gmoEarlier this month, the first European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECIs) were officially registered by the European Commission. You can read Debating Europe‘s interview with Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič about the ECI as a new democratic tool (and some of the challenges it faces) here. However, long before the ECI was officially launched in April this year, there was an initiative from Greenpeace and Avaaz to gather 1 million signatures for a moratorium on genetically modified crops in Europe. The Greenpeace initiative, touted as the “first European Citizens’ Initiative”, is not among the list of registered ECIs, so it will be interesting to see whether or not it is officially accepted by the Commission.

Clearly, however, there are plenty of people concerned about the impact of GMOs in Europe. One of our readers, Linda, went so far as to argue that: “GM food is ruining agriculture and causing huge health problems in both people and animals.

We took Linda’s comments to Catherine Bearder, British Liberal Democrat MEP, to hear how she would respond:

I think we’re right to be cautious about genetically modified foods, but I don’t think the evidence there is that it’s making people unhealthy or poisoning people.”

We also wanted a reaction from a Green MEP, so we took Linda’s comment to Bas Eickhout, a Dutch MEP with the GreenLeft Party. He was critical of GMOs, but was more cautious about the health concerns:

The direct link between GM food and health is still under investigation, so in that sense people who say ‘it is bad for health’ should maybe have a far more nuanced view. But what’s far more worrying is that it’s giving a monopoly position to the food industry as it takes over the whole market. If there’s one thing that should be decentralised, here and in the developing world, it is food production. Instead, we are talking about seven companies who own the majority of GM crops. Whether or not GM is directly bad for health, it is certainly damaging for biodiversity.”

During our EU 2050 event, however, we had several people (including Belgian molecular biologist Marc Van Montagu) argue that GMOs are a safe and reliable solution to feeding the world’s growing population, but that progress was being hampered by a failure of scientists to communicate the benefits to people. Indeed, both the MEPs we spoke to were either cautious or hostile to GMOs, but neither believed the current evidence demonstrates they are causing huge health problems.

What do YOU think? Should genetically modified crops be banned in Europe? Do more studies need to be done on the health implications? Or is public misunderstanding about the risks and benefits of GMOs hampering progress? Could GM crops be a way to improve food security globally? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Mind Whisperings

61 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Genetically modified food is only a problem because behind them are Dow Chemical and other big corporations that could tied up farmers to them. If genetically modified food did not have patents and were free for all, I would not have a problem at all. After all there are in the market for many years hybrid cereals and plants (apples, flowers, corn, animals, etc). Even us, people, are starting to be genetically modified to prevent breast cancer etc. It is a question of time and technology.

  2. avatar
    Rebecca Sereinig

    I don’t care how good or bad it is for our health. Firstly, the debate is endless because there are no studies that support either claim. Secondly, most of the food we eat uses pesticides and is not organic hence our health is in danger anyway. But the important thing is that GM crops are absolutely catastrophic in the long run for the environment. One needs only to learn a little bit about ecology and how ecosystems work to know that interference of such a size into the environment can have devastating consequences. I cannot go into detail but one simple example that anyone can understand is the fact that if we make our crops much more resistant to the environment, then it can easily take over and destroy the local, natural flora as well as fauna. The other main thing is that decoding the genome is a difficult and expensive process that companies hire specialists for. They are then able to patent the genome, which, besides being completely immoral, can be economically damaging to smaller farmers. Therefore the system is unsustainable and very damaging, and I do not wish to see GM crops legalized in Europe, and the public needs to understand this.

  3. avatar
    Georgi Hrisstof

    GM crops have their place in the world economy. As products involved in immunity and health of nations. It is a shield to keep the body from viruses and tumors from dangerous pandemics transmitted through food products … When the beak is sick, cure disease, not the cause! If the GMO product is the reason that prevents disease, the need for GMO products is obvious!

  4. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    I always said NO to GMO crops….!! Until there are full studies from independent European scientists to prove that they are harmless then I am not putting them on my table… End of…!!

