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www.goodeatsfanpage.com • View topic - QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

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QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby Chef Mongo » Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:43 am

Where do you stand on the genetically modified foods issue? Do you see such things as necessary for survival? A good thing? An evil thing?
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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby nolafoodie » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:42 pm

Genetic modification, in and of itself, is not harmful to humans or any other animals that will consume such food, as the proteins are broken down in digestion. (Disclaimer: there have been accounts that some GM foods have triggered sensitivities in people consuming them, because they take on other characteristics besides the intended ones. Last time I checked, there was no strong evidence one way or the other, but it's been a while, so it might be worth a look-see at the extant literature.)

However, what is most definitely harmful is the amount of chemical residue that these foods would contain. In general, GM crops are designed by chemical companies to be able to withstand massive amounts of whatever chemicals the company is peddling. Take the ubiquitous Monsanto Roundup-ready example: Monsanto, the company that makes the weed killer Roundup, genetically modified some crops to be immune to Roundup, so that farmers could go ape$#!+ using Roundup all over their crops and kill everything but the crop they are trying to farm. While this is a highly effective and efficient way to get rid of weeds that could harm crops, the fact remains that these crops have been bathed in herbicide. You gonna eat that?

And that's just the self-centered human safety argument, without considering the ecological consequences of that herbicide bath. What happens to animals that pick at those Roundup-soaked soybeans (before washing them, to boot)? What happens to the animals that prey on those animals? What happens when all that Roundup gets rounded up into the groundwater? It becomes an ecological $#!+storm.

Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention the economic consequences, particularly for smaller farming operations. It's a pretty complicated scene, but basically, bigger farms can afford to spend big bucks on GM seed year after year. Smaller operations that can't afford them, or choose not to use them, don't buy them. However, if a farm that doesn't produce GM crops is located near one that does, nature will inevitably take its course and genetic material from the GM crops will reach the non-GM ones. Going back to the Roundup example, to make a long story short, Monsanto will sue the $#!+ out of farmers whose crops contain their proprietary DNA without having paid for the privilege.

So, are GM crops necessary for survival? No. Agriculture needs a paradigm shift toward more sustainable practices. If they try to work with, rather than against, nature, the whole planet will benefit (or at least not go to $#!+).

A good thing? No, I really don't think so, even if some of these seeds are donated to famine-stricken parts of the world. There's always a price involved.

An evil thing? No, not evil either. Technology is not evil. It's the application that may or may not be. ;)

The question you did not ask: Do I consume them? Heck, yeah. They're everywhere. It's really hard and really expensive to avoid them (and, according to some recent research, even "organic" foods can contain GM "contaminants").
Last edited by nolafoodie on Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby new cook » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:51 pm

Well said, Nolafoodie. :clap: :clap: :clap:

In addition to the concerns raised by Nola, I will add that I find it undesirable, to say the least, to allow a few (and mainly one) entity the possibility to gain ownership and control of the world's food supply and/or cash crops. GMO corn and soya beans already account for the majority of those crops.

If it were possible to contain the GMOs and prevent them from cross contaminating non-GMO crops, we might be having a different discussion, but as we know nature doesn't work that way. On a related note, I also have concerns about the impact GMO crops have on biodiversity.

Do I eat GMOs? Like Nola, I'm sure I do when I eat out or at a catered event or at someone's house. That I can't control. But I can control what I buy, and since it is currently (operative word being currently) illegal to label GMOs as organic, I stick to that when doing my own grocery shopping and cooking.

We had a proposition in California that failed this past November, mainly due to distortions and outright lies put out by the big monied No side. Their TV ads had holes big enough to drive a fleet of 18-wheelers through, but the Yes side didn't have the financial capacity to come back effectively, and frankly it was a badly strategized campaign. But the premise was simple: label GMOs as such and allow consumers to consciously make the choice for themselves. If they are OK with buying and eating GMOs, they're free to do so. If they don't want to, then they're better informed as to what to avoid. We already require labels that tell us a product's ingredients and certain nutritive components and values, as well as how much trans-fat they contain, if they do. And if GMOs are so wonderful and beneficial then why the resistance to labeling?
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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby Slamdunkpro » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:17 pm

GMO's - the new boogie man - *Yawn*
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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby okbye » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:27 pm

Not bothered in the least. You people want to keep breeding indiscriminately and live your consumer lifestyles something has to give. Half of the world's population does not have access to an adequate food supply and that number keeps growing. The planet can only support so many people, and people are stupid and selfish.
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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby Jules » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:29 pm

Mongo - report to Wanda's Bench.

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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby Norm357 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:14 pm

nolafoodie wrote:The genetic modification, in and of itself, is not harmful to humans or any other animals that will consume such food, as the proteins are broken down in digestion. (Disclaimer: there have been accounts that some GM foods have triggered sensitivities in people consuming them, because they take on other characteristics besides the intended ones. Last time I checked, there was no strong evidence one way or the other, but it's been a while, so it might be worth a look-see at the extant literature.)

