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By Alfredo Jesús Escribano Sánchez
Does anyone really believe that 5 years of research is enough to detect health or environmental problems derived from sublethal doses and taking into account that toxins accumulate? What good is the research carried out by companies interested in selling GMOs? How valid and how aseptic is it for company directors to be part of bodies that have decision-making power in governments or food safety agencies, etc.? What about the other fields: cultures, food sovereignty, exploitation of the peasantry, erosion of biodiversity, environmental pollution that leads to a reduction in the health of the population?
The permissiveness and defense of GMOs is being based on partial evaluations that only take into account the economy and scientific studies that only assess the direct (and indirect?) Effects on health for about 5 years (and the consequences to medium and long term? And the cumulative effect of Bt toxins?). It is also necessary to take into account the social repercussions (already present for years) and environmental (which is also health and money).
I consider it a waste of resources to investigate with this orientation and not take into account the process of natural selection (already more than tested). It is also necessary to respect the precautionary principle and, if the studies show that this is a magnificent finding (it has already been seen that it is not), a totally scrupulous legislation should be implemented before the start-up of the crops. of the guidelines for their implementation, with the aim of protecting health, the economy, the environment, society, cultures, quality of life and social injustice.
With this article I am not trying to expose a list of cons to defend and try to seduce readers into demonizing GMOs in an ideological and fanatical way, but rather trying to make a rational and cautious approach, reflecting what I think it is getting bad around these issues.
I believe that in the problem of transgenics there are, in general, a series of arguments (on the part of the authorities and biotechnology scientists) that revolve only around the issue of whether they are potentially harmful to health and / or to health. environment. That is to say, the proto-transgenics affirm that there are necessary studies that affirm that there are no health risks (because the authorized agencies -which I do not want to name- and multinational companies -the same ones that want to sell this product- have done their food safety studies ) and because a plant with a gene that is resistant to drought or that reduces the use of pesticides "is obviously better for the environment." For their part, anti-transgenics claim that there are also other studies that affirm the opposite, but these, at least, have (or we have) a broader vision and also make mention of other types of problems, such as social (access food, famines, exile), cultural and agrobiodiversity (loss of agronomic knowledge about indigenous plant varieties supplanted by industrial ones).
The mistake that is made is basic and lies in the fact that very different approaches are made to those that should be done. I think the important thing is not only to investigate whether transgenics are beneficial or not, but to study and be very strict about the consequences that the implantation of these crops is having (exile, famines, diseases, etc.)
Whether this is a technical problem or not, the important thing is the facts, what is happening. Therefore, I want to launch several questions that serve as a prelude to focus on showing that basing decisions on GMO issues solely around these two issues is insufficient: does anyone really believe that 5 years of research is enough to detect health or environmental problems derived from sublethal doses and taking into account that toxins accumulate? What good is the research carried out by companies interested in selling GMOs? How valid and how aseptic is it for company directors to be part of bodies that have decision-making power in governments or food safety agencies, etc.? What about the other fields: cultures, food sovereignty, exploitation of the peasantry, erosion of biodiversity, environmental pollution that leads to a reduction in the health of the population? What right do we have to buy farms in other countries to grow cheaper at the expense of others paying for it? Are they not ashamed to legally steal farmland and food from these peoples to feed animals and be able to eat excessively, beyond our needs and get sick from it? Can you afford a production system that contaminates with impunity the crops of other people who do not want to grow the same: organic and conventional?
Despite the prodigious benefits promised by the "scientists" of these multinationals (I find it antagonistic to hear the words researcher and company, I find it difficult to understand that a scientist investigates whether he is paid to demonstrate how good a product is; it is even heard that "Retouching" data for a multinational), the investigations are totally fragmented and biased since they do not take into account anything other than their field of investigation, without taking a bird's eye view, a holistic view of the consequences, benefits, etc. of the implementation of its advances.
The defenders of biotechnology (who consciously make people concerned about the environment and social problems seem, in the eyes of the public, totally and systematically yelling against what they call "progress"), claim that we idealize the natural. In this sense I would like to respond to this accusation and say that what there is is a logical respect for the spontaneous process of investigation, experimentation and continuous trial and error that nature has carried out for billions of years. I think this is a robust enough process to respect and try to understand why things work the way they do. I consider that moving in this direction, trying to create a parallel pipette nature is illogical, dangerous and a waste of time and resources (because it is investing a large amount of money that could be used for other issues, because it is starting from scratch to create a parallel reality that can be useless and that has to be rethought and may even cause damage).
I am on the side of science, of course, and it has helped us to improve our quality of life and many other issues, but I believe that this science should be totally linked to a historical memory (which prevents us from falling into problems from the past) , to cultures and other sciences (in order to integrate the knowledge of various disciplines and better understand the reality and the consequences of our actions).
