Americas Program Original Translation
Olegario Carrillo, the national leader of the National Union of Autonomous Regional Peasant Organizations (UNORCA) initiated the second day of the encampment – a collective fasting in protest of the planting of transgenic corn in Mexico, camped out at the Angel of Independence in Mexico City – by refuting the lies propagated by Monsanto. The federal government could validate these lies if it approves permits for the commercial planting of more than one million hectares of GM maize in Sinaloa and Tamaulipas, as requested by Monsanto and other transnational seed companies.
1. Transgenic seeds have higher yields than conventional crops. FALSE.
Based on the records of thirteen years of GM crops in the U.S. it can be said that GMO crops have not increased yields. The yields of corn and soybeans (principal GMO crops) increased significantly during the last 15 years but the cause was not the use of transgenic seeds, but conventional breeding and other practices such as agroecology [i].
2. Transgenic seeds require fewer pesticides. FALSE.
Between 1996 and 2008 we used an additional 144 million kilos of pesticides that would have been used in the absence of GMO crops. This represents an average increase of 356 grams of pesticide per hectare planted with GMO seeds. The use of herbicide-tolerant GMO crops or RR increased by 31% between 2007 and 2008 due to the rapid expansion of herbicide resistant weeds and superweeds, virtually unknown before [ii].
3. Transgenic seeds cost less. FALSE.
Increases in corn yields due to transgenic Bt crops (which produces its own insecticide) during the first years of cultivation, failed to increase the farmers' income to cover the higher cost of GMO seeds. Between 1996 and 2001, the final results shared by farmers nation wide in the United States was a net loss of $ 92 million dollars, the equivalent of $ 3.24 dollars per hectare. At that time GMO seeds were 35 percent more expensive than conventional seeds, but had not yet developed pest resistance. Currently some insects have become resistant to Bt seeds and the seeds are also more expensive, given that they increase the price depending on the number of transgenes they contain. This suggests that losses are greater for farmers [iii].
4. They do not represent a threat to native crop varieties and landraces. FALSE.
Corn is a cross-pollinated crop, unlike other cereals such as wheat and rice that are self-pollinated. When corn is reproduced, the fertile pollen is shared from one plant to the surrounding plants transferring the pollen grains to all plants within a cornfield. Each of the grains of a cob are different, and so too from the generation that precedes them. [iv]. Under favorable conditions, pollen can travel long distances and execute effective fertilization. Therefore transgenic corn pollen is capable of successfully contaminating native varieties, and it is very difficult if not impossible to eliminate transgenes in plants that have been contaminated. Mexico is the center of maize origin and diversification, and the planting of GMO corn in open field situations threatens more than 62 breeds and hundreds of native varieties.
5. GMOs are needed to adapt to climate change. FALSE.
They say that transgenesis is the best way to produce drought-resistant seeds, but that is not true. In all the years of the development of transgenic crops, there has been one single variety of drought resistant crops (maize for U.S. conditions). In the same years conventional breeders have launched numerous varieties (without transgenesis) of drought resistant corn, beans, soybeans, rice, grass, sorghum, chickpea, pigeon pea, groundnut, tomato, etc. [v] Beyond this, agro-ecological methods of production, such as conservation, harvesting and watercraft storage, offer abundant ways to produce without the need for any new variety of any crop. [vi]
6. GM foods are safe and actually harmless to human health. FALSE.
Although we often say, "there are no evidence that GMOs are harmful to health," in recent years we have seen an increase in published scientific studies with alarming results. A review of the scientific literature published in 2009 concluded that they "have toxic effects, including effects on the liver, pancreas, kidney, or the reproductive system, and may alter hematological, biochemical and immunological health parameters."[Vii] The most recent study of the University of Caen in France, says: "We studied the health effects in rats fed GMO corn ... for 2 years. Females treated from all groups died 2-3 times more ... and faster. Females developed ... large mammary tumors ... The pituitary was the second most affected and disabled organ, and the balance of sex hormones was also modified by GMOs ... The males had consumed four times the amount and developed large and palpable tumors ... "[viii] Although The study was done on rats, it is likely that similar effects would be recorded in humans.
7. GMO foods are the same or better quality than conventional food. FALSE.
Let’s take the case of corn in Mexico. Many scientific studies have shown that the nutritional quality of native maize varieties is far superior to that of transgenic varieties, and provide a healthier diet for the Mexican population. [Ix]
8. We do not have to rely on Monsanto if Mexican scientists develop a national transgenic seed. FALSE.
Transnational corporations like Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont have already patented almost all intermediate technologies necessary to produce a transgenic Mexican laboratory. It is impossible to produce transgenic seeds without using their technologies, and without paying royalties. [X] The idea of a Mexican GMO is pure fantasy.
[i] Doug Gurian-Sherman, Failure to Yield. Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops. Union of Concerned Scientists, 2009.
[ii] Charles Benbrook, Impacts of GeneticallyEngineered Crops on Pesticide Use in the U: The First Thirteen Years. The Organic Center, 2009.
[iii] Charles Benbrook, When Does It Pay to Plant Bt Corn?, IATP, 2001
[iv] CIMMYT, “Assessing the Benefits of International Maize Breeding Research: An Overview of the Global Maize Impacts Study” in:World Maize Facts and Trends, CIMMYT 2000 p. 26
[vi] P. Tittonell, et al. 2012. Agroecology-based aggradation-conservation agriculture (ABACO): Targeting innovations to combat soil degradation and food insecurity in semi-arid Africa. Field Crops Research, doi:10.1016/j.fcr.2011.12.011.
[vii] Dona, Artemio y Ioannis S. Arvanitoyannis: «Health Risks of Genetically Modifi ed
Foods», Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, No. 49, 2009, pp. 164-175.
[viii] -Eric Séralini et al. 2012. Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant
genetically modified maize. Food and Chemical Toxicology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2012.08.005
[x] Matin Qaim. 2009. The Economics of Genetically Modified Crops. Annu. Rev. Resour. Econ. 1:665–93.