GM food

Source: GRAIN
This new publication looks at the intersection between the development of genetically modified (GM) sugar cane and transformations in the global sugar industry. April 2009. [see more]
When in August 2002, the government of Zambia rejected a shipment of humanitarian aid because it contained genetically modified corn, it unleashed a new debate: Is the use of genetically modified foods justified in the alleviation of hunger in the world’s poorest countries?

Genetic engineering of foods -a process whereby specific information is artificially transferred from one type of organism to another, regardless of the species- is one of the most disturbing and criticized aspects of biotechnological development. The industry that practices this technology claims that it is a way of contributing to feed the world, as if the hunger problem were the result of a lack of, instead of a maldistribution of, food.

The aim is to alter an organism’s natural properties. For example, human genes have been spliced into pigs and fish to make them grow more rapidly. Genes are often transferred from one species to another; for instance, scorpion toxin genes have been inserted into corn in order for the plant to develop its own insecticide.

Pesticide-producing transgenic crops (e.g. corn) force pest populations to develop pesticide-resistance, which will lead to an increase in the use of toxic chemicals, whose residues will in turn accumulate in foods. Companies, for their part, are already preparing for such an outcome and demand that the authorized levels of residues be raised. All of this could bring about an uncontrollable situation.

Humans are already consuming GM foods, such as soy and corn. Both products are used in over 60% of the foods processed. Transgenic soy and corn can also be used unprocessed as feed for animals intended for human consumption.

This transgenic onslaught is headed by the transnational corporation Monsanto, the very same company that created and produced the Agent Orange used in the Vietnam war. Monsanto has developed, for example, the Roundup-Ready soy, designed to be resistant to the herbicide "Roundup", also manufactured by Monsanto. Some of this company’s fields have been destroyed by activists opposed to genetic manipulation of foods.

Civil society is promoting a strong campaign against GM foods and in favor of protecting genetic resources, advocating food security and sovereignty. The campaign denounces the motives behind genetic modification as primarily commercial and political, and warns that it is not yet clear how GM food consumption will affect human health. The campaign calls for a moratorium on the marketing of GM products until the consequences of genetic manipulation are known.

Critics of genetic engineering say that the new patent laws are giving inventors of genetically modified crops a dangerous degree of control over food sources. In addition, several scientists have expressed their concern because they believe that genetic engineering is inherently hazardous and could produce new toxins in food crops or even generate new allergies among consumers.

At the same time, the campaign demands that all GM products that are already marketed be properly identified so that consumers know exactly what they are buying. Right now in many countries where GM products are sold -particularly in the South- it is not mandatory to label these products as such.
Imprimir   Enviar    Correct 
      Versión en español
Monday, April 20 2009
The looming GM sugar cane invasion
(Source: GRAIN)
Tuesday, February 17 2009
GM crops feed biotech giants only
(Source: Friends of the Earth)
Wednesday, September 10 2008
NGOs react to general release permit of GM potatoes in South Africa
(Source: African Centre for Biosafety)
more on this issue

Some definitions

GM Food Aid (Eldis)

Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology

The debate: positive views

Drought-resistant GM crops: a promising future (

Public participation in decision-making regarding GMOs in developing countries: How to effectively involve rural people (FAO)

The use of genetically modified crops in developing countries (Nuffield Council on Bioethics)

The debate: other views

The GM debate: who decides? (PANOS)

Tackling GMO contamination (Friends of the Earth International)

Genetically engineered organisms and the environment: Current status and recommendations (Ecological Society of America)

Bt cotton: good news for farmers in developing countries? (id21)

GM crops and the limits of consensus politics (

Economic and environmental impacts of first generation genetically modified crops: lessons from the United States (Biotech-info)

No easy answers on GM crops (

NGOs working on the issue

Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN)

Organic Consumers Association (OCA)

Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)

Institute of Science in Society

International Conferences

9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Choike)

8th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity


Genes for Africa: Genetically Modified Crops in the Developing World (Nature)

High Tech Harvest - Understanding genetically modified food plants (

The debate: critical voices

Bush using famine in Africa as GM marketing tool (Greenpeace)

Genetic engineering and food safety (Third World Network)

The looming GM sugar cane invasion (GRAIN)

GM crops increase pesticide use says report (Friends of the Earth International)

Latin America: the downside of the GM revolution (Americas Program)

GE rice not a solution for saving lives (Third World Network Features)

Transgenic rice is "risky and unnecessary" (Third World Network)

Biotech crops and foods: the risks and alternatives (Oakland Insititute)

New report on GM contamination worldwide (GM Contamination Register)

Transgenic crops: implications for biodiversity and sustainable agriculture (Biosafety Information Centre)

GM crops for Africa? no thanks! (Institute for Science in Society (ISIS))