Even if GMOs had been shown to be the panacea (it has already been seen that they are not), agriculture must be oriented towards what is meaning and should have remained in practice: obtaining resources to to feed oneself and not to do business and economic transactions, because we are talking about life or death, of necessities, not of a good standard of living. It may be that at a certain moment drought-resistant plants are designed, which make optimal use of local resources in an adjusted way, giving real productivity, being ecologically stable and without causing damage to the peoples that cultivate them. What I think is immoral and shameful is to commodify food, to speculate with it, to sell fruits that do not have seeds just so that farmers cannot collect them and select their own varieties according to their tastes and / or adaptation to their conditions. , patent life, that is, control food, and create the figure of "gene police", who pass through the farms doing housebreaking and analyzing the genes of your crops to fine you if you do not have the invoices of having bought the seeds of the plants that carry their genes that they have created. That is, whether they sell seeds or not, they earn money, because if a farmer does not buy seeds it does not matter, since he will have transgenic genes in his crops due to contamination by the neighbor, with which, they do business anyway, if it is not by selling seeds , it is fining. All this works thanks to a well-planned script in which certain characters jump from the multinationals to the groups of legislators and, when they write laws to allow them to sell their own products, they return to microenterprises.
In summary, food should be that, trying to take advantage of the resources that the environment offers us, obtaining quality and safe products, but based on food sovereignty, going abroad so that the population can ensure a balanced, healthy diet, no matter by food system due to the lower price of the same at the expense of the exploitation, contamination and health of the peoples of "third countries" (this is the horrible name that has been given to countries not members of the European Union) due to that their policies are less restrictive on these issues.
In relation to the issue of access to food, it is possible that the current food production in the world is fair to supply the world population that is estimated to be there (but this is a wrong point of view, since other systems have not been considered production and distribution), but what is obvious is that through these methods no port will be reached in the medium and long term, there will only be an exaltation of feelings about the good results (high short-term productions, until the end of biodiversity ) that we see in “developed countries”, since television does not show the other side of the coin: how our food is produced, where and what consequences these production methods entail. I consider that there is a very serious problem of distribution (this is reflected in the fact that the number of obese people is similar to that of people who die of hunger), of production methods and of choice of varieties (not very efficient and suitable for each area), therefore that the varieties of food to be consumed should be reelected, enhancing biodiversity, allowing food adapted to each climate and culture to be produced, not trying to impose crops because they are more in line with industrial processes, etc.
The only way to meet nutritional needs is this, choosing varieties that are efficient, that are already adapted, and not sowing in Brazil to sell in northern Europe lands that used to belong to farmers, in which they now work having to buy food from their own lands and, to top it all, these foods are used for animal feed detached from the land and agriculture (with the inefficiency of the conversion processes into food and the environmental pollution that this entails), suffering from diseases derived from the excessive consumption of food, including meat from animals that eat the grains that peasants from third countries produce, without having access to them and, selling off their organs to survive, organs that certain citizens of “developed” countries clandestinely buy because theirs are damaged by excessive consumption of food, including meat.
Congratulations to all, because reality has surpassed fiction, a magnificent script of terror, conspiracy and oppression. All this wobble of food to finally have to go to public sanctity, having a sick population and seeing one of its best inventions (its public health system) sink, in part, due to the irresponsibility of its way of eating . Is this coherent, logical? It's incomprehensible.
As we can see, food is a very powerful tool in the fight against the great problems we suffer (health, biodiversity and access to food) and seeing the consequences of GMOs and the course of research, it is better to establish and respect a period and principle really sufficient precautionary measures, expand the investigations to other fields and independent researchers, establish a discriminatory labeling that ensures the health of consumers and gives them the right to choose and first plan a supposed, very specific and regulated permissiveness (isolation of crops , transport, industry, packaging, etc.) of these crops, a legislation based on all series of disciplines and that there is representation of diverse groups so that they can raise their problems and be heard, because although these methods slow down our fast pace of life, according to Arsac et al., "clarity in ideas is more important than effectiveness , and the direction of the investigation more important than the speed that is printed on it. "
The problem is that our society has a serious endemism, which is a chronic myopia that does not let you look up and, because you do not change, because you do not bother to go to the ophthalmologist, you only read what is too close. When the mountain (the problems) approach Muhammad's myopic eyes and become apparent, it will be too late for Muhammad (the human being) to climb the mountain.
Alfredo Jesus Escribano Sánchez. - Veterinarian and research fellow in organic farming. Spain
- Arsac, J. et al. Towards a better control over science. Nature, vol. 333, page 390.
- Marie-Monique Robin. The World according to Monsanto. Publisher: Peninsula. ISBN: 978-84-8307-840-2. Pages: 518