Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically Modified Organisms:

  • Should be labeled

    Votes: 8 72.7%
  • Should not be labeled

    Votes: 3 27.3%

  • Total voters
    11
  • #1
quantumcarl
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The effects of eating genetically modified organisms has not been thoroughly studied nor has this lack of study stopped production of food stuffs or animals, for that matter, via genetic intervention.

The domino effects of changing "one tiny little gene" have been known to disrupt innumerable genes down the line from the original "target" resulting in a various uncalculatable risks and unknowns.

Do you agree or disagree that all GMO products should come with a warning label on their packaging or in their descriptions?
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
LURCH
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"Should be", definitely. There may be some disagreement as to the risks involved, but surely there can be no disagreement as to a person's right to know so they can choose whether or not to take that risk.
 
  • #3
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Originally posted by LURCH
"Should be", definitely. There may be some disagreement as to the risks involved, but surely there can be no disagreement as to a person's right to know so they can choose whether or not to take that risk.

Well put, LURCH.
 
  • #4
FZ+
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Yes but...
On the other hand, we need to take care not to enter into any sort of hysteria. In the UK, where such labelling is compulsary, there has been a great public backlash with people being even so stupid as to attempt to prevent gene trials from taken place. There has even been the so called organic revolution, where farmers go back to old techniques of fallow fields etc. This has even afflicted the starving people of africa with an irrational rejection of US aid.

The fact of the matter is, we have not enough real evidence either way. Then again, there is no evidence shwoing the goodness of the "organic" brands.
 
  • #5
O Great One
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We should be very careful

Great topic! We need to be very careful when tampering with nature because living organisms are VERY complex. We should fully understand what's going on before we start manipulating many genes. Let's say I gave you a computer program written in C and you know nothing about C. I then say, "Improve upon my program". How would you know how to even begin? If we can improve upon the original design then great. If not, then let it be.
 
  • #6
In the UK, where such labelling is compulsary, there has been a great public backlash with people being even so stupid as to attempt to prevent gene trials from taken place.

I know what you mean, FZ. It seems the UK is falling into hysteria over anything it can at the moment. As for the starving people in Africa, wasn't there some case of a government banning GM foods, then the locals rioting and getting the food anyhow? Seems easier, and more humane, just to give them the food to me. Surely something must be better than nothing?
 
  • #7
quantumcarl
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Burn all the cows

Originally posted by FZ+
Yes but...
On the other hand, we need to take care not to enter into any sort of hysteria. In the UK, where such labelling is compulsary, there has been a great public backlash with people being even so stupid as to attempt to prevent gene trials from taken place. There has even been the so called organic revolution, where farmers go back to old techniques of fallow fields etc. This has even afflicted the starving people of africa with an irrational rejection of US aid.

The fact of the matter is, we have not enough real evidence either way. Then again, there is no evidence shwoing the goodness of the "organic" brands.

Hi FZ+. Something is breeding hysteria in England and surrounding. Media perhaps?

Rather than burning the cows... you guys could consider burning the daily rags or the weekly ones... whichever is worse!!!

However... I see your point. Its become a witch hunt has it@!? I mean... I know cytologists and pathologists who are on the edge of finding ways to stop certain leukimias or other blood cancers... simply by turning off a gene.

This will always be under the scrutiny of the under-educated. The more educated your population is... the better balanced their choices will become. This will allow for the controled use of certain technologies.

I think the commercial use of genetic modification is unnecessary. We have enough wheat, barley and scads of seaweed we could be feeding the populations who are down and out with. We don't need to potentually damage our ability to survive on the planet because of a false sense that "genetics" is the only way to grow food.

It all started with some company wanting to sell its bloody pesticide/herbicide. They had to whip up a genetically pesticide resistant form of Canola.

Its over-kill, bucko... in more ways than one. (my opinion)
 
  • #8
FZ+
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This will always be under the scrutiny of the under-educated. The more educated your population is... the better balanced their choices will become. This will allow for the controled use of certain technologies.
Completely agree. Don't get me started on the lunacy of those who are letter bombing stem cell researchers, and animal experimenters. This sort of idiotic anti-science terrorism seems to be an emerging trend...

I think the commercial use of genetic modification is unnecessary.
Probably. But the research should, nay must be done, for the sake of the future. GM does offer many possibilities - growing new medicines, for example. And the present food situation will not last forever. Genetics is not the only way, but that's not a reason to get off the road...
If those fools stop the research in the first place, then we will probably regret it.
 
  • #9
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by FZ+
Completely agree. Don't get me started on the lunacy of those who are letter bombing stem cell researchers, and animal experimenters. This sort of idiotic anti-science terrorism seems to be an emerging trend...


Probably. But the research should, nay must be done, for the sake of the future. GM does offer many possibilities - growing new medicines, for example. And the present food situation will not last forever. Genetics is not the only way, but that's not a reason to get off the road...
If those fools stop the research in the first place, then we will probably regret it.

Letter bomb? Which one..... A, T, C or G...? [zz)] :wink:

It must be correlated to population density. In this country there have been no anti-science terrorist acts... just some pro=lifers sniping certain gynecologists etc...... the stemcell researchers are well respected by their patients. In fact most of them are private companies with a sound sense of responsibilty to the community and environment. (you should see one cool magnetic separator that can be used to separate stemcells or even HIV infected T cells... using antibodies and magnetic colloids...http://www.stemcell.com/

Because of their successes and slow progress... there will be much relief in many families... some day. Because of thier continued vigilant control of their research... there will be no salesmen taking their product into uncharted territory where it could cause wide spread damage.

