Genetically modified (GMO) seed manufacturers like Monsanto claim their unnatural plants produce greater yields and are entirely safe for animal and human consumption.
The controversial seeds and companion pesticides and herbicides have largely been given the green light over and over again by the federal agencies tasked with protecting both the land and the health of citizens. The USDA, FDA, and EPA all have former Monsanto staffers in key positions, prompting many to ponder exactly how much scrutiny GMO field trials, seeds and weed combatants are truly receiving.
A genetically modified orange is scheduled to being field trial testing in Florida. The Hamlin orange was created not by God in nature, but by Cornell University scientists in a college laboratory. The GMO orange is similar to other bioengineered citrus crops – it generates its own pesticides. Since President Obama has not fulfilled his campaign promise supporting food labeling, consumers may unwittingly be biting into a genetically modified orange with a pesticide chaser very soon, if field tests are allowed to continue as scheduled.
Although the vast majority of corn and soy now grown in the United States a genetically modified, not every food bioengineering experiment has been successful. Here are 4 failures:
1. NewLeaf Potato
Monsanto eased through federal regulatory requirements for the NewLeaf Potato in 1995. The GMO potato was of the Russet Burbank variety, but it failed on the open market after a Russian Academy of Medical Sciences review stated that rats which ate the genetically modified potato sustained significant organ damage.
The GMO potato warning came a bit too late to protect American consumers. By 1999, farmers in the United States had already planted about 50,000 acres of the genetically modified potato. Although Monsanto had hoped the GE potato would be a huge hit, the food industry did not embrace the unnatural spud. While the biotech giant suspended sales of the NewLeaf Potato, the GMO crop remains approved for sale in both Canada and America.
2. Flavr Savr Tomato
Despite the catchy name, the GMO tomato also failed to attract the taste buds of Americans. The genetically engineered tomato was supposed to help the crop withstand long and rugged transport from farm to the supermarket. After the Flavr Savr Tomato became available at the grocery store, GMO tomato paste sales soared, outselling conventional cans of the staple. A British doctor took to the television to warn shoppers that some lab rats had developed gut lesions and died after eating some GMO crops. Both the government and the biotech industry condemned the doctor as a fraud, but the market for the GMO tomato still dried up quickly.
3. LibertyLink Rice
LibertyLink Rice was a Bayer AG GMO crop. The company ultimately paid $750 million to American farmers in 2011 after agriculture regulators were forced to admit that the genetically engineered rice had contaminated conventionally grown long grain rice. An entire strain of rice was permanently lost due to the GMO infestation and rice futures plummeted.
4. StarLink Corn
A strain of GMO corn released more than a decade ago caused huge problems for farmers in the United States. StarLink, a transgenic variety of yellow corn, was crafted to rupture the stomach cells of caterpillars. Intentionally killing caterpillars, which play a vital role in nature, was not enough of a reason to pull the GMO corn from the market, but the allergic reaction caused in humans was. The EPA did not force the removal of StarLink Corn entirely; it was merely restricted to use in fuel and as animal feed.
Although precautions were supposedly taken to prevent StarLink Corn from contaminating conventional or even other GMO corn varieties, the inevitable occurred rather quickly. DNA from the bioengineered corn was found to have caused rather widespread infestation. A recall of more than a dozen products resulted from the GMO corn contamination. Although StarLink Corn has not been grown since 1998, another infestation resulted in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.