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GMO Ban in Sonoma County

  1. Oct 28, 2005 #1

    loseyourname

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    There is a local measure on the ballot, Measure M, that would ban production of any GMOs in the county for 10 years. Is there anybody here who can do a definitive debunking of the fearmongers who are so convinced that modifying by splicing is so much more dangerous than hybridization and selective breeding? How is this seriously going to help anybody but the local organic farmers who will no longer have to compete with farmers using stronger organisms?

    Here's an overview of the measure:

    http://www.smartvoter.org/2005/11/08/ca/sn/meas/M/

    I guess if Ivan feels fit, he can move this to Politics.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2005 #2

    russ_watters

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    There's no way that would stand up to a court challenge.

    Regarding the issue itself, though, the problem is that it's based on fear, so you can't just point to a couple of studies showing no problems. Fear-based beliefs use a shotgun/flood approach and trying to debunk them quickly gets you saturated.

    edit: bad typo...
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2005
  4. Oct 28, 2005 #3

    Moonbear

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    Are there any pharmaceutical companies in Sonoma County? This measure wouldn't permit them to produce any recombinant proteins. It doesn't even look like it would permit people to purchase those pharmaceuticals, such as insulin. It's not what someone usually thinks about when they think of a GMO, but the wording sounds unclear enough that it seems to include such things.

    It sounds like it would cripple your local farmers. Buyers aren't limited against using GMOs at food processing plants, but it means they won't be able to buy them locally.

    There's no evidence any of the modifications being made are harmful, otherwise the FDA, USDA and EPA wouldn't authorize their use for human consumption.
     
  5. Oct 28, 2005 #4

    Les Sleeth

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    But see, in my opinion that attitude is part of the problem. In a democracy, and especially on the level of a small community, you can't go faster than people can understand. Just because the experts are convinced it is safe doesn't mean they can force their opinions down the community's throat since it is the community who will have to pay if the experts' opinion is wrong. Since I live here, and know a lot of people involved in the agri-economy, I have been hearing a lot about the concerns.

    It might be that GMOs are beneficial. But it is up to those who believe that to make sure the voting populace understands it. Why should people vote yes on what they aren't sure isn't going to damage the local economy? It reminds me of the push for growth hormones in the dairy industry. It wasn't just the push, but the dairy industry's underhanded success with a law that forced local milk companies to NOT be able to proclaim their milk was growth-hormone free (the local milk companies courageously defied the law). That was a nasty bit of politics there, and in my opinion, partially responsible for the current reactionary attitude toward the GMO issue.

    Acting like people are stupid "fearmongers" because they don't want to approve something before they understand the science isn't going to help. Besides, how certain are we really of long term effects? Why not err on the side of caution? Our economy is doing just fine here, what's the big hurry?
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2005
  6. Oct 28, 2005 #5

    Moonbear

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    Isn't it their responsibility to learn about it before deciding it's bad and running around like Chicken Little?

    What about the farms already growing GMO crops there? It sounds like they're going to get smacked with a massive bill to destroy their crops.

    As for erring on the side of caution, is it better to keep spraying your crops with pesticides rather than using varieties that are pest-resistant? Keep in mind, it isn't preventing them from bringing in GMO foods, just from growing them there; I guess you might have riots in CA if you couldn't get your tofu and soy milk (over 70% of soybean crops are GMO).

    But, this still doesn't address the concern I raised...this bill sounds like it is worded in such a way that would prevent people from obtaining necessary medicines produced using methods that would fit the broad definition of genetic engineering in that bill. It only seems to exempt research, not production of medicines, and exempts bringing in food products, but not pharmaceutical products.

    The scientists DO tell the general public it's safe, over and over again. So, it is fear-mongering out of ignorance. If someone is running around trying to prohibit something because they can't be bothered to educate themselves about it, and instead spread untruths about its safety, that's fear-mongering.
     
  7. Oct 28, 2005 #6

    Les Sleeth

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    Don't you, like me, live in the real world? People are how they are, you can't go around demanding reality be as you think it "should" be. This is a democracy, which means to get the vote people have to be convinced.

    If the GMO guys have the evidence, and if they want to use that technology, then the weight is on them to change the status quo.

    If your logic is correct, I agree. But logic isn't evidence. You have to win the credibility battle no matter how convinced you personally are that you are right.

