Archive for June, 2013

Your Quick Guide to: The Great GMO Debate

Posted on: June 27th, 2013 by Rolene Jaffe 1 Comment

If you’re connected to any social media or have read the news lately, you are bound to have come across the Great GMO debate.

Perhaps after reading a few articles you firmly decided to boycott products that have GMOs in them.

Alternatively, you might have done what I did and carried on eating your favourite (GMO packed) foods while eyeing them suspiciously.

After having an arsenal of people hiss at my GMO shaped indecisivenessI decided to do a bit of research. There is no way to even dent the controversy around this topic, but if you are uncertain or simply confused then carry on reading-

What are GMOs?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms.

Genetically modified crops have had their fundamental genes changed to produce a more efficient crop.

The great GMO debate is really about what the term ‘efficient’ means to the public on the one hand and the large corporations developing the seeds on the other.

Companies dealing in the agricultural biotechnology industry want to produce crops that have a higher tolerance to a wider range of environments and greater resistance to plant pathogens while offering larger harvests.

In short, efficiency is equated with high yielding crops that cost less to maintain.

GMOs offer remarkable solutions to our problems but the public definition of efficient includes health and safety.

Drought resistant super crops are all well and good, but we require our foods to be healthy, sustainable and environmentally friendly. While corporations are celebrating short term solutions the public are looking at the long term effects of GM foods on our bodies and the environment.

GMOs and your health- are there side effects?

There is a distinct divide in information (and beliefs) when it comes to the effects of GMO’s.

Against GMO consumption

Certain scientists have found that eating GM foods can lead to a dramatic increase in food allergy symptoms and bodily toxicity. Negative effects to reproductive organs as well as digestive systems have also been linked to the consumption of GM foods.

These effects relate to the genetic alterations made on GM foods as well as the increased use of pesticides and herbicides.

If you are interested in learning more click on the links below;

For GMO consumption

Conversely, WHO and the European Food Safety Authority have not only approved of GM seeds but they have approved of the seeds used in South Africa. These risk assessments have concluded that GM foods are not likely to present health risks as they have been tested by multiple organisations who have all found GM foods to be as safe as conventional foods.

However, a key issue to take into account is that the companies creating the super seeds are the very same companies that conduct and present the studies that disprove the public’s scepticism.

How can we know if the GM tests are valid if they are not objective in nature?

If you are interested in reading more follow these links;

South African-grown GMOs

In South Africa approximately 79% of the white maize crop, 77% of the yellow maize crop and 85% of the soybean crop are GM.

In addition our universities and various research institutes have begun exploring the potential of drought tolerant maize as well as GM tobacco.

Soya Beans

The USA and South Africa do not conduct food safety tests on GM soya because it is considered to be substantially the same as natural soya. Meaning that approximately 70% of South African food is genetically modified and un-tested.


South Africa began using Monsanto’s GM insect resistant maize in 1997. The majority of our maize crops are GM, and most South Africans have no clue that both we and our livestock are consuming GMO’s.

What do you think?

Most South Africans eat maize and wheat in large quantities because these products are cheap and play a large role in our national dishes.

The majority of our population are eating GM foods and don’t even know it.Between 1998-2008, South Africa has benefitted by 507 million US dollars, due to the increase in yields but at what cost?

Now that you are aware, what do you think?

Where do you stand?

And what do you believe the solution/alternative is?