  5. avatar
    catherine benning

    The answer to the question of whether the EU should ban GM foods is, yes. In every sense of the word.

    You do not have to be blind to see what is happening. Regardless of whether ‘anyone’ can prove a situation or not is a ludicrous way to run a business, when the obvious can be seen by all. When did Americans begin to get so horrendously fat that they can barely walk, some of them children as young as two years old?

    Why is the UK well on the way to being the same way? When did they start to fatten up like that? Enter American produce.

    It was when they began to add GM products as well as use steroids in their animals.

    Where are people not getting this kind of weight gain, and why is that? The food products coming from the US and elsewhere are contaminated in the extreme. And they desperately want us to buy this toxin as they have spent billions of dollars experimenting and want a return on their investment. And whether you and I become sick or obese because of it is of no interest to them whatsoever.

    It is imperative Europe does not go down this route and more than they have already.

    Do we know what we are eating?

    If you want to look at animals bred for his unhealthy qualities, here it is. And yet intelligent men and women cannot put together that when you eat this creature his genes enter your body and cannot do other than contaminate it with what created this mutation.

    Should you feel this is incorrect, look at the obesity in the US and you will see it follows the identical pattern. They are bloated in a strange unusual format.

    These people were eating sweetcorn, grits and hamburgers for two hundred years, and yet, it’s only recently they have become so huge. It’s not the amount they eat, but what is in the so called food they are eating.

    The chemicals in their food includes appetizers. Meaning when they eat they still feel hungry. Also the nutritional content of this food is low and therefore they feel they are starving constantly. Which of course is what the people selling this stuff want.

    • avatar

      you do not contaminate your own dna by eating some animal or food, if you could the humans would have become chickens and cows and rice and apples a long, long time ago…………
      saying such a thing is like i tell everyone that you are a gmo promoter because i took the alphabets from your comment and used them to write a sentence completely opposite, still thinking its your comment!!!!!!!!

      and about Americans getting obese, that is definitely not because of genetic mutations, but because of the pesticides and toxins and flavour enhancers added to them, you must understand these are two polar opposites of eachother. gmo foods actually remove the need of adding unnatural and poisonous chemicals to the food, since they are designed such as to naturally resist pests and naturally taste delicious, at least in theory………….
      so give me one good reason for being against gmo foods which does not form false stories and your imagination…..
      about what are the risks, no side should pass any comments on the topic because there is no REAL PROOF !!!!!!!!!
      ofcourse you retain the right to not eat a gmo food if you still do not want to…………..just for being safe ofcourse, but you have no right to ban a product and force your decision on those who want to eat gmo foods, there are ways to prevent the chances of gmo genes to enter the normal flora and fauna, efforts should be made to develop these measures rather than simply repeating NO over and over again, without reading any actual books and taking your science from some youtube video ……….

    • avatar

      and one more thing, you are completely over looking the fact that life style too has changed since the past two hundered years, so eating hamburgers and sweet corns today, when many don’t even go out to shop or do jobs because they can do that from their couch over the internet, seems a little wrong.
      lifestyle change too has added to people these days becoming fat, and people with a proper lifestyle today too are healthy and normal weight even when they eat gmo foods, i think here is one idea of how to research the safety of gmo foods, looking at those who have been eating them for a long time. (that is just the beginning, ofcourse more sofisticated studies will be required in the next step)

  6. avatar
    Michael Tsikalakis

    GMOs should be banned once and for all.Dangerous!!!

  7. avatar
    Catia Ferreira

    Of course we should ban it.. why even debating about it.. its a wast of money and energy.. talking about this.. !!!

  8. avatar
    Catia Ferreira

    More studies, means (wasting) more money, on stuff we don’t even need!!!.. Everybody should know this (common sense).. We have bigger issues to deal with in Europa then filling Macsanto’s pockets!!!

    • avatar

      yeah like filling greenpeace’s pockets……..

