Do you know for sure that you are not eating genetically modified foods in your daily food intake in Grenada? Do you know for sure that the seeds you are planting are not genetically modified? When we are talking about genetically modified, what do we mean exactly?
Scientists began to do this with the intention of improving certain crops using their own genetic make up, meaning they would stay within one gene pool for improving a plan.
However, scientists have now taken this to a different level and they say they are doing this to make plants give us a bigger crop; to make crops resistant to climate change and drought; making them more nutritious, especially for the poor or making crops tolerant of chemical sprays or toxic to certain insects.
Some of you might be asking, ‘what is the problem with this, might be helpful to the human race’. This could be true but concerns have been expressed by a number of people because these attempts at developing different foodstuffs are not being subjected to proper research and tests as to their impact on human beings.
Presently, in the USA, tests are being done on rats and mice for 30 to 90 days. This is not considered long enough by concerned scientists who feel that a longer time needs to be given for research particularly as it affects the entire planet.
The United States, at this point in time, does not require independent safety testing for GM crops before they go to market.
Since a majority of American foods already contain GMOs it seems that those Institutions that should be regulating food content are using people and the environment as guinea pigs, rather than demanding conclusive tests.
Some of the research using rats have indicated that there was disruption in the organs of the animals fed GM corn and soy for just 30-90 days, therefore studies are surely needed, and fast, because as of right now, about 85 percent of the corn grown in the US is genetically engineered to either produce an insecticide, or to survive the application of herbicide.
And about 91-93 percent of all soybeans are genetically engineered to survive massive doses of Roundup herbicide.
Grenada imports soyabean and corn oil from the US, Europe, South America and elsewhere; we can be sure that the oils from the US have been genetically modified and the oil from Europe will be labeled as such so we have the power to make a choice when we go to the supermarkets.
We also have the right to talk to our food importers and inform them of our concerns about the contents of the foodstuffs they are importing. We need to be vigilant with what we are giving our children to eat, we could be writing them a sentence of poor health and maybe death unless we are prepared to make a stand about what we eat as some of the specific health concerns include fears that the GMOs can increase the allergenicity of certain foods and possibly increase the risk of cancer or other diseases.
We also need to be asking the policy makers what systems are in place for food security, sovereignty and food safety for our protection and for future generations.
As we endeavour to achieve these measures we will be contributing to the UN agenda of sustainable development as underlined by our UN Ambassador in her recent speech at the 67th session of the UN where she stated, “Grenada … is rapidly emerging as a producer of indigenous green and organic items”.
Friends of the Earth Grenada will make attempts to engage the policy makers to ascertain their stance on genetically modified foods while reiterating their own position that Grenada needs to be maintaining their philosophy of ‘growing what we eat and eating what we grow’ as much as is possible, without any genetic modification.
As Mark Bitman, a columnist in the New York Times stated; “G.M. products may grow faster, require fewer pesticides, fertilisers and herbicides, and reduce stress on land, water and other resources; they may be more profitable to farmers. But many of these claims are in dispute, and advances in conventional agriculture, some as simple as drip irrigation, may achieve these same goals more simply.
“Certainly conventional agriculture is more affordable for poor farmers, and most of the world’s farmers are poor … it’s entirely possible that what’s needed to feed the world’s hungry is not new technology but a better distribution system and a reduction of waste.”
(The above was submitted by Joseph Antoine, President of Friends of the Earth Grenada)