Have you heard the line about GMOs being banned in all other countries? It’s the old argument that if every other country has banned the commercial use of genetically modified crops, they must know something the United States doesn’t know. Worse yet, maybe our regulatory agencies know the secret for why GMOs are banned in other countries, but they’re being paid to allow it!
That’s rubbish, of course.
To explore the topic, it’s important to realize that there are different types of genetically modified crops, different types of permissions a country might give, and and very different political pressures in each country. Remember – in all countries GMOs are not planted unless they have been approved for commercial use by the government’s regulatory agency, much like the United States.
In most cases, biotech products have not been “banned.” Rather, they simply have not passed through the necessary regulations to become available.
The European Union does not allow for cultivation by EU farmers of biotechnology. However, they have not banned the consumption of GMOs. That means that they allow imports to contain genetically modified crops.
You can see a map here that shows what countries allow cultivation of biotech crops, which allow imports, and which are actually doing field testing. As you can see the vast majority of the world are invovled with biotech crops.
Over at Best Food Facts, Dr. Paarlberg discussed the status of GMOs in the European Union:
What makes the EU different from the United States is not a ‘ban’ on consumption or imports, but instead 1) non-approval of domestic cultivation of many GMO products, plus 2) mandatory labeling of food products that have even small traces of GMO content. Food companies in Europe have reformulated their products taking out all GMO ingredients so as to avoid these labels, and this is what has squeezed GMO foods for direct human consumption out of the market. But products from animals raised on GMO feed do not need a label, so Europeans continue to use GMO corn and soy for animal feed.
(Mark that as another reason to oppose labeling!)
But even within the EU, countries are becoming more and more open to growing biotech products. Just this past February, the EU approved a second GMO corn variety, this one produced by DuPont, to become commercially available. There is also a genetically modified corn plant by Monsanto that was allowed for use.
Scientists in the UK have urged that EU members be allowed to regulate the commercial use of GMOs nationally, instead of a blanket ban by the EU. In a recent letter to UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron, scientists explained that while the EU is opposed to growing GMOs, UK’s farmers are very interested in it and the benefits would be good for their country.
On the other hand, France was one of the largest producers in the EU, until the moratorium was put in place in 2008. Since that time, the French courts have repeatedly held the ban is illegal and hurting French farmers, who very much want the technology back. You can read a (detailed) history of biotech products in the EU here.
As I have posted previously, China allows biotech products, but they’re slow to give the crops deregulated status for commercial growing. China waits until the United States or Brazil (and sometimes both) have allowed a biotech product to become deregulated before they even begin testing. That obviously creates a lag in their approval process.
And, remember, just because one variety of a biotech crop has been approved, doesn’t mean that all varieties of a crop are approved. The International Service for the Acquisition of Agro-Biotech Permits has a database which tells you exactly which traits are allowed and in what countries. You can also take a look at this chart which shows what products are allowed where and for what purpose.
Sean Davies says
A few spelling errors I noticed:"different types of permissions [a] country might give""they simply have [not] passed through the necessarily""the French courts have repeatedly held the ban [as] illegal"Other than that, this was a very informative piece. I'll be spending some time reading past entries and I look forward to future ones.
Thanks for pointing those out Unfortunately, this isn't my full time job, so sometimes I don't get time for an additional proofreading session. I'm glad you found the article informative!
Mike Sandes says
And many EU countries are now starting to critically examine the risks and benefits of GMO foods. The liberal press hysteria is now starting to be discounted.
I have read a lot coming from the UK in this regard. I sincerely hope you're right and the crazy is beginning to lose credibility.
Lemmy mcmullen says
So i am writing a paper on why GMOs aren’t as bad as they are made out to be, i am thankful that you have written this, may i ask for any more credible sources on this subject?
You’re very welcome! All of the sources I use for my articles are cited within the articles (though some lead to other articles where I have cited additional sources). Where ever you see in the article there is font that is underlined and in a different color, it is likely a hyperlink that can take you to my sources. I also suggest you use the search bar at the top of the page, which can lead you to more articles and additional resources. Good luck!
How much does Monsanto pay you?
Have you ever tried being original?
How much does whole foods and the “Right to know” lobbying groups pay you?
See how stupid it sounds when someone accuses someone of a differing opinion of being paid?
Lauri Mueller says
Just wanted to drop a note thanking you for doing whatever you can to get factual information out. I’m so tired of the anti-science and fact crowd dictating public policies. Being able to feed everyone on the earth threatened by climate change is too important to allow to be stopped by the conspiracy theory witch hunter crowd. Whenever I come across someone who has been led astray by the likes of the Food Babe or another organic snake oil salesman, I link to your pages. Keep up the good work!
Mike F says
I find it funny how a lot of the anti-GMO crowd are pro-science when it comes to climate change, but whenever science is used to come up with new food, they’re all like “F*** YOU MONSANTO!”
Let’s face it. If it hadn’t been for cultivation, we wouldn’t be able to eat half the stuff we eat nowadays.
Eli C. says
When was this article written? I don’t see a year date anywhere
You can see it in the URL.
I am not against GMO’s (my husband, a chemical engineer and I argue over this often.) Any one who WANTS to eat them can do so.
My argument is not whether it’s “scientifically correct” whether we’ve been “misled” the fact is—I WANT THE CHOICE (by simply LABELING them) as to whether I put them in my body or not.
It’s like organic vs non-organic—some things I try to buy organic, other items I could care less. It is the invalid “argument” that it would be too expensive to label.” BS–According to the “fad” of the day they label “Cholesterol-free” on products that NEVER had Cholesterol to begin with. And now the “food fad” is “Gluten Free” Sugar Free, Salt Free–we can label anything to make money off a gullible and ill formed public.
So whether I’m right, wrong, I want the CHOICE TO CHOOSE, just as the meme says that Farmers are not FORCED to buy GMO seeds, they CHOOSE to. I want to not be FORCED to buy GMO foods and CHOOSE to buy Non-GMO.
I don’t care if the rest of the world eats them, I don’t care if they are safe or not, I don’t care about the reasonings for using them I WANT THE CHOICE–period. And by fighting AGAINST having them labeled–it makes the whole business seem mighty SHADY—what’s to hide. LABEL THE DAMN THINGS!!
You don’t think that there is a cost associated with it? There is a HUGE cost associated with it. It isn’t as simple as just printing a little marketing pitch like the ones you suggest. I suggest you read this assessment of the cost by The Foodie Farmer: http://thefoodiefarmer.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-costs-of-gmo-labeling.html
And that’s just on the farm, that’s not the cost associated with redesigning our granaries to make any of this possible…..which I’m not convinced it is possible to completely separate the two. Have you ever tried to keep little tiny kernels of corn apart?
So yeah, it does increase the cost of the food product. If you’re so concerned about it, then you can already make choices that allow you to avoid GMOs…and absorb the increased cost. Purchase organic or products with the non-GMO verification on them. But don’t pass that cost on to the rest of us that know there’s no reason to avoid them.