Wait – wasn’t the point of making genetically modified crops to make them pest resistant? At least that is what biotech companies tell us. Monsanto’s own website says, for example, that “Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, is a modern solution to insect control.” So why on earth would Brazil allow for GMO Mediterranean fruit flies (Ceratitis capitata), which have been planned to be unleashed on millions of acres of fruit trees?
While the experiment has yet to be given a release date in Brazil, the GM fruit flies are likely going to lead to GM maggots in fruit that will then be illegally exported to Europe and other countries. What could cause this?
Once released, the genetically altered fruit flies will mate with flies to produce female offspring which will fail to reach full maturity, thereby leaving GM maggots inside fruit. This hair-brained scheme is another wacky brainchild of the biotech industry as a means to reduce wild populations of Mediterranean fruit flies, but there is obviously no precedence, no field testing which proves this would be safe, and will likely lead to other imbalances in the ecosystem which can create further super bugs that will make a mere fruit fly seem like a welcome friend.
Furthermore, to reduce the wild fruit fly population, it must be outnumbered by a 10 to 1 ratio, meaning that a whole lot of GM maggots may infiltrate fruit from Brazil. This will include its exports of melons, grapes, mango, apples, papayas, and plums. Europe is Brazil’s primary export market. The British and Dutch made almost two thirds of their fruit purchases from Brazil in 2013, and Spain, Germany, Portugal, Canada, the UAE, Uruguay, Italy, and Argentina were close behind.
This is comparable to the creation of genetically modified mosquitoes to wipe out Dengue Fever. Oxitec, a UK-based company responsible for the creation of genetically modified insects, is currently involved with pilot programs concerning the release of GMO mosquitoes. This has already raised some questions which can also be asked for the GMO fruit flies:
- What could happen to the ecosystem and local food chain after it has been infiltrated with genetically modified bugs?
- Who will regulate the release, and who will be responsible in the event of complications – to any degree?
Even though food containing genetically modified organisms is supposed to be tested, and labeled, there are currently no laws to protect consumers from GM maggots. These are creepy times indeed. I think I’ll grow my own heirloom fruit. Here are 5 foods you can grow from store-bought produce.
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Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.