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Examining GMO Narratives

Last updated: April 25, 2023

Daniel Mališ
Daniel Mališ

The fact that GMO companies want to maximize their profits at the expense of everyone else certainly doesn’t sound good to the general public. That’s why they took a proactive step and persuaded the world that it could only be saved with their GMO products.

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.” This quote sums up the issue perfectly. Most people think that Mark Twain is the author, although that’s very likely not the case. But that just proves the point of the quote, doesn’t it?

In my previous article, I explained that them main reason behind the push for GMOs lies in the related patents. More specifically, the profits that GMO patents secure for their holders by controlling access to plants and their seeds, and eventually all genetically modified forms of life.

In other words, people’s health and the whole ecosystem are harmed mainly in order for GMO corporations to make more money. No wonder they had to proactively replace this narrative with an alternative one – simply put, “saving the world.”

In the modern media-driven world, if you have enough money, you’re able to spin reality in any way you want.

You can marginalize hugely negative consequences and exaggerate marginal effects. Tout those who support you and discredit anyone with opposing views. Present lies as “the science” and label truth as “dangerous misinformation.”

Fact or fake? The decisions are taken by those who have money to sponsor “fact-checkers” and the media.

Most people are busy with their lives and don’t have time to research every single issue that affects them. Almost by necessity, they rely on the media to find out how things are.

But objective journalism no longer exists, at least not in the mainstream media. It’s been gradually replaced by advocacy journalism, which believes that public interest is better served by taking sides and ignoring opposing arguments.

Not surprisingly, mainstream media almost always take the side of their advertisers and sponsors – or whomever they feel is in charge of money or power. That’s how “public interest” is defined in the real world.

This situation is further cemented by the fact that through global investment companies, most media are under the same control as the corporations they support.

As a consequence, media companies don’t view their audience as clients, but rather as targets of “strategic communication” – which is newspeak for ‘good old’ propaganda, whether corporate or political.

All this is done under the slogans of “public good,” “the science,” and “fighting misinformation,” while more appropriate terms would be “our sponsors’ agenda,” “the science for hire,” and “discrediting opposing arguments.”

It doesn’t matter which product is being pushed; the principle is always the same – maximizing profits under the veil of the public good.

A typical PR campaign focuses on claimed public benefits while hiding profit-driven motives and public harm.

So let’s examine the claims GMO companies successfully presented to the public. It cost them a lot of money, but it was more than worth it, as their patented GMOs keep taking over the world’s crop production, despite harming the ecosystem and the health of the very public that is supposed to benefit so much.

“Feeding the World Population”

One of the main arguments GMO companies present is that we need GMOs, such as genetically modified crops, to feed the world’s growing population. With more than 8 billion people on our planet, the implication is that there would be food shortages without GMOs.

Sounds charitable, but think about it for a while. If that’s the case, why are GMOs most prevalent in the US, where around one-third of all food is wasted, and more than 40% of people are obese?

Are GMOs solving the food shortage here, or are they merely increasing the profits of GMO companies? Of course, there are indeed Americans who face hunger, but that’s not because of food shortages in the US, but due to uneven distribution of wealth.

Apart from that, GMOs significantly contribute to the obesity and chronic disease epidemic in the US, since the “staple” American junk food is full of GMO-derived ingredients such as cornstarch, high-fructose corn syrup and canola oil. Not something for which we should put the whole ecosystem at risk.

One of the real “benefits” of GMOs in the US – enough ingredients for junk food.

But let’s not focus on the United States only. The European Union doesn’t rely on GMO food to feed its inhabitants, yet there are no food shortages. Yes, also in Europe, some poor people face hunger, but GMOs will not make them rich to buy enough food – someone else is getting rich instead.

The same applies to poor people worldwide – they’re not landowners who grow food for themselves and don’t have money to buy sufficient food. The problem is not inadequate food production in the country they live in but their poverty.

The poverty issue in the world will not be solved by GMO plants and seeds, as they are more expensive than their non-GMO alternatives. If it weren’t for extra profits, GMO companies wouldn’t push their patented products under so many pretenses. Mind you, they’re in the business of making money.

Last but not least, if the GMO companies truly wanted to “feed the world population,” they would indeed use their products to feed the world population. But in reality, only a small fraction of GMO crop harvest (below 10%) goes directly to feed humans.

It might sound surprising at first, but makes sense. Which crops feed the world? Mainly rice and wheat. Now, which are the top three genetically modified crops? Corn, soybeans and cotton. How much of those did you eat last week? Probably not much.

