Over 2 million people participated in Saturday’s March Against Monsanto protest, according to protest organizers — marking the protest as a great success. The organizers have reported that protests were held in over 52 countries, and 436 cities — a truly global protest, reflecting public sentiment about GMOs.
The protest on May 25 2013, while perhaps relatively focused on the multinational corporation Monsanto, was more generally about GMOs/GMO-labeling — a push for mandatory GMO labeling and greater transparency about where food comes from, and what’s in it.
GMO labeling has been a politically contentious issue in recent years. Though, based on public polls, there is large support amongst the general public for the mandatory labeling of GMOs — as this protest has shown. It’ll be interesting to see what will happen in the next few years with regards to GMO-labeling. There is wide support for GMO-labeling on the citizen level, but very little on the federal level — will the government completely refuse to recognize the public opinion? It’s worth noting that several states have begun pushing forward legislation that will require the mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs.
As of right now the majority of corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the US have been genetically modified to some degree. But there has been much criticism leveled at the technology in recent years, including many scientific studies which have called into question the safety of GMO crops, their effects on human and animal health, their effect on biodiversity and crop disease resistance, and even their ability to do the things/provide the benefits that they claim to. Indeed, many times the use of GMOs has more or less backfired — actually lowering crop yields, because of unforeseen ripple effects.
Which is unsurprising really. As I’ve stated in a previous article: “This reality matches up very well with one of the most common and most convincing arguments against GMOs; the myriad qualities, traits, and systems of organisms have developed to a point of relative equilibrium with their environment over, generally, very long periods of time, arbitrarily changing the traits of an organism is inevitably going to have unforeseeable results and ripple effects.”
Some background on what genetically modified organisms (GMO) are, via Wikipedia:
“Genetic modification involves the mutation, insertion, or deletion of genes. When genes are inserted, they usually come from a different species, which is a form of horizontal gene transfer. In nature this can occur when exogenous DNA penetrates the cell membrane for any reason. To do this artificially may require attaching the genes to a virus or just physically inserting the extra DNA into the nucleus of the intended host with a very small syringe, or with very small particles fired from a gene gun. However, other methods exploit natural forms of gene transfer, such as the ability of Agrobacterium to transfer genetic material to plants, or the ability of lentiviruses to transfer genes to animal cells.”