    • avatar

      you may not need it, but there are those who do, like millions of starving children in third world countries today, and who knows who else will need it tomorrow in the booming population of the world

  9. avatar

    I’m old enough that I remember scientists telling us that there was no health risk from smoking cigarettes. People who chose to believe them got what they deserved. Everything should be appropriately labeled so we can choose; until then, stick to organics, and fight to keep organic food standards tough.

    We have an additional problem with dairy. Pasteurization destroys the enzymes that make it possible for the human body to appropriately digest dairy, causing lactose intolerance that’s often mistaken for allergy. And yet, in my state it’s illegal to sell non-pasteurized dairy products. My choice has been taken away from me, and yet they still want my tax dollars to do with as they please.

  10. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    Yes GMO should be banned from Europe. If public opinion counts it would be banned already. However, the GMO lobby will probably win the day as big business always tramples on public opinion. Where else will ex-MEPs and ex-Commissioners go to work if not the lobby groups?

  11. avatar

    We manage fine without GM. We should subsidise organic food.

  12. avatar
    Eusebio Manuel Vestias Pecurto

    Sim estes produtos devem ser banidos da Europa estes produtos de Alimentos genéticamente modificados é uma tóxina para o ser humano tanto na saúde como na carteira

  13. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Trying to stop technology is a failed action. What we have to discuss is about the access and limit patents to a short period. After that would be open to anyone. Right at this moment, there are already several research laboratories trying to manipulate the human cells to save us from diseases and prolong life. I am for it. At all times, there are always backward people against the progress, claiming all fears.

  14. avatar
    Sacha Pakalin

    People think that GMO are added toxins or chemicals!
    They ignore that crop genes are anyway metabolised into smaller units which are all the same, whatever the original gene might be. So there is no risk from ingesting a gene whatsoever, even if it has been manipulated, because at the end of the day, all the building blocks that are incorporated in the body are the same (A, T, C or G purines).

    This explains that if you eat, let’s say a chicken, you don’t incorporate the animal’s DNA into yours! And the industrial food we eat has already been genetically modified by cross fertilisation without being labeled as GMO. Just think for instance to the appealing colourfull apples in supermarket, they surely don’t have the same genes as the shrivelled bad looking fruit sold by a organic retailer, and yet you eat them everyday without thinking to the GMO problematics!

    But what can really be dangerous, it’s the chemicals ingested with food, like pesticides or additives, which may change your OWN genes, in addition to their carcinogenic properties, or their effects on reproduction.

    Surprisingly GMO opponents totally overlook these aspects, to only focus on preference on crop genes X or Y, which has no consequence on human physiology!

    If anticapitalism was the real driver of their action, why don’t they show the same diligence towards the big companies selling fertilisers or pesticides?

    Tobacco smoking kills 5 million people each year, and yet it’s not banned!

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      Can you please explain why we should trust the information you spout here when everything we hear that is against the principle you speak of tells us clearly you are off the tree.

      People who spill this GM is good advertisement are all out for one outcome, to make huge amounts of money at the risk to us all. You ignore what you are advised is taking place and shut your eyes and ears to reality.

      That is a seriously irresponsible act and the only answer to it is to make sure those who impose this on us all are extradited to the Congo to serve a long and arduous sentence in the conditions there.

      I suppose you are going to try and sell us the idea that all these people who are trying to inform the public on these matters are uninformed or simply evil for making it available to us all.

      You cannot win this argument for people will reject it avidly, as they should.

    • avatar

      dear catherine benning, if you are hearing one thing from everyone and different from a very few, doesn’t make it right. only one person in the whole crowd sees the emperor naked, that has been this way since always. the new has always faced threats from the mobs, although what would validate your point are studies and facts and refernces to real researches, not some videos a kid made and uploaded on the youtube…………… i will convert into a GMO opposer right here andd right now as soon as you give me some REAL EVIDENCE!!!!!!!!
      did you even notice that all the comments by GMO opposers are totally based on ” it is bad because i said so” and not one single correct scientific fact was presented…did you even notice that all the comments by GMO opposers are totally based on ” it is bad because i said so” and not one single correct and verifiable scientific fact was presented…

  15. avatar
    André Carvalho

    @Mr Vicente Tavares, trying to imply that the GMO’s debate is a matter of being pro or against technology is, by itself, a false cause fallacy. It’s not about technology, it’s about no one knowing the potential risks of OGM’s. and since no one knows the pro OGM movement assumes that there aren’t any.