    You sarcasm aside, the voting people are like a judge in a court. They sit and wait for the precedents, the evidence, etc. because the status quo is on their side. Lots of people make claims, and do so supported by supposed scientific facts. Yet the other side does the same thing!

    This isn't about the truth, it is about how to properly make the case to the voting public, and I think it is condescending and arrogant to blame the public when the new guys have failed to make their case.

    Again, the people aren't convinced.

    This is so funny. Why do you think scientists should automatically be believed when they are notoriously short-sited? (You know, reductionism?) You just assume if science stamps its approval then the population should follow along like nice little sheep. Please.

    Long term effects is a serious issue.

    How many scientists were lining up behind the growth hormone issue? Scientific opinions, like anyone else's, can be bought. It is no reflection on pure science (or you) that people want to be sure. Be real please. When there is money involved, it's best to make decisions very, very carefully and to take all opinions with a grain of salt.

    This community is extremely concerned about environmental issues. You know, we could see their tentativeness as a sincere worry (I do). That's why I resent the fear-mongering insinuations.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2005
  8. Oct 29, 2005 #7

    russ_watters

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    Les Sleeth, that's a pretty decent argument against democracy that you are making. It's argument from ignorance. And while I must concede it does have some merrit - a great many people will fight to the death to stay ignorant - I cannot accept it and this country isn't based on it.

    You're saying that since the ignorant are ignorant, the experts can't be trusted or should just be ignored! Else the experts should have all the power and the ignorant should have none.

    Democracy comes with responsibility. The ignorant have the rsponsibility to educate themselves before they vote on something. It's not a matter of voting to ban GMO if you are ignorant and voting not to if you aren't, its about voting not to ban it if you are not ignorant and not voting unless you know what you are voting about.

    The very same logic on which this referrendum and your argument are based is why there hasn't been a nuclear power plant built in the US in 25 years, while 20,000 people die every year due to the effects of air pollution. The experts haven't been able to convince the ignorant that nuclear power is better, therefore the ignorant must be right - nevermind the fact that 500,000 people have died as a result!
     
  9. Oct 29, 2005 #8

    loseyourname

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    Most of the concerns I have heard are of cross-pollination. There is the risk that farmers that live adjacent to farmers using patented GMO crops could face license infringements by inadvertently growing the patented crops. I haven't seen any legitimate safety risks brought up, though. It's all what ifs. Frankly, I don't really understand, as every crop we currently grow is already genetically modified, and this law would not even ban genetic modification - it would only ban modification through splicing. Why should that be any more dangerous? It's not like they're splicing in genes from poisonous frogs. Every gene that might be spliced into a plant crop almost certainly already exists in another crop somewhere. If it's not hurting people in that crop, why would it hurt them in another?

    They have been. They've been a great boon to the farmers that use them. This just seems to me like a ploy by the many organic farmers around here that are fed up with having to compete against those who have better technology, so they want to ban the technology. I could be wrong and maybe this isn't just about politics, but until I see any real safety concerns brought up - or maybe an example of one of the thousands of GMO crops that have been in use for a very long time actually hurting someone - why should I believe that?

    I think you might be confused as to what this measure is calling for. No one is asking the general population to approve GMO foodstuffs. Food stuffs are approved by the FDA and USDA, and any GMO in use has already been approved and has been in use for a long time. This measure is seeking to change what is already the status quo. You're making it sound like it's the other way around.

    I didn't say anybody was being stupid, but they are spreading fear that GMOs might be dangerous in ways that have absolutely no substantiation whatsoever. They are then using the fears that they have created - simply from ignorance, not from any evidence that genetically modifying crops by splicing rather than cross-breeding or some other technique actually increases the risk of anything - to try and influence public policy. That seems to fit the definition of 'fearmonger' pretty closely.

    The thing that really gets me is that there is already the labelling law. Any food that is genetically modified through splicing is labelled "GE" and anybody that is afraid to eat these foods has the choice of not purchasing them. Why ban farmers from growing them?
     
  10. Oct 30, 2005 #9

    Les Sleeth

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    I am sure you know the downside of majority rules. I agree. But that's how it works, so you can't go whining about it. Besides, on the upside sometimes the caution of the public, ignorantly inspired or not, keeps us from behaving precipitously. And then what about those times experts hurt the public? Remember thalidomide?


