By Silvia Wú Guin and Fernando Alvarado de la Fuente
The green revolution gave birth to agrochemicals with the argument of being salvation and the way to obtain large quantities of food; History has shown that they have neither managed to steadily increase production nor have they turned out to be the salvation from world hunger. Modern biotechnology with its transgenics, has the same origin and is presented with the same argument.
Green revolution, agrochemicals, modern biotechnology, transgenics ..., the same affiliation that leads us to decline
The American oncologists Dr. Th. Slage and Dr. R. Shearer, from the Hutchinson Research Center, in Seattle (Washington), specified in March 1976 that 80% of cancerous diseases in humans are caused by chemicals in the environment and 20% by chemicals in food. The WHO in 2002 specified that the number of people who died of cancer around the world, 7.6 million, was higher than the 5.6 million who in total died from HIV / AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Cancer is therefore currently the permanent risk that threatens our health. To analyze the causes, let's just look at the expert data that indicates that 20% of cancer is caused by chemicals in food. Let us remember, in turn, that the origin and style of production is marked by various approaches. Which of these production approaches will reveal shortcuts to cancer - organic farming? The ‘green revolution’ with its synthetic agrochemicals? "Ultra modern" biotechnology with its transgenic seeds? Let's see it in parts
The green revolution
The so-called 'green revolution' has been promoted for 50 years, based on a technological package with intensive use of chemical-synthetic products, among which nitrogenous fertilizers, highly specialized pesticides and improved seeds stand out. decade the transgenics. Professor W. Schuphan (1971), director of the National Institute for Quality Research, Geisenheim (Rhine), describes the vicious cycle to which the agriculture of the green revolution subjects us' The excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers causes a high degree of susceptibility to disease or parasites in food plants. This forces a massive use of chemical pesticides. In addition, the high nitrogen content (used by conventional agriculture) reduces the minerals and vitamins in plants, so necessary for human health. ' From this, what we also observe is not only a vicious circle, rather, a spiral ...
Nitrates and cancer
Scientific evidence indicates that there is a direct correlation between the consumption of food, or water, with excess nitrates and the occurrence of gastric cancers and high mortality during the first days of life of neonates when their mothers ingested high amounts of nitrates, mainly due to malformations that affect the muscular, bone and central nervous systems (CRIE, 2002). Nitrates can also form carcinogenic compounds with certain pesticide residues, such as dicarbamates (fungicides).
Pesticides and other health problems
The use of pesticides by the green revolution has been causing a reduction in male fertility, neurological diseases, reduced growth, fetal abnormalities, chronic fatigue syndrome in children and Parkinson's disease. Of course, it is also contributing enormously to the increase in the rate of cancer, since pesticide residues are among the top three causes of cancer. Women with breast cancer are five to nine times more likely to have pesticide residues in their blood than those who do not. Previous studies have shown that those with occupational exposure to pesticides have higher rates of cancer. For its part, the British government found pesticide residues in a third of food and even more serious, more than one agrochemical in apples, bread, lettuce, potatoes and strawberries; the use of more than one agrochemical potentiates the adverse effects.
The green revolution and modern biotechnology of transgenics
The defenders of transgenics could be relieved because we have only referred to the consequences of the first stage of the green revolution, which can no longer be silenced or hidden because after more than 40 years the sum of evidence is overwhelming, the damage is enormous and even pro-GMO scientists accept this reality. Thus, for example, in a journalistic interview that appeared in the official newspaper El Peruano (August 5, 2008), a well-known scientist assures that 'There are no debates about fertilizers and chemical insecticides. We have beautiful apples, but they have insecticide inside ... which is proven harmful and causes cancer. ' What is peculiar about the interview is not that the scientists now admit the harm of synthetic agrochemicals, what is singular is that they try to make a distinction between synthetic and transgenic agrochemicals as if they had a different origin and a different perspective.
The truth is that synthetic and transgenic agrochemicals share the same genealogy and it is our duty to spread it. Transgenic seeds base their vision on the same system driven by the green revolution of the 1950s, that is, the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Only seeds improved by transgenic seeds have varied; everything else is still valid, even if they claim that less will be used. Sharing the same parents, studies show that transgenic foods are even more dangerous, since the characteristics of their resistance are not external, but have been incorporated into their genetic map. Thus, the transgenic seed of Bt corn is prepared to resist pests because each of its cells contains Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium that produces toxic substances for insects. Consequently, the use of agrochemicals is no longer only restricted to external applications, but they are also included in the genetics of what our everyday foods claim to be. In developed countries where transgenic soy is consumed, a substantial increase in allergies to this food is observed.
