Genetically engineered seeds (also referred to as GMO’s-Genetically Modified Organisms) mix genes in crops from unrelated organisms- for example genes from soil bacteria, fish etc, which could not have mixed through biological reproduction, and conventional breeding. Two techniques viz ‘gene gun’ and ‘plant cancer’ are used to implant a foreign gene from an unrelated organism to the plant. In addition, antibiotic resistance marker genes or viral promoter genes are also added in this process. The “yield” of a GMO crop is the yield of the original plant into which the new genes were introduced.
Why are GMOs Bad?
Majority of the GM seeds are produced by private enterprises and thus are patented. A patent prevent producer from saving and exchanging seeds, therefore undermining the farmers’ right on seeds. The producer has to buy fresh seeds for every cultivation season. In effect, producer loses seed sovereignty and become dependent on Multinational Corporations. GM seeds also increase the cost of production. As patented seeds carry a considerable amount as royalty fees which increases the market price. Moreover, GM seeds requires chemical pesticides and fertilizers as suggested by the inventors to produce the desired yield- an factor which could further increases the cost of production.
GM crops can produce adverse health impact on both humans and livestock. The foreign gene in the GMO might behave differently in contexts other than the one they were taken from. This can give rise to severe allergic reactions. There were reports on adverse impact of Bt cotton on human health (skin and eye allergies) from Madhya Pradesh and on livestock (cattle deaths) from Andhra Pradesh in India. GM crops can contaminate non GM varieties through cross pollination. Thereby spreading their unknown side effects to nearby crop. Moreover, the health implications related to the long term consumption of GM foods remains largely unknown.