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GMO food a danger?

  1. May 23, 2009 #1
    Ok, someone pointed out to me a list of sources that "seem" like they are the real deal that proves the ingestion of GMO is harmful in lab rats. Unfortunately since this is not my field, I have no idea if this is the real deal. Can anyone verify this?

    If anyone is wondering, the context was when someone also linked http://www.financialsense.com/editorials/engdahl/2009/0521.html [Broken] that GMO food is harmful to your health.

    Anyone have any thoughts about this?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2009 #2
    Have you heard of any of these organizations? No.

    Do mice or rabbits do well on soybean or potato of ANY kind? - No.

    Get a clue -0 these are INTENDED to show an effect and the selction of plant and animal is designed in that manner.
     
  4. May 23, 2009 #3

    russ_watters

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    Putting the word "seem" in quotes and coming here to ask about the subject implies to me that your B.S. detector is working just fine. Yes, you have, in fact, stumbled upon anti-science crackpots who are going after GM food for reasons I can only imagine. GM foods have been around for longer than these people would like to admit and they do astonishing good for the world.

    Now I'm not saying that there are no risks, but the risks that there are are vanishingly small. Perhaps the biggest real risk is the risk of food allergies. When you mix dna of different plants, you may unknowingly end up feeding a person a plant protein they are allergic to. This risk, however, is not substantially different from just not being careful with the recipies of foods you eat (it is actually a big problem for people with peanut allergies). Thus, imo, it is not, strictly speaking, a GM food risk.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2009
  5. May 24, 2009 #4
    "Twelve female Swiss mice were fed ad libitum ona standard laboratory chow (Mulino & Frantoio delTrasimeno, Castiglione del Lago, PG, Italy) containing14% GM soybean (Padgette et al. 1995); in parallel, 12(control) mice were fed on the same diet with wildsoybean."

    http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cach...bean,”&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari
     
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  6. May 24, 2009 #5

    baywax

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    I've found the mother-lode of information on GMO benefits and impacts. All science and all backed with references. Let me lead into the study with a quote on the safety of GMOs. And let me remark that there are more unknowns about the effects of genetic modification than there are "knowns".

    http://www.bfn.de/fileadmin/MDB/documents/service/skript217.pdf
     
  7. May 24, 2009 #6

    Ygggdrasil

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    The article from the opening post which makes the strongest statement that GM foods are harmful (judging from the titles at least) is Irina Ermakova's 2006 article “Genetically modified soy leads to the decrease of weight and high mortality of rat pups of the first generation. Preliminary studies” from the Russian journal Ecosinform. Although it's hard to tell from the journal's website (http://www.ecosinform.ru/, google translation: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ru&u=http://www.ecosinform.ru), the journal does not appear to be a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

    Nature Biotechnology wrote a News Feature in 2007 examining Ermakova's claims about the dangers of GM soybeans. The article states that her "findings have yet to appear in a peer-reviewed journal and contradict publications in the literature." The article gives her the opportunity to explain her methods and findings, while also allows a group of four other researchers to critique her study (it should be noted that one of the four is a former staffer for a biotechnology organization and consultant to the biotechnology industry). After reviewing the details of Ermakova's study, the group writes in summary: "The experimental design does not follow internationally recognized protocols that were developed to guide researchers in proper design. The nature of the source material is unknown, the consumption by each animal is unknown and the composition of the diet is unknown. Too few animals were studied and gender differences were not recorded. The abnormally high mortality and low growth rates of the control groups point to poor animal stewardship."

    Links to the Nature Biotechnology article and the letters written in reply to the article can be found below (subscription required). In neither the original article nor her reply does Ermakova cite the Ecosinform article or any other publication when challenged that her work has yet to appear in a peer-reviewed journal. She can cite only a presentation made at a conference (link to non-peer reviewed conference paper also given below).

    Marshall A. "GM soybeans and health safety—a controversy reexamined" Nature Biotechnology 25, 981 - 987 (2007). doi:10.1038/nbt0907-981.

    "Correspondence: GM soybeans—revisiting a controversial format" Nature Biotechnology 25, 1351-1360 (2007). <http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v25/n12/index.html#cr>

    Ermakova, I.V. Influence of genetically modified soya on the birth-weight and survival of rat pups. in Proceedings of the Conference Epigenetics, Transgenic Plants and Risk Assessment, Frankfort am Main, Germany, December 1, 2005 (ed. Moch, K.) 41–48 (Öko-Institut, Freiburg, 2006). <http://www.oeko.de/files/forschungsergebnisse/application/octet-stream/download.php?id=277>[/URL]
     
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  8. May 24, 2009 #7

    atyy

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    I followed Ygggdrasil's suggestions, and found this comment by Chassy et al in the correspondence section (presumably not necessarily peer reviewed) of Nature Biotechnology 25, 1356 - 1358 (2007): "We feel it is important to stress here that unlike the studies we cited, the reports from Malatesta and colleagues do not conform with established international standards and protocols and fail to document the source, the composition or the identity of the soybeans under study. But in contrast to Ermakova, these authors are scientifically cautious about the biological significance of their observations. We suggest that readers compare the literature we have cited with the three papers to which Ermakova refers and make a judgment for themselves about the effects of GM soy."
     
