The risks of using genetic engineered crops in agriculture is great and genetic modification should not be used in the production of food that is labeled safe and healthy. Organic farming has been crafted in such a way to produce food that is good for human health, the environment and the animals involved. Genetically engineered crops are not in line with this position. This point of view is shared by organic movements worldwide and consumers.
When it comes to using GMO crops to feed organic Chickens, the same argument would apply – If the chickens are eating GMO, then so are the consumers of poultry.
The argument put forward by biotechnology companies that genetic engineering is like traditional cross breeding, is false. Safety issues associated with genetically engeneered livestock and foodstuffs are numerous. The method of genetic engineering (GE) is in no way the same as the natural biological processes that traditional breeding uses – these depend on natural plant reproductive methods.
When developing genetically modified crops or foodstuffs, we cannot at at this time, know if there are any unknown risks to the earth or to humans health when producing GM crops or eating GM food. We do not know the effects and do not know if they can be reversed; GMOs, once introduced into the enviroment, quite possibly cannot be controlled!
Genetic engineering – the lie
Statements made by the biotechnology companies are untrue, genetic engineering is not like traditional cross breeding. There are many safety concerns associated with it. The process of genetic engineering (GE) is completely different to the natural biological processes used in traditional breeding which rely on natural plant reproductive methods.
Genetic engineering is a science that tries to move aspecific characteristic from one natural animal or plant to another. They do this by by inserting the gene which controls this function in its natural environment, into the genetic code of the host. The science is badly flawed.
- Genes do not operate in isolation, as a result no-one can predict how the gene that is being inserted will affect and be affected by its new environment. The relationships between the genes are not fully understood and are ignored in current agricultural genetic engineering. This means that those involved in developing GMOs have no way of knowing what the side effects of inserting the gene will be
- In addition, there is no means of inserting the gene into a specific place, so its eventual location is random. As a result of these unknown factors, unpredicted side effects occur routinely with genetic engineering.
- The process of genetic engineering is very imprecise and many attempts have to be made before an apparently normal functioning plant is produced.
- Those specimins which have no identifiable side effects when GMOs can also be unstable from generation to generation, resulting in unforeseen side effects
As with food froduction in the form of crops, pest control and fertizers – Chickens are subject to the same rsiks – and of course those risks are passed to the consumer of eggs and poultry.
GMO – Genetically modified foods and the effect on human health
- Biotechnology companies claim that genetic engineering methods are not very different from traditional farming and breeding techniques, and as a result no rigorous testing is required for food produced when using this science.
- Very little research has been published which assesses the health and safety implications to humans from ingesting GMO’s.
- Genetic engineering may result in the creation of new toxins.
- Genetically modified plants often carry antibiotic resistant genes, to indicate to the scientists where the foreign gene has positioned itself in the plant genome. This means that there is a risk of increasing the incidence of resistance to antibiotics among bacteria that can cause human illness.
Unlike new drugs, there is no requirement for GM food to be tested on animals or humans. Scientists don’t know what the effects are on health. GM food has been available in America since 1996, but no studies have been carried out to see whether this has led to any health problems.
The only known trial on humans of GM food was carried out by the University of Newcastle in 2002 and commissioned by the Government’s Food Standards Agency. Seven people were given a meal containing GM soya and it was found that in at least three people the GM material entered their gut bacteria. The accidental contamination of many US food products with GM maize in 2000 is believed to have caused allergic reactions in over 50 Americans, some serious.
The British Medical Association have stated that the precautionary principle should be applied in developing genetically modified crops or foodstuffs. We cannot at present know whether there are any serious risks to the environment or to human health involved in producing GM crops or consuming GM food products. Adverse effects are likely to be irreversible; once GMOs are released into the environment they cannot be subject to control.
GE crops and the environment
- Genetically engineered material can be transferred to other related crops and wild plants via cross-pollination. Once released it is impossible to ‘clean up’ any unforeseen consequences.
- Genetically engineered plants which are designed to kill pests, can kill beneficial insects as well, thereby having a knock-on effect on wildlife generally.
- Some plants engineered to be herbicide resistant have resulted in an increased use of herbicides, adding to the already devastating effects of intensive farming on biodiversity.
- Genetic engineering to develop insect resistant crops is likely to encourage the faster development of resistance to pest control products in insect populations, thereby leading to the use of more or stronger pesticides.
Genetically Engeneered foodsuffs and the choice of the consumer
- Due to the current labelling legislation consumers will lose their right to choose whether or not to eat products that are free of genetically engineered ingredients.
- It is estimated that 90% of products containing genetically engineered ingredients will not need to be labelled under current labelling directives.
- No legislation exists to protect the crops of farmers who want to stay free from contamination.
America and Canada – the reality of GMOs
The evidence we have gathered demonstrates that GM food crops are far from a success story. In complete contrast to the impression given by the biotechnology industry, it is clear that they have not realised most of the claimed benefits and have been a practical and economic disaster. Widespread GM contamination has severely disrupted GM-free production including organic farming, destroyed trade and undermined the competitiveness of North American agriculture overall. GM crops have also increased the reliance of farmers on herbicides and led to many legal problems.
Risks of GMO
No one really knows what the outcome of the widespread use of genetic engineering will be. We do know, however, that this process can produce unforeseen side effects and that it is virtually impossible to prevent the spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) once introduced into the environment.
The benefits that are put forward by GMO companies
This substantial risk must be weighed against any possible benefits that the technology could bring. Great claims have been made for the benefits that this technology will deliver, however, there is serious doubt as to whether GE will actually fulfill this promise. It is also apparent that for those problems it is claimed to address there are already far more sustainable solutions available. The only clear beneficiaries will be the patent holders and the biotechnology companies.
The answer is that if you wish to farm with chickens and poultry, whether producing eggs or broilers – if you want to be called organic, you cannot use any GMO products. The feed that is given to the chickens must be organic and you need to ensure the entire supply chain is free of GMO.