Book Review: The GMO Deception

GMODeception.jpgGenetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are a hot topic given today’s climate of conscious consumers. Some, particularly those on the political right, have taken time to criticize consumers who choose to avoid GMOs. However there are a lot of us who are confused on the science, or are simply not versed sufficiently in the biological, political and business-oriented aspects of GMOs that would allow us to assemble a sound argument as to why GMOs are worth avoiding.

I have no degree in biology. I am not fully aware of the efforts taken by GMO-producing businesses to promote the legal use of their controversial products. So, I found a newly-released collection of essays titled The GMO Deception: What You Need to Know about the Food, Corporations, and Government Agencies Putting Our Families and Our Environment at Risk that really sheds light on these issues. With a title like this, this book has a clear bias against the promoters of GMO foods. But, I wanted to examine their arguments, and how soundly they could present their cause in regards to my own logic. All-in-all, this collection contains over 50 essays, mostly originating from a single quarterly periodical, GeneWatch, that often discusses genetic politics. Each essay is written by a specialist in a different field of study selected from a time range spanning decades, mostly focusing on tangential consequences relating to the implementation, creation or aftermath of GMO products being produced en-masse for consumer consumption. Worth a read if you wanna know the scoop on GMOs.

While I can’t dissect each essay contained, I can say that some essays had a bigger impact on me than others. While some essayists presented themselves as radical protesters in the face of an increasingly GMO-polluted ecosystem, I was surprised to find that some of the writers were from fields that only tangentially connected to GMOs and really had nothing more than an objective stance towards GMOs. Regardless of the writers’ stances, however, most of these essays providing striking facts about GMOs in today’s world. For example, there are thirty-five crops that are responsible for sustaining human life on earth, and only four GMO-variants of these crops (soy, corn, canola and cotton) have been successfully commercialized on a world-wide basis. Despite this low percentage, the GMO-variants of these four crops comprise eighty-eight to ninety-five percent of each of these four crops produced worldwide. This means that if you consume soy, corn, canola or cotton, there’s a nine out of ten chance that this item will be from a genetically modified crop! Now take a look at the items in your kitchen. How many contain high fructose corn syrup? How many contain soy? GMOs have permeated much further than I had initially suspected. And the only way to know what you’re consuming doesn’t contain GMOs in the US is through the organic certification label, just saying that something is “all-natural” is not a guarantee!

Despite GMO crops comprising such a huge share of each crop’s overall production, there are countries that refuse to legalize the commerce of these goods on the grounds that they are unsafe. Mexico, for example, does not allow the sale of GMO-derived products. Ever wonder why the “Mexican Coke” you can purchase at Mexico Lindo contains real sugar instead of High Fructose Corn syrup? The fact that the corn in High Fructose Corn syrup is GMO-derived is partially to blame. In fact, Argentina and the US are the only two countries in the world to export GMO corn. So much of this book is devoted to pointing out the innumerable ways the United States has bent over backwards to promote GMO products, and the efforts its businesses and legislators have made to spread these products worldwide.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who really feels in the dark about GMOs. As I said, I’ve read plenty of articles on the subject previously, but never before have I encountered such a startling collection of facts as those presented in this collection.

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