Science in Society Archive

Why GMOs Are Bad

Science of the Organism & Sustainable Systems

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

Invited lecture, The Alternative View, 13-15 November, Grand Thistle Hotel, Bristol, UK

The text of this lecture with references is available for download here; or as text plus richly illustrated presentation here.


Monsanto has surreptitiously withdrawn its high lysine GM maize LY038 for safety reasons under a shroud of secrecy. There are serious health hazards inherent to the technology, which apply to every GMO. In addition each GMO carries unique hazards. None of these has been addressed adequately so far, and there is now a stack of evidence indicating that GM food and feed are unsafe.

GM crops have had adverse impacts on farmers especially those in developing countries. The high costs of GM seeds and poor harvests led to spiralling debts and deaths. Between 1997 and 2007, the Indian government recorded nearly 200 000 farmer suicides, more than half due to Bt cotton introduced since 2002. GMOs are bad for health and the environment; they will severely compromise global food security and exacerbate global warming. Those foisting GM crops on farmers in developing countries are committing a crime against humanity.

Genetic engineering is the epitome of mechanistic biology, part and parcel of the dominant model of the world as machine that was becoming obsolete since the turn of the last century when the new science of the organism emerged with quantum theory.

The dominant neo-liberal economy of infinite unsustainable growth has brought the earth to the brink of irreversible climate catastrophe. It is driven by competition, profligate dissipation and waste. In contrast, nature’s circular economy (thermodynamics) of balanced sustainable growth is based on reciprocity and cooperation, which enables energy and material resources to be recycles while minimizing waste and dissipation. Nature’s economy applies most clearly to the highly productive agro-ecology systems innovated by farmers, or perfected over millennia.

We have all the appropriate science and technologies, abundant human creativity, and local initiatives that will enable us to exit the multiple crises of food, fuel and finance. The major stumbling block is our political leaders’ overwhelming adherence to the obsolete mechanistic model.

The text of this lecture with references is available for download here; or as text plus richly illustrated presentation here.

Article first published 26/11/09

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There are 4 comments on this article so far. Add your comment above.

Rory Short Comment left 27th November 2009 04:04:52
For me the paragraph in the abstract which reads "The dominant neo-liberal........" says it all.

John Parfitt Comment left 27th November 2009 11:11:51
In the UK our politicians almost without exception are people with no scientific education or understanding and with a bias towards short-term thinking. Such people can be persuaded into action without understanding even such consequences as are known to be possible, or on the other hand persuaded that inaction is safe. The hounding of Drs Pusztai, Bardocz and other researchers who dared to publicly voice their doubts about GM technology is a standing reproach to ignorant politicans and their "conventional" scientific advisers.

Ann O'Dell Comment left 25th October 2010 04:04:00
Im not saying what they have done with are food is right i have a lot of questions about it but what i do know if it wasn't for Gmos a lot more of would be dying from starvation right now our world can not produce enough food as fast as the demand for it is we have over populated and need more food sources or just stop having babies

Nathalie Haymann Comment left 7th January 2010 00:12:12
Monsanto's immoral and criminal activities must be halted. They are out of control cowboys, breaking international laws put in place by mankind, as well as the ancient laws of nature.