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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:55 pm 
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i might be okay with GMO if the genes were swapped within a species, or at the very most within a genus (and maybe even then only between organisms that have shown an ability to naturally breed). if there was a way to indicate how different the parental genes are in the final organism, there might be less outcry.

as for the poor cat with the damaged nose, sure. it's natural, but it's sad that people are choosing for it. (same for pugs. people just LOVE pugs and keep breeding them. *sigh*) it's not my place to say that products of such extreme inbreeding are unnatural. (inbreeding affects humans too. especially the royal family. should they not be deemed unnatural only because their defect isn't physical?) plant breeders use extreme inbreds to form absolutely perfect F1 hybrids. (of course then the F1s when crossed don't produce true to seed, but their offspring are also not as defective as their grandparents.)

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:05 pm 
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inbreeding after all is also natural. how else do you think all the different races came to be? how i'm assuming it happened was that there were outcasts that moved elsewhere with others who had the same mutation. (or maybe it was survival of the fittest? not sure. maybe different skin colors weren't suited where the tribe moved to? maybe it was a combination? i guess we'll never really know. did they ever figure it out?)

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:00 pm 
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I think the point is that natural isn't a positive or negative descriptor. Things that are natural can be either good or bad. So whether a plant (or a cat or a person) is natural doesn't mean it's beneficial or harmless. Africanized bees are natural, for instance. The amount of risk involved in GMO breeding may actually be less than in traditional breeding techniques because we know what genes are involved and what those genes do.


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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:59 pm 
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you know what they do in the intended plant. it might not do the same thing in a different plant that happens to acquire it from future sexual reproduction/ hybridizing.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:08 pm 
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supercarrot wrote:
i might be okay with GMO if the genes were swapped within a species, or at the very most within a genus (and maybe even then only between organisms that have shown an ability to naturally breed). if there was a way to indicate how different the parental genes are in the final organism, there might be less outcry.


But they CAN! They can because it's a thing they made! They can tell you pretty much exactly how their changes were made.

The thing is, it would be pretty much meaningless to anyone who doesn't have a pretty good handle on the science already, or it would need to be watered-down enough that it wouldn't tell you anything useful. You could say, "This is 98.75% similar to the original organism," but what does that tell you? That's not satisfying to me, but I don't care, because I trust that scientists who do this stuff know what they're doing, or if they don't, peer review will catch it before it goes too far.

It seems to me that since this is a terribly complex subject, people who want things explained to them in simple words are angry that this can't be explained to them simply (especially because the simple version is so unsatisfying). They lead the charge (the same with anti-vaxers and anti-evolutionists, and basically anyone against anything scientific and complicated) and gullible people pick up the cry and carry it forward.

It's probably yet another symptom of the poor state of science education in the US.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:53 am 
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But they CAN! They can because it's a thing they made! They can tell you pretty much exactly how their changes were made.

The thing is, it would be pretty much meaningless to anyone who doesn't have a pretty good handle on the science already, or it would need to be watered-down enough that it wouldn't tell you anything useful. You could say, "This is 98.75% similar to the original organism," but what does that tell you? That's not satisfying to me, but I don't care, because I trust that scientists who do this stuff know what they're doing, or if they don't, peer review will catch it before it goes too far.

It seems to me that since this is a terribly complex subject, people who want things explained to them in simple words are angry that this can't be explained to them simply (especially because the simple version is so unsatisfying). They lead the charge (the same with anti-vaxers and anti-evolutionists, and basically anyone against anything scientific and complicated) and gullible people pick up the cry and carry it forward.

It's probably yet another symptom of the poor state of science education in the US.


Thank you, yes. Before I bothered looking into the science I also thought "but it's not natural and potentially dangerous". But then I looked at what scientists says and I'm pretty happy not to be scared of GMO anymore. If I think about how the food for the past 100 years has been made I think "that's weird, too" but I eat it and apparently it's healthy and safe enough.



solipsistnation wrote:
supercarrot wrote:
can you explain why you are saying that organic food isn't natural? (just because it's been selected for doesn't make it unnatural. the plants still did the work of mixing their genes. or are you talking about a different aspect of organic food production?)


By your logic, the breed of cats whose noses are so far inside their heads that they can't actually breathe very well are also natural, and thus better than any potential GMO cat we might come up with.

The point is that organisms that are bred for specific traits may develop unwanted traits along with the desired ones.

