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Genetically Modified Organisms

  1. Should be labeled

    8 vote(s)
  2. Should not be labeled

    3 vote(s)
  1. Apr 4, 2003 #1
    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?
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2003
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2003 #2


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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.
  4. Apr 5, 2003 #3
    Well put, LURCH.
  5. Apr 5, 2003 #4


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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.
  6. Apr 5, 2003 #5
    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.
  7. Apr 5, 2003 #6
    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?
  8. Apr 5, 2003 #7
    Burn all the cows

    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)
  9. Apr 6, 2003 #8


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    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.
  10. Apr 6, 2003 #9
    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.
  11. Apr 7, 2003 #10


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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.
  12. Apr 7, 2003 #11


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    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.
  13. Apr 7, 2003 #12
    Re: Re: Genetically Modified Organisms

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


    ~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

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

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

    ~Increased food security for growing populations



    ~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


    ~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

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

    ~New advances may be skewed to interests of rich countries

    I think these points would fit on a Wheaties box... in any language.
  14. Apr 7, 2003 #13


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    Re: Re: Genetically Modified Organisms

    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.
  15. Apr 7, 2003 #14
    Re: Re: Re: Genetically Modified Organisms

    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.
  16. Apr 7, 2003 #15


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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....
  17. Apr 7, 2003 #16


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    Re: Re: Re: Genetically Modified Organisms

    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.
  18. Apr 8, 2003 #17
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Genetically Modified Organisms

    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.
  19. Apr 8, 2003 #18


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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.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2003
  20. Apr 8, 2003 #19


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    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?

    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.
  21. Apr 8, 2003 #20
    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:

    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.
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