Regardless of the extent GMO harms human health (which I personally believe to be minimal), it is undeniable that there are many benefits of GMO to humanity. For instance, GMO crops have increased yields and increased pest resilience. Benefits range from economic (less money needed to grow more crops) to environmental (less chemical needed to kill crop pests).
But I have a serious issue with the GMO market—how it is patented, and who profits from it.
First of all, patenting an organism is absurd. A company like Monsanto makes a minor change, such as adding or removing a single gene, to an organism whose genome was developed over billions of years of evolution. Allowing such a company to patent the product is nonsensical.
But Monsanto patents seeds on a regular basis, and legally pursues those who use the seeds without paying Monsanto. This includes seeds generated from crops found to have Monsanto genes. Effectively, “buying” seeds from Monsanto is really more like renting them. Monsanto controls what products of the crop can be sold or reused by the farmer—seeds, evidently, cannot.
The free market has proven to be an amazing system for promoting innovation. For private corporations to create and sell their GMO products is not a bad thing. But this is not really the case with modern GMO companies. They demand control over a farmer’s produce. This is not in the spirit of a free market. The farmer loses the freedom to do what he or she wills with what he or she produces.
On top of the absurdity of patenting what is 99.9% a creation of nature, the seed patent system takes freedom away from farmers.
That is the real problem with GMO.