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Actual results with GM crops fall short of biotech companies' claims: Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture expert
by Global Good News staff writer
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29 September 2012
Continuing his recent lecture about dangers inherent in genetic modification of food, Dr Peter Swan, an expert in Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture, described striking differences between large biotech companies' claims of safety, reduced pesticide use, higher crop yields, and other benefits of crops grown from their GM seeds—and current research findings that often show opposite effects.
Dr Swan gave the lecture in context of an acclaimed course he created and has taught in many countries, which places great emphasis on the technology behind Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture—the technology of Vedic Sound—and how it can be used to solve many global agricultural issues.
Addressing GM food from many perspectives, Dr Swan went on to summarize claims made by Monsanto and other biotech companies that produce genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and compared them to results from current research. In every case the facts fall short—and are often the opposite—of the promised benefits. A few examples given by Dr Swan:
Although Monsanto and other biotech companies claim that crops grown from genetically modified seeds are safe, an ever-increasing body of test results shows many illnesses resulting from the consumption of GMOs.
They promise GM crops will require less application of pesticides (insecticides) and herbicides, but GM crops actually lead to more use of pesticides and herbicides. Long-term use of Roundup (the main herbicide produced and sold by Monsanto) has given rise to many herbicide-resistant 'superweeds', prompting the use of other herbicides to control them.*
Although biotech companies promise higher crop yields from their GM seeds, results at the end of the season show yields to be similar to those from non-GM seeds. If there is a difference, GM crops yield a little less than non-GM crops.
The claim that GM crops improve nutrition has likewise been debunked, with test results showing that, in most cases, the nutritional value of GM and non-GM crops is the same.
Biotech companies have promised that GM crops will be more profitable—but the reality is that over the years, GM crops have become a market failure kept alive by massive subsidies.
Biotech companies promised that GM crops would not contaminate non-GM crops, but experience has shown that GMOs do contaminate neighbouring farms, carried by the wind or from other natural causes. This cross-contamination has become a challenge for organic farmers and has allowed Monsanto to sue hundreds of farmers who unknowingly allowed the unwanted cross-contamination to occur.
The claim that only GM crops can produce enough food to feed the world contradicts a report from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD),** compiled by over 400 experts. The report offers the opposite conclusion, stating that 'agro-ecological' farming is the best way to ensure food security.
The promise made by Monsanto that GM material would not show up in the meat or milk of animals consuming GM feed has turned out to be false. Genetically modified material has been found in the cells of animals that consume it, as well as in both milk and meat slated for human consumption.
Biotech companies say their crop breeding practices are normal, but the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations say that GM breeding is completely different from conventional breeding and therefore presents different risks.
The claim that new GM crops are needed to handle the challenges of climate change is untrue. Crops able to adapt to naturally harsh conditions already exist. New and more adaptable varieties of these crops can be easily produced through natural breeding techniques, augmented with non-GMO gene-mapping technology.
Monsanto executives have admitted that the only reason they engage in genetic modification is in order to patent the seed. They have produced and patented their genetically modified Roundup Ready seed that is designed to be used with their patented Roundup herbicide. This desire to patent the seed is for the purpose of gaining control over the food supply production.
Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture does not subscribe to the use of any genetically modified organisms in crops, Dr Swan stated. Quite the opposite—Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture promotes natural methods to improve soil fertility and food production, many of which he describes in his course.
Global Good News will continue to feature Dr Swan's lecture on issues with genetically modified organisms.
* GM crops increased herbicide use by 383 million pounds in the US in the first 13 years since their introduction. The modest reduction in chemical insecticide sprays from GM Bt insecticidal crops [maize (corn), soy, and cotton] is swamped by the large increase in herbicide use with GM herbicide-tolerant crops.' —GMO Myths and Truths (Earth Open Source, 2012)
** IAASTD is an international effort initiated by the World Bank.
See related articles:
∙ Popular course on Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture offered around the world
∙ Expert in Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture describes dangers of genetically modified food, presents solutions
∙ Understanding the basics of genetically modified organisms: Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture expert's lecture
∙ Studies show perils of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
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