Why do Europeans Oppose GMOs?

Why is there such strong opposition to GMOs in Europe? GMO offers incredible benefits to the agriculture industry; millions of dollars are spent on research before a GMO product is approved for human consumption. There are no known cases of GMOs compromising health in human beings in any way, yet the majority of European countries oppose GMOs. Genetically engineered crops highlight many improvements in crop growing, including higher yields, enhanced resistance to disease and pests, thus requiring less application of fungicides and pesticides, with the potential to feed more people than non-GMO. Consequently, in essence, they are grown greener than non-GMO counterparts, which necessitate higher usage of chemicals to fight pests and disease. A good example is the European corn borers that have plagued agriculturalists for years until a cultivar of corn was genetically engineered to produce its own insecticide, bacillus thuringiensis (BT) to effectively control European corn borers.

Not All Countries Oppose GMO

Using more chemicals certainly is not a win-win situation, sure you have higher yields, but you pay for it out of pocket and on the back end. Excessive use of chemicals will build in the soil, eventually working its way into rivers and streams, jeopardizing water quality, posing health risks for humans and animals. In China this is exactly what was happening, high levels of chemical residue from their agricultural industry was polluting water sources, causing human health issues. China like the USA turned to genetically engineering crops, developing crops that are more disease and pest resistant, and as a result they are using less chemicals in farming.

Why the Opposition

So, why is Europe so against GMOs? Interestingly, there is a strong resentment because they do not believe in the benefits of GMOs. The European public is under the assumption that GMOs are unnatural and have no value. There have been advocates for GMOs, but the public does not trust them since they have a lack of confidence in establishments due to previous problems with blood contaminated with HIV, Mad Cow Disease, asbestos, salmonella in foods, etc. The pubic in Europe particularly France has lost is faith in government and commercial enterprises, with the sentiment that profit is more important than the health and wellbeing of the people. These misbeliefs and lack of trust in the establishment are unfortunate when you see countries like China and the USA experiencing huge successes with GMOs. Hopefully, at some point, European countries will see the light and turn to GMO as a solid agriculture solution for increasing yields, while supporting a cleaner environment.  For more information see these links.

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/europeangreencapital/countriesruleoutgmos

https://scielo.conicyt.cl/fbpe/img/ejb/v6n1/a04/bip/

https://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/359

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