Scientists Against GMOs

August 12, 2015 Updated: August 12, 2015

By , Organic Lifestyle Magazine

Biotechnology has long tried to paint the critics of genetic engineering as anti-science. A great effort has been made to convince the public that the majority of world’s scientists support genetic engineering. In reality, GMOs are heavily criticized in the scientific community. Here are the professional opinions of only a few of the thousands of scientists who are both critical and skeptical of GMOs.

There are three things that can’t be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.
—  Buddha

Vandana Shiva, Ph.D

Vandana Shiva was educated as physicist at the University of Punjab. Afterwards she went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario Canada. Her field of study was known as “Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory”. Her work later evolved into inter-disciplinary research in science, technology, and environmental policy. Dr. Shiva is a courageous and tireless activist, author, scientific advisor, and mother. Forbes Magazine named Dr. Shiva as one of the Seven Most Powerful Women in the World.

(Cesar Rangel/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandana Shiva (Cesar Rangel/AFP/Getty Images)

Science is derived from the word scire — “to know”. Each of us should know what we are eating, how it was produced and what impact it will have on our health.

The knowledge we need for growing food is the knowledge of biodiversity and living seed, of living soil and the soil food web, of interaction between different species in the agro-ecosystem and of different seasons. Farmers have been the experts in these fields, as have ecological scientists who study the evolution of micro-organisms, plants and animals, the ecological web and the soil food web.

In industrial agriculture, the knowledge of living systems is totally missing, since industrial agriculture was externally driven by using war chemicals as inputs. Soil was defined as an empty container for holding synthetic fertilizers and plants were defined as machines running on external inputs. This meant substituting the ecological functions and services that nature and farmers can provide through renewal of soil fertility, pest and weed control, and seed improvement. But it also implied ignorance of the destruction of the functions by the toxic chemicals applied to agriculture.

“Intelligence” is based on the Latin word inter legere which means “to choose”.

This complex knowledge of interacting, self-organizing, self-maintaining, self-renewing and self-evolving systems that farmers have had is now being confirmed through the latest in ecology. At the agricultural systems level, agro-ecology, not the mechanistic and blind paradigm of industrial agriculture is the truly scientific approach to food production.

…Because living systems are not machines, they are a self-organized complexity, knowledge of a small, fragmented part in isolation of its relationships with the rest of the system translates into not knowing.

This epistemic violence is now being combined with the violence of corporate interests to viciously attack all scientific traditions, including those that have evolved from within Western science and transcended the mechanistic worldview.

It is actually becoming anti-science.

The rhetoric for taking over food systems and seed supply is always based on “improved seed”. But what is not mentioned is that industrial seeds are only “improved” in the context of higher dependence on chemicals, and more control by corporations.

The latest in the anti-scientific discourse of industrial agriculture is about reducing everything to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“Intelligence” is based on the Latin word inter legere which means “to choose”. From the slime mould and bacteria, to plants and animals, including humans, intelligence is the choice we make in order to respond to changing contexts. Life is a cognitive system with communication constantly taking place in a network on non-separable patterns of relationship. Living beings innovate all the time to deal with environmental challenges that face them. 

…Humans as a species are falling behind slime mold and bacteria to make an intelligent response to the environmental threats we face. And our intelligence is being thwarted by the false construction of the living Earth as dead matter, to be exploited limitlessly for human control, domination and greed.

The US Centre for Disease Control data shows that on current trends one in two children in the US will be autistic in a few decades. It is not an intelligent species that destroys its own future because of a distorted and manipulated definition of science.

As Einstein had observed, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity and I’m not sure about the universe.”

Thierry Vrain, Ph.D

Dr. Vrain was formerly the Head of Biotechnology at Agriculture Canada’s Summerland Research Station. It was his job to address concerns regarding the safety of GMOs. He did his job faithfully for many years, assuring the public and other scientists of the safety of GMOs. Now, years after his retirement, he has reversed his position.

In the last 10 years I have changed my position. I started paying attention to the flow of published studies coming from Europe, some from prestigious labs and published in prestigious scientific journals, that questioned the impact and safety of engineered food.

I refute the claims of the biotechnology companies that their engineered crops yield more, that they require less pesticide applications, that they have no impact on the environment and of course that they are safe to eat.

The Bt corn and soya plants that are now everywhere in our environment are registered as insecticides. But are these insecticidal plants regulated and have their proteins been tested for safety? Not by the federal departments in charge of food safety, not in Canada and not in the U.S.

Genetic engineering is 40 years old. It is based on the naive understanding of the genome based on the One Gene – one protein hypothesis of 70 years ago, that each gene codes for a single protein. The Human Genome project completed in 2002 showed that this hypothesis is wrong.