    And I’m not even referring to the biological crops contamination issue

    • avatar

      ok, your point seems logical, then why don’t the gmo opposers never use science to validate their claims ???? you people feel offended if someone says you are not well educated on the topic, well then PROVE us wrong instead of saying so,
      and just for the record i am not a gmo promoter, i am strictly neutral on the topic, but if i keep hearing the arguements the gmo opposers are giving to validate their point ( seriously, youtube videos !!!!!!!!! wtf) i will definitely join the promoters group. please stop using wrong science.

  16. avatar

    absolutely! There is not one single serious study to show that it is safe… on contrary there are several indicating that it is a by far bigger danger than pesticides and other chemicals used until now..

    We are what we eat… we eat GM food we’ll become GM humans .. aka monsters… nein Monsanto danke!

    • avatar
      Sacha Pakalin

      do you have references for the studies you mentioned? do you really know what is DNA, and how it is metabolised once ingested in the gastrointestinal tract?

    • avatar

      yes i want to ask you that too, what sara pakalin just asked……….. can you mention the references to these studies …….. i got into an arguement with my professor over this topic , i am a 4th year student of biotechnology and uptil now we have not learnt about a single study that tells us about harmful effects of gmos, if you could help me out there i shall be thankful………
      if you can’t then stop spreading false information about things you don’t understand………. there r studies proving smoking and alcohol is bad for health and no one seems to ban them from europe, where exactly r u people getting at ?????

  17. avatar
    Sacha Pakalin

    “We are what we eat… we eat GM food we’ll become GM humans .. aka monsters… nein Monsanto danke!”

    first, why do you use German? do you think Monsanto was German?
    After your theory, “if you eat pork, you become pork” ?
    Did you know that every human being has a different DNA, by recombination of his parent’s genes? So we are ALL genetically modified (except monsters), end the same holds true for animals and plants. “Pure” , untouched DNA exist only in ignorants’imagination.

  18. avatar

    i very strongly believe that more time, money and effort should be invested in studying the health risks of gmo foods, but the opposers and promoters both should use logical and scientific approach rather than being another example of max plank’s famous quote :
    “A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

  19. avatar
    Ronald Moorhouse

    There is enough evidence out there, that GMOs are dangerous for health and it is widely known how GMO foods produce their own insecticide. Insecticides are poisonous and have been linked to cancer and other such diseases, so if plants produce their own insecticide, they create super bugs that become resilient to it and nobody seems to understand in the parliaments that this could kill humans and genetically alter the human dna and genes, creating new super illnesses that the human imune system has no defense against. For those MPs and MEPs who support GMO “How much are you being paid by corporations to promote GMO Products? All in all, say NO to GMO and get this practice banned once and for all.

    • avatar

      many a drugs and medicines and vaccines too were invented and marketed and then proven to be poisonous and then withdrawn countlessly over the years, so if some medicines are proven to be harmful do you think we should ban the entire pharmaceutical industry altogether ?????? you say many a GMO foods have been proven harmful, well then by all means ban these GMO foods, but not those GMO foods that have been proven safer and healthier than the regular food,
      And for God’s sake, for the last , GMO foods can not, i repeat can not alter the human DNA, although horizontal transmission can occur into the bacteria of our stomach and intestine from any sort of food including GMO foods, which may cause their susceptibilty to different antibiotics to alter , THAT IS IT !!!!!!!!!!!!
      and i have the same question for you, “How much are you being paid by NGOs to demote GMO Products?