  9. May 24, 2009 #8

    Andy Resnick

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    This whole thread is based on a false premise- that GMO food is new. Humans have been genetically modifying foods since the beginning of agriculture. We can evolve plants (generally speaking) faster and more efficiently now.

    So, the debate really needs to be in terms of what is different- keeping in mind that 'naturally occurring' DNA hybridization is not unheard of.
     
  10. May 24, 2009 #9

    baywax

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    I think the question is asking about the dangers of what has been taking place during the last 25 years or so, where spider's genes are introduced to embryonic goats or the genetics of crops? Do you have any examples of these kinds of genetic modifications taking place "since the beginning of agriculture"?

    http://blogcritics.org/scitech/article/implanted-spider-genes-let-goats-produce/ [Broken]

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/67114104784q55n3/
     
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  11. May 25, 2009 #10

    Andy Resnick

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    I don't know of any specific examples of taking specific (desirable) genes from a spider and manually transfecting plant genomes, but here's a few examples of genetic modifications:

    http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/crops_03.html

    http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/timeline/corn.htm (from 1965)

    http://www.landscapeimagery.com/tomato.html (1883)

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/y4011e/y4011e0c.htm (1962)

    Clearly these are not from the dawn of history either, but the webernets record keeping doesn't go back that far. Again, in principle there is no difference between manually selecting hybridized crops and manually generating hybridized crops. Given that many shared genes appear in species as varied as humans through yeast, what is the real objection?
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2009
  12. May 25, 2009 #11

    Monique

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    How can there not be a principle difference between the technological modifications that can be made now and the cross-pollination that has been carried out over the centuries? Clearly the molecular biology is very different, the genetics is very different as well (I don't think you can cross a pea-plant with a cherry tree).. to play the devil's advocate.
     
  13. May 25, 2009 #12

    atyy

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    No, of course there is no difference. In fact, Andy Resnick's only possible flaw is that his argument is not broad enough. We should consider evolution to be GMO. So the question is not GMO in general, but specific GMOs. By evolution, mushrooms are GMOs. Many are good to eat, and many are poisonous.
     
  14. May 25, 2009 #13

    Andy Resnick

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    I understand. However, I think you would agree that modern genetic engineering methods also do not 'cross a pea-plant with a cherry tree'. The only difference between pre-molecular biology and today is the specificity (and rational design) of the manipulation.
     
  15. May 25, 2009 #14

    baywax

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    There are many who object to genetically modified crops and livestock. Apparently their objections are real... whether the rational behind their objections is sound is another question. Its also apparent that any negative press about GMOs whether science or human interest is poo pooed as soon as its out the gate.

    I think it mostly has to do with the general manipulative and monopolizing nature of the business. Not to mention the fact that none of the "hybrids" have been clinically tested for 5 years before being released for consumption and that transparency of field results among the few companies practicing GM is either skewed or limited. Much the way many trials in science are tweeked to show positive results.
     
  16. May 25, 2009 #15
    Have there been any credible studies citing GMOs as a healthhazard in Cell or Nature? Something I've learned about the environmental movement is too often they will give mis-leading and often dis-honest information to push their agenda, corrupting whatever science they have to in order to get the job done. A lot of people starved to death in Zambia a few years ago because they used these strategies to convince the country's leadership that the donated GMO food was a major healthrisk, despite the lack of evidence.

    So you're saying reputable scientific bodies are corrupt and untrustworthy? That's quite a charge to make.
     
  17. May 25, 2009 #16

    mgb_phys

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    The problem isn't necessarily the GMO's DNA it's the reason for it.
    If you create wheat that can tolerate 10x as much weedkiller then farmers will use more weedkiller, the resistance will be passed onto the weeds and so more will be used. There are health problems in the surrounding area because of the dangerous concentrations of weedkiller - however 'safe' the GMO wheat is.
     
  18. May 26, 2009 #17

    Andy Resnick

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    That's one application of genetic manipulations, certainly. But, so are manipulations to make plants more drought-tolerant, to (IIRC) engineer goats to secrete insulin in milk, to increase yields, decrease time to harvest, incorporate antibiotics directly into the plant (to decrease pesticide application), to increase the viability and lifetime of the seeds, engineer algae to generate Vitamin A, engineer bacteria to eat oil (or poop oil)...
     
  19. May 26, 2009 #18

    mgb_phys

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    The problem is that all the PR releases are about drought resistant crops for Africa all the actual products are Roundup resistant wheat.
     
  20. May 26, 2009 #19

    turbo

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    And plants that produce their own pesticides. Through genetic manipulation, much of the corn grown today produces the same toxin secreted by bacillus thuringiensis (cry toxin), so that when an insect eats part of the plant, the toxin paralyzes the insect's digestive system, killing it. The use of transgenic crops may injure beneficial insects - we just don't know for sure, and information may be a long time coming, if ever. Transgenics may also increase the natural resistance of insect pests, making them harder to control.
     