With GMOs (properly developed and tested and analyzed and so on), you can pinpoint a specific trait, single out that trait, and pick it specifically, _without_ including any other undesirable traits that might get bred in along with it.

Breeding is, by its very nature, random. You're slapping big, complex strings of molecules together and hoping you get the right thing out when you're done. The point of genetic modification is that you take the stuff you want and you exclude the stuff you don't-- there's nothing random about it, regardless of what ill-informed anti-GMO activists might say. ("We just don't know!" is the usual cry, but yeah, usually we _do_ know whatever it is they're claiming we don't.)

The problems seem to be more that GMOs are poorly regulated and are largely driven by large corporations who may be more into ensuring future sales of seed or of their own specific brand of pesticides (seeds that can't propagate themselves, for example, and Roundup-ready seeds). Or those corporations are into litigation more than science-- the farmer who had GMO crops on his land that blew over the fence, or whatever that turned out to be. Monsanto have poisoned the very idea of GMO crops through their terrible mismanagement of the technology and by just generally being awful. GMOs are not inherently bad-- Monsanto are pretty crappy though.


Thanks you explained both things better than I could. It's pretty arbitrary to say that the plants "still doing the gene mixing themselves" is more natural. Yes, incest is natural but "forcing incest" onto something is debatable. By that definition of naturality everything we can do is natural.

But mostly I was talking about mutation breeding. Which is not GMO and can and is being sold as organic. Last week there was a stupid tv show on it where people freaked out because "there's radiation in my organic food??".

And yes, I don't like Monsanto either. But I also don't like Nike, Coca Cola and other big ruthless companies. I still drink beverages and wear shoes.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:15 am 
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solipsistnation wrote:
The problems seem to be more that GMOs are poorly regulated and are largely driven by large corporations who may be more into ensuring future sales of seed or of their own specific brand of pesticides (seeds that can't propagate themselves, for example, and Roundup-ready seeds). Or those corporations are into litigation more than science-- the farmer who had GMO crops on his land that blew over the fence, or whatever that turned out to be. Monsanto have poisoned the very idea of GMO crops through their terrible mismanagement of the technology and by just generally being awful. GMOs are not inherently bad-- Monsanto are pretty crappy though.


This sums up my major problem with GMOs.

I also question why we're experimenting with our food in this way, whether it's necessary or even just the best use of our (limited) scientific resources. People often cite the whole "we need to produce more food to feed the planet and solve world hunger!" argument, but this ignores the fact that there is already more than enough food for everyone on the planet. The problem isn't production, it's distribution.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 8:25 am 
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yeah, the % similarity thing doesn't say much at all. don't we share a ridiculous number of our genes with like, bananas or something?

if they had a level thing and a + or -, that might be simple enough, and descriptive enough for those who understand it. (like blood types. people mostly understand blood types.) so the level would be 0 for within the same species 1 for within the same genus and so on. the + and - would be indicating whether the genes were passed to an organism that would have never acquired the gene through sexual reproduction. BAM! everyone is happy, and people can choose what comfort level they are cool with.

veganinberlin, i thought you were talking about all organic food not being natural. that was what was confusing the heck out of me. of course heirlooms are natural. of course growing it yourself in your own backyard is natural. heirlooms have been around forever and came about completely naturally. honestly, i've never heard about this radiation thing, so i'm going to look more into it. thanks.

and imogen, that's the exact reason it's making me so frustrated. just give surplus to those who need it. don't destroy it so you can make a better profit! gahh! people and their money. greed!

as for forcing incest on plants, it happens all the time without human intervention. are you going to point fingers at bees and the wind? of course not. once humans use high tech stuff, that's when things become unnatural. paintbrush and tweezers? totally natural. radiation itself is natural. (i mean, hello sun.) so that's in a grey area leaning toward unnatural. but injecting an animal gene into a virus in order to get the gene into a plant... yeah, i think that's gonna have to go into completely unnatural territory. (do i have the method right? do they use other methods?)

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 8:38 am 
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As I understood it, there is enough food on the planet for humans at this moment but there won't be in a few (?) years because of the population growth rate and global warming.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 8:39 am 
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Also: GMOs are supposed to create food that is more sturdy and needs less pesticides.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:22 am 
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supercarrot wrote:
if they had a level thing and a + or -, that might be simple enough, and descriptive enough for those who understand it. (like blood types. people mostly understand blood types.) so the level would be 0 for within the same species 1 for within the same genus and so on. the + and - would be indicating whether the genes were passed to an organism that would have never acquired the gene through sexual reproduction. BAM! everyone is happy, and people can choose what comfort level they are cool with.


