Genetically Modified Organisms Affect Food justice around the World

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To: Hugo Hans Siblesz, Secretary-General of Permanent Court of Arbitration
Genetically Modified Organisms Affect Food justice around the World
What if one day everyone has to pay higher prices for food companies to satisfy our hunger? Food is a fundamental right, and the government needs to protect our rights. Nowadays, food security is in danger of so we have to promote the idea of food justice. Chelsea Green states, “food justice is the idea of having access to healthy, locally grown, fresh, and culturally appropriate food” (Henderson). The concept of food justice is vital because, without a proper diet, humans will become unhealthy. The innovation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) has created a series of debates. Therefore, in order to secure our future, it is necessary to study GMOs since it is a controversial topic that has the potential to lead to a great disaster. The issue that I will focus on is Monsanto as it is an agricultural giant that specializes in the creation of GMOs. Also, the side effect of GMOs is present around the world; it is hurting people economically and physically and potentially a high risk for our future.

Introduction to GMOs
GMOs can be easily found in our daily lives, but most of the time we fail to notice their presence. Since the 1980s, the U.S. permitted ownership rights over GMOs and allowed companies to develop GMO technologies as a valuable tool. Twelve years after, the first GM food crop was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (Rangel 2015). Nowadays, there are around twenty kinds of GM crops which are being sold in the U.S.; these include corn, soybean, cotton, potato, papaya, tomato, canola, rice, apple, and more. Additionally, there are about 92% of corns that are genetically modified in the US in 2016 (USDA). We should be aware of this issue since GM crops are essential components in the food for syrup, acid, starch, and oil. Therefore, it is extremely hard to avoid products that contain GMOs. Eventually, we will have few to no options left in what type of foods that we can consume. When we talk about GMO, we have to speak of the biggest GMO company in the world – Monsanto. According to Monsanto’s financial report, seeds and the total genomics sale reached 10.7 billion in 2014 (Monsanto). Nowadays, cooperation has bigger and bigger power; an inevitable tendency is that corporations are continuously launching new products in the market after asking for approval from the government. Monsanto may be the world’s salvation as they claimed; however, it has a higher chance to create a catastrophe.

GMO Research
Thanks to research being done on GMOs, this may increase our awareness of GM crops. French scientists have studied a very specific issue with GMOs on liver and kidney functions. Dr. Seralini and his colleagues discovered a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize, which is created by Monsanto to resist Roundup pesticide, which was cultivated with/without Roundup application and Roundup alone in drinking water to exam chronological illnesses on mice (Séralini et al.). The research shows the pesticide is not biodegradable and crops also have high pesticide residues which lead to animals’ liver and kidney illness. Besides this particular group that repeatedly examines GMOs and their adverse effects on health, other teams claim a similar issue. Dona and Arvanitoyannis have raised concerns about GM food safety (Dona and Arvanitoyannis). Franz von Götz strongly recommends that the most important GMOs on the market should be detected by comprehensive tests; however, so far, there is only one GMO that has successfully passed the test (von Götz). Additionally, Dr. The Rótolo’s team has discovered that non-GM seeds have a better performance compared to GM seeds which typically requires high expenditures of resources (Rótolo et al.). Should we keep planting and consuming GMO foods?
However, scientists are supporting GMO foods. Godfray et al. (2010) suggest that genetic modification technology has a great potential to solve the growing population and increase food security (Godfray et al). People may concern about the environmental issue around the GMO However, much of soybean biodiversity has been sustained. Moreover, GM crops allow the reintroduction of seed varieties that had been abandoned engineering because of pest damage. (Barrows et al.). Also, Klümper and Qaim find out that on average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68% (Klümper and Qaim). So far, we do not have a clear idea about GMO’s effect on humans or the environment, but we have an alternative way to seek the truth.