However, what is most definitely harmful is the amount of chemical residue that these foods would contain. In general, GM crops are designed by chemical companies to be able to withstand massive amounts of whatever chemicals the company is peddling. Take the ubiquitous Monsanto Roundup-ready example: Monsanto, the company that makes the weed killer Roundup, genetically modified some crops to be immune to Roundup, so that farmers could go ape$#!+ using Roundup all over their crops and kill everything but the crop they are trying to farm. While this is a highly effective and efficient way to get rid of weeds that could harm crops, the fact remains that these crops have been bathed in herbicide. You gonna eat that?

And that's just the self-centered human safety argument, without considering the ecological consequences of that herbicide bath. What happens to animals that pick at those Roundup-soaked soybeans (before washing them, to boot)? What happens to the animals that pray on those animals? What happens when all that Roundup gets rounded up into the groundwater? It becomes an ecological $#!+storm.

Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention the economic consequences, particularly for smaller farming operations. It's a pretty complicated scene, but basically, bigger farms can afford to spend big bucks on GM seed year after year. Smaller operations that can't afford them, or choose not to use them, don't buy them. However, if a farm that doesn't produce GM crops is located near one that does, nature will inevitably take its course and genetic material from the GM crops will reach the non-GM ones. Going back to the Roundup example, to make a long story short, Monsanto will sue the $#!+ out of farmers whose crops contain their proprietary DNA without having paid for the privilege.

So, are GM crops necessary for survival? No. Agriculture needs a paradigm shift toward more sustainable practices. If they try to work with, rather than against, nature, the whole planet will benefit (or at least not go to $#!+).

A good thing? No, I really don't think so, even if some of these seeds are donated to famine-stricken parts of the world. There's always a price involved.

An evil thing? No, not evil either. Technology is not evil. It's the application that may or may not be. ;)

The question you did not ask: Do I consume them? Heck, yeah. They're everywhere. It's really hard and really expensive to avoid them (and, according to some recent research, even "organic" foods can contain GM "contaminants").



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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby bigchz » Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:58 pm

Maybe I'm not fully understanding the GM definition but, it seems humans have been modifying crops since we've been an agrarian society. We take the whatever crop we are growing and only replant the best seeds of that crop that will withstand the elements, insects and other damaging effects to the crop, effectively removing the week genes from the crop. Which also happen naturally but takes a lot longer(we just speed up the process). We also cross one species with another of the same genus to get the desired results we are looking for. Different parts of the country need different effects. Not to mention the cross breeding of fruits and veggies to get a "new" breed. Such as crossing oranges with tangerines to get tangelos. If we are strictly talking about the chemical companies creating breeds that withstand the chemicals they sell I try to avoid that by shopping my local farmers market in the summer months and my local co-op during the rest of the year. As NOLAFOODIE stated, you can't really escape it but, as much as I can, I do.

If I am not understanding this correctly I am always up for learning something new. :wink:
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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby okbye » Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:06 pm

Engineering plants to be immune to something, such as Monsanto breeding crops immune to Roundup, is just an acceleration of the natural process - if farmers use Roundup on their weeds some of the food crops will be exposed to it and some of them will be naturally immune to the poison. Those plants immune will continue to grow and reproduce while the ones that aren't die. Eventually nature will produce an entire field of plants immune to Roundup. Science just accelerates this process by figuring out which genes make the plant immune and producing seeds that will carry this immunity because it would take nature decades to do this on it's own. None of this process is dangerous or unsavory in any way. Now if Monsanto wants to be an ass and cause issues for farmers over it that's reprehensible and not the fault of the GMO process. This goes back to a legal thing that allows scientists to "own" materials they have "discovered", which IMO is very wrong. It is very expensive to do the research to find out how to produce this immunity and under current law the lab that makes the discovery first is allowed to "own" it and becomes sole controller of it. It works this way in medical research too, a lab that finds a cancer related gene or pins down a disease causing bacteria "owns" that discovery, and other labs cannot use that gene or bacteria in their own research without permission from the "owner" lab which often includes a hefty money exchange. It's a very bad thing and impossible to fix unless we actually gave money to research labs instead of making them play the commerce game to fund themselves and make their shareholders happy. This is what allows Monsanto to screw with farmers, and if this ownership were taken away (even after a period of time like pharmaceuticals) this couldn't happen. I think it's very narrow minded to assume that just because the food crop is immune to Roundup the farmer is going to bathe his farm in the stuff. Aside from the fact that it's very expensive that would just be foolish. Farmers aren't stupid, they don't just throw chemicals around with no regard. They are far more aware of where that chemical goes and what will be consuming it than any of you will ever be. Why would you think they would allow their livestock to consume feed soaked in chemicals? That's just an unwarranted leap.