However... if nuclear material can make it onto a black market... so can genetic engineering practises.... where they'll no doubt be abused and mishandled.
 
  • #10
Monique
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I guess it should be, would the proper labeling have prevented the growth of a genetically engineered corn in the genetically divers mexican corn plants? That was very controversial.
 
  • #11
russ_watters
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Originally posted by quantumcarl
The effects of eating genetically modified organisms has not been thoroughly studied nor has this lack of study stopped production of food stuffs or animals, for that matter, via genetic intervention.

The domino effects of changing "one tiny little gene" have been known to disrupt innumerable genes down the line from the original "target" resulting in a various uncalculatable risks and unknowns.

Do you agree or disagree that all GMO products should come with a warning label on their packaging or in their descriptions?
Quantum you loaded the question by adding those first two paragraphs. They are opinions, not facts. They should not have been included for the poll.

Labeling implies risk. In this case the risk has not been shown to even exist. So all you end up doing is scaring and confusing people. To be balanced, underneath the label there should another stating the known risks. It would say something like "There has been no link ever established between genetically modified foods and any health problem." But of course this would confuse people even more. If there is no known risk, why even put it there?

IMO, genetically modified foods should not be labeled because they just end up confusing the general public. Most people simply don't understand the risk (or lack thereof) well enough to make an informed judgement on it. Lurch, how can you expect someone to make an informed decision if they are not informed? Putting a label on something does *NOT* inform them as to the risk.

It is a fact that genetically modified foods have been around for decades (unless you count simpe hybriding...) and there are more of them than most people realize. They are impossible to avoid. There hasn't been a single proven negative health effect due to the modification of foods.

Ironically enough, the big health food, soy is probably the most genetically modified of all crops - you're hard pressed to find a soy product that is NOT genetically modified.
 
  • #12
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by russ_watters
Quantum you loaded the question by adding those first two paragraphs. They are opinions, not facts. They should not have been included for the poll.

Labeling implies risk. In this case the risk has not been shown to even exist. So all you end up doing is scaring and confusing people. To be balanced, underneath the label there should another stating the known risks. It would say something like "There has been no link ever established between genetically modified foods and any health problem." But of course this would confuse people even more. If there is no known risk, why even put it there?

IMO, genetically modified foods should not be labeled because they just end up confusing the general public. Most people simply don't understand the risk (or lack thereof) well enough to make an informed judgement on it. Lurch, how can you expect someone to make an informed decision if they are not informed? Putting a label on something does *NOT* inform them as to the risk.

It is a fact that genetically modified foods have been around for decades (unless you count simpe hybriding...) and there are more of them than most people realize. They are impossible to avoid. There hasn't been a single proven negative health effect due to the modification of foods.

Ironically enough, the big health food, soy is probably the most genetically modified of all crops - you're hard pressed to find a soy product that is NOT genetically modified.

***GM Products: Benefits and Controversies***

**Benefits**

*Crops*
~Enhanced taste and quality
~Reduced maturation time
~Increased nutrients, yields, and stress tolerance
~Improved resistance to disease, pests, and herbicides
~New products and growing techniques

*Animals*
~Increased resistance, productivity, hardiness, and feed efficiency
~Better yields of meat, eggs, and milk
~Improved animal health and diagnostic methods

*Environment*
"Friendly" bioherbicides and bioinsecticides
~Conservation of soil, water, and energy
~Bioprocessing for forestry products
~Better natural waste management
~More efficient processing

*Society*
~Increased food security for growing populations


**Controversies**


*Safety*

~Potential human health impact:
~allergens, transfer of antibiotic resistance markers,
~unknown effects
~Potential environmental impact: unintended transfer of transgenes through cross-pollination, unknown effects on other organisms (e.g., soil microbes), and loss of flora and fauna biodiversity

*Access and Intellectual Property*

~Domination of world food production by a few companies
~Increasing dependence on Industralized nations by developing countries
~Biopiracy—foreign exploitation of natural resources

*Ethics*

~Violation of natural organisms' intrinsic values
~Tampering with nature by mixing genes among species
~Objections to consuming animal genes in plants and vice versa
~Stress for animal

*Labeling*
~Not mandatory in some countries (e.g., United States)
~Mixing GM crops with non-GM confounds labeling attempts

*Society*
~New advances may be skewed to interests of rich countries

I think these points would fit on a Wheaties box... in any language.
 
  • #13
Phobos
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Originally posted by russ_watters
It is a fact that genetically modified foods have been around for decades (unless you count simpe hybriding...) and there are more of them than most people realize. They are impossible to avoid. There hasn't been a single proven negative health effect due to the modification of foods.

An excellent point.

What's the definition of "genetically modified"? Simple hybridizing and artificial selection have already dramatically changed our food (you would not recognize many modern vegetables in their original, pre-agriculture state).

As far as more dramatic GM (gene splicing from animals into plants, etc.), both LURCH and FZ+ make good points. No easy answer, I think.
 
