Federal courts in the US are cracking down on GM foods, and now this is happening in the UK as well. Monsanto has been accused of suppressing a study of GM potatoes that showed that they damaged the internal organs of rats.

In the Western Mail, Steve Dube quotes biologist Irina Ermakova as saying that when GM NewLeaf potatoes, created by Monsanto, were fed to rats, they damaged their kidneys, liver, large gut, blood serum, testes and prostate. A study by researcher Arpad Pusztai came to a similar conclusion. These results were published only after a long campaign waged by Greenpeace.

GM foods are not just potentially dangerous to individuals?they are also a threat to food diversity. Without many different variations of the basic foods we eat, a society that relies on a basic food source (as the Mexicans do on corn and Asian societies do on rice) could be brought to starvation if the GM version becomes the only one that is grown?and if a disease then attacks that particular variety. This happened in Ireland in the 19th century.

Scientists have discovered that the fungus-like pathogen that caused the 1840s Irish potato famine originally came from the Andes of South America. Researcher Jean Beagle Ristaino says, “By studying the pathogen?s mutations, or changes in DNA, you can tell where the mutations originated and what strains spread to different parts of the world.”

Most GM crops are engineered to be resistant to the pesticide Roundup, so that entire fields can be sprayed, killing only the weeds. But this does not mean that a new pathogen could not spring up?one that is lethal only for the GM crop. If relying on GM crops causes us to rely too much on only one variety, it could eventually lead to famine. It happened in Ireland 150 years ago and it could happen again.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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