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Why is organic agriculture GMO-free?

If you buy organic, you can be sure that no G.M. is used. Most European citizens prefer not to eat genetically modified food. In organic agriculture it's strictly forbidden. In order to breed plants, organic agriculture uses natural breeding techniques that yield resilient and sustainable results. G.M. is currently mostly used by chemical companies to increase pesticide sales and gain control over seed production and prevent seed saving by farmers. This leads to large scale monocultures, superpests, superweeds and potential health risks for humans and animals.

Feed the world? Really?

Advocates of genetic modification often use the argument that it is a solution to hunger. There is no evidence to back this up whatsoever. In spite of a large increase in food production since the fifty's, 1 billion people are still hungry. Gentech has so far not led to a production increase, it has just led to more pesticides and monocultures. There is a better technique, more robust, more ecological, and safer, which is organic breeding. With organic breeding we can also create disease-resistent varieties, increase yields, create drought-resistant varieties, and most importantly, do it in a way that is in balance with the ecosystem. It is done for a large part in the field, not just the laboratory. One of the major advantages of organic breeding is that farmers can participate and create varieties that fit their specific circumstances. Also, organic breeding is not controlled by agro-chemical companies who's main interest is selling more agrochemicals.

GMO's in practice

It is often claimed that genetic engineering could increase production, reduce pesticide use, make plants drought resistant, and so on. However, the reality of GMO's in the past 30 years is a completely different story. Basically, only two practical applications have been realised, leading to increased use of pesticides, monocultures, soil depletion, and biodiversity deserts.

In the first use case, food crops are made resistant to Roundup, an aggressive weed killer based on glyfosate. The crop will not be killed by glyfosate, while all other plants are. This allows farmer to kill all weeds and plants in a field, while only the GMO crop survives. If we ignore the repulsion the whole idea causes, this has also led to "superweeds" in the USA, weeds that are impossible to control and can only be suppressed with oldfashioned and poisonous herbicides.

In the second use case, a certain gene (the Bt-gene) is built into a crop, inducing the crop to produce it's own insecticide. Bt-cotton is an example. In theory, the Bt-component should kill harmfull insects, so farmers don't have to spray any other pesticides. In reality, what happens is very similar to what happens with the Roundup-ready crops: resistent "super-insects" develop. The farmers then often turn to old-fashioned, forbidden and heavily poisonous insecticides.

In the past 30 years, the practical application of GMO's has lead to large scale monocultures, soil degradation, biodiversity loss, and appallingly ugly landscapes. Also, it has led to financial dependance and despair of thousands of farmers, most notably a large number of farmers suicides in India.

The main companies that develop GMO crops all originate from chemical industry, and therefore have a keen interest in maintaining the chemical and industrial approach in agriculture that has led to so much environmental destruction since WWII.

Seed monopolies and patenting life

Ever since the '80s there has been a continuous consolidation in the seed industry, with a huge concentration of power in the hands of agro-chemical firms. Companies like Monsanto and Syngenta buy smaller breeding companies in large quantities. At the moment more than 75%  of all commercially available seeds are owned by five companies. These company are rushing in to obtain hundreds of patents on all possibe gene combinations, even on gene combinations that already exist in nature; in this way they try to get control of the gene pool of our food, and basically try to monopolise food production. Patents also threaten further breeding and make work impossible for smaller breeders and farm breeders. The EU has recently moved to forbid patents an naturally occurring gene combinations.   

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