  • #14
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by Phobos

What's the definition of "genetically modified"? Simple hybridizing and artificial selection have already dramatically changed our food (you would not recognize many modern vegetables in their original, pre-agriculture state).

Genetically modified means having tampered with specific genetic components of an organism. Like splicing a gene from a spider's genetic make up with the genes of an alpacca in an attempt to create a more nylon-like fleece on the animal.

Genetic modification is the fast road to changing a characturistic... where hybridization and grafting etc... is a more moderate route that leaves more time to observe any drastically out-of-line consequences.

With genetic modification any drastic consequences that come of the process are well out of hand before any minimalizing containment can be put into place. Unless, of course, ridgid controls have been put in place during research and development. But, as it goes, the research and develoment of genetically modified organisms has been taking place in the wide open fields of North America with little or no containment or control in place. Cest La Vest.
 
  • #15
FZ+
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But the hybridisation thing is a good point. In the end, there is just as much chance that a "bad" gene from cross breeding can escape and pollute the local environment, or pass checks and get into the food supply. And when hybridising, there is in fact a greater risk from passing a bad gene along as you inherit about 50% of the genes instead of a specific one.

On the other hand, this may be offset by farmers choosing the parents carefully.

On the other other hand, so do scientists.

On the other other other hand....
 
  • #16
russ_watters
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Originally posted by quantumcarl
[BI think these points would fit on a Wheaties box... in any language. [/B]
So what? NOTHING that you posted there has any evidence to support real negative impacts of ANY genetically modified food.

Idle speculation on possible dangers is just that: idle speculation. Unless there is a *REAL* danger, there is no reason to label GM foods.
 
  • #17
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by russ_watters
So what? NOTHING that you posted there has any evidence to support real negative impacts of ANY genetically modified food.

Idle speculation on possible dangers is just that: idle speculation. Unless there is a *REAL* danger, there is no reason to label GM foods.

Russ, this is a poll. People come to it with their opinions like you have done. Thank you for your vote.

As for speculation. Both the benefits and controversies of genetic modification are "idle speculations".

I think that in your case labeling would work well because you'd know which food-stuffs were modified and you'd be able to indulge in some of the handy work of commercial geneticists.

There may even be a clinical trial you can sign up for, testing the effects of GMOs on the human condition.
 
  • #18
enigma
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Last Friday on Penn & Teller's "Bullsh*t!" (Friday nights at 11pm on Showtime IIRC)

covered this very same topic, along with diet fads.

The facts (according to their research anyway... I tend to trust a show which goes out to debunk the BS) are as follows:

There is absolutely no evidence which links GM foods to any health risk.

GM foods are the most highly regulated, highly researched, and highly controlled foods available.

The vast majority of anti-GM propaganda is a result of orginizations like Greenpeace. The Greenpeace higher-up (I don't remember his exact title, but he was supposedly an expert on the subject) blatantly lied in the interview when he said that no one (he mentioned the FDA, the EPA, and one other I can't recall) has any sort of restrictions on GM foods.

My thoughts on the issue:

GM foods are necessary. We have over 6 billion people on the planet. That's growing every year. Tens of thousands of people starve to death every week. While the US may be able to feed the world, the question then becomes: who is going to pay for it?

With GM grains that can survive in the harshest climates, the need for impoverished countries to buy foods goes away, because they can then grow it themselves.

There is not a single type of food which existed on this planet in its present form before the agricultural revolution. No grains, no fruits, no nothing. All have been bred and hybridized and optimized to no end. If we can find ways to improve them even further so that people don't starve to death, why shouldn't we?

To try to stop it with no proof of real risk and only a potential slippery slope argument is immoral. Until a real risk is found (and with the level of research going on, it would be found before being introduced into the main food supply), I think the only people who have a right to say anything about stopping it are those people who are having their children starving to death.
 
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  • #19
iansmith
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Originally posted by enigma

The vast majority of anti-GM propaganda is a result of orginizations like Greenpeace. The Greenpeace higher-up (I don't remember his exact title, but he was supposedly an expert on the subject) blatantly lied in the interview when he said that no one (he mentioned the FDA, the EPA, and one other I can't recall) has any sort of restrictions on GM foods.

I remember when greenpeace publish result of a study showing monarch butterfly were affected by Bt in the GM plant. At university, we looked at their method for research, their results and their conclusion. The conclusion only forgot to mention that the larvae was only fed GM plant. The larvae could not choose. further research should that the larvae would preferently eat the non-GM plant rather than the GM plant.

Maybe should question the scientific ethic of Greenpeace?

Originally posted by enigma

With GM grains that can survive in the harshest climates, the need for impoverished countries to buy foods goes away, because they can then grow it themselves.

Their is patent on most of the GM food and the farmer would have to pay for that but i know that for Golden Rice (rice with the vitamin A gene) the patent is given.

Another problem with the food supply nowadays is storage and spoilage. Many fruits and vegetable are hard to store and keep for a long time in third-world country. GMO could help in this field but major advance in technology have do be done in the field.

As far as labeling, what should be labeled. Do product syntehesised by GMO should be included such as insulin, etc. In my opinion, GMO food should not be labeled due to lack of information on potential risk and due to high level of ignorance by the public and the media (eg. eating spider gene will transform into a monster. Where did that come from? by the way human are known to eat 6-8 spider a year while they sleep).

