Could GMOs Cause Irreparable Damage To the Planet

Recently, a statistician and New York University professor raised the idea that the threat of famine is being used as a rationalization for GMOs is “a deceitful strategy, no different from….Russian Roulette.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, as well as Wall Street advisor and analyst, statistician, and professor at New York University, was correct when he predicted the 2008 financial crisis. He brought attention to the fact that the commonly used risk models were wrong and became rather wealthy due to his smart financial decisions during this time.

His current analysis of the use of genetically modified organisms indicates that GMOs could result in “an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.” He, along with two coauthors went on to state referring to GMOs as a scientific approach is “a very poor—indeed warped—understanding of probabilistic payoffs and risk management.”

Taleb argues that GMOs fall under the rule that we should always err on the side of caution if something is truly dangerous. This is due to the systemic risk to the ecosystem that is responsible for supporting the entire planet.

Top-down modifications made to the system using GMOs are completely different from those that are bottom up, such as traditional farming. There is simply no comparison to the tinkering of selective breeding and the top-down engineering of arbitrarily taking a gene from an organism and combining it together.

Taleb states, “The interdependence of all things in nature dramatically amplifies risks that may initially seem small when studied in isolation. Tiny genetic errors on the local scale could cause considerable—and even irreversible—environmental damage when the local is exported to the global. The lack of understanding of basic statistical principles, he says, is what leads GMO supporters astray:”

However, the public at large and many policy analysts are unable to understand the statistical mathematics of risk. According to Brian Stoeffel, who recently wrote an informative article detailing Taleb’s research, “We can assume that each genetically engineered seed carries a risk—albeit a very tiny risk—that in the intricately interdependent web of nature, the GMO seed might somehow eventually lead to a catastrophic breakdown of the ecosystem we rely on for life. Let’s call it a 0.1% chance, just for the sake of illustration. All by itself, that risk seems totally acceptable. But with each new seed that’s developed, the risk gets greater and greater, and over time, we could hit “the ecocide barrier.”

Critics have argued that there is risk in everything, stating, “We can’t just be paralyzed by fear and not progress!”

Taleb responded that the risk of “generalized human extinction” is absolutely not “inherent in everything.” This is because most consequences are not systemic, but localized. Progress can be made using the same bottom-up techniques that have worked for centuries.

There are several countries that have opted to ban GMOs because of their potential to cause harm to the environment and human health. However, the US has not. Politicians argue that we do not have access to the whole picture regarding GMOs, so we should not ban them. This is simply because the US has failed to perform an adequate number of human safety studies.

Most GM companies opt to keep their data concealed from the public. Now, think about this for a minute. If studies found that GMOs were harmless, wouldn’t these companies feel compelled to make sure everyone was aware of this.

There is, however, plenty of is evidence that clearly indicates GMOs could very easily be dangerous to human health and disrupt ecosystems, with minimal benefit to anyone but the manufacturer. Consider the following information:

Glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) caused lower crop yields on GM plants and a higher rate of fungal infections—the very plants that had been genetically engineered to resist it, according to a study by Brazilian researchers.
A recent study indicated that pigs that had been fed GM feed have increased rates of severe stomach inflammation, as well as develop heavier uteruses.
Increased residues of glyphosatehave been identified in GM soy. Several independent researchers found that glyphosate induced morphological changes in frogs, and had a negative effect on human gut bacteria.

Now is the time to take action by writing to the USDA and asking them to perform detailed statistical analyses of ecological risks when contemplating the deregulation of GM crops.

Abra Gordon
Source: Waking Times


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