That itself explains a lot, but let’s be more specific.

Most GMO corn is used to feed livestock and poultry, and around 30% of GMO corn goes into biofuels. The same “destinations” apply to GMO soy as well, except that the animal feed share is higher (around 85%), so less soy ends up as biofuel.

Biofuel production, a truly unorthodox way of “feeding the world’s population” through GMOs.

GMO cotton is obviously used primarily for clothes, although a small portion is turned into highly inflammatory cottonseed oil that you’ll find in highly processed food.

You can say that feeding animals with grain crops like corn and soy is an indirect way of feeding humans. Technically, it’s a correct statement, but that’s a highly inefficient way to fight hunger!

Why? You need multiple weights of grains to produce meat. For example, it takes around 13 kilograms of grains to produce 1 kilogram of beef meat in an industrial farm. Which of the two amounts will feed more people?

So again, GMOs are not the solution here. Instead, a conversion to a plant-based, whole-food diet (with only moderate amounts of meat and fish) will not only be more efficient population-wide, but also way healthier for each individual person.

And by the way, you don’t need GMOs to feed animals. They will certainly be healthier if they’re given proper food. And healthier animals mean healthier meat for people. And as you know, healthy food is one of the root causes of health (and vice versa).

So to wrap up, GMOs won’t help to feed the world’s growing population, as no food shortages will be prevented by them. GMOs only feed the profits of the corporations that sell them, and that’s certainly not worth harming the ecosystem and the health of entire populations.

“Higher Yields”

Somewhat related to the “feeding the world population” argument is the claim that GMO crops give higher yields than conventionally bred plants.

The yield is a measurement of the amount of a crop grown per unit area of land. So it’s measured in kilograms per hectare or – mainly in the U.S. – in bushels per acre.

Obviously, the yield depends not only on the plant itself, but also on the geographical area and its weather conditions, quality of soil, agricultural know-how, etc. It’s therefore not easy to compare yields directly, as many variables are involved.

But let’s say all other variables are equal, and we’re just focusing on the yield of GMOs versus non-GMOs.

For genetic engineering to have any direct effect on crop yields, there will have to be something like a “yield gene” artificially modified to produce higher yields of the crop involved.

But for most plant traits, including yield, it’s not that simple – there are many genes responsible for one single trait, each gene contributing but a small fraction. To give you an idea, corn has more than 32,000 and soy more than 46,000 protein-coding genes.

Out of this amount, there are probably hundreds of genes that contribute to the yield. Which ones do you want to tinker with, knowing that each modification increases the risk of unwanted consequences? Does it even make sense?

Soy has tens of thousands of genes, all closely interconnected. Once you start meddling with individual genes, the fine balance is destroyed, often with dire consequences.

This is probably not the best example, but it gets the point across: Imagine you want to assemble a ‘future-generation’ top team of basketball players. Ethical concerns aside, which of the following two strategies would you implement?

(a) Selecting children of former top basketball players; or

(b) Modifying genes of other children with the aim of making them more likely to become elite basketballers.

Clearly, the first option makes much more sense – children of former top basketball players already have the genetic makeup (such as height and athletic abilities) needed for the intended goal. Then it’s just a matter of the right training and environment.

On the contrary, modifying dozens of genes in children thinking it will provide them with a better genetic makeup for basketball is absurd, and would almost certainly end up in countless health issues in those children (and their offspring).

By the same logic, conventional breeding techniques like selection and hybridization are way more adequate for increasing crop yields. Presenting genetic engineering as a way to increase yields is just a cover-up for making money on patenting GMOs.

Normally, you’d use a drill to make a hole in a wall. Yes, you can use a gun to achieve a similar result, but it’ll be quite messy. You wouldn’t promote guns as a way to drill holes unless you wanted to make money by selling guns.

It’s the same principle with GMOs. Even if you can find a genetic modification that will trick the plant into growing more, despite the external conditions not being conducive to further growth, you’ll end up in a mess – lower quality biomass and unnatural allergenic proteins.

To summarize, GMO crops don’t give higher yields than conventionally bred plants, but provide significantly higher profit yields to the GMO companies. That is the main reason why they push GMOs so vehemently, despite the enormous cost borne by the ecosystem and human health.

Increased profit yields for GMO companies, the real reason behind the push for GMOs around the world.

“Reduction of Pesticide Use”

Another claim in support of GMO crops is that they reduce pesticide use.