Also all the negative and positive issues should always keep in mind because it could help to increase safety and to informe the public better.
 
  • #20
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by iansmith


Also all the negative and positive issues should always keep in mind because it could help to increase safety and to informe the public better.

Labels inform the public what their eating. Its a form of education.
How can anyone refuse people the right to know what they are buying or eating?

Companies like Frito Lay (Pepsi) and McCains want to feed the public what the public want, not what the company wants to feed the public. So they are refusing certain genetically engineered produce.

See this article:
http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/health/060400food-quandry-health.html

It seems that the benefits of GMOs are being reaped by large companies like McDonalds etc..... not some philanthropic overseas children-loving-charity... not by some 4 billion "starving" people somewhere.

We had enough food to feed 6 billion people on this planet long before GMOs were even dreamt of.

The charity routine is a lame excuse to gain control over what we put in our mouths.

Its not Big Brother anymore... its Big Mother.
 
  • #21
Another God
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The Negatives of Labeling
Since nearly every topic has been covered except this one, let me start by pointing out some of the negatives of labeling GM food:
The main considerations are regulation, Consistency or fairness, and most importantly, because it also underlies the regulation factor, is Cost.
If you are going to label products, someone needs to decide: What do you label? Do you label products which MAY have GMO in them? (because often products have a mix of food sources, some GM, some not, and they don't always monitor what comes from where or when). Do you need to label precisely what is Modified? (surely different degrees of modification have different effects? Do you label the exact risks? Or do you just say on each box 'May contain GMO'.

SO, with these first simple questions, understand the cost involved in suddenly trying to monitor every source of food all the time, when it was never done before. Product manufacturers have a WHOLE new field to deal with. That costs a lot of money. Product costs will rise. If you want them to label what is modified. Even more expensive. If you want them to label the potential risks, then that costs more just for the fact that it takes up space on the box, and printing costs. there are a lot of serious considerations jsut for 'what' and 'how' to label these products if it is decided to label at all.

The other option, to go with the simple 'May contain GM Foods' doesn't help anyone. People who don't want GM foods may end up avoiding a lot of foods which don't actually have modified stuff in them. People who want GM foods for whatever reason may end up eating foods which aren't Modified etc... You can't easily monitor these things.

Secondly: Regulation. This once again, links directly to cost. If you want to start labeling foods, then u need to set up a whole new organisation which monitors the products, ensuring that they are labelled correctly, that no one is cheating, that all the rulesa re followed...surprise checks etc.. This costs more money, and that money will either come from tax payers, or from the producers, which will in turn result in product price rises.


The confusion point has been mentioned. Mis-information, hysteria, lack of education... Saying 'May contain GM Food' doesn't educate anything. It makes the reader wonder what that actually means... It makes the reader assume that it must be important if it is there. It makes the reader assume that it is probably dangerous because it is a warning... It makes the public react, with mob mentality, to the percieved danger, which has only become a percieved danger because of the warning. Labeling GM foods may start a positive feedback loop where the little bit of concern grows and grows until all GM foods are despised the world over, and no more research is allowed to go into Genetic engineering anymore.

And what would that cost us?
 
  • #22
Another God
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On the topic of GMOs in General

Aside from the labeling question, what are the real benefits and dangers of GMO's?

Well, if you actually read the list which Carl pasted:
***GM Products: Benefits and Controversies***

**Benefits**

*Crops*
~Enhanced taste and quality
~Reduced maturation time
~Increased nutrients, yields, and stress tolerance
~Improved resistance to disease, pests, and herbicides
~New products and growing techniques

*Animals*
~Increased resistance, productivity, hardiness, and feed efficiency
~Better yields of meat, eggs, and milk
~Improved animal health and diagnostic methods

*Environment*
"Friendly" bioherbicides and bioinsecticides
~Conservation of soil, water, and energy
~Bioprocessing for forestry products
~Better natural waste management
~More efficient processing

*Society*
~Increased food security for growing populations


**Controversies**


*Safety*

~Potential human health impact:
~allergens, transfer of antibiotic resistance markers,
~unknown effects
~Potential environmental impact: unintended transfer of transgenes through cross-pollination, unknown effects on other organisms (e.g., soil microbes), and loss of flora and fauna biodiversity

*Access and Intellectual Property*

~Domination of world food production by a few companies
~Increasing dependence on Industralized nations by developing countries
~Biopiracy—foreign exploitation of natural resources

*Ethics*

~Violation of natural organisms' intrinsic values
~Tampering with nature by mixing genes among species
~Objections to consuming animal genes in plants and vice versa
~Stress for animal

*Labeling*
~Not mandatory in some countries (e.g., United States)
~Mixing GM crops with non-GM confounds labeling attempts

*Society*
~New advances may be skewed to interests of rich countries
You may notice it actually lists a bunch of positives, real positives, like improved taste, better nutrition, yield, stress tolerance, shorter maturation time etc... while the 'Controversies' are precisely that... Controversial. 'Unknown effects'... Aren't there 'unknown effects' to everything we do in life? Do we label everyt...hmmm..well, don't answer that. These days it seems like we do label everything. But anyway, unknown effects 'Potential' human harm, 'Potential' environment harm... POtential potential potential....

So, to sum up: Real benefits, potential harm.

