Contamination

About            Persistence             Proliferation              Involuntary Consumption

About

When Genetic Engineering is applied, transgenic sequences enter the seed supply for traditional crop varieties, either by direct contamination (mixing of seeds in production / distribution) or by indirect contamination (via pollen / soils). They will be perpetuated and accumulate over time, which makes it impossible to control the effects. This contamination has various effects on:

  •  Food safety: Effects (especially long term) are still not sufficiently examined.

  • Weeds: GMO can turn into weeds directly or via cross-contamination.

  • Trade: Contamination can undermine export to Non-GMO countries (e.g. Europe).

  • Organic agriculture:Contamination ultimately undermines production. 

  • Intellectual property rights: Infringement does not require intent. Thus, farmers might violate property rights unintentionally. This could create major problems for contaminated farms.

  • Food systems: Contamination of harmful substances (e.g. BT toxins) could cause large-scale disruptions, recalls and waste.

  • Agriculture in developing countries: It is more difficult to evaluate contamination and to enforce regulatory Resistance against pesticides can cause major problems for farmers.

  • Seed repositories: Ongoing contamination of the commercial seed supply could gradually undermine the quality of our communal genetic storehouse for agricultural crops. Nothing is more fundamental to the future of our agriculture and food system than a continued supply of safe, high-quality seeds.

  • GMO for industry or drug production: Substances (drugs) end up in food chains, soils, and animals by contamination (Antibodies, hormones, proteins, vaccines, chemicals for industry).

    Persistence
    One of the major concerns against GMO is that the seeds can remain in soils for an extended period of time. Thus, even trials can affect the farmers negatively.

  •  “Our finding of transgenic volunteers 10 years after cultivation contributes additional evidence that GM OSR [Genetically modified oilseed rape] can persist for considerable time in agricultural fields.” (Tina D’Hertefeldt, 2008, p 314–317)

    Proliferation
    Another issue of concern is that GMO also spreads over extended distances.

  • “We report long-distance intraspecific pollen-mediated gene flow at trace levels (≤ 0.01%) beyond 300 m, which remained constant up to 2.75 km from the pollinator.” M.A. Matus-Cádiz, P. Hucl,* and B. Dupuis, 2007).

  • “The 2001 discovery that landraces of corn in Mexico are contaminated with genetic sequences that originated in engineered corn varieties from the United States underscores the difficulty of confining transgenes used in agriculture.” (D. and I. Chapela. 2001)

    Involuntary Consumption
    Even GMO products that are not meant for human use can end up in food systems, as has already taken place. According to
    Mellon and Rissler,2004 :

  • “StarLink was an engineered corn variety approved by the U.S. government in 1997 for use in animal feed but not in human food. In September 2000, after newspapers reported that StarLink corn was showing up in consumer products, the government undertook comprehensive testing of corn-derived foods in the U.S. food supply. Although planted on only 350,000 of the 80 million total U.S. corn acres (about 0.4 percent) in its most popular year, genetic sequences from StarLink corn varieties were eventually detected in numerous consumer products distributed throughout the U.S. food supply and in exported corn.” (p 9)

  • “As recently as December 2003, StarLink was still being reported in domestic grain.” (p 10)

Taking into consideration the issues of contamination over long distances, the persistence of modified seeds over extended periods, as well as the spread of feed to food, it is obvious that even restricted usage of GMO has much broader aspects than assumed.