    I am not saying that at all. I am saying that experts can be bought, or experts can have an personal agenda which biases their opinions. For example, some "experts" right now are saying because a human being is nothing but genetically determined chemistry, we should treat mental illness first and foremost with chemistry (drugs). Yet it isn't proven that humans are nothing but genetically determined chemistry, it's just the opinion of some people.

    So should we blindly follow an expert when we know some opinions are being influence by a belief system?


    Well, what if the ignorant in this case have forced nuclear advocates to develop safety precautions to a level they really needed to be at before we started using that technology? The "experts" had their chance at the start and scared people with failures. The lesson is, be sure of yourself before you lay new and potentially dangerous/econonmically threatening technology on people.

    It would be nice if all opinions were 100% trustable, but just because someone claims they are a scientist doesn't mean everyone should lie down like mindless sheep and go along with their prescriptions. Is that how you run your life? I noticed no one answered my point about growth hormones in milk. That was a betrayal of the public's trust if you ask me. Everytime something like that happens it undermines the credibility of experts.

    In the case of GMO, there are perceived reasons for caution because of potential economic consequences. This county is very dependent on its crops. Besides, I think you'd be surprised at the level of education here, it's a pretty hip place. My take on it all is that the concept is too new for most people to make an intelligent decision about, so the resistance isn't from fearmongering, it is just that people want to know what they are doing.

    Again I ask, what's the big hurry?
     
  11. Oct 30, 2005 #10

    Les Sleeth

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    You probably can't tell I share your opinion that there seems to be no reason for not going ahead with GMO. I am merely humbled by the will and the ideals of the community. Too many times I have ranted and raved about how slow things change only to be grateful later when some unforeseen development showed up.

    In terms of ideals, this county (I am not sure if you live here or not) has a lot of people devoted to "purity," which to them means natural. If they perceive GMO as unnatural, then you can be sure they are going to resist. I could look at the negative aspect of knee-jerk reactions, but I personally really appreciate the love of the naturalness ideal that some fight for here.

    I could be naive, but I think that if GMO can be shown to be natural to the idealists, the resistance will stop. Rather than obsess about what they don't understand, we could appreciate their devotion.
     
  12. Oct 31, 2005 #11

    Moonbear

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    Oh, I didn't take that from your earlier posts at all.

    But how does one show that to them? As your above posts indicate, if the problem is they are demanding proof from the experts (okay, their idea of proof is our idea of evidence...they'll use the word proof, we'll offer evidence), but then turn around and refuse to accept the evidence offered by scientists because they don't trust them, then isn't that a catch-22? And let's not forget there IS a lot of scaremongering going on, and people believe it, so how do you counter that?
     
  13. Oct 31, 2005 #12

    Les Sleeth

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    The resistance you see in me is to the attitude that because "experts" say to do it, the population should automatically go along (plus the occasional insinuation that it's only due to ignorance/stupidity that the public doesn't agree with experts).

    I have offered several posts to explain that experts can and have been wrong, that experts aren't always unbiased because of personal beliefs or agendas, and that experts can be bought by one side of an argument.

    Secondly, while the experts may have devoted a lot of time to studying a subject, the average voting person hasn't. So when the experts come in totally sure of themselves because all they've done for the last couple of years is look at one thing, there is no way a layperson is going to be able to evaluate expert's claims so quickly.

    Third, a community is run by the decisions of community leaders and voters. We all live here and have to live with the results of our decisions, while experts can move on to the next research project. The agriculture here is important (grapes mostly, then organic farms, and some Gravenstein apples - hey, I live in a vineyard myself). There is no way anybody is going to be rushed into a potentially dangerous decision until they understand all the issues.

    And that last point is really what I think it's all about . . . needing to understand before deciding, and not yet having enough time/information to do it. It isn't so much an extraordinary amount of distrust of experts, it just a healthy skepticism by business people who know expert opinions aren't always what they appear.


    Well, I think some people do get scared when if feels like something is being rushed past them before they really understand the consequences. I read this opinion in the editorial section yesterday entitled "Time to Pause":

    "[a reader's] Oct. 22 letter on the issues surrounding genetically modified plants and other oranisms unfortunately misrepresented the level of independent scientific investigations into GMO safety, as well as scientific concerns about environmental hazards from broadscale cultivation of genetically engineered crops.