----------------------------------------------------

Thats my positive sell. There is also the issue that, as carl pointed out, so far in the genetic modifiaction revolution, no real benefits have been seen. (actually, most people don't realise this. They assume benefits have been seen...but they haven't actually filtered through yet). So far, all the better yeilds, faster maturation, and more resistent crops, haven't actually lowered costs for the public. They have improved profits slightly for the companies, but not enough to lower the costs for the public.

but I am not in favour of GM for the sake of improved crop yeilds, lower costs, and enough food production to feed the world 3 times over (which we probably could if someone actually tried to). I am for GM foods because of the potential future benefits. The benefits which are starting to come through now. The Golden rice mentioned by iansmith is a prime example (I'll explain below for those who don't know what this is). Other foods down the line may be foods with more effective drought resistence, better surviving crops, crops with built in antibiotics or vacines... These sorts of crops, distributed among the poorer countries will be the real benefits of GMO's... its just that they need to wait for the big businesses to get over their focus on the instant money making methods, and let the out of date technology be allowed to filter through to the ppl who actually need it.

------------------
Golden Rice, if I remember correctly, is a rice which is engineered with several important nutrients in it which rice normally lacks (Iron maybe? Something vital like that). It is so important, because in the poorer asian countries where people tend to not be able to afford anything but Rice to eat, they end up with a diet completely lakcing an essential nutrient. So the introduction of Golden Rice will save thousands of lives...

The irony here is, this being the first real charity GMO, is that certain customs of many of these people will make them not eat the golden rice, because it looks like a type of brown rice (similar colour), and apparently this brown rice is what only beggers eat, and so to be seen eating brown rice means that you are of the lowest class there is, and you lose any respect (or something like that). So there needs to be a whole education thing introduced to explain the situation to them all....
 
  • #23
russ_watters
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Originally posted by quantumcarl
Russ, this is a poll. People come to it with their opinions like you have done. Thank you for your vote.
In that case you really should have posted your opinion AFTER the poll, not IN the poll. You don't prejudice the poll that way (I took a class on polling techniques).
As for speculation. Both the benefits and controversies of genetic modification are "idle speculations".
The benefits are NOT speculation. They are absolutely proven. Farmers wouldn't buy the seeds based on idle speculation. You truly would not believe the quantity of genetically modified crops out there. I discussed GM crops with my grandfather (farms soybeans among other things) and he LAUGHS at the idea of going back to unenhanced crops. GM crops are so superior to unenhanced crops we're seeing a second agricultural revolution. My grandfather does complain though about some of the measures taken by the companies to protect their seeds. But those are mostly business issues.
I think that in your case labeling would work well because you'd know which food-stuffs were modified and you'd be able to indulge in some of the handy work of commercial geneticists.
Labels like that are taken as warning or quality control labels. Their very existence changes the opinion of the person reading them.

There may even be a clinical trial you can sign up for, testing the effects of GMOs on the human condition.
These tests are ongoing. They have been going on for a number of decades. I'm sure you can sign up for one if you call your local pharmecuetical (sometimes you even get paid).
 
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  • #24
russ_watters
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Originally posted by enigma
Last Friday on Penn & Teller's "Bullsh*t!" (Friday nights at 11pm on Showtime IIRC)

The facts (according to their research anyway... I tend to trust a show which goes out to debunk the BS) are as follows:

There is absolutely no evidence which links GM foods to any health risk.

GM foods are the most highly regulated, highly researched, and highly controlled foods available.

The vast majority of anti-GM propaganda is a result of orginizations like Greenpeace. The Greenpeace higher-up (I don't remember his exact title, but he was supposedly an expert on the subject) blatantly lied in the interview when he said that no one (he mentioned the FDA, the EPA, and one other I can't recall) has any sort of restrictions on GM foods.

My thoughts on the issue:

To try to stop it with no proof of real risk and only a potential slippery slope argument is immoral. Until a real risk is found (and with the level of research going on, it would be found before being introduced into the main food supply), I think the only people who have a right to say anything about stopping it are those people who are having their children starving to death.
(I gotta watch that show)
Yup
Yup
Doesn't surprise me (most environazis are counter productive to their own cause, much less general human progress).

As for your thoughts, I couldn't agree more. It angers me that people would use a knee-jerk fear to prevent progress. And it *IS* a moral issue. People are dying as a result of this baseless fear. Someone (Monsanto probably) designed a drought resistant grain (can't remember which) to send to third world countries in Africa and they were not allowed to send it there. I can't remember the whole story, ie who was funding it (the US govt probably) or who denied it (the African countries themselves) but it angers me that people would allow others to DIE based on their own idle fears.
 
  • #25
iansmith
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AG, you are bringing some good points in the discussion.

An undergrad did a presentation on golden rice this semester and she said that vitamin A deprivation migth not be solve by golden rice. A study show that in Asia children and aldult have a higher rate of intestinal parasite infections and the parasites reduce the absorbtion of vitamin A. So its was concluded that adding vitamin A in rice migth not be the best solution at the moment. Sanitation migth be a good start.
 