  21. May 26, 2009 #20

    Any evidence?
     
  22. May 26, 2009 #21

    mgb_phys

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    Monsanto expect Roundup Ready Wheat and Soybeans to account for 40% of it's revenue. It's not stated what proportion will come from drought resistant crops for Africa but I'm betting it's not the other 60%.
    It's also not clear from their statement if the 40% includes the cost of using much more Roundup or that is in addition.
     
  23. May 26, 2009 #22

    baywax

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    I'm saying that there are some "reputable scientific bodies" that are more interested in getting a grant to continue their work and lifestyle than presenting exactly what the results of their studies show. Not hard to believe and not "quite a charge" at all!
     
  24. May 26, 2009 #23

    baywax

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    Like I said there's more crucial unknowns to GM than anyone could be comfortable with. Thus... there are objections.

    I control the out of control insects with a little whip and chair.

    There's been success controlling them in India with sugar water and soda pop sprayed on the crops. Once the larvae etc are soaked in sugar, the ants come and eat them.
     
  25. May 27, 2009 #24

    Moonbear

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    On the positive side, using genetic modification instead of selective breeding ensures that ONLY the gene of interest is inserted into your target strain/breed/species. One of the downsides of selective breeding is the unintended consequences of introducing not only the gene you're interested in, but also linked genes that end up having undesirable consequences.

    From a nutritional standpoint, and for human health, GM crops are not much of a concern. It is a legitimate concern to worry about non-target species for things like insect resistance. Then again, similar issues exist for direct application of insecticides. GM may be safer because there's no "spillover" of the insecticide beyond the plant itself, such as you'd get if you had a crop duster treat your fields. It's not realistic to think that large scale agriculture can be sufficiently productive and profitable to feed all the people of this planet without using insecticides of some sort to protect the crops.
     
  26. May 28, 2009 #25
    "Monsanto sparked controversy nationwide with the introduction of Bovine somatotropin, abbreviated as rBST and commonly known as rBGH. It is a synthetic hormone that is injected into cows to increase milk production. IGF-1 is a hormone stimulated by rBGH in the cow's blood stream, which is directly responsible for the increase in milk production. IGF-1 is a natural hormone found in the milk of both humans and cows causing the quick growth of infants. Though this hormone is naturally found in mothers to be fed to their infants it produces adverse effects in non-infants. IGF-1 behaves as a cancer accelerator in adults and non-infants; this biologically active hormone is associated with breast cancer (corellation shown in premenopausal women[24]), prostate cancer[25], lung cancer[26] and colon cancers[26][27].
    However, a large Monsanto-sponsored survey of milk showed no significant difference in rBST levels in milk labeled as "rBST-Free" or "Organic" vs milk not labeled as such.[28]
    According to the New York Times[29] Monsanto's brand of rBST, Posilac, has recently (March 2008) been the focus for a pro-rBST advocacy group called AFACT, made up of large dairy business conglomerates and closely affiliated with Monsanto itself. This group, whose acronym stands for American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology, has engaged in large-scale lobbying efforts at the state level to prevent milk which is rBST-free from being labeled as such. As milk labeled as hormone-free has proved enormously popular with consumers, the primary justification by Afact for their efforts has been that rBST is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that the popularity of milk sold without it is damaging what they claim to be the right of dairy producers to use a technology that maximizes their profits. Monsanto claims that labeling of hormone-free milk takes advantage of consumers by allowing higher prices for the milk by suggesting that it is "better" or "safer" than BST milk, when in fact, there is no difference. Monsanto is requesting that companies that advertise their milk as "rBST-free" be required to add the FDA label claiming that rBST has been found safe for human consumption and no differences exist between hormone and hormone-free milk. Thus far, a large-scale negative consumer response to Afact's legislative and regulatory efforts has kept state regulators from pushing through strictures that would ban hormone-free milk labels, though several politicians have tried, including Pennsylvania's agriculture secretary Dennis Wolff, who tried to ban rBST-free milk labeling on the grounds that "consumers are confused". Proposed labeling changes have been floated by Afact lobbyists in New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Utah, Missouri and Vermont thus far."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#rBGH_.28recombinant_Bovine_Growth_Hormone.29

    This example just goes to show how science can go in the closet when money and lobbying is involved. This is why I am skeptical in general when it comes to Monsanto products. If they did engineer a plant that say depleted soil, or caused health problems, kidney damage, or cancer, I wouldn't expect any regulatory agency to do anything about it given the industries strong influence over government. I am also not particularly enthusiastic about the worlds food supply being engineered by the makers of agent orange. Because I personally don't trust sponsored surveys or FDA regulators, I would like to see studies in reputable journals confirming that there are no health, or soil risks and until then i'll assume it is business as usual.
     
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