Assessing The Extent of Genetically Modified Plants In Today’s Agriculture

With the recent death of Norman E Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution and while the praises for that 95 year old Nobel Peace Prize laureate are reverberating, the evidence from health shows it has never been more necessary to get the genetically modified off the menu.


A child of Norwegian migrants, he grew up in Iowa during the Great Depression, and because of that suffering dedicated his life to ending famine. Borlaug began his mission in Mexico at the end of World War II, where he developed semi-dwarf, disease-resistant varieties of wheat that produced much more yield than traditional strains. His meteoric rise through the high echelons of Du Pont, Rockefeller Foundation, and later University of Texas, gained him a host of other accolades directly through his pioneering work. He used biochemical technology to engineer a breed of ‘improved’ crops’ with increased yield. There were even claims that ‘he saved a billion people from starvation’, but, the increased yields necessitated a high reliance on expensive incompetent fertilizers and dangerous pesticides to keep disease at bay.


During his life, his work faced a lot of acrimony from environmentalists, nutritionists, reformists and economists alike, which included charges that his methods have created dependence on:

  • limited number of high yield monoculture crops at the expense of nature and biodiversity
  • unsustainable farming practices which favour large landowning sectors while
  • destroying local infrastructure, policies, practices and cultures
  • promoting a heavy indebtedness among subsistence farmers, and
  • high levels of cancer amongst those who work with agricultural chemicals

Yet Borlaug, became head of a newly formed International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre in Mexico. There he trained many scientist who took his genetically modified strains of rice and corn to Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa. While two countries Pakistan and India claim to have benefited most from the new crop varieties, as their grain yields more than quadrupled. However these raw statistics disguise evidence of incalculable damage to the people and places these methods have reached as recent suicides and allergy epidemic in India suggests. Also the imposition of GM crops in Iraq along with a strange kind of democracy


Though his supporters called him a ‘dedicated and humble man’, his dream to “transfer rice immunity (from rust fungus) to cereals such as wheat, maize and barley and transfer bread-wheat proteins (gliadin and glutenin) to other cereals, especially rice and maize” However trying to increase yield hasn’t solved the problem for the poor and hungry and in fact made things even worse. According to the Greenpeace Report Agrochemicals unmasked: fertilizer and pesticide use in Thailand and its consequences to the environment, backed by a significant indication that the 90% increase in dangerous fertilizers between 1961 and 2007 produced really very little increased yield of rice and maize.


‘The time has come to recognise the false promise of the Green Revolution and for governments to support the real revolution in farming that meets the needs of local communities and the environment, restores the land and enables the poor to combat hunger, displacement and depletion of their resources and culture’.


At his Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in 1970, it was hoped that “In giving them Bread, we give them Peace” A classic never mind the quality feel the width dictum, that saw large landowners polluting the land and poisoning water, small time farmers squeezed out the markets and traditional skills and knowledge lost as countries fling their poor off the land for high yield alien crops to sell and export. Thankfully the Borlaug University online courses proposed in 2000, never got off the ground!

While, no doubt Borlaug must have believed in his sincere contribution to the human race, for long enough there has been ample evidence of decline of nutrient composition in these high yield stock .

As R. Davis, in his recent paper points out there is evidence from as far back as the late 40s. That there is in fact an:

Inverse relationship between crop yields v mineral composition,
Apparent nutrient decline in historical food composition data and that
Recent side by side cultivators of Broccoli and Grains show consistent correlations between yield v constitutive minerals and is a recognised genetic dilution effect


The Nutrition Security Institute released a survey, (USDC 1996, Werbach 1993), detailing that per 100,000 of the U.S. population when mineral content goes down disease and subsequent death rates rise.

Condition –   % Increase between 1980-1994 –  Caused by Mineral Deficiency of;
Heart Conditions  – 19.00%  – Chromium, Copper, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium
Chronic Bronchitis – 56.00% – Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc
Bone Deformities – 47.00% – Calcium, Copper, Fluoride, Magnesium, Vitamin  D
Tinnitus – 25.00% – Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc
Asthma – 87.00% – Magnesium


If the cost of this depletion of essential minerals can be shown so starkly in the pre-eminent health issues of modern Americans, that alone should alert us that something going badly wrong with nutrition. However GM crops and irresponsible agrochemical policy are not solely responsible for the emptiness of this prolonged nutrient deficient diet, that doesn’t sustain nor satiate. But also the manufacturing practice in the industrialized west, where any remaining goodness is striped from the crop and replaced with additives for bulking, preserving and flavouring then branded. All agents which benefit the seller not the consumer, as it’s trafficked off across the world. This is irrespective of the pumped up hormone filled, steroid laced and antibiotic dependant, fear frozen meat we are to tell our kids are good for us to eat.

Those in the west are overfed and obese, because they are also malnourished from eating processed artefactual contrivances, devoid of nutrition. Of necessity, we are required to buy back the vitamins and trace elements that were removed, now at vastly inflated branded prices. This endless greed for profits, industrialisation, cost cutting, and new markets that drive multinational and corporations focus, without consideration of our finite world, toxic cultures and environments, severe public health issues, which cripple us with medication bills for illness that are preventable with good wholesome food. Get rid of this junk and the profit motive and get some quality back into our daily bread.

Author: Madie Cossar on Helium


www.thepearlsofwisdom.co.uk

Advertisements

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: