Scary New GMO Nonsense From Cliff Bars
While Cliff Bars are delicious, if not all that nutritious at 250-260 calories each, the company has decided to go on an all out attack yesterday on genetically modified crops (which they apparently don’t use). Perhaps this is a counter-attack, intended to distract you from their recall of bars containing listeria contaminated sunflower seed kernels.
Their broadside against GMOs, titled “GMOs, a Deeper Look,” contains one erroneous assertion after another. Amusingly enough the graphic at the top of the page shows corn ears, and seems to include ears showing insect damage (from corn ear worms) characteristic of non-Bt corn. It looks really appetizing!
· GMOs are lab experiments that can’t occur in nature. Actually genes jumping between species is not all that uncommon. Remember that genes are not species specific: You have 50% of your genes in common with a banana and 90% with a fish. And the idea of genetic modification was perfected by the sweet potato some 6000 years ago.
· At least 26 countries totally or partially ban GMOs. Actually only a few countries completely ban GMOs. A number of European countries have approved their cultivation, but it has been blocked for purely political reasons. And just about all countries import GMO grains for animal feed. It is much cheaper for them.
· Studies show that GMOs lead to increased use of toxic chemicals. No, there aren’t any such studies. GM crops may allow you to use Roundup to control weeds without damaging your crops (mostly corn, soy and sugar beets) but Roundup is one of the most benign herbicides ever developed and is about as toxic as aspirin.
· GMOs are a Bandaid in a broken system. In other words, using techniques to control weeds and increase productivity are bad? This is just bad sloganeering.
· GMOs haven’t shown they can feed the planet. A recent study by Klumper and Qaim reviews the literature and concludes that: On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%
· Most GMOs focus on more toxic chemicals. Actually as noted above, GMOs reduce pesticide use, since there is less insecticide sprayed and less toxic herbicides needed.
· Pesticide use has increased by 400 million pounds since GMOs were introduced. This conclusion is from a discredited paper by Chuck Benbrook, funded by the Organic Consumers Association, and published in a third rate pay-to-play journal. Specifically Benbrook took pounds of pesticides but failed to correct for the lowered environmental impact of recently developed herbicides.
· That approach creates superweeds, super bugs and endangers farm workers. Every herbicide and insecticide can eventually lead to resistant plants and bugs. This is called evolution, and happens all the time. Farmers know this and deal with it by rotating crops, planting refuge crops (which do not contain Bt) and rotating herbicides. This is nothing new and has nothing to do with GMOs.
· GMOs are part of a concentration of the world’s seed into a few companies. There are at the moment six large seed companies that produce GM seeds, but hundreds of other seed companies producing conventional seeds. The only reason there are so few is the paranoia of the anti-GMO crowd who have forced ruinously expensive testing regimes (costing over $100 million for each new product). And there are some smaller companies like the one that produced the Arctic (non-browning) Apple, and the Innate Potato (blight resistant).
We are a broad-based coalition representing the entire American agriculture food supply chain – from farm to fork. We are committed to increasing the public’s understanding about the science and safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and advocating for science-based policies that keep food affordable for every American.