    • avatar

      and by the way, not all the GMO crops produce their own insectides, you can’t ban asprins and other NSAIDs because some new vaccine and anti biotic was proven harmful !!!!!!!!!!! only ban what is harmful, not the entire industry

    • avatar
      Sacha Pakalin

      Ronald, you are confusing industrial pesticides, which are harmful, indeed, with anti-pest proteins produced BY THE PLANT, and abusively called “pesticides”

  20. avatar
    Ronald Moorhouse

    GMO is also Ungodly

    Leviticus 19:19 “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.

    Deuteronomy 22:9 Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.

    • avatar

      what you mentioned here completely bans any type of cross breeding for the jews, so why seperate out GMOs and blame it all on them, just say out right that you are against all sorts of cross breeding, don’t single out GMO products…………….

    • avatar
      Ronald Moorhouse

      Re: Your Statement “what you mentioned here completely bans any type of cross breeding for the Jews” This principle was applied by all Christians of all nations long after Jesus was executed for our sins.
      This did not apply to the Jews, it applied to Israel and was adopted by all Christian who abide by God’s Laws.

    • avatar

      even if that was so, i don’t care how many religions out there ban cross breeding, my standing will remain the same, as i mentioned in my comment, ” i can’t challenge a person’s religious beliefs ” whether christians or jews or others……… if you are against cross breeding and genetic modification because of religious beliefs, then OK, that is what you BELIEVE in, but trying to to PROVE IT with wrong facts and giving references to crapy youtube videos, SERIOUSLY !!!!!!!!
      and i don’t know about you, but most of the jews and christians that are against GMOs are not because of religious standing ( and an extremely small no. of them are against cross breeding that you mention in your verses),
      they are only against because they are afraid of the new and unknown……………… that is why efforts should be made to know that unknown (risks and hazards)

  21. avatar
    Ronald Moorhouse

    FYI tooba
    I am not just singling out GMOs and yes I am against all forms of cross breading. The topic of conversation here is about GMOs and therefore the purpose of the topic of this conversation “GMOs are singled out by the person who raised it.”

    If it applied to another topic of conversation, I would use it in that conversation as well.
    Please look at the facts and take them in before you comment and have a good day.

    • avatar

      hahahaha, i knew you were going to say that !!!!!!!!!!!! but now as you openly claim to be against all sorts of cross breeding at all levels (including race horses) my arguement to you ends right here and right now, i can’t challenge a person’s religious beliefs, my motive is only to challenge the propaganda backed by FALSE SCIENCE !!!!!!!!

    • avatar
      Ronald Moorhouse

      I am sure that you would be the expert on false science given that false education that you are receiving because you are only taught what they want you to be taught. I’d ask for my money back if I were you.

    • avatar

      atleast i have some basis for which i am saying, atleast i have a backing for my say by the main stream science, you people don’t even have that ( one of the comments above said eating gm foods will make us zhombies !!!!!) i know many a thing that are the part of our education today are false, but this same education is the basis for the cure of all the various illnesses that are now curable and were not a hund\red years ago, and the basis on which these computers were built through which you are right now having your say heard by the world, so if its working it can’t be a 100% wrong, although not a 100% right either…
      And last but not the least, it is the only education we have ………….. i would rather choose this over youtube videos……….

    • avatar
      Ronald Moorhouse

      I never posted anything from you tube to back up what I am saying.

    • avatar

      and BTW, i only said about singling out GMOs because of the first sentence in your comment, “GMO is also Ungodly” , so i wanted you to clearly state your specific standing on the topic…………..

  22. avatar
    Ronald Moorhouse

    BTW Please don’t take that as a racist statement because I am not racist and support the right of any human being, whatever differences are between us.

  23. avatar

    no you didn’t, you just blamed GMOs for being unhealthy and causing diseases without any referneces at all, but any of the other commenters who have tried to back their arguement have only pasted these youtube links, so my youtube comment was directed towards them not you……………

    • avatar
      Ronald Moorhouse

      I am not going to ague with you but nobody has the right to play god in any way, shape or form and messing with the food chain is playing god. If God had intended our food to be changed, he would have done the job himself and just look at what this messing about has caused with the bee population. Bees are vital to our survival and help us in so many ways and people like you who play god are destroying them and killing us off in the process. End of convo.

