Genetically modified organisms

What are genetically modified organisms?

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms in which genetic material is changed in a way that doesn’t occur naturally with process of reproduction and/or natural recombination, including the microorganisms.

What is genetically modified food?

Genetically modified food (GM –food) is produced by injecting genetic material (DNA) from one species to another, using the technology of genetic engineering. This enables transfer of wanted characteristics of one to other non-related organisms. For example, genes from a polar fish can be transferred to a tomato plant to render the tomato plant more resistant to frost. Pigs injected with human genes grow faster and more effectively.

What is genetic engineering?

Genetic engineering is a new technology, involving the manipulation of genes. Scientists can transfer genes from one species to other non-related species. This is possible because of the universal “gene language” – the genetic code.

Example for this is virus- resistant crops made by the insertion of a virus gene. Virus- resistant pumpkins are produced in USA – most of them are used in baby food production. Licence for growing virus- resistant cucumbers, watermelons, melons, potatoes, sunflowers, tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables are issues in the US despite the fact that laboratory experiments have proven that this kind of plants produce new viruses, deadlier than the ones crops are protected from.

Genetic engineering is a corporate technology, mainly applied by industrial agriculture. In the year 2000:

- Just five multinationals dominated the whole biotech business in agriculture;
- 98% of all transgenic crops were grown in three countries: the USA, Canada and Argentina;
- Two features were dominant: over 70% of all GM-crops grown world wide are herbicide-resistant plants, and over 20% are insect-resistant plants.

Will my health be affected by genetic engineering?

- With consuming GM food there is a possibility of allergenic and immune system reactions;
- Possible antibiotic resistance;
- GM food can have toxic effect.

What are the ecological consequences of GMOs released into the environment?

- Genetically modified (GM) crops can interact with native plants and animals and many experts fear that they will dramatically accelerate the lost of biodiversity. They multiply, mutate and attack the wild life. GM plants can make the soil sterile and incapable for further growing of conventional and organic food.
- Genetic engineers created insect- resistant plants by injecting bacteria toxins into the soil. Insect-resistant plants can destroy bees, butterflies and other insects that normally depend from these flowers.
- More than 2/3 from GM plants is declared as ruthless killers because of their herbicide effect on native conventional and organic food.

What does Eco-sense do?

In Macedonia, Eco-sense tries to raise public awareness about the potential effects of GMOs to the environment and human health. We do this by implementing projects and campaigns.
Also Eco-sense does advocacy work with the responsible bodies to advocate the adoption of GMO legislation in line with EU Directives as well as additional regulations that will enable the implementation of this legislation in Macedonia.
Eco-sense has taken the initiative to create the first environmental NGO network active in this topic in Macedonia. Eco-sense promotes the idea for declaring GMO free zones in Macedonia.