    The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Healthy Inspection Service procedures for approving new GMOs not only allow their creators to run all the safety tests on their own organisms but also prevents independent scientific reviews of the data from those tests, and evaluates fewer than 10% of the field tests of previously-approved crops. Approval requires only the applicant's declaration that the intended uses of the GMO have no 'intent' to harm other organisms. The GMO creators can apply for approval to commercialize a product via a 'petition,' which is basically a disclaimer of the need for any government oversight.

    Through this regulatory framework, unrestricted transgenic plant cultivation goes on with effectively no organized monitoring. Other nation's GMO experts, including some who support genetic engineering, have ridiculed the USDA's process. It is time to pause and take a close look at the experiment we are running on ourselves and on our children."


    To me, that's just how a democracy works, and a smart way too. When people want to be sure about what they are voting for, there is nothing wrong with slowing things down.
     
  14. Oct 31, 2005 #13

    Moonbear

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    You realize a lot of what you've just written is self-contradictory, don't you? If the lay public is not educated on something, how can they make correct decisions? They should ask the experts, and the experts should explain to them. But then you're arguing you can't trust the experts and the experts aren't right. Well, how do you know that if you're not an expert?

    On the other hand, I've read more into the political side of this other than the scaremongering anti-GMO side of it, and given the crops being grown in the area, and the types of farms growing them, as well as the fact that it's a county law, so will only affect unincorporated county lands, the net effect is that it won't do much of anything. The only crops there for which GMO crops are and up-and-coming issue are grapes, and by most predictions, a GMO grape ready for market is about 10 years off anyway (they are in production now), and the particular disease they are trying to develop them to be resistant for is not of much significance to the Sonoma county vineyards because their climate already prevents the disease from really spreading there. It would have more significance for growing grapes in climates that aren't currently suitable for grape-growing because of this disease (I looked that up yesterday, so don't remember what one it was).

    Really, the only objection I would have to GMO crops is on a political scale more than a biological/safety scale, and that's the bullying Monsanto does to get farmers to buy their licenses. I do think that if the genes spread through wild pollination, Monsanto should have no recourse to collect license fees for the use of the crops to which it spreads. If university scientists were producing the seeds and giving them away to farmers for free, I wonder if the whole thing would have long since blown-over?
     
  15. Oct 31, 2005 #14

    Les Sleeth

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    I don’t see it as anything self-contradictory about my thinking. What do you do if experts disagree (which is the case much of the time)? It’s just how political battles are fought, how each side offers “experts” to try to make their case, and the attitude a savvy public gets toward all the supposed expert opinions. Acquiring an informed opinion outside one’s own expertise may take time and research. I know I have several opinions up in the air right now as I study both sides of the issues. To me, that’s just what’s required to come to a sound decision.

    Personally I think genetic engineering is an exciting field. I am particularly hopeful for what recombinant DNA technology might contribute to strengthening the immune system.
     