GMO & Real World Issue – Economics
In this article, I am not going to argue whatever GMO is healthier or not from the scientific standpoint, but is it safe for a non-government organization, who only care about profit, in charge of food security of our future? I would examine the real case happen around the world to show how GMO affect our lives and our future.
Indians have suffered economically ever since the introduction of GMOs. Vandana Shiva, a Nobel Prize winner, says that the Indian government guided the first green revolution; however, Monsanto pushed for the second revolution in India to maximize companies’ (Jafri, Emani and Shiva 1999). In the study, it showed that the private sector approach in agriculture had become the mainstream idea that created high risks, costs, and an increase in vulnerability due to companies encouraging farmers to cultivate cash crops for higher profits, rather than following the first green revolution idea to supply the internal demand on mixed cultivation. This leads to a high suicide rate in India in the province that has an inappropriate climate for GM cotton (Gutierrez et al.).
In The World According to Monsanto, a documentary film, it revealed Monsanto’s plans in India. Farmers fall for the propaganda and are brainwashed into believing that GM seeds could decrease their pesticide usage and increase their profit (The World According to Monsanto). Farmers invest their savings into this new method, but they received the adverse effect of advertising. Higher usage of pesticide increases the expenditure and also kills others non-pesticide tolerant crops. As a result, farmers who don’t plant Bt. Cotton (GM pesticide tolerant crops) loses all of their harvests because pesticides weed out all of the non-GM crops in the village. The low quality of the latest generation of GMO seeds forces farmers to pay money to buy new seeds from Monsanto. Additionally, Monsanto abuses their market power to increase the price of GM seeds. Consequently, farmers are unable to make ends meet and decide to take their lives. When they found out the truth and urged to return to traditional seeds, they could not find those. Monsanto has acquired most seed banks in India; therefore, they have only to have GM seeds to plant. Another documentary, Bitter Seeds, tells the same story how Monsanto’s Bt. Cotton ruin farmers live in India. The subtitle of the movie is “every 30 minutes a farmer in India kills himself (Bitter Seeds).” Monsanto and GMO are not helping farmers or Indian to secure their food supply, pushing them toward a cash crop economy and creating serfdoms for the company.
Now, people may not learn the lesson from Indian farmers’ lives; however, it would eventually hurt everyone’s life, as Monsanto gets bigger and stronger. UC Berkeley researchers, report even in remote mountains in Oaxaca, Mexico, part of the Mesoamerican center of origin and diversification of this crop, they could not find any native maize, which is not included GMO’s DNA (Quist, David, and Ignacio H. Cahpela). GMO corn has polluted most of the corns; even the Mexican traditional farmers could not keep their seed from becoming contaminated. Because once GMO start planting in the field the pollen can quickly spread to a different location and it is only a matter of time to get the world polluted. According to Clive James, in the 29 biotech crop countries, more than 40 percent of farmland plants GM crops in 2010, in additional, a sustained increase 10 percent of farmland over 2009 (James 2017). GM corn is massively planted around the world because it can resist pesticides, insect or increase yield. Eventually, every natural plant would contain a part of the genetically modified gene. As a result, we may see a peculiar-looking corn that grows in a cornfield. As GMO crops are widely planted around the world, it is easy for the modified gene to get into the natural environment. GMO crops’ pollution has high potential to turn into a food monopoly issue around the world.
Monsanto is a major GMO company, asks farmers to sign an agreement that growers may only “consume or sell the resulting crops, but may not save any of the harvested soybeans for replanting (BOWMAN v. MONSANTO CO. et al. 2017).” In other words, next season farmers have to pay an additional license fee to plant GM crops. A recent case, BOWMAN v. MONSANTO CO., Supreme Court of United Stated restated that Monsanto has the right to execute their pattern right. In additional, the Supreme Court rejected that Bowman’s right on the second generation of GMO seeds, which means after each season, farmers have to buy seeds again. Supreme Court of United Stated states that the decision may not apply to every case, but it is clear that in this situation people have to follow this decision. As a result, we have to concern about Monsanto’s market power. Once, the world is full of GM crops dominate the world and create tons of serfdoms who only work for the company’s interest; they can raise the price for our food. Should don’t we be afraid of that? Let’s image one day our food supply is controlled by few companies. That would be horrible. In reality, we are on the terrible path, but is not too late to turn the situation.

