Where they are grown, GM crops occupy large surface areas and are linked to intensive monoculture systems that wipe out other crop and ecosystems. Growing only one kind of corn for human consumption will mean a reduction in flavors, traditional knowledge and food security.
Toxic Crops, Toxic Land
Most GM crops fall into one of two categories: either engineered to resist chemical herbicides, or engineered to produce insecticides themselves. When herbicides are used on resistant crops, over time the weeds develop resistance, leading to the use of even more chemicals. Crops engineered to produce insecticides on the other hand produce toxins that are not only harmful to pests but other insects such as butterflies, moths and insect pollinators.
GM crops are patented, which allows a few multination companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow to control the entire GM food chain - from research to breeding to commercialization of seeds. The multinational companies that patent and produce GMO seeds control the majority of the seed market and often also produce herbicides and fertilizers. Patenting genetic material has shifted the balance of economic power from towards big business in their aggressive pursuit of profit.
Threat to Small-Scale Farmers
GM crops denature the role of farmers, who have always improved and selected their own seeds. GM seeds are owned by multinationals to whom the farmer must turn every new season, because, like all commercial hybrids, second-generation GMOs do not give good results. It is also forbidden for farmers to try to improve the variety without paying expensive royalties.
Furthermore, farmers risk being sued by big corporations if their crops are accidentally contaminated with patented GM crops. Pollen from crops like oilseed rape is easily spread via wind and insects to neighboring fields. Hundreds of these farmers in the US have been sued by Monsanto, Syngenta, BASF and DuPont for illegally growing patented crops.
The role of small-scale agriculture in food sovereignty and security, protection of local areas and economies, the preservation of landscape and the sustainability is becoming increasingly clear to consumers, governments and scientists. Governments should support these productions instead of heeding to the demands of big business.
GM products do not have historical or cultural links to a local area. In Italy for example, a significant part of its agricultural and food economy is based upon identity and the variety of local products. Introducing anonymous products with no history would weaken a system that also has close links to the tourism industry.
Health and Safety
Little is understood yet about the health effects of GMOs, but recent studies have shown animals fed with GM-containing feed can develop health problems. In many parts of the world including the EU, studies on GM crops can be carried out by the same companies who product them, casting doubt on the quality and bias of data.
Multinationals promise that GMOs will feed the world, but since they began to be marketed two decades ago, the number of starving people in the world has only grown, just like the profits of the companies that produce the seeds. In countries like Argentina and Brazil, GM soy has swept away energy-providing crops like potatoes, corn, wheat and millet on which the daily diet is based. The majority of GMO crops are not destined to human food, but rather for animal feed, textiles and biofuels. GMOs have not increased productivity: data from the USA's Department of Agriculture shows that there has been no recorded increase in soya and corn yields since the introduction of GMOs.
Continued industry promises about the ability of GM crops to tackle the world's growing social problems are a myth: They have reduced biodiversity, polluted landscapes, threatened the future of small-scale farming and reduced the food security of the world's poorest people. They have not fed the world, but rather concentrated profits and power into the hands of a few ruthless companies. It's time to stop the big scam.
Sources: ISAAA, Friends of the Earth, GM Watch