The introduction of artificial modification of organisms using gene alterations dates back to 1973. Wikipedia provides the following information. “The exact definition of a genetically modified organism and what constitutes genetic engineering varies, with the most common being an organism altered in a way that “does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination“.
There has been a lot of deliberate misinformation from the herbicide and pesticide producers about how higher yields have resulted from GMOs. They have also asserted that GMO products are safe for human and animal consumption. The plant and animal products are not unsafe due to the gene modifications, but the residual chemicals have been proven to be highly toxic to consumers of the products.
The actual results in the fields have shown that many GMO plant species do not produce higher yields than conventional crops. The soil where GMO chemicals are applied takes years to recover so that non-GMO plants could be used. Another problem is that GMO chemicals have produced “superweeds” that now require even more toxic GMO chemicals to attempt to eradicate the mutated superweeds.
There have been successful genetic modifications to create plants resistant to environmental factors like drought and severe heat. There have been limited attempts to modify animal products, but only one GMO animal product has been approved for sale, which is a GMO salmon in 2015. So far, that product has not gone to market.
Aqua Bounty is the firm that is growing GMO salmon eggs in Panama and Canada. If these GMO salmon eggs are ever released into the wild, the possible fertile egg contamination could be catastrophic to the native salmon population. Aqua Bounty assures everyone that this can’t happen, but the GMO modification was to make their salmon mature faster, which gives the GMO species an advantage in reproduction that could either allow major crossbreeding or extinction of native species.
The largest producers of pesticides and herbicides are from Bayer-Monsanto, Dow DuPont, Syngenta, and BASF. These companies dominate the GMO chemicals business, with most of them also supplying GMO seeds. Thanks to the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS), these producers have been allowed to patent GMO seeds and seek judgments against farmers whose products have been cross-contaminated by the GMO plants.
In addition to the use of chemicals on now tolerant plant GMOs, a new production technique has been introduced that involves spraying herbicides on the GMO crops to speed the drying of the crops. This is desiccation, and it increases the residual herbicide found in the final product.
A research article that reveals this process is called Herbicide Is What’s for Dinner. This is a comprehensive analysis of why glyphosate and similar chemicals are used not only to kill weeds, but also for beginning to partially kill the food plants immediately before harvest. This is called desiccation and has been permitted by the US and Canada. The global markets such as the European Union have rejected shipments of grain that have met the tighter EU standards for residual pesticides and herbicides.
There are published position statements by the US EPA and Health Canada that glyphosate is safe for consumption, but this is based upon animal studies. The EPA has increased the maximum residual limits (MRL) of glyphosate, which has been said to be safe for human and animal consumption, from 100% to as much as 1,000% for some crops between 1993 and 2015. The setting of MRLs by the EPA is similar to the USDA stating the amount of mouse poop allowed in grains for human consumption. Lobbying by Monsanto, Dow-Dupont, BASF, and similar ag-chemical suppliers has obviously been very successful in continuing to get the MRLs increased.
Canadian government food inspectors found that 30% of 3,200 food products had measurable glyphosate residues in the foods. The US and Canadian tests showed that these products included beer, products containing grains, like oatmeal, granola bars, and products grown in the ground, like potatoes, and strawberries. Budweiser has just announced that a premium Michelob product will use non-GMO barley. A similar change in attitude towards GMO products is reflected in major food distributions are emphasizing the availability of organic products, which are non-GMO by definition. Aldi just announced that all its fresh produce will be organic.
The report notes that there are economic incentives for the farmers to desiccate to save drying costs. The ag-chemical manufacturers have a different rationale for promoting desiccation. “There are economic reasons, too, for desiccation. There hasn’t been a new herbicide in 25 years because they’re so expensive to develop. If herbicide sales have topped out, why not encourage pre-harvest spraying, and sell twice the product?”
The surest ways to avoid glyphosate and similar residues in your food are to buy organic products. As noted above, the major suppliers like Kroger, Walmart, and other chains are expanding their organic and non-GMO products in response to demand by consumers. In the meantime, Congress has caved to food processors and organizations like the American Grocers Association (AGA) by not requiring labeling changes to identify GMO and non-GMO products on the basis that it would be too costly and confusing to customers.
If you want to eat more safely, do the research to find out which plant products have the highest residual pesticides and herbicides. Consumer Reports is one reliable source of information regarding food safety. If you can afford to do it, buy organic. If not, wash your produce before eating, and peel products like apples. Eventually, the EPA and Health Canada will decide that the trend of increasing MLRs is a health hazard that does cause major health issues in consumers. In the meantime, eat and drink food products carefully.