  16. Nov 1, 2005 #15
    loseyourname,
    I just thought I'd throw out one scenario where GMO actually does worry me. First off I'd like to mention that I've grown up on a family dairy farm that grew corn and soybeans. About 6 years ago we sold out to a larger corporate style farmer. What drove us and many others out was the high efficiency and production capacity that large scale farming is capable of.
    Now believe it or not I don't have anything against increasing efficiency in fact I think that should be the goal. What I do object to is the terrible shortsightedness we have employed in creating a more efficient farming structure. I would say the huge problem is that we have mainly dedicated ourselves to growing two crops in the US, corn and soybeans. My opinion is that the ecosystem is not nor will ever be suited for growing two crops year after year after year. Genetic engineering in agriculture happens to be done mainly on these two crops simply because that is the system we have committed to. I really don’t have anything inherently against GE but I am definitely against perpetuating a destructive mode of farming by continually applying a band aid fixes. Just look at corn production, currently the nitrogen needed to grow corn is the single largest non point source pollution in watersheds. It is most likely the cause for the 5000 mile dead spot in the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore corn itself is not a healthy crop for anyone. The cattle that are fattened by it are unhealthy just as the people who drink the corn soft drinks are unhealthy. An argument has even been made by David Pimentel (Cornell Professor) that the when inputs such as nitrogen fertilizer, tractor fuel consumption, topsoil loss, and transportation are taken into account corn takes more energy to produce than it yields! Now my point is that companies like Monsanto are naturally going to genetically engineer corn and soybeans to gain control over these existing markets whether they are flawed or not, after all it is capitalism. In fact their roundup ready soybean varieties have done just that. The problem is that genetic engineering seems to only further enable us to go done a path that may prove destructive. So fundamentally I am not against GE after all that is really how we developed crops throughout millennia, what I am against is an approach to farming that it seems to represent. That approach is an attempt to homogenize all farms into corn and soybean production operations that are controlled by industry players like Monsanto and John Deere. This approach in my opinion simply doesn’t make sense, however it’s not to say GE doesn’t make sense. In fact I think incredibly successful farming techniques could possibly come out of it. One approach that may prove to be more successful would be to try to produce a variety of crops that mimic the ecosystem. For example I live in what formerly was known as the oak, hazel, savanna region of Wisconsin. This areas ecosystem naturally establishes itself with Oaks, hazelnuts and prairie grasses. Rather than raise corn and soybeans some rather ingenious people have decided to investigate the crop potential of mimicking this natural system. Consequently they developed a “Hybrid Hazelnut” bush that grows readily without chemical assistance, doesn’t need to be replanted, produces net calorie yields comparable to other crops, can be mechanically harvested, saves topsoil, is high in protein and omega fats, and maintains much of the areas natural biodiversity. Now this doesn’t mean I think all farmers should go and plant hazelnuts, that would be the whole corn mistake all over. All it suggests is that we should investigate growing crops within in ecosystem rather than designing our own, and I’m willing to bet GE could probably greatly assist in this process, but that just doesn’t seem to be the aim of the researchers at Monsanto and for that reason, many “organic hippies” and myself are concerned.
     
  17. Nov 1, 2005 #16
    Good post, Roamer.

    Monsanto is in the business of making money, and have the publicly stateted aim of owning more rights to living organisms than any other company. You can't blame them for firing scientists who blow the whistle on toxicity levels in, for example, GM potato tests (they are responsible to shareholders, not the plants), but they do fire them.

    While we're on the topic of being informed vs scare-mongering:

    "Hungarian researcher, Arpad Pusztai, who found that genetically engineered potatoes seemed to cause sickness and poor brain development in rats. When he attempted publication, his employer, Rowett Research Institute -- which had received a $224,000 grant from Monsanto -- fired him and disbanded his research team.

    Pusztai, senior scientist at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, has published 270 scientific papers, and is widely known as the world's leading expert on lectins. When he began conducting experiments in which he fed genetically engineered potatoes to rats, he considered himself a "very enthusiastic supporter" of gene splicing biotechnology. However, the rats fed on genetically modified potatoes showed a variety of unexpected and disturbing changes, including smaller livers, hearts, and brains -- and weakened immune systems. Sadly, the rats' growth was impaired, and some developed tumors and showed significant shrinkage of the brain after only 10 days of eating genetically modified potatoes.

    The results of Pusztai's tests were shocking. When he appeared on the British TV program "World In Action," Pusztai was asked, point-blank, whether he personally would eat genetically modified potatoes. "No," he answered, adding that "it is very, very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs." For this, Dr. Pusztai was suddenly and inexplicably fired. Only later was it discovered that the Rowett Institute is partially funded by Monsanto.

    A subsequent panel of 20 independent scientists from 13 countries, however, confirmed both Dr. Pusztai's data and his findings, and the Institute was forced to reinstate Dr. Pusztai."
     
  18. Nov 1, 2005 #17

    Moonbear

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    Do you really think this is an issue with GE, or more with the fact that corn and soybeans are traditionally a large portion of the cash crops grown in the US, thus more appealing to companies looking to make a profit with GE? From what I've been reading, there are more consumer-directed crops being worked on now, such as rice that is engineered to have higher vitamin content. In an ideal world (and recognizing we don't live in an ideal world), the GE crops would permit increasing yield without increasing the amount of land used for those crops, thus leaving more land for other crops, or to revert back to more natural habitats. Another potential, but WAY down the road (i.e., more than 10 years probably) advantage for using GE would be to expand the growing area of other crops that are currently very limited in where they can be grown. For example, cold-hardy or frost-resistant citrus crops, or a lettuce that grows better in hot weather, or more drought-resistant varieties, etc.