  • #26
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by Another God
The Negatives of Labeling
Since nearly every topic has been covered except this one, let me start by pointing out some of the negatives of labeling GM food:
The main considerations are regulation, Consistency or fairness, and most importantly, because it also underlies the regulation factor, is Cost.
If you are going to label products, someone needs to decide: What do you label? Do you label products which MAY have GMO in them? (because often products have a mix of food sources, some GM, some not, and they don't always monitor what comes from where or when). Do you need to label precisely what is Modified? (surely different degrees of modification have different effects? Do you label the exact risks? Or do you just say on each box 'May contain GMO'.

SO, with these first simple questions, understand the cost involved in suddenly trying to monitor every source of food all the time, when it was never done before. Product manufacturers have a WHOLE new field to deal with. That costs a lot of money. Product costs will rise. If you want them to label what is modified. Even more expensive. If you want them to label the potential risks, then that costs more just for the fact that it takes up space on the box, and printing costs. there are a lot of serious considerations jsut for 'what' and 'how' to label these products if it is decided to label at all.

The other option, to go with the simple 'May contain GM Foods' doesn't help anyone. People who don't want GM foods may end up avoiding a lot of foods which don't actually have modified stuff in them. People who want GM foods for whatever reason may end up eating foods which aren't Modified etc... You can't easily monitor these things.

Secondly: Regulation. This once again, links directly to cost. If you want to start labeling foods, then u need to set up a whole new organisation which monitors the products, ensuring that they are labelled correctly, that no one is cheating, that all the rulesa re followed...surprise checks etc.. This costs more money, and that money will either come from tax payers, or from the producers, which will in turn result in product price rises.


The confusion point has been mentioned. Mis-information, hysteria, lack of education... Saying 'May contain GM Food' doesn't educate anything. It makes the reader wonder what that actually means... It makes the reader assume that it must be important if it is there. It makes the reader assume that it is probably dangerous because it is a warning... It makes the public react, with mob mentality, to the percieved danger, which has only become a percieved danger because of the warning. Labeling GM foods may start a positive feedback loop where the little bit of concern grows and grows until all GM foods are despised the world over, and no more research is allowed to go into Genetic engineering anymore.

And what would that cost us?

The food industry and governments have bourn the cost of labeling most foods. There are regulations, testing and standards for organic food produce

There are also tests regulations and standards to determine if bacteria are present in meat products and there are tests for the presence of PEANUTS in certain produce.

All of these standards are strictly enforced and if any of these factors slip by inspectors... both private and governemental... it is obvious that someone has not done their job because a consumer dies or is very ill. Then the lawyers get busy.
As does the media and so goes the reputation of the food producer.

Labeling is a form of education... depending on the content of the label.

I still see no reason to save a few dollars on labeling and enforcement when the consequences may be drastic and wide spread.

The ethical question is "people before profit" or "profit before people"
Noam Chomsky
 
  • #27
quantumcarl
770
0


Originally posted by Another God
Aside from the labeling question, what are the real benefits and dangers of GMO's?

Well, if you actually read the list which Carl pasted:

You may notice it actually lists a bunch of positives, real positives, like improved taste, better nutrition, yield, stress tolerance, shorter maturation time etc... while the 'Controversies' are precisely that... Controversial. 'Unknown effects'... Aren't there 'unknown effects' to everything we do in life? Do we label everyt...hmmm..well, don't answer that. These days it seems like we do label everything. But anyway, unknown effects 'Potential' human harm, 'Potential' environment harm... POtential potential potential....

So, to sum up: Real benefits, potential harm.

----------------------------------------------------

Thats my positive sell. There is also the issue that, as carl pointed out, so far in the genetic modifiaction revolution, no real benefits have been seen. (actually, most people don't realise this. They assume benefits have been seen...but they haven't actually filtered through yet). So far, all the better yeilds, faster maturation, and more resistent crops, haven't actually lowered costs for the public. They have improved profits slightly for the companies, but not enough to lower the costs for the public.

but I am not in favour of GM for the sake of improved crop yeilds, lower costs, and enough food production to feed the world 3 times over (which we probably could if someone actually tried to). I am for GM foods because of the potential future benefits. The benefits which are starting to come through now. The Golden rice mentioned by iansmith is a prime example (I'll explain below for those who don't know what this is). Other foods down the line may be foods with more effective drought resistence, better surviving crops, crops with built in antibiotics or vacines... These sorts of crops, distributed among the poorer countries will be the real benefits of GMO's... its just that they need to wait for the big businesses to get over their focus on the instant money making methods, and let the out of date technology be allowed to filter through to the ppl who actually need it.

------------------
Golden Rice, if I remember correctly, is a rice which is engineered with several important nutrients in it which rice normally lacks (Iron maybe? Something vital like that). It is so important, because in the poorer asian countries where people tend to not be able to afford anything but Rice to eat, they end up with a diet completely lakcing an essential nutrient. So the introduction of Golden Rice will save thousands of lives...

The irony here is, this being the first real charity GMO, is that certain customs of many of these people will make them not eat the golden rice, because it looks like a type of brown rice (similar colour), and apparently this brown rice is what only beggers eat, and so to be seen eating brown rice means that you are of the lowest class there is, and you lose any respect (or something like that). So there needs to be a whole education thing introduced to explain the situation to them all....

Excellent points Another God.

They expose the complexity of issues surrounding the advent of genetic manipulation.

What we really need now is a post from the OWL or a geneticist that goes into detail about the fragility of genetics and the repercussions involved when one gene is modified or replaced.

