Published On: Wed, Nov 15th, 2017

GMOs in the News: Evidence That Pests Have Become Immune

Amid all the controversy over the wide scale use of genetically modified organisms, GMOs, it has recently come to light that all the hubbub may finally be paying off. Within the past several months, several studies have been released indicating that GMOs are not as resistant to pests as they were supposed to be. Farmers are up in arms because their ‘organic’ crops have been polluted by GMO crops from nearby farms and for no reason, it now seems.

In the Beginning…

While science has taken GMO to whole new levels, the original intent was largely to create vegetation which would be naturally pest-resistant. Prior to the development of GMOs, chemical pesticides were much in the news. Scientists strove to find a way to keep crops free from pests without the need to spray carcinogenic pesticides often, but then GMOs came under attack as being harmful as well. Along the way GMOs evolved as science found other benefits from modifying the underlying plant in question. Bigger, larger crops were possible which, in turn, was supposed to be a financial boon. Unfortunately, GMOs are still met with unfavorable reviews.

United States Largest Trade Partners Boycott US Crops

So where does that leave us? Some of the United States largest trade partners, most of them in fact, have boycotted GMO crops from the United States primarily because of our widespread use of GMOs in commercial farming. Countries which come to mind are:

  • China

  • Japan

  • Much of Europe

This being the case, have we bitten off our proverbial noses to spite our face? If GMOs are no longer pest resistant, have we broken off trade which could have meant billions in revenue for our farmers who were already hurting financially? That is a question which will take some time answering.

How Some Farmers Are Dealing with the Issue

Some commercial farmers have begun planting crops in greenhouses to avoid contamination from nearby GMO crops. While this could be a costly endeavor if they produce multiple crops over large acreages, for those growing tomatoes, peppers and other plants which can be grown vertically, it is an easy solution. If you are concerned about GMO contamination, you can find a greenhouse for sale that will be akin to a hermetically sealed room but for outdoor use.

Other farmers are planting crops as far away from their neighbors as humanly possible. Unfortunately, there are areas of the country where this is just not possible. For example, in parts of Northern California where much of the best farmland is located in valleys between mountain ranges, wind tunnels carry pollen for miles and miles. What would be a relatively low wind in flatlands becomes a windstorm when gaining speed between ranges. Strong greenhouses can prevent cross-contamination many times, but they need to be purchased from a company that understands the specific needs of the area in terms of durability to withstand high winds.

Photograph of 4 gluten sources. Top: High-gluten wheat flour. Right: European spelt. Bottom: Barley. Left: Rolled rye flakes.

What Science Has Found

Of particular concern is corn. Scientists have found that corn is particularly at risk because insects have become resistant to the resistant GMOs. As confusing as that may sound, it is simple in nature. Just as many viruses and bacteria have become resistant to the medications once used to treat infected individuals, so too have pests become resistant to the organisms that were developed to keep them at bay. Three independent researchers have all come to the same conclusion, making this something to be concerned with. It may be possible to dispute the findings of one study, or even two, but when multiple sources are publishing the same findings, it is difficult to counter those findings.

And So the Debate Continues

Fortunately, some GMOs are being used for other purposes. There is no refuting the fact that science has modified some organisms so that plants are growing larger and producing higher yields. However, many naturalists still contend that there is something unnatural about a modified organism and science simply hasn’t taken adequate time or studies to prove whether or not these crops are safe for human consumption. Many believe it will be decades before we are able to discern whether or not any health related issues will result from these genetically modified organisms.

When all is said and done, science now must come up with a solution to the solution. GMOs were developed to naturally rid crops of pests but that is no longer a viable solution it seems. Do we go back to chemical pesticides or is further research needed to modify the modified organisms? That is yet to be seen but for the time being, GMOs have been found ineffective. That’s the unfortunate fact.

Author: Carol Trehearn

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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Displaying 2 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. ErisX says:

    There are plenty of natural methods of ridding a crop of pests, in fact of preventing a pest invasion. And as for weeds, it is NOT healthy to engage in monoculture; the drop in the natural population of pollinators alone should indicate this clearly to anyone looking for evidence. ‘Weeds’ are necessary for other lives than ours. And what ever happened to the old fashioned garden hoe?

  2. Robert Barrett says:

    People need to accept fruit and vegetables with natural looks instead of “perfect” shape and color. Bumps,bruises and variant color are part of nature.

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