The GMO Debate in Food and Agriculture: What Do Muslims Say?

Image: Non-GMO grains have become rare in the market. I got these barley seeds online from Bedouin producers in the distant desert. (source: author)

As a consumer, I’ve equated “non-GMO” with “healthy.”

However, there are further religious implications for the manufacturers.

The human-centered debate is about compromising environmental, economical, and health aspects for profit. This article by Samantha Harrington starts off by simplifying the seemingly-innocent science behind GMO.

The process of genetically engineering crops requires extracting desired DNA traits, such as insect resistance, from a plant and inserting them into another crop.

There is more depth to the aspect, however. Dr. Mohammed Faid has done prolonged research in food science and biotechnology. In this video, he highlights Ayah 119 of Surat An-Nisa’, in which Shaytan boldly vows to Allah to command from his followers a list of corrupt acts:

I will certainly mislead them and delude them with empty hopes. Also, I will order them and they will slit the ears of cattle and alter Allah’s creation.” And whoever takes Satan as a guardian instead of Allah has certainly suffered a tremendous loss.

(Quran, 4:119)

Dr. Faid argues that adding a gene from a creature (e.g., insect) to a distinctive other (e.g., plant) changes its creation even if the product looks the same. If the genetic engineering was done on organisms from the same species, it wouldn’t have been much of a concern.

According to Dr. Faid, “Altering Allah’s creation” comes from the inside of the living being. “The slitting of the cattle ears” is an external change. Both are Satanic inspirations, but they’re differentiated in the Ayah. Dr. Faid warns about the far-reaching harm of this movement which is freed from religious morals. His proposed solution is self-sufficiency and local development that is exclusive of Western philosophy.

Limiting Incorrupt Options

In her article, Harrington reports the dark side of the field. Farmers and consumers are deliberately made dependent on the GMO market.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that genetically engineered organisms are intellectual property. That judgment meant they could be patented, making seeds a potential financial bonanza for companies controlling the market.

Howard said. “There are some places where it’s becoming really difficult to find non-genetically engineered seeds for farmers who want that.”…

Because the seeds are patented, it’s illegal for farmers to save and replant genetically engineered seeds.

Related: Shouldn’t We All Support Freedom of Choice?

These are common traits of centralized systems. The ruling authorities are bribed by the powerful. The latter is seeking control over the masses by limiting the options outside their zone of intervention.

Health and Affordability

Some studies have assured GMO consumers about their health. However, corporate-funded research lacks integrity. It commonly undermines the potential negative effects of profitable products.

Many people worry that engineered crops are unsafe to consume, but studies have found no evidence of toxicity. The European Union nonetheless has banned the use of most genetically engineered seeds.

With regards to the high prices of the seeds, the producers blame it on the research and development costs. However, observers in the field state other reasons.

He says the primary reason for the seeds’ high cost comes from biotechnology companies’ ability to set high prices because of their market power.

“I also think – pretty much know – that the companies were involved in writing the regulations,” Tracy said.

Before profit became the main driver, the passionate farmers had a sensitive appreciation of the seeds they grew.

In Kenya, Wanjama said farmers “don’t see seed as a trading commodity, they see seeds as an item that needs to be shared.”

Technological advances have provided gains for many, but they still come at a cost.

Related: How Modernity Warps the Human Mind and the Fitra

Dr. Faid has been preaching against GMOs since the nineties. He blames Muslim researchers for their lagging response in this field. Regarding edibles, genetic engineering affects the Halal inside out. Muslims can’t depend on external parties or ignorant parties for sincere judgments. The fields of farming and biotechnology need an Islamic critique. Finally, for entrepreneurs, independent food production should be on your list of potential endeavors.

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Instinctive Believer

Then they unapologetically slap halal stickers on foods containing these perverted modifications. It’s crazy how easy Shaitan is manipulating our ummah into accepting this corruption. Allah made everything perfect by genetics and form — everything. Nothing needs to be changed or augmented.

Wee Jim

The process of genetically engineering crops requires extracting desired DNA traits, such as insect resistance, from a plant and inserting them into another crop.”
This does NOT mean “adding a gene from a creature (e.g., insect) to a distinctive other (e.g., plant)“. It usually means transferring genes – conferring insect resistance is only one example – from one plant to a related plant. The more closely related the plants are, the easier the transference, and so the more often it is carried out. People have been doing this for thousands of years. It’s called cross-breeding or selective breeding: the agricultural “green revolution” which has greatly increased food production was the product of genetic engineering through selective breeding for the desired qualities.
Quantity, they say, becomes quality after a time; where do muslims claim it ceases to be standard agricultural practice and becomes “altering allah’s creation”?