Bill Duesing is the author of Living on the Earth: Eclectic Essays for a Sustainable and Joyful Future and has farmed organically for 35 years in Oxford, Conneticut.


Arguments against biotechnology for citizens
Bill Duesing, Solar Farm Education

You don't have to understand any complex scientific principles to reject Genetically Engineered Foods (GMOs).

In a democracy, citizens are the real experts.

1. The 'Resumé' argument: Ask 'What have they done before?' The major proponents and financial beneficiaries of GMOs are the same large chemical companies that gave us cancer-causing PCBs and Agent Orange (Monsanto), ozone-layer-destroying CFCs and intelligence-destroying lead in gasoline (Dupont which now owns Pioneer seeds) and persistent, toxic pesticides which now pollute nearly the whole Earth and all of its inhabitants. Should we trust these corporations with our future food supply or with protecting the environment?

2. The 'We don't need more herbicides' argument: In 1999, 78% of all GMO crops planted worldwide were designed as sales tools for specific herbicides. This was part of a corporate business plan to reap value from herbicides which were about to lose their patent protection.

3. The 'Freedom of speech' argument: When small farmers and dairies tried to label their products to inform consumers that they didn't drug their cows with genetically-engineered growth hormones (rBst), its creator, Monsanto, took them to court to prohibit their free speech. (This caused a vast increase in the demand for organic milk which can be labeled that it doesn't contain artificial hormones.)

4. The 'Freedom of belief' argument: Europeans say they don't want to eat genetically-engineered food, or at least it should be labeled. The US government and the biotechnology industry want to deny this right to Europeans and the rest of the world by forcing them to buy unlabeled GMOs.

5. The 'Questionable regulation' argument: The industry claims that genetically-altered food is carefully regulated. Unfortunately, in many cases, the government regulators once worked for the industry, or they will in the future. The foxes and weasels join forces to convince us that they are guarding our chickens. (See #6.)

6. The 'Starlink labeling' argument: The biotech/chemical industry rejects labeling (in part) because of the difficulty of telling the difference between GMO and non-GMO corn or soybeans and of keeping them separate. (It might also discourage some people from buying their 'Frankenfoods.') Yet, Aventis proceeded to sell genetically-engineered Starlink corn seeds (not approved for human use) when regulations demanded separation. Recent recalls and plant closings have been the result - farmers, grain dealers and consumers are the victims this time. This problem gets even more complex with GMOs such as bananas altered to contain a vaccine. How will humans be able to tell the difference one hundred or one thousand years from now?

7. The 'Questionable testing' argument: Despite industry claims, genetically-modified food has not been tested for safety as the basis of a lifelong human diet. In fact, Americans now serve as the experimental guinea pigs. If industry has its way, soon you can have your burger (from cows fed Roundup Ready corn and Roundup Ready soybeans) topped with Roundup Ready lettuce and Roundup Ready tomatoes, and your Bt potatoes will be fried in Roundup Ready canola oil. Colas are already made from Bt and herbicide-tolerant corn. (How many years will it take us to become Roundup Ready?)

8. The 'Local intelligence' argument: For about 10,000 years, farmers and gardeners have been breeding grains and vegetables for taste, successful growing and nutritional value. Genetic engineering requires patent lawyers, wall street investors, big scientists and giant corporations to breed seeds that are more profitable for large corporations.

© Bill Duesing, Solar Farm Education