Pesticides are substances designed to control pests, which are not only animals but also plants considered to be harmful to human concerns. The most widely used pesticides are herbicides (weedkillers) and insecticides (which kill insects).

A tractor spraying pesticides on the field – something we were supposed to see less of, thanks to GMOs.

The argument that GMOs would reduce pesticide use becomes quite ludicrous once you realize that the biggest holders of GMO patents are companies (or spin-offs of companies) that manufacture pesticides.

How likely is it that those companies would heavily promote products that can significantly undermine their core business or the core business of their corporate affiliates?

For example, would Monsanto have been happy if their flagship GMO, “Roundup Ready” soy, had killed the revenues from their top-selling herbicide Roundup, responsible for billions of dollars in sales annually later on?

Yes, by now, corporations like Bayer/Monsanto make more money from selling GMO seeds than from selling pesticides, but that wasn’t the case when GMO crops were introduced to the market in the 1990s.

And logically, the fact that a new pillar of your business is making more money is not a reason to destroy the original pillar. The more pillars support the foundations of your business, the more stable your enterprise is.

Now, you might think that what I’m saying is just a common-sense theory, but in practice is not so bad.

Well, it’s even worse – since 1996, when Roundup Ready GMO crops started to be gradually introduced to the market, the use of glyphosate (the main ingredient of Roundup) in the US has increased multiple times.

Glyphosate use in the United States according to U.S. Geological Survey. Note the significant increase since 1996, in particular with respect to “Roundup Ready” GMO crops such as soy, corn and cotton.

As a matter of fact, pesticides and GMOs have always worked synergistically for chemical-turned-GMO companies. Let’s take Monsanto as an example again.

The fact that farmers were locked into using Monsanto’s Roundup made it easier for Monsanto to sell seeds for their “Roundup Ready” crops to the farmers. And since the crops were genetically modified to tolerate the toxicity of Roundup, Monsanto’s herbicide was sprayed on the crop fields in ample amounts.

This obviously led to the weeds becoming more resistant to Roundup, necessitating spraying even more Roundup on the fields, increasing Monsanto’s sales again. There were many rounds of this vicious circle, with Monsanto’s profits and harm to people and the ecosystem rising steadily.

With Roundup harms gradually gaining notoriety and inviting lawsuits, Monsanto pulled the same trick with another highly toxic but lesser-known herbicide under its belt, dicamba.

In 2016, it announced the commercial launch of a new genetically modified variety of “Roundup Ready 2 Xtend” soybeans, resistant not only to Roundup (glyphosate) but also to dicamba.

What do you think – was dicamba use decreased or increased after the new dicamba-resistant GMO soybeans were introduced to the market?

I hope you’ve already learned the rules of this “pesticide reduction” game! To check your answer, please refer to the graph below, again from U.S. Geological Survey.

Dicamba use in the United States. Since 2016, dicamba-resistant GMO crops have made it to the market, and the result is clearly seen in the graph.

To make the situation even worse, dicamba is more volatile (drift-prone) than glyphosate, so the toxic substance sprayed on dicamba-resistant soybeans spreads far onto unprotected fields.

That caused billions of dollars in crop damage, not to talk about the likely harm to people’s health.

That led to a number of lawsuits, but no amount of money can compensate for the irreversible harms – you can’t “recall” the toxic substances already present in the ecosystem, the food chain and our bodies.

Meanwhile, in 2018, Monsanto was acquired by Bayer, and the discredited name “Monsanto” was dropped soon after. Bayer, a German company historically known for products such as Aspirin, Heroin, Phenobarbital and Zyklon B, is currently positioning itself as a “life science” company, with Monsanto’s previous business now forming Bayer’s Crop Science division.

There are new fancy labels for Monsanto’s toxic products, too. Pesticides are collectively called “crop protection;” using herbicides is labeled as “weed management,” while insecticide use is described as “insect management.”

But despite the fancy labels, the rules of the game haven’t changed at all. When captured regulatory agencies keep approving almost anything (of course, based on “the science” hired by the corporate applicants), why wouldn’t the GMO companies just carry on making more money?

So history just repeated itself. After the problems ensuing from glyphosate and dicamba, in 2021 Bayer put their bet on another toxic herbicide, glufosinate, as a vehicle to push yet another genetically modified soybean variety to farmers.