    • avatar

      You say if God wanted to change the food He would have done that Himself, well He is changing the food constantly…………………. all genetic modification does is makes the process faster. its like taking huge leaps in change, and like every leap taken there is a chance our product falls off just like there is a chance it successfully reaches the other side, that is why we require more and more testing. You say no one should play God, even if anyone wanted to, NO ONE CAN PLAY GOD!!! That is why He is called God, if you think some people who can change chromosomes a little and add or delete genes from things are playing God, shows waht you think of the power of God, because we don’t think like that.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      So, you feel the scientist who are genetically changing genes in our food are guessing ‘correctly’ what God, if he exists, would do when he got around to it?

      That is an assumption that should be put democratically to the people of this union in their entirety, who are being force fed with it now on a daily basis.

      Or, are you of the belief that a few elitists should have a right to possibly poison us all or change our own genetic make up in the process without having our collective consent to do so?

      If you are saying that, then you are more than gullible. And you would have no right to be on any committee so deciding. You would be untrustworthy as a spokesperson in those circumstances.

      And are you aware that Bill Gates is heavily invested in these GM products?

      And here it tells you it is poisoned.

    • avatar

      i should bang my head against a wall at this point !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DID I EVER IN MY ENTIRE CONVERSATION HERE SAY THAT THE SCIENTISTS ARE GUESSING CORRECTLY ?????????? If they were guessing correctly why in the world would we need testing ???? that i am stressing upon from day one!!!!!!! we do not know if they are guessing correctly and that we are not being poisoned and we never will know until we test them !!!!!!!! we need rigorous standards and certifications of safety after years of extensive research. its like no one is even listening to what i am saying!!!!!
      my whole point, only through proof can we think of a product as unsafe, you can not use your doubts as evidence !!!!!!!!! and about putting it democratically to the people, what about the ideas of minorities ????? should the majority have the right to decide what a minority should and should not eat ??????? Elitists do not have the right to poison us, but people do have a right to invent and reinvent new things and market them, if they are marketing poisons, ban them, if they are marketing healthy food, embrace them. BUT you are completely missing the point here ………….. who is to decide whether the product is poisonous or not???????? proof over doubts and misunderstandings or the other way round……….

  24. avatar
    Sacha Pakalin

    Ronald, the evolution theory (Darwin) is also UNGODLY! do you discard it as well?

    • avatar
      Ronald Moorhouse

      yes because even Darwin himself said that it was based on false observations and false assumptions by his grandfather, who incidentley wrote the book that Charles Darwin is creditted for.

    • avatar
      Ronald Moorhouse

      Yes I do believe in creation but as was said “Charles Darwin himself, admitted that the book he was credited with writing was based on the therories and false observations of his grandfather who actually wrote the book and is the original author”
      So the fact is that Darwin himself did not believe the theory to be workable because it lacks material, source and cause at the startiong point.

  25. avatar

    Our trees are dying, our crops are getting smaller for each day and instead of seeing the seriousness in this we intend to start growing gmo’s?

  26. avatar
    Rick Hoppmann

    “Whether or not GM is directly bad for health, it is certainly damaging for biodiversity.”
    I can only agree with this. We don’t really know how those modified plants play in the bigger pictures of our ecosystems.
    Will they repress the natural plants? Or will they stay only on the fields?
    How do the insects react to them?
    What happens to the soil? Are the plants maybe pulling to many out of it?

    That are all things you can’t really test in a laboratory.
    In the worst case a very resistent species could intrude and thus destroy our already damaged ecosystems.
    This would ultimately not mean to have more food, but to be diminished of any life dependencies. Without the ecosystems around us we don’t have access to fresh water and food.

    Protect the ecosystems, protect our lifes, ban genetically modified foods!

Your email will not be published

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of new comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our Privacy Policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.