A GMO is a living organism—plant, animal, bacteria, virus—that has been genetically modified in a laboratory to give it new properties.
While many techniques are used for genetic modification, the most common one is transgenesis, which uses genetic engineering to introduce genes from one species or variety to another that could not otherwise be hybridised or self-fertilized. Hybridisation and self-fertilization are traditional methods long employed by human societies to develop varieties better suited to their needs and tastes. Most of the cultivated plants and domestic animals we know today were created over time using this form of genetic selection.
Objections to GMOs are based both on the technique used (which often consists of random engineering) and on the potential consequences (higher genetic instability, possibility of genetic recombination, etc.). These arguments also raise concerns about the economic , environmental and health impacts resulting from the patenting of life, the dissemination of certain GMOs in our ecosystems and the widespread use of GMO-resistant pesticides.
After 20 years and millions of dollars spent on research by biotech companies and our governments, 85% of the GMOs on the market today have been created to be resistant to broad-spectrum herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup (2). This is hardly surprising considering that the companies selling the seeds are the same ones selling the pesticides!
More than 99% of the genetically modified crops on the market today have been developed neither to increase their yield or nutritional value nor to improve their resistance to soil salinity or drought. (2)
Despite the diversity of transgenesis projects in agriculture, four transgenic crops currently dominate the global landscape in GM farming: soybean, corn, cotton and canola.
Source : James, Clive. (2015). Global Status of CommercializedBiotech/GM Crops: 2014. ISAAA brief No. 49. International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA): Ithaca, NY.
Over the last 40 years, the seed industry has undergone a major transformation, evolving from a competitive agrifood industry composed mainly of small family-owned businesses to one dominated by a handful of multinationals with extensive investments in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. (3) This concentration has given these companies unprecedented control over our agriculture and our food, all to the detriment of consumer free choice and the autonomy of the farmers who now face a diminishing variety of seeds.
Ironically, three of these companies are not even allowed to plant their seeds in their own home countries! Indeed, BASF, Bayer and Syngenta have been prohibited from sowing their engineered seeds in Germany and Switzerland due to public concern over the potential economic, environmental and health impacts.
In 2014, these companied controlled:
Source : Gene Giants Seek Philanthrogopoly, ETC Group, 2013
(1) Qu’est-ce qu’un OGM?, Inf’OGM : http://www.infogm.org/-qu-est-ce-qu-un-ogm
(2) James, Clive. (2015). Global Status of CommercializedBiotech/GM Crops: 2014, ISAAA brief No. 49. International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA): Ithaca, NY.
(3) Fernandez-Cornejo, J. (2007). Just, R.E. Researchability of modern agricultural input markets and growing concentration. Am. J. Agric. Econ. 89, 1269-1275.