Health, Human Rights, and GM crops (Insitute of Science in Society (ISIS))

Fiasco in the field - An update on hybrid rice in Asia (GRAIN)

GM crops: a decade of failure (Friends of the Earth International)

How Europe is re-colonising America with help from the natives (Institute of Science in Society)

Genetically modified crops: a decade of failure (Friends of the Earth)

Open Letter from World Scientists Concerning GMOs (Institute of Science in Society)

Turkish declaration of No to GMOs Platform: Life cannot be patented (GDO'ya Hayir)

Sentence of the International Popular Tribunal of Genetically Modified Organisms (Terra de Direitos)

Genetically modified crops in African agriculture: implications for small farmers (GRAIN)

The case for a GM-free sustainable world (Institute of Science in Society)

Voices from the South (Food First)

Argentina’s GM woes (Institute of Science in Society)

Nine Mexican States found to be GM contaminated (ETC Group)

The debate: views from international bodies

Regulating GMOs in developing and transition countries (FAO)

Shaping the future of agriculture (Agriculture 21 - FAO)

Biotechnology in food and agriculture (FAO)

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Convention on Biological Diversity)

WHO answers 20 questions on genetically modified foods (WHO)

Foods derived from Modern Biotechnology (WHO)

WFP Policy on donations of food derived from biotechnology (PdF) (WFP)

Director-General urges countries to think carefully before rejecting GM food aid (FAO)

FAO/WHO expert consultation on safety assessment of foods derived from genetically modified animals including fish (FAO)

Codex Alimentarius on assessments of foods derived from Biotechnology

The hunger problem

Another agriculture is possible (I-SIS)

GM Food aid and GM policy in southern Africa (Panos Institute)

World Food Programme (WFP)

Better dead than GM fed? (GRAIN)

GM crops feed biotech giants only (Friends of the Earth)

Biotech companies exposed as climate change profiteers (ETC Group)

Green revolution 2.0 for Africa? (ETC Group)

GM crops still not performing (Friends of the Earth International)

Another silver bullet for Africa? (GRAIN)

'Africa needs food security, not experimental crops' (IPS)

We need GM food like a hole in our kidneys (Common Dreams)

Making the world hungry for GM crops (GRAIN)

Feeding the world or the corporations? (Institute of Science in Society)

Greening Ethiopia (Institute of Science in Society)

GM food aid: Africa denied choice again? (Earthlife Africa)

Genetic Engineering is NOT meeting the needs of the poor (International Planning Committee Asia)

Biotechnology: who benefits? (EcoForum)

Can beggars be choosers? (Panos Institute)

Zambia will feed herself from now on (I-SIS)

Genetically modified crops and sustainable poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa (Third World Network Africa)

The biotechnological industry

GM debacle continues (I-SIS)

Biotechnology and the FTAA (ACERCA)




Dow Chemical

Food safety: rigging the game (GRAIN)

Biotech companies fuel GM contamination spread (Greenpeace International)

Monsanto moves to tighten its control over Latin America (GRAIN)

Bilateral FTAs and GMOs (Bilaterals)

South Africa, Bioethanol and GMOs: a heady mixture (GMWatch)

GM soybean: Latin America's new coloniser (Grain/Seedling)

Who benefits from GM crops? A report on Monsanto (Friends of the Earth International)

Global seed industry concentration 2005 (ETC group)

High risk grains (Planeta Portoalegre)

Argentina resists Monsanto's claim over seeds royalties (Third World Network)

Questions over schmeiser’s ruling (Institute of Science in Society)

Rice wars (Institute of Science in Society)


Philippines: hunger strike against Bt GM corn (Choike)

GM crops show rapid global growth (

India rejects GM food aid (

Poor farmers turning to GM in growing numbers (

African consumer leaders support Zambia (I-SIS)

EU tightens GM food law (BBC News)

Europe to remain GM-free (I-SIS)

GM Fall-out from Mexico to Zambia: the great containment (ETC Group)

NGOs react to general release permit of GM potatoes in South Africa (African Centre for Biosafety)

American GM rice found in Africa, actions taken across world (Third World Network)

WTO rules in favour of GM food imports (IPS)

The economics of Bt corn in the Philippines (Greenpeace Asia)

GM contamination register

Tighter rules on GM crops and foods blocked (Third World Network)

Keeping Europe GM-Free (Institute of Science in Society)

The first US submission to the WTO dispute panel on GMOs (GeneWatch UK)

Jazzing up Jasmine: atomically modified rice in Asia? (ETC Group)

Tomato seed from seed bank found to be genetically modified (UC Davis News & Information)

Transgenic fish coming (ISIS)

South African nations get green light on GM (

Choike is a project of the Third World Institute | Contact | Avda. 18 de julio 2095/301, Montevideo 11200, Uruguay | Phone: +598 2403 1424