GM crops spreading, as well as awareness of their effects.

GM crops continue to spread

According to a recent worldwatch report, genetically-modified crops continue to spread. By the end of 2007, 114.3 million hectares of the world’s cropland was being used to grow genetically-modified crops, a 12% increase over the previous year.

At the same time, evidence continues to mount of the negative effects of GM crops.

A recent study from the University of Caen observed the effect of Roundup residues in crops on human cells. Roundup is a herbicide used in conjunction with GM crops that have been developed to be resistant to Roundup applications, encouraging its widespread use.

The researchers noted “DNA fragmentation, nuclear shrinkage (pyknosis), and nuclear fragmentation (karyorrhexis)” and general “membrane and DNA damage”. They further noted that the “authorizations for using these Roundup herbicides must now clearly be revised, since their toxic effects depend on, and are multiplied by, other compounds used in the mixtures placed on the market; and glyphosate is only one of them.”

It’s long been suspected that many of the chemicals present in our foods, tested in isolation and deemed to be ‘safe’, act differently when they combine with other chemicals. This study has observed the interactions of some of these chemicals present in certain GM foods, and the results are devastating.

Expect a biotech-funded study out soon that ‘proves’ no such effect exists.


A common genetically-modified trait is for a crop to contain resistance to a particular herbicide. The theory is that a farmer can then spray herbicides, killing all the ‘weeds’, but not affecting the primary crop. But, fight‌ing nature never seems to work. There are now 15 species of so-called ‘superweeds’, covering hundreds of thousands of hectares, that are also glyphosate-resistant. As a result, chemical farmers have to use more herbicides, and a variety of different herbicides, to achieve the same effect.

The decline of the honeybee

Another recent study demonstrates that are affected by a toxin in a GM maize. It’s almost certain that there are multiple, perhaps complementary causes to the decline of the honeybees, but now it seems possible that genetically-modified crops are a contributing factor.

Is GM Obsolete?

While the evidence mounts and the controversy rages, biotech companies are already moving on from genetic modification as a technology. By using gene mapping, for example, the knowledge could be applied to support conventional breeding techniques, rather than the invasive and fraught technique that is GM. We need to be vigilant though that these new, probably more benign, technologies, are not also abused for the enrichment of the few.

Our role

When we buy chemically-grown products, it’s this warlike system we’re supporting. It’s safely out of mind, but farming communities are being devastated.
There’s a much better technology, which is at the heart of organic farming. It’s a virtuous system whereby, by being smart and working with the land, farmers can achieve a much better result, and where everyone benefits – the farmer, the worker, you and your family.

The bright side

It’s easy to become despondent by all this gloom and doom news. But we don’t have to look at it that way. We’re becoming more and more aware, and the time when these kind of destructive activities sneak into our lives, unnoticed, is passing. It may be unpleasant, but it’s an important part of clearing them away, and making space for better, healthier and more ethical alternatives.

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Have a great week,
the Co-op team

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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Kirstin

    Hi Ian Thanks for the info on some of the harm roundup does. I've been distressed to discover lately that many organic farmers use roundup to clear the pernicious kikuyu from their plots or farms. Its also perhaps worth noting that there's quite a body of evidence linking roundup to birth defects and miscarriage - yet people use it casually in their gardens all the time.

  2. Duncan Drennan

    I tried to summarise that virtuous cycle, you might be interested to read the blog post I wrote.

  3. Ian Gilfillan

    Thanks Duncan, that's a great summary, and thanks for the mention :)

  4. Dave

    I am so disturbed by all this. I once considered myself a healthy eater and avid label reader. Since viewing the movie, Food Inc., I find now that I have only scratched the surface. So, now I am digging deeper into the world of GM foods, food production practices and pesticides used in the foods that I eat. Yikes! Thanks Everyone for sharing the information on this site. Dave