I have worked with some of the worlds leading geneticists and their mentors in research on cancer and pioneering researchers like those from the Scripts Institute in La Jolla... and I can only say that the implications of changing one gene in corn to express a dopamine inhibitor that will effect humans....... will also change about 20% of the way other genes in the corn will express.

It all sounds extremely precarious to me and, as you have pointed out, in terms of humanitarianistic benefit.... it is unnessecary.

However, as you also point out... under quality and quanity control situations... there are going to be great benefits discovered. What I don't agree with is using the entire population of clients to McDonalds as guinea pigs... in a blind trial... with no labeling.
 
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  • #28
russ_watters
Mentor
21,844
8,804


Originally posted by quantumcarl
What I don't agree with is using the entire population of clients to McDonalds as guinea pigs... in a blind trial... with no labeling.
The FDA already mandates testing BEFORE these products come to market. McDonalds isn't using anyone as guinea pigs.
 
  • #29
Another God
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
987
4


Originally posted by quantumcarl
What we really need now is a post from the OWL or a geneticist that goes into detail about the fragility of genetics and the repercussions involved when one gene is modified or replaced.
While the Owl is more knowledgeable about Molecular Biology per say than I am (her being a PHD student), I am still quite well informed. I am in my 4th year of a double degree, where my 3 majors are Molecular Biology, Philosophy (concentrating on ethics), and History and Philosophy of Science (where I have done a subject called 'Challenge of the New Biotechnologies' where one third of the course was dedicated to discourse over the ethical impacts of GMO's.)

So yeah, I have got a little background in the field.

You should also know that Iansmith here is actualy very knowledgeable about genetics (from what I can tell so far).

So yeah, with that out there, my knowledge of the genetics on this issue doesn't really mean much... I mean, knowing how genetics works, doesn't really tell me how genetically engineering stuff will affect other things. It depends on how the engineers construct the promoters, and the regulation on the gene. Since I even know what these things are, is a pretty good sign that the professional Genetic Engineers know what they are, and probably know how to use them. With a bit of logical thought, they can probably figure out a good method to regulate production of the desired protein, and so have decent control of that gene.

The protein then made by that gene may affect other systems (it could inhibit other reactions, or it could promote other reactions or something), but usually, such interactions are fatal to the plant, or obvious in some way.

But, having said that, I have to forcefully point out, that knowing some stuff about genetics doesn't give my words any real meaning. I thin G.Engineering can only be looked at on a case by case basis, and experimental data will show what the consequences of adding this, or subtracting that are...

Just thinking in terms of Evolution, do you think each change in evolution has the regulatory system for a new gene pre setup?
 
  • #30
quantumcarl
770
0


Originally posted by Another God
While the Owl is more knowledgeable about Molecular Biology per say than I am (her being a PHD student), I am still quite well informed. I am in my 4th year of a double degree, where my 3 majors are Molecular Biology, Philosophy (concentrating on ethics), and History and Philosophy of Science (where I have done a subject called 'Challenge of the New Biotechnologies' where one third of the course was dedicated to discourse over the ethical impacts of GMO's.)

So yeah, I have got a little background in the field.

You should also know that Iansmith here is actualy very knowledgeable about genetics (from what I can tell so far).

So yeah, with that out there, my knowledge of the genetics on this issue doesn't really mean much... I mean, knowing how genetics works, doesn't really tell me how genetically engineering stuff will affect other things. It depends on how the engineers construct the promoters, and the regulation on the gene. Since I even know what these things are, is a pretty good sign that the professional Genetic Engineers know what they are, and probably know how to use them. With a bit of logical thought, they can probably figure out a good method to regulate production of the desired protein, and so have decent control of that gene.

The protein then made by that gene may affect other systems (it could inhibit other reactions, or it could promote other reactions or something), but usually, such interactions are fatal to the plant, or obvious in some way.

But, having said that, I have to forcefully point out, that knowing some stuff about genetics doesn't give my words any real meaning. I thin G.Engineering can only be looked at on a case by case basis, and experimental data will show what the consequences of adding this, or subtracting that are...

Just thinking in terms of Evolution, do you think each change in evolution has the regulatory system for a new gene pre setup?

First of all the little knowledge people have with concern to the effects of genetic programming and information storage is what can be the most POTENTIALLY damaging factor... especially in the hands of non-ethical profiteers.

Secondly, genetics are a part of evolution... no doubt... however... the changes that take place in genes that express in terms of evolutionary traits... such as squinty eyes... larger brains and other physical expressions that exhibit in conjunction with survival traits............ are brought about through long periods of trial and error... the errors being weeded out naturally during periods of change in environment.

These changes take place due to migration or due to some other change in environment... and usually take place over centuries if not millenia.

Whereas, with artifical intervention... the genetic rearrangements take place within decades or even a few years and there is no time for natural selection to weed out any non=compatable sequences or combinants... so... these are left to do damage until there is some other factor weeding them out... further down the line... like an invading force or environmental change or collapse due to unstable artifical genetic sequences.

In evolution the determining factors are manifold. The minerals of an area... the geographics.. the established flora and fauna the metorologic (weather) and all aspects of environment are the determiners when it comes to the evolution of a living organism.

When we assume the role of this intricate system that guides evolution... we take on a responsibilty that I have a feeling we cannot handle... by any means or for any good reason.

