Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs were introduced to the agricultural market in the 1990s. Since then, GMO crops have been planted on nearly half a billion acres of land globally.
GMOs are created by the transfer of genetic material from one species to another and their introduction to the food supply has created tremendous controversy.
Issues ranging from the ethics of patented lab-created life forms and concerns over whether they are actually safe to consume have sparked protests around the world.
In fact, some European countries have banned GMO crops altogether.
The program investigates this highly-charged debate over the future of our food.
Did you that there is in Svalbard, Norway, a global seed vault which contains varieties of seeds from all over the world. It is known as the Noah’s Ark of seeds because, in the case of a global catastrophe, this is our last resort for replanting the earth.
It is here to preserve the bedrock of agriculture – genetic diversity. 13,000 years of agricultural history.
The idea was to put an end to extinction for agriculture diversity. The goal is to preserve options for the future. This is the biological foundation of agriculture.
What’s the worst-case scenario if we start to lose these traits? Then we are in a waiting game for our major crops to fail – and to fail permanently.
Without diversity, we face potential starvation – on a massive and more-or-less permanent scale.
The feat that our agriculture system could collapse may seem like something in the distant future, but what if we are already on the brink?
For thousands of years, farmers maintained their own genetic diversity by saving their own seeds. But today, many farmers buy the same seeds from GMO manufacturers.
A traditional corn breeder, thinks that the widespread monoculture of the same GMO crops – also known as transgenics – could be a disaster waiting to happen.
Concern: The same gene is being used almost worldwide. If something should happen, if one of those families should develop susceptibility to a new disease, we would be in real trouble.
So one disease could potentially wipe out all the corn. It’s universal. His concern: You just don’t plant the whole world to one thing. But that’s exactly what we are doing.
Today, more than 90 per cent of all corn and soybeans grown in America are genetically modified.
The rest of the film concerned a specific case in Paraguay and an interview with the head of Monsanto.
The two sides of the controversy are (a) the good that this increase in food production is doing the world over and (b) the harm that is being done to the environment (and to the small farmers) through the use of harmful chemicals.
Another concern was the disclosure of whether food production is Genetically Modified or not. Most European countries have laws that make it mandatory to disclose that information. The United States has nothing of that kind in place.
We had a good discussion after the film. It was educational. Very interesting.