GMO & Real World Issue – Physical
Beside the failing to help farmers, GMO crops also hurts farmers’ health condition due to high explore under pesticide. Peasants spray pesticides to prevent pests from eating the crops; the consequences of this action results in serious physical harm to the farmers and their families. The Monsanto tribunal, with victims and experts around the world, collectively accuse that Monsanto is violating human rights and destroying the ecosystem to raise people’s awareness. One of the experts, Doctor Verzeñassi, explains the epidemiological conducted in Argentina. The introduction of pesticides leads to serious diseases, such as hypothyroidism, birth defects, spontaneous abortions, allergies, and cancer live in a high-pesticide-dependent area; in additional, the number of victims steadily rises every year (VERZEÑASSI, Damian And Monsanto Tribunal. Damian VERZEÑASSI_English In Monsanto Tribunal.). After the mid-1990s, the Argentinian government approved the GMO soybeans, Argentina becomes the top soybean producer in the world. Farmers use enormous amounts of pesticides than before to secure a high yield of crops. At the same time, they unintentionally traded their health with a better economic condition. The story started with Monsanto’s false claim that their pesticide (Roundup) was biodegradable and “environmentally friendly (Philpott 2017),” also “it can be used where kids and pets play (Philpott 2017).” Many peasants believe their words; however, it is not the truth. According to the BBC, France’s highest court has ruled that Monsanto was fined 15,000 euros because it lied about the safeness of Roundup and polluted France’s river (“Monsanto Guilty In ‘False Ad’ Row” 2017). Apparently, exposure to a large number of pesticides in a short period can lead to poisoning; however, the effect of small long-term exposure is uncertain, but studies have found out there is diabetes, cancer, and neurological defects issue may increase (Hsaio 2017). However, Monsanto is still appealing with the lawsuit.
Following the doctor’s research, let’s take a deeper look into Argentina. In the past, Chaco Province was known as a cotton-producing province in Argentina; however, nowadays GM soybean has taken over the position in the landscape, especially in the area of Avia Terai. According to BBC reports, “in local research published in 2012, of those surveyed in Avia Terai, nearly a third said someone in the family had cancer in the last ten years.” When farmers started to use Roundup, they found out that except for Roundup-tolerant genetically modified crops, no other plants were able to survive and ducks are dead. After the animals and plants, farmers and their family members are exposed to the poisonous pesticides and suffer due to the high usage of pesticides. Everyone has the right to live freely with water, air, soil and food, but Monsanto is a purely profit-driven machine that exploits all the resource of the area and leaves with a mess to local farmers. Consequently, in the long run, instead of solving poverty and hunger issue, farmers face a problem of increasing health concerns that affect Argentina’s agricultural society as a whole.
There is another potential risk that may threat to human survival that is what if the GM crops are harmful to our body health? In the U.S., there is already large corn production is dominated by GM crops and we have examined Dr. Seralini’s study of how GMO affects the mouse’s health condition. In the Monsanto tribunal, experts only not present those damaging to the environment and humankind, and also show that Monsanto’s power to fight against any unfavorable lawsuit and scientific evidence. After years, scientists may be able to find a convincing direct evidence to prove that Monsanto’s creation is unhealthy and harmful to human bodies, but that may be too late. Since we already have studies in India, Argentina and around the world shows that GMO may profoundly cause human health issue, we need to be aware of how many problems that Monsanto may bring in the future. If the food production becomes a monopoly business, or if the food around the world is no longer health, or the environment is polluted by Roundup, or even pests and weeds become unkillable, the earth is over. I may be over claiming the result; however, it would be better to think about the issue and be prepared now, then after it happened to fix it.
To summarize, nowadays farmer is the only few groups of people get hurt, but in the future, everyone has a high potential risk, either we have to pay the royalty to Monsanto or our health condition. In the future, once Monsanto stops or increase the price of seeds, there will be many people starve on the street. Or, individuals can afford to pay for extremely expensive healthy non-GM foods. In the paper, I hope to raise awareness of the shifting agriculture paradigm and the dangers of industrial and chemical agriculture to further prevent the irreversible issue, which may lead to a great disaster for humankind. Furthermore, I want to let everyone know what’s important to food justice. Again everyone should have access to healthy, locally grown, fresh, and culturally to achieve that we need action to be made for the local communities may create a self-sufficient farm to protect themselves. Additionally, together people can impose regulations on giant corporations and region our power to pursue a quality life.
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