What is possible is that we can certainly learn from the system and develop environments that lend well to the evolution of learning, adapting and understanding the universe in general... rather than attempting to control it.
 
  • #31
quantumcarl
770
0
Originally posted by Monique
I guess it should be, would the proper labeling have prevented the growth of a genetically engineered corn in the genetically divers mexican corn plants? That was very controversial.

Hi Monique... I hadn't heard about this... labeling would have helped as long as it was honest labeling. Remember the Honour System? Maybe not!

It could have read:

"This Corn has been genetically engineered under the strictest of testing, quaranteen and safety standards for no shorter than 200 years"

and not been true.

What happened in this story?

What I know about Central and South American cultures and their use of Maise isn't much... but heres one thing:

S.A. Maise does not provide a protein unless ashes from the cook fire get into the water in which the corn is being cooked.

Somewhere along the line the First Nation SouthAmericans discovered this fact and made a habit of adding ash to the boiling water and corn. Then they got a better protein diet from Maise.

Upsetting the genetic sequences of SouthAmerican Maise with (eg) the gene that regulates exoskeletal hardness in cockroaches... could easily change how the corn organism exibits proteins or the method of extracting proteins from the plant and its seed.

Popcorn anyone?
 
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  • #32
Originally posted by quantumcarl
The effects of eating genetically modified organisms has not been thoroughly studied nor has this lack of study stopped production of food stuffs or animals, for that matter, via genetic intervention.

The domino effects of changing "one tiny little gene" have been known to disrupt innumerable genes down the line from the original "target" resulting in a various uncalculatable risks and unknowns.

Do you agree or disagree that all GMO products should come with a warning label on their packaging or in their descriptions?


Hi QC. I totally agree that all GMO products should come with a label, maybe not necessarily a warning label, but, just a label like all food products are required to have on their packaging. The addage You are what you eat becomes a little scarey when factoring in GMO. Problem is, there seems to be little alternative. Right now the assumption is that if it isn't specifically labelled Organic then there is some genetic modification in their production. Consumers haven't been provided with any information regarding the consequenses of eating genetically modified food. The fact that the labelling has not come about already only points to the fears of the growers and manfacturers that they wouldn't sell product if labelled Genetically Modified It becomes obvious that if the public aren't sold on the idea, they need to be convinced through studies and facts. I have a feeling that if proof is pursued, it will turn up evidence the industry doesn't want or care to know about. It would get in the way of profit.

More producers of organic or non genetically modifed foodstuffs are needed to supply the markets so that the public will at least have some choices.

Thanks for asking QC.
 
  • #33
Another God
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
987
4


Originally posted by Bellatrix
Problem is, there seems to be little alternative. Right now the assumption is that if it isn't specifically labelled Organic then there is some genetic modification in their production.
This seems like a good enough set up. It solves a lot of the issues I brought up before about how to label GMO's. Don't label them, only label the things which are explicitly Organic, and assume everything probably has GMO's in it. It's probably true.
Consumers haven't been provided with any information regarding the consequenses of eating genetically modified food.
Thats because there is no information to provide the public with. Other than 'This vegetable stays firmer for longer, without loss of taste!' - 'This grain grew in half the time it usually takes grain to grow' - 'This fruit has twice the nutrition of the average piece of friut its size' etc....there is nothing to inform about.

The risk involved in someone eating a GMO, is about the same as a someone eating peanuts for the first time in their life. They Might have an allergic reaction, but they probably won't.

Actually, I take that back, there is probably a hundred fold larger risk of someone having an allergic reaction to peanuts, as there is someone having a problem with GMO's. GMO's are no different to normal plants, except that we have made them to suit our needs.

The fact that the labelling has not come about already only points to the fears of the growers and manfacturers that they wouldn't sell product if labelled Genetically Modified It becomes obvious that if the public aren't sold on the idea, they need to be convinced through studies and facts. I have a feeling that if proof is pursued, it will turn up evidence the industry doesn't want or care to know about. It would get in the way of profit.
It ppoints out the fears of the industry in spending billions of wasted dollars is all it does. There is no 'need' for labelling, and the only reason the public isn't sold on the idea, is because we have all be raised with this perverted concept of 'Messing with nature'. The fact that the public doesn't understand it, mixed in with the belief that nature is Good, and we aren't allowed to 'play god' makes a portion of public naturally worried, and then fear mongering by a few of those people make it a larger issue.

Outside of that, there is no need for genuine fear. All you need, is a good safe analytical approach. Something I am sure is put into every GMO.
 
  • #34
quantumcarl
770
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Originally posted by Another God


Outside of that, there is no need for genuine fear. All you need, is a good safe analytical approach. Something I am sure is put into every GMO.

Another God, what makes you "sure"?

How have any of the companies promoting GMOs proven their responsibility to humankind? These same companies have developed a profitable dependence among their farming customers.

It is a perceived dependence on artifically produced fertilizers and proven-to-be carcinogenic herbicides and pesticides where there was never a sole dependence on these methods/substances before. In many cases across North America there are once fertile lands that have been reduced to infertile mars-scapes as a result of incomplete environmental/human health impact studies.

Why entrust these same companies today with the wide implications inherent (no pun here) with the power of genetic engineering?

The alternatives are far more appetizing, in my opinion.
 
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