of a massive experiment. Over years, as thousands and thousands of people continue to consume this food, we will eventually provide the data which is necessary to conclude whether there is any danger or not.
What danger lurks in GMO food?
“The problem is this,” explains Suzuki. “Geneticists follow the inheritance of genes in what we call a vertical fashion within a species. What biotechnology has allowed us to do, is to take genes from one organism and move it, what we call horizontally, into a totally unrelated species.
“Now, David Suzuki does normally mate with a carrot plant and exchange genes, but biotechnology allows us to switch genes from one to the other without regard to the biological constraints.”
Why is this a bad thing?
It is very, very bad science, says Suzuki. “We assume that the principles governing the inheritance of genes vertically, apply when you move genes laterally or horizontally. There is absolutely no reason to make that conclusion. We need more experimentation.”
Remember, this is a geneticist talking, not some ill-informed busybody.
The danger is real.
Although genes are minute, a mutation in a human being can determine the difference between whether you’re crippled or you die. Because genes are tiny it doesn’t mean they are not potent, warns the professor.
Fiddling with genes is like taking a symphony orchestra preparing to play a Beethoven symphony and then you put some Takeo drummers with them and you say: play music. What comes out, is going to be something very, very different than from either the Takeo drummers or the symphony.
What’s more, genetically modified food is not driven by altruistic motivations like providing enough food for an increasing population. It’s driven by money.
So what should consumers do?
Professor Suzuki thinks it’s too late to put the genie back in the box. To demand that a stop be put on all this is pretty unrealistic, he says.
But this one thing should be done immediately:
“At the very least in a democratic, civil society we as consumers ought to be given the choice whether we do or do not want to be part of this massive experiment. So at the very least food labels should state if the content contain genetically modified organisms.”
I’m not sure if that would make any difference in the long run. In my experience, most people don’t bother to read food labels. And if we really want to be GMO-free, we’ll have to say farewell to dining out and a quick take-out. How many people are willing to cook every meal they eat?
Our modern lifestyle demand the convenience of ready-made meals and with that inevitably comes the spectre of GMO foods.
We just don’t know yet what the price will be.