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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:41 am 
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I really disliked Nestle's article. http://www.foodpolitics.com/2013/08/proponents-of-food-biotechnology-are-still-talking-about-golden-rice-sigh/ I agree ultimately the solution to malnutrition is better access to food and general rising above poverty. I also agree that golden rice has flaws. However if GR prevents a significant number of children from becoming blind (while remembering the real opportunity costs of the project) then it should be seen as a success.

On GM in general Nathanael Johnson's continuing series of posts on the subject are pretty good. I liked his post on GM safety and regulation in particular: http://grist.org/food/the-gm-safety-dance-whats-rule-and-whats-real/


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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:04 am 
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Dylan wrote:
I really disliked Nestle's article. http://www.foodpolitics.com/2013/08/proponents-of-food-biotechnology-are-still-talking-about-golden-rice-sigh/ I agree ultimately the solution to malnutrition is better access to food and general rising above poverty. I also agree that golden rice has flaws. However if GR prevents a significant number of children from becoming blind (while remembering the real opportunity costs of the project) then it should be seen as a success.


Yeah. It's hard to rise above poverty if you're blind from childhood.

It's kind of off-topic, but I heard an interesting bit on This American Life about a charity that pretty much takes donations and just straight-up gives people money. They'd come into a town in Kenya and give everyone there a thousand bucks. The effects are pretty interesting and actually it seems pretty successful:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-a ... help?act=1

(Spoiler: Most people immediately buy metal roofs for their shacks.)

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 2:18 pm 
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i heard that recently, it was really interesting.

i know this is not what was meant about "still talking about golden rice" but that was what i thought immediately, was "golden rice still?".... as in, are there any other examples of GM with real potential to help people (by which I guess I mean recent, not historical manipulation, high tech or otherwise)? I guess stem cell and genetic stuff, maybe oil eating bacteria? But foodwise, is golden rice still the only thing that can be championed as a justification for GM, aside from pesticide resistance?
It just seems like for the last 20 years we've been talking about the potential of golden rice and not any other beneficial modifications (aside from maybe just breeding hardiness into plants) that have made it even to a testing stage. Am I missing something obvious?

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 2:26 pm 
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What about the papaya in Hawaii? GM technology saved the industry from collapse which would have devastated the economy there, from what I understand.

http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/section ... story.html

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 2:42 pm 
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very cool, thank you for posting that!

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 4:57 pm 
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Dylan wrote:
I agree ultimately the solution to malnutrition is better access to food and general rising above poverty. I also agree that golden rice has flaws. However if GR prevents a significant number of children from becoming blind (while remembering the real opportunity costs of the project) then it should be seen as a success.

I don't think it's a perfect article either. For example, she barely touches on any reasons to be against the principle of GMO foods in the first place, even if the effectiveness of golden rice cannot yet be proven. But I do think her piece is valuable to balance out those who argue that golden rice is a solution on its own.


solipsistnation wrote:
Yeah. It's hard to rise above poverty if you're blind from childhood.

This is a gross oversimplification of the situation.


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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 6:20 pm 
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http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre ... g-too-much

Interesting article about whether or not population is 'exploding' or whether we actually have a problem of poor land use/ownership, which I think links into the question of whether or not GM is necessary.

Quote:
As with shelter then, so with food now. Today's population panic goes on as if the Earth's temperate grasslands are straining under the weight of supporting voracious humans rather than voracious Big Ag. "We've run out of farmland," shriek op-eds and talking heads. "We're already at the limit. The population is booming, but every last hectare of prime arable land is already taken!"

Taken by what? According to the National Corn Growers Association, 30% of US corn ends up as fuel ethanol, while 5% is grown as corn syrup for junk food sweeteners and fizzy pop. Ain't it grand that we'd sooner say there are too many human beings in the world than too much Coca-Cola, Honey Nut Cheerios or Special K?


In addition to this, I would also add the problem that so much agricultural land is used to grow feed for animals rather than people, which is incredibly inefficient.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:01 pm 
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That's the point no one's allowed to make.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:18 pm 
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Yeah. It's a valid point, and it gets mentioned every once in a while, but it's not a change enough people are currently willing to make, so it's not currently a valid solution.

Which is too bad, because it's a good one.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 4:26 pm 
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I'd make four key points here:

1) Access to food is complicated and not uniform.
Say you increase the world supply of rice. Good for people buying rice, as prices go down. But for farmers selling rice, that's a bad thing. Even if their own yields go up, they could end up with worse nutrition, if the price goes down more than sales increase. As has been pointed out, they can't necessarily just switch to growing sweet potatoes or carrots in their paddy fields.

2) The same applies to population
The rate of population growth is slowing, sure, but the momentum is still probably going to push population up by another third. Like food, the effects of population vary. Population growth is likely to have a worse effect on a poor country than a rich one (although growth in a rich country will probably mean greater environmental damage). The good news is that the best ways to reduce population growth are development and the empowerment of women, which are good in themselves (the bad news is that they're not necessarily easy...).
I do think there's also an ethical and aesthetic question, although it's probably out of scope of this discussion. When people say "Britain is too crowded" or something like that, they're making that sort of judgement.

3) We need to think about what's most feasible, without losing sight of overarching problems.
What's more likely to happen, the world's food system is completely reshaped or golden rice proves a good way of increasing vit A intakes? Unless the latter entrenches inequalities and problems in the food system, it's probably a good thing. Of course, previous GM crops, and even the green revolution have had exactly that negative effect... That doesn't mean this specific crop will do though.

4) Ameliorating and solving the problems of hunger and malnutrition require multiple approaches, not just a single solution.


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