In a landmark decision, the Indian government banned Monsanto from selling three varieties of its GE cotton, a move that the US and many other countries should emulate. The government of India, through its Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, refused Monsanto’s request to continue selling three of their BT cotton varieties in the country.
BT or bacillus thuringiensis is injected into cotton seeds to make them more resistant to boll worms, which are very common in India. The federal regulating body, refused to renew Monsato’s contract after receiving reports that the modified cotton did not perform as expected. The genetically modified cotton further added fire to the argument that GE plants are not just unreliable but harmful to animals as well, when the BT cotton was linked to the massive livestock deaths in the country.
Why Even Goats Can’t Stomach GMO Cotton
The GMO Cotton suffered a big blow to its reputation when almost 25% of sheep and goats grazing on Monsanto’s BT Cotton fell ill and died. When Monsanto received the reports, they issued a statement saying that they had conducted a goat-feeding study prior to introducing the BT Cotton seeds into the market. Monsanto also added that the increased death rate may be due to pesticide residues.
Critics, however, are not buying it. Those who are not convinced that GMO crops are safe for consumption by people and animals and for the environment countered that Monsanto never did any studies for BT cotton leaves.
GMO Plants Are Not A Solution
These problems with the Monsanto’s BT cotton are further fueling arguments that GMO plants have no place in our world. Genetic engineering in agriculture gained support and attention, when claims of better yield and more pest-resistant crops were introduced as the solution for the growing food problems of the world.
That balloon burst when the genetically engineered plants not only failed to perform as they were expected but also put in danger the environment, the animals and the consumers’ health as well.
These events in India are just a couple of instances that show the failures of genetic engineering in agriculture. In the US, even milk from cows injected with the man-made rBGH or recombinant bovine growth hormone are reportedly not safe. The rBGH works by increasing the dairy cows’ insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a cell growth accelerator. The bad news, however, is that the pasteurization process fails to destroy the rBGH and IGF-1 in the cows’ milk, thereby putting the GM milk drinkers in greater risk of developing cancer.
Unlike India, the US and some third-world countries are not banning genetically modified crops from being planted by their farmers. While the lure of promises of better yield and more resistant plants is great, there is also a growing number of recorded cases that show how unsafe these mutant plants can be. The cases of GM crop failures in India should be viewed as a warning that the rest of the countries in the world should follow India and ban not just GM cotton but all other genetically modified organisms as well.