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5 reasons why cultivating GMOs is dangerous
Research published by scientific journals shows how the cultivation of genetically modified species causes significant problems for people, nature and animals.
Global GMO cultivation. The majority of genetically modified species cultivated on a global level are soy, maize, cotton and rapeseed. They account for 176 million hectares globally, according Manuela Giovannetti, professor at the Department of Agricultural, Food and Agro-environment Sciences of the University of Pisa. These species are used for manufacturing and for the production of animal feed. Their characteristic is to be immune to herbicides and pathogen insects.
Environmental effects. “The debate of GMOs’ security arouse in 1998,” explains Manuela Giovanetti. “Famous scientific journals expressed their concern, asking what environmental effects could have had GMOs in the future.”
- Modified genes are transmitted to soil bacteria. In 1996 the WHO raised questions about the possible problems for people’s health. Microbiologists were used to utilise DNA fragments able to produce antibiotics resistance. These fragments have been noted to migrate into soil bacteria firstly, moving successively to pathogen bacteria, becoming potencially dangerous for our health. This practice has been thus gradually abandoned.
- Outcrossing between GMOs and wild plants. One of the most feared aspects is if unmodified plants of the same species can be contaminated. The answer is yes, they can. For example, rapeseed has an outcrossing range of 3 km; whilst maize from 50 m to 200-300 m. But the question is once again: “What are the limits of the coexistence?”
- Superweeds. In this case, different species are involved (e.g. maize-weed). The herbicide resistant fragment hybridises the species that was supposed to be eliminated. This is a widespread phenomenon of intensive monocultures, where some species registered a resistance 3 times higher than the standard. This leads to a massive use of pesticides.
- Super resistant insects. In order to resist to pests, plants’ DNA has been integrated with a gene of a precise bacterium, able to kill phytophagous insects’ larvae. These plants produce a neurotoxin that is lethal for insects that feed on them. What is the problem? This phenomenon caused the evolutionary pressure, i.e. the natural selection of toxin resistant insects. To face the problem, farmers have to create areas cultivated with unmodified plants, in order to decrease the evolutionary pressure and consequently “manage” super resistant insects’ reproduction.
- Transgenic toxins in the soil. Engineered plants release toxins through their roots. From radicle tissues the toxins migrate into the soil, where they remain active several days after the harvest.
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