That's a cool idea, and would be pretty interesting to see.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:54 am 
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solipsistnation wrote:
supercarrot wrote:
i might be okay with GMO if the genes were swapped within a species, or at the very most within a genus (and maybe even then only between organisms that have shown an ability to naturally breed). if there was a way to indicate how different the parental genes are in the final organism, there might be less outcry.


But they CAN! They can because it's a thing they made! They can tell you pretty much exactly how their changes were made.

The thing is, it would be pretty much meaningless to anyone who doesn't have a pretty good handle on the science already, or it would need to be watered-down enough that it wouldn't tell you anything useful. You could say, "This is 98.75% similar to the original organism," but what does that tell you? That's not satisfying to me, but I don't care, because I trust that scientists who do this stuff know what they're doing, or if they don't, peer review will catch it before it goes too far.

It seems to me that since this is a terribly complex subject, people who want things explained to them in simple words are angry that this can't be explained to them simply (especially because the simple version is so unsatisfying). They lead the charge (the same with anti-vaxers and anti-evolutionists, and basically anyone against anything scientific and complicated) and gullible people pick up the cry and carry it forward.

It's probably yet another symptom of the poor state of science education in the US.


Thank you for putting this so well.

I have a really difficult time talking about GMOs because I find that a lot of anti-GMO stuff floating around out there appeals to people's emotional belief that "natural" is better than "unnatural." It's difficult to dissuade a person who *knows* in their *heart* that GMOs are unnatural and bad, that perhaps they should make the decision with their head instead, particularly when the scientific arguments for GMOs do tend to be pretty complicated/inaccessible to those of us without scientific training.

A lot of anti-GMO groups also seem to knowingly conflate the issue of whether GMOs are okay, period, with the issue of Monsanto being a horrible company. So many anti-GMO activists use the terms "GMO" and "Monsanto" interchangeably, which I think just shows a really poor understanding of the actual issues, but is also really effective in drumming up support, since pretty much everyone agrees Monsanto sucks. If anti-GMO groups can piggyback the "all GMOs are bad" argument, which has much less merit, onto the "Monsanto is bad" argument, then they can drum up extra support for their weaker platform, and further muddy up the dialogue, which is already plenty muddy and confusing. Add to that the fact that these groups seem to love nothing more than manipulating people's emotions by playing up the court cases of Monsanto suing the poor organic farmer or whatever, and you don't have a recipe for clear, useful dialogue about an issue that, I think , deserves it.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:14 am 
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Even regular old "natural," no-labcoats-needed plant breeding seems pretty unnatural to me. It's humans selecting for traits that natural selection might very well have "unselected" if humans hadn't inserted themselves into the mix.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:15 am 
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Yeah, it seems unnatural to me, too. I'll still eat it happily, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:57 pm 
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vegimator wrote:
ijustdiedinside wrote:
what's out there right now that we can look at as a positive example?


Golden rice has the potential to save millions of lives - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rice


So does helping those poor people afford carrots with their rice.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:59 pm 
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joshua wrote:
^"best for our bodies" is an interesting assertion. I don't think veganism is inherently "best" for my body - but that doesn't imply it's harmful, or that it's not "good enough"

i.e. what if GMO allowed B12 into some of our staple foods? that's one fewer argument for nitpickers to argue against veganism!


or you could buy B12 "naturally" made by bacteria in vats then sold as tablets for about 25 - 75 cents a week.

You could probably get B12 just by making your own water keifer ( I don't know this ) which is cheap and easy.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:00 pm 
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Vantine wrote:
Veg-in-Training wrote:
~Sz wrote:
The US has the ability to feed the world even without GMOs. But we pay farmers to not grow food which is probably the bigger evil.


Amen to this! I am also a firm believer that food as nature intended it i.e. not GENETICALLY modified which is different they hybridization is the best for our bodies.

Do not ever eat Haas avocados, named for the farmer who created them. They are not a naturally occurring variety. We do lots of things to crops that is not part of what would happen without our tinkering. It's sort of strange to single this one thing out. Unless there is real evidence for harm... The only thing I've ever read about is what lycophyte mentioned.


