In recent times, India has opposed the idea of Genetically Modified Foods and banned the trials of GMO seeds on Indian fields by multinational giants like Monsanto.
The Indian Government has confirmed that it will continue to protect the food supplies of India from the GMO companies looking to grow genetically modified crops on Indian land. The Government is also taking measures to protect organic seeds from getting contaminated by GMO seed drifts.
Being the basic unit, seeds of important crops can be considered as the lifeline of agriculture. The attempts of multinational companies to replace our traditional seeds with GM seeds can be dangerous for our health as well as the environment.
GM seeds at a glance may seem attractive with increased productivity and resistant crops that can survive harsh weather conditions as well as more tolerant to diseases. However, there are certain things to consider before getting overwhelmed by its glory.
In various scientific studies, it was proved repeatedly that GMO crops can produce malicious products and consumption of GMO crops can be harmful. The most common problems are:
Food Allergy: Food Allergy may seem a trivial disease, but it can cause serious problems to the affected individuals. Allergic reactions take place in human bodies when proteins trigger immune response to certain individuals (allergic to that protein). The same proteins may not have any effect on non allergic individuals. GMO crops give birth to unknown proteins having the potential to cause severe unknown food allergies to individuals consuming it. Since some of the proteins produced through GMO crops may never have been consumed by humans before, one cannot estimate the mode and type of allergies they can produce.
Increase in Toxicity: Plants not only produces products suitable for human consumption, but also toxins that are harmful to humans. The consumable plants usually produce toxins at lower amount having a less adverse effect on human health. We never know what will happen to this level of toxins when a GMO crop is produced by insertion of the exotic genes. There may be an alteration in the plant genes leading to new toxin or the existing toxins may get elevated. Moreover, the altered genes can interfere with the metabolic pathways in an unknown manner producing stress to the plant that may lead to the formation of newer toxin as a response. The problem is that these effects cannot be noted instantly and will be only visible after certain generations. These effects have been noted in traditional breeding patterns (cross breeding to increase fertility and disease resistance) as well. Therefore, it is obvious to get a similar effect for GMOs.
Nutritional Loss: GMO may often reduce the nutritional value of a plant compared to its traditional version by making its nutrients unavailable or indigestible to humans. The GMO plants may start to produce anti-nutritional factors at a higher amount masking the nutritional benefits.
Antibiotic resistance: The antibiotic resistant bacterial strains have increased in number alarmingly in recent times. Although there are many factors contributing to it, one of the major role is played by the experiments with GMO crops. Antibiotic resistance to bacteria is conferred by certain antibiotic resistance genes. During the insertion process of new genes the biotechnologists often use antibiotic resistance genes as selectable markers to understand whether the plant has taken up the desired genes or not. They used to grow the plant in the presence of particular antibiotic solutions (whose resistant gene was incorporated) and the plants that can grow to have the desired gene along with the antibiotic resistance gene. These antibiotic resistance genes can be taken up by gut flora rendering them resistant to the antibiotic. They can then become a potential threat to mankind.
Therefore, banning experimentation of GMO crops is a potentially critical step taken by the Government in protecting the health of Indians as well as the environment. Bihar became the first state in India to ban such experiments on Indian land in the greater interest of farmers and the society at large. Sustainable agricultural process and planning can be the alternative to GMO crops. We have to protect our indigenous seeds from getting contaminated by GMO crops and from the multinational companies seeking high margins of profit.
The government has taken the right decision in banning the GMO crop experimentation in India and should now encourage should encourage production of diverse locally suitable seeds at farm level. The developed world has already reverted back to organic farming and we should do the same.
Information Source: GEO-PIE website and yournewswire.com
This article was first published in KenFolios Health - Be Informed Be Healthy.