Another observation is the resistance to antibiotics and, outside the field of health, the destruction of biodiversity, food insecurity (see article 'Transgenic foods as a false solution to hunger' by Sacha Barrio) and the control of seeds by some Few companies join the list of undesirable consequences (see article 'GMOs: Monsanto's criminal record', by Fernando Glenza). According to the WHO, cancer increased by 19% worldwide between 1990 and 2000, mainly in developing countries. Is it because in our countries we use more and more agrochemicals and developed countries try to use less and increasingly consume more organic food?
Is there really no other technological solution? In fact it does exist and has existed forever and it is called organic farming. If we observe the approach of organic farming, it tries to use techniques compatible with the laws of nature, prohibits the use of fertilizers, synthetic chemical pesticides and transgenic so that the exposure to the danger of diseases as serious as cancer decreases. At the same time, scientific studies report that the nutritional quality of organic products is much higher than the quality of the products obtained with the green revolution, also known as 'conventional'. This higher biological quality of organic food has been proven in different biological tests. The oldest was carried out in New Zealand in the 40s (Daldy, 1940), where the effect of the organic diet was compared in schoolchildren, to whom these foods were supplied for two years. After this time, it was found that their dental health was much better, they had greater resistance to bone fracture, the incidence of flu and colds had decreased significantly, their convalescence time was shorter and their overall health was much better. Of course, this evidence was denied for decades, just as the harmful effect of tobacco was denied in the 1950s (see article 'Tobacco and GMOs with Trap T', by Fernando Alvarado), revealing studies that affirmed 'food Ecological have the same amount of nutrients as conventional ones', which were disseminated by mercenary scientists.
In the mid-70s, the works of Schuphan (Schuphan, W. 1975. 'Yield Maximization versus biological value'. Qual. Plant. 24, 281-310) as a result of 12 years of research, showed that organic products exceeded to the conventional in the content of proteins (18%), vitamins (28%), total sugars (19%) and minerals, such as iron (17%), potassium (18%), calcium (10%) and phosphorus (13%). At the same time, it was shown that organic foods keep us away from undesirable components because they contain 93% less nitrates, 42% less free amino acids and 12% less sodium. Studies carried out by Rutgers University (Heaton, 2002) in the United Kingdom, prove the superiority of organic vegetables in mineral content, which is 10 and 50 times higher than the content of conventional vegetables that have been obtained by the revolution. green. Other studies carried out in the United Kingdom in 1992 concluded (Heaton, 2002) that an improvement in the supply of vitamins and minerals through organic food could reduce cancer by 20%, heart disease by 25%, arthritis in 50% and alcoholism 33%. In 2007, officially, and after a two-year study that cost the European Union $ 20 million, it was reaffirmed that organic food is much better.
Among many results, it was revealed, for example, that organic foods can have 20% to 90% more antioxidants, substances that have the quality of being anticancer. Equally convincing are the studies with human beings fed with organic products, which demonstrate real beneficial effects on their health. Thus, alternative therapies to cure cancer have achieved good results based on the exclusive consumption of organic food (Independent Science Report, 2007). Nutritional anti-cancer therapies seek to avoid contaminants and toxins as much as possible, and rather, promote the exclusive consumption of organic foods to increase the intake of nutrients.
The green revolution gave birth to agrochemicals with the argument of being salvation and the way to obtain large quantities of food; History has shown that they have neither been able to sustainably increase production nor - therefore - they have proved to be the salvation from world hunger. Modern biotechnology with its transgenics, has the same origin and is presented with the same argument, should we be equally credulous and admit its promotion in Peru? Good memory, good judgment and good sense lead us to recommend and prefer the consumption of organic food that we already have in bioferias (Miraflores, San Isidro in Lima and, in the cities of Huancayo and Huánuco), also in the homes of fair trade (K'antu, in Lima; Qosqowasinchis, in Cusco; La Casa del Corregidor, in Puno), Punto Justo y Sano in San Borja and the BioTienda in Miraflores.
Let's avoid conventional foods, especially those most sprayed with pesticides such as tomatoes, onions, potatoes, apples and strawberries. We do not eat transgenic foods that predominate in foods processed with soy, corn and canola. Finally, let us demand a five-year moratorium on the entry of transgenics into Peru and also the immediate enactment of the Labeling Law, with which we can know those foods that contain transgenics in their composition, a proposal already presented but currently sleeping in Congress. . Let us join forces and efforts, civil society is the majority and we can assert our rights August 10, 2008.
Silvia Wu Guin is Executive Director of RAE Peru
Fernando Alvarado de la Fuente is President IDEAS Center, Vice President RAE Peru
Posted by Cuarto Ambiente in August 2008