There is a difference between selective breeding, which has existed for centuries, and still operates under *some* natural constraints and what modern GMO does with gene splicing ( ie putting fish genes in tomato plants )

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:01 pm 
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beforewisdom, just fyi, you're replying to comments from January. Someone brought this thread back very recently, so check closer to the end of the thread for the new comments.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:05 pm 
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solipsistnation wrote:
JillW wrote:
My guess is the recanter has joined the payroll of an industry group.


Sure, and it couldn't be that he just, you know, learned to read scientific papers.

Knee-jerk rejection of anything genetically modified is just as foolish as unthinking acceptance thereof.


The implied message of his article "since I learned to think critically, I've stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb".

Well, continuing with critical thinking what about asking some questions instead of just accepting what he writes?

If he was such a devoted environmentalist and anti-GMO activists, don't you think he would have read about GMO before he became a born again supporter? What changed? Why now? Presumably he was reading about GMOs all along otherwise he wouldn't have gotten involved in fighting it.

Also, I don't think one article like this is enough. The Economist lied about fracking being harmless. An author on Salon can lie about GMOs too.

I'm open to listening to him explain the science as to why GMOs are good, why other solutions to the same problem are not as good and in having scientists verify those thoughts as true.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:06 pm 
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caterpillar wrote:
Yep, not to mention most of the foods we eat today bear very little resemblance to the 'naturally occurring' wild plants they were bred from over thousands of years.


And look at all of the new food allergies and intolerance.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:10 pm 
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Dude, this method of conversation is rather unproductive. There has been recent activity in this thread. Why not engage in the conversation that is actually going on right now, rather than addressing posts made 9 months ago?

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:17 pm 
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i don't think before wisdom is reading the replies. i think what might be best is to temporarily close the thread so BW can get the chance to read the responses.

(also, BW, can you please learn how to do a multi-quote? that takes up way less space than quoting everything, replying, posting and doing it all over again. you can also delete part of the post you're replying to if you wish. that's helpful if you're replying to only part of the other person's post)

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:27 pm 
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I don't think we need to close the thread so that one poster can get caught up. This thread is 9 months old. There's been plenty of time to read everything that's here. It's hardly an undue burden to ask BW to engage in the conversation actually going on now, as opposed to one that occurred in the distant (by message board standards) past.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:04 pm 
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beforewisdom wrote:
vegimator wrote:
ijustdiedinside wrote:
what's out there right now that we can look at as a positive example?


Golden rice has the potential to save millions of lives - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rice


So does helping those poor people afford carrots with their rice.


Coincidentally, Marion Nestle (of foodpolitics.com) addressed Golden Rice in a recent blog post. Here's an excerpt:

The companies may be donating the technology to create the rice, but farmers will still have to sell it, and people will still have to pay for it. Moreover, in many countries where vitamin A deficiency is common, food sources of beta-carotene are plentiful, but people believe the foods inappropriate for young children, do not cook them enough to make them digestible, or do not consume enough fat to permit much in the way of absorption. It remains to be seen whether the beta-carotene in Golden Rice will fare better under such circumstances. Overall, vitamin A deficiency is a complicated health problem affected by cultural and societal factors as well as dietary factors. In this situation, the genetic engineering of a single nutrient or two into a food, while attractive in theory, raises many questions about its benefits in practice.


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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:46 pm 
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supercarrot wrote:
as for forcing incest on plants, it happens all the time without human intervention. are you going to point fingers at bees and the wind? of course not. once humans use high tech stuff, that's when things become unnatural. paintbrush and tweezers? totally natural. radiation itself is natural. (i mean, hello sun.) so that's in a grey area leaning toward unnatural. but injecting an animal gene into a virus in order to get the gene into a plant... yeah, i think that's gonna have to go into completely unnatural territory. (do i have the method right? do they use other methods?)

But these are essentially arbitrary distinctions. There was a time when tweezers WERE "high tech stuff".

Unnatural is, inherently, a nebulous concept (and thus meaningless). And I find the appeal to nature a really problematic rhetorical tactic. Is supplementing with B12 natural? Not really. Hell, is veganism "natural" in most places in the world? No. Is rubbing feces in an open wound natural? Yup! We need to have a more rigorous standard for what is considered safe/healthy/good than the emotionally driven, personal and ever-changing line between natural and unnatural.

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