I read an article a year or so ago about a scientist who made an improvement to tomato plants the old fashioned way, by breeding them. I can't remember what the specific improvement was, something like they lasted longer in the ripe stage giving them a longer shelf life. It took 10 years. He said he did it that despite the fact that he could have done the same thing by manipulating the genes in a matter of months because he knew that no one would want to buy the new tomatoes just because they were genetically manipulated. He was not happy he had to do it this way, it was kind of an example protest on his part, to demonstrate why being afraid of science holds us back. This is what pisses me off about people writing off GMO as evil, you are impeding science and that is unforgivable to me. GMO includes much more than immunity to poisons, it involves things like water usage, ripening time, shelf life, level of output, seedlessness, flavor, color, texture, stem heartiness, bug repelling, it's endless the things they have worked on improving. And you have been eating/wearing/consuming modified products for decades. I met a cotton geneticist probably 10 years ago and he had been on the job for 20 years. I didn't get to talk to him as long as I would have liked, I could have questioned him for hours, but I certainly learned we have been manipulating cotton genes for a very long time, mostly for resistance to bugs but for other things as well. Have cotton fields become soaked in chemicals? Have they poisoned adjoining fields? Have you grown an extra arm from wearing cotton shirts? The plants being pest-resistant has lowered the amount of chemicals needed on the crops.

I also find it funny that a lot of people who are afraid of GMOs and make wild speculations of possible calamity still use anti-bacterial soap and we have actually seen ill effects on the environment from that, no speculation needed. It is definitely in our water supply and is showing many different environmental effects but it's still everywhere! No protests either because people are brainwashed by the ad campaigns. Oh no! Your kid is going to die of germs! AAAHHH!!!! Bunch of bull.
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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby ABwannabe » Mon Jan 06, 2014 5:04 pm

For the most part, I agree with OKBye. However, sometimes I think that impending progress can be a good thing -- when the progress appears to be moving at a dangerous pace. My perception is the fear of GMOs are typically:
  • Concern that the science isn't "accelerating" natural breeding practices, but actually circumventing natural limitations
  • Concern that the impacts are still unknown
Let me wear a tin-foil hat for a moment:

For the first point, consider an *extreme* (and, AFAIK, unrealistic) example of inter-species animal breeding. We know that breeding a horse and a donkey produces a sterile mule. What if, through genetic engineering, a fertile mule could be produced? That's circumventing a natural limitation. Good, or bad, we don't know. But it's certainly "not natural", and approaching god-like decisions. This is scary.
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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby okbye » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:40 am

So what if it did produce a fertile mule? What is tragic about that?

There is no god, comparing anything science does to "playing god" is an irrelevant statement. "Not natural" is also irrelevant. Everything that happens on this planet comes from materials available on it. Everything is "natural". It may not be done in nature's usual time but it is all a possible outcome of something happening in nature. Would you say fish developing legs and lungs and walking out of the water was an expected or anticipated occurrence if we could have been observers of our own evolution?> Nature does do some incredible and unexpected things, nothing we come up with is out of it's scope.
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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby ABwannabe » Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:57 am

I'm just pointing out "the other side", as far as I can tell. I understand those points, while not particularly holding to them. I'm all for progress, but I get concerned if that progress seems to be too fast, with the impacts poorly understood. As far as I know, the impacts of GMOs are pretty well understood, but the general population likely doesn't know/believe that.

I used the phrase "god-like decisions" (with a lower case "g") to bring up the issue of possibly doing things historically beyond our abilities (the nuclear Bomb comes to mind -- the ability to wholesale take life on a whim). Essentially creating new species begins to raise philosophical questions - are we closer to creating 'non-human persons"?

I'm not defending these issues, just saying that there are questions and too many questions make some people uncomfortable.
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Re: QOTD 1/11: GMO foods

Postby okbye » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:46 pm

That's exactly why it pisses me off, people have no idea what they are afraid of. When I see people go on about all the crazy things that can go wrong I picture a bunch of cave men standing around fire for the first time bowing down to it as if it's a god out of fear and ignorance. There is no basis for these fears, and very few people who are spreading the propaganda have any idea what the process actually involves. A FB friend shared a meme designed in propaganda 101 against GMO, it has one side all fire red and harsh listing companies that have ever used a GMO product and the other side is green and pretty listing companies that never have, encouraging people to boycott the companies who have used the evil GMO products. That kind is exactly why labeling will be a bad thing, because people would shun the whole company making the product and in a very short time no companies will use any GMO products and research will grind to a halt. All out of ignorance. It's very similar to that cow Jenny McCarthy. She went on a massive campaign against vaccines and poisoned the minds of thousands of people, greatly assisting the trend to not vaccinate kids and causing many deaths due to preventable diseases. She not only assisted in throwing the reputation of science back several decades she is implicit in the deaths of children. About something that was known by the scientific community to be completely false. Now she comes out and says her kid was never autistic, he has some rare neural disorder. Ooops, my bad. Completely unacceptable. I'm so tired of "Ugggh, fire bad" when fire is a real, tangible progress.

It's so easy to forget that most of the people who don't live in 1st world countries are practically starving. We have so much food it's easy to forget the millions of people who go hungry every day. There is not enough food on this planet to feed all of the people, and there appears to be no end in sight to the increase in population. Very soon the food situation will reach a crisis level for many people. We do need science to make the food production methods we have more efficient. We need science to engineer crops that can grow in less water. We need science to engineer crops that will produce a higher yield, endure heat and drought, resist disease and pests. We need this, as a species, if not in our own homes. Yet.
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