    I personally think varieties engineered to be more suitable to different climates, along with those that provide added nutritional benefits to foods that are usually fortified anyway, are more worth pursuing than things like disease resistance. Unless you can guarantee that that resistance prevents 100% of infection, GE crops aren't likely to fare any better in the long run than crops produced by traditional selective breeding, in that eventually, only the disease organisms not affected by the resistance gene will be left, and we'll be back to square one on needing pesticides, fungicides, etc. That doesn't make it harmful, just short-lived as a money-maker. If at some point Round-Up no longer works well on weeds, Monsanto's Round-Up Ready soybeans aren't going to seem so special anymore.
     
  19. Nov 2, 2005 #18
    Moonbear,
    I think you are exactly right, the inherent problem is that corn and soybeans are the main cash crops, therefore they recieve the GE work, even though they will continue to remain a destructive crop. So perhaps I am actually criticizing a flaw of capitalism.
    I couldn't agree with you more, we need to adapt farming to different climates, different ecosystems and produce healthier food! My opinion is that this should not nor can not be done with just a handful of foods. Rice, corn and soybeans are probably not flexible enough to fit into all the different farming ecosystems, no matter how much GE we use. However as we both are aware of, large companies have the money to GE and they naturally work with crops that will earn them the most money. Now I am not saying that this couldn't change, perhaps someone will develop ecolgically sound agriculture systems that prove profitable, then GE may help agriculture become efficent and ecologically friendly.
     
  20. Nov 2, 2005 #19

    Les Sleeth

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    My own concerns are long-term effects of eating genetically engineered foods. I don't actually know about the risks of that yet, so it leaves me with mixed feelings about resisting/accepting genetically modifed foods. In general, I don't trust messing with mother nature when it comes to food. Yet some of the promised advantages of genetic engineering are appealing too. One of my worries is that I will be less nourished somehow because some nutrient is altered just enough to prevent my ability to utilize it fully, and that that won't show up until there's a health problem.

    What if, given the drive to economize Roamer spoke of, at some point in the future all commercial food stuffs are being genetically modified, dairy cows are being hormonally manipulated, etc. so that what nature took so long to establish we've altered in a generation? If there are nourishment problems, is there a risk that we won't be able to return to what we had?
     
  21. Nov 3, 2005 #20

    Moonbear

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    Nutrient content is something that can be fairly easily evaluated. If someone told me you're going to have to eat 3 potatoes to get the nutrient content of 1, I'd think twice about eating those potatoes. This type of effect is not unknown to scientists, and would be considered, especially if a plant is growing much larger. There were some studies done similar to this related to greenhouse gases...basically, plants were grown in an environment enriched with carbon dioxide to simulate what the environment is predicted to be like if current models hold up. The plants grew huge! Then they introduced some animals into the mix...caterpillars. The caterpillars didn't fare very well. So, to test if it was due to the trees or direct effects of the carbon dioxide, they fed the caterpillars leaves from the trees but kept the caterpillars housed in normal environment chambers. It turned out the huge trees were not sufficiently nutrient dense, so the little caterpillars just couldn't eat enough to get adequate nutrients. Nutrient content is very carefully evaluated for that very reason.

    Our current crops and livestock are far from what nature ever established. We've been practicing selective breeding for so long, domestic cattle have no resemblance to their wild ancestors, and there's already very little genetic variation among these domestic species. A problem with selective breeding is when traits are linked, we might select for a good trait, and get with it a bad one. Dairy cattle are being selected as high producers, but are having increasing reproductive difficulties, and tend to have very poor maternal behavior as well (the maternal behavior isn't so important since the calves don't need to rely on their mothers so much as beef calves would). With genetic engineering, we could actually avoid some of the detrimental effects of selective breeding. We could just manipulate a gene for milk production without manipulating a gene affecting fertility (theoretically anyway...neither method will be better if the same gene is needed for both). The same is true for corn varieties. These corn plants with big ears full of big kernels that stay well-attached to the cob are the result of selective breeding. The ancestral corn had only few, small kernels that easily fell off the cob. It's a very different plant than what we have now, and nature had little to do with it. With GE, we have better potential to also remove what we've added in should it turn out to have been a bad idea, for any reason. With traditional selective breeding, once you have bred out a gene, you can't get it back, and once you've gotten it inserted, it can take a long time over many generations of crops to get rid of it.
     
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