Nukleus is committed to empowering our customers on the importance of using organic cotton. Key to understanding the cotton issue is to understand the seeds issue. In this blog we will be looking at seeds and GMOs. We were startled and shocked by what we found and share so you can make more informed choices about the kind of cotton products you buy and why organic cotton is safest.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE GMOS?
GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) have been created by the GM (genetic modification) process. According to GMO Myths and Truths, a heavily researched and sourced report produced by the Non GMO Project :
GM is completely different from natural breeding and poses different risks. Natural breeding can only take place between closely related forms of life (e.g. cats with cats, not cats with dogs; wheat with wheat, not wheat with tomatoes or fish).
But GM crops have had genetic material from other species inserted into them eg non-plant into plant, with the hope that this will give the target plant specific properties. But there can be unexpected and unwanted changes in the GMO plant. These could include toxic and allergenic effects, poor crop performance, and generation of characteristics that harm the environment. This is a far-cry from the corporate ballyhoo in the case of cotton, about increased yield. With organic cotton, as sourced by Nukleus, you can be sure that your cotton garment is safe and not harming the environment.
These unexpected changes are especially dangerous because they are irreversible. Even the worst chemical pollution diminishes over time as the pollutant is degraded by physical and biological mechanisms. But GMOs are living organisms. Once released into the ecosystem,they do not degrade and cannot be recalled, but multiply in the environment and pass on their GM genes to future generations.
Nukleus thinks the environment it too important to risk this kind of contamination.
POTENTIAL HEALTH HAZARDS
Corporates say that their GMOs are safe. We're not so sure. When independent scientists in France analysed data on GM Bt maize they found that Monsanto’s own feeding trial on rats revealed serious health effects – including liver and kidney toxicity – that had been hidden from the public.
This is relevant to GM/Bt cotton for two reasons: cotton seeds are used in animal and human food products and so enter the food chain. Secondly, if the company information on maize was inaccurate, how do we know what the potential health hazards of Bt cotton are? At Nukleus we would rather be safe than sorry.
HAZARDS OF Bt CROPS
Bt cotton is a genetically modified form of cotton, produced by Monsanto. Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacteria which produces toxins harmful to moths, butterflies and other insects.
With GM Bt crops the plant is engineered to express the Bt toxin in every cell. The plant itself becomes a pesticide, and people and animals that eat the plant are eating a pesticide.
GM Bt crops have many adverse health effects when fed to laboratory animals, including:
● Toxic effects on the small intestine, liver, kidney, spleen, and pancreas
● Disturbances in the functioning of the digestive system
● Reduced weight gain
● Immune system disturbances
These effects have been demonstrated from eating Bt products. And, while we do not eat clothes, the skin is the body’s largest organ, easily absorbing substances. Some may cause allergies, while over a longer time, exposure to toxic products can cause even more serious health problems. With organic clothing, you can have peace of mind.
GM Bt crops also have toxic effects on butterflies and other non-target insects, beneficial pest predators, bees and aquatic and soil organisms. At Nukleus, we don't want to damage ecosystems in this way, and believe we should preserve them by growing organic cotton.
GM COTTON AND ‘SAFE’ HERBICIDES
Over 75% of all GM crops, including Bt cotton, are engineered to tolerate herbicides, particularly Roundup, produced by Monsanto. Roundup is based on the chemical glycophosphate and marketed as a “safe” herbicide.
But many independent studies show that Roundup poses serious health hazards, including endocrine (hormone) disruption, DNA damage, cancer, birth defects, and neurological disorders.
And if glycophosphate remains in GM food, it would seem reasonable to assume that it remains in cotton fibres too...Organic cotton is not sprayed with these kind of toxins, which is one of the many reasons we at Nukleus advocate its use.
IMPACTS ON FARMERS’ HEALTH...
A report by doctors in Argentina showed the following health problems in people exposed to spraying of agrochemicals (mostly glyphosate) on GM Roundup Ready (RR) soy: increased incidence of birth defects, miscarriages, infertility, cancers, DNA damage (which can lead to cancer and birth defects), neurological developmental problems in children, kidney failure, respiratory problems, and allergies.
In one area, birth defects increased fourfold and rates of childhood cancers tripled in only a decade in areas where rice and GM soy crops are heavily sprayed. Is this happening in cotton farming communities in India and elsewhere? Until data is collected, we can't be sure...but we know that organic cotton farmers and their families are safe from these serious health risks.
AND ON YOU....
These issues are relevant not only to people living where GM crops are grown, but for consumers who eat products made from crops sprayed with agrochemicals. GM crops do not break down glyphosate, but absorb it, so the toxic chemical remains in the plant and is eaten by people and animals. It would seem logical to assume that Bt cotton would similarly be imbued with these toxins. With organic cotton, you know you are safe from these kind of potential hazards.
GM CROPS: A SOLUTION...OR A WORSE PROBLEM? WHAT DO FARMERS SAY?
“Over the past decade, corporate and government managers have spent millions trying to convince farmers and other citizens of the benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops. But this huge public relations effort has failed to obscure the truth: GM crops do not deliver the promised benefits; they create numerous problems, costs, and risks; and ... consumers and foreign customers alike do not want these crops.
“It would be too generous even to call GM crops a solution in search of a problem: These crops have failed to provide significant solutions, and their use is creating problems – agronomic, environmental, economic, social, and (potentially) human health problems.”
– National Farmers Union of Canada
At Nukleus, we have spoken with many Indian farmers and they would agree.
To the ordinary person, wandering round the mall or shopping in a market, these concerns may seem distant. But they are real and important, which is why we at Nukleus believe that organic cotton – non-GMO, not sprayed by toxic chemicals, is best. By choosing organic cotton products you can have peace of mind, and don't need to be concerned about toxins in your body, the environment, or affecting the health of farmers. We wear clothes all our lives, against our skin and there’s no reason to jeopardise our health to look good. Sometimes safe is just a lot better than sorry.
We are heavily indebted to our friends at the Non GMO project for their work and the report. We would highly recommend them as a trusted resource for accurate and credible information on GMOs, presented in an accessible and coherent form.