Biosafety refers to ensuring that GMO’s do not harm the environment or health.
The soil, its fertility, and the organisms which maintain the fertility of soil are a vital aspect of the environment, especially in the context of food and agricultural production.
A recent scientific study carried out by Navdanya, compared the soil of fields where Bt-cotton had been planted for 3 years with adjoining fields with non GMO cotton or other crops. The region covered included Nagpur, Amravati and Wardha of Vidharbha which accounts for highest GMO cotton planting in India, and the highest rate of farmers suicides (4000 per year).
In 3 years, Bt-cotton has reduced the population of Actinomycetes by 17%. Actinomycetes are vital for breaking down cellulose and creating humus.
Bacteria were reduced by 14%. The total microbial biomass was reduced by 8.9%.
Vital soil beneficial enzymes which make nutrients available to plants have also been drastically reduced. Acid Phosphatase which contributes to uptake of phosphates was reduced by 26.6%. Nitrogenase enzymes which help fix nitrogen were reduced by 22.6%.
At this rate, in a decade of planting with GM cotton, or any GM crop with Bt genes in it, could lead to total destruction of soil organisms, leaving dead soil unable to produce food.