This time the GMO product is called “XtendFlex soybeans” and (yes, you guessed it!) the new soy variety is resistant not only to glyphosate and dicamba but also to glufosinate. Farmers now have the “flexibility” of choosing which of the three toxic chemicals they can spray on their soy fields, provided they bought the right GMO seeds of course.

Now, do I have to ask whether this development will reduce or instead raise the use of glufosinate?

We don’t have complete data yet, but the harsh rules of business leave us with only one possible result. And of course with risks to human health, as was the case with glyphosate and dicamba.

So next time you hear someone talking about GMOs reducing the use of pesticides, don’t fall for this trap again. As you can see, herbicides and GMOs, both engineered and sold by the same corporations, work in tandem in a vicious circle, which makes a lot of money for those companies.

The use of herbicides causes weed resistance, which necessitates higher doses of herbicides. This requires herbicide-resistant GMO crops, which then allow for even higher doses of these toxic chemicals, but also higher weed resistance.

Once the resistance or the collateral damage is too high, another herbicide is promoted to lead the pack and a new vicious circle starts. All that while the ecosystem and population health suffer tremendously.

This will carry on until GMOs are banned or until chemical/GMO corporations have to fully compensate for the damages their products have caused, which would render their business model unprofitable.

Only then will the way be paved for wider adoption of more sustainable and effective farming approaches such as regenerative agriculture, whose main “fault” is that manufacturers of toxic pesticides and GMOs can’t make any profit from it. So they are making sure this way is obstructed for as long as possible.

For similar reasons, Western Medicine has not (yet) adopted a root cause-based approach to treating patients. Any treatment resulting in a successful recovery of patients is simply incompatible with the business model of pharmaceutical companies, which is based on the life-long management of disease symptoms with pharmaceuticals.

With almost endless financial means and having permeated the entire healthcare infrastructure for over a century, you can be sure that pharmaceutical companies will do their best to prevent any unfavorable change of the system that feeds their profits so well.

As a result, the majority of the population will unfortunately get sicker and sicker, until the system implodes due to the ever-increasing costs of healthcare.

Before that happens, it is up to every single person to take responsibility for their own health, which also involves actively searching for a medical professional who will help them address the root causes of their illness.

Closing Remarks

There are of course other narratives GMO companies are using to cover up the true nature of their business model. They’re almost always within the “public good” or “the science” category, when in fact the main goal is to lock in agriculture into a never-ending stream of expensive GMOs, regardless of the environmental and human health consequences.

If you’re interested in more GMO narratives and counter-arguments, I recommend that you read GMO Myths and Facts, which is a free booklet by Claire Robinson of GMWatch.

GMWatch, a great source of GMO-related information.

Another great GMO coverage is the website of the Institute for Responsible Technology, founded by Jeffrey Smith, a lifelong advocate against the use of glyphosate and GMOs.

But as I said at the beginning, if you have enough money, you’re able to spin reality in any way you want. And everything becomes your tool – not just the mainstream media, but also the internet as such.

As part of their fight against “misinformation,” search engines like Google and Bing are making sure you’ll find predominantly positive information about GMOs on the internet.

Don’t take my word for it, give it a try yourself! You’ll be hard-pressed to find any criticism of GMOs, just articles explaining how they’re safe and saving the world. Although at first sight, they appear like balanced, “pros and cons” articles.

But how come there are so many articles praising GMOs? Well, GMO companies are spending tens of millions of dollars on financing hundreds of organizations and individuals around the world.

They are then happily promoting the GMO narratives, creating a false sense of crisis, exaggerating the claimed benefits and explaining away failures as successes or opportunities.

GMWatch cataloged some of them alphabetically, and it’s a long read indeed. Just try those starting with the letter A to have an idea of what a huge PR army is behind the GMO companies. They will do whatever they’re instructed to do because that’s where the profit lies for both them and their corporate sponsors.

And now, let’s “fact-check” the critics of GMOs.

Organizations and people defending the non-profitable truth have no access to huge PR funds from corporations. Like me, they only rely on support from their readers. But they still keep trying because they believe the truth is worth fighting for and will eventually prevail.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, it’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing, because if you do nothing, there will be no result.

And what can you do? The good news is that you can start avoiding GMO food right now, without the mainstream media “approving” that it’s a necessary thing to do for your health.

Also, keep flexing your 12 RCM Attitudes muscles, such as thinking critically, questioning authorities, and learning from history. GMO narratives are not the only ones to be examined carefully – there are plenty of them created by pharmaceutical companies, too. More on that later.

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