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 Post subject: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement recants
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:38 am 
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http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense ... wrong.html

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I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.

As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.

So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.


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To feed a growing world population (with an exploding middle class demanding more and better-quality food), we must take advantage of all the technology available to us, including GMOs. To insist on “natural” agriculture and livestock is to doom people to starvation, and there’s no logical reason to prefer the old ways, either. Moreover, the reason why big companies dominate the industry is that anti-GMO activists and policymakers have made it too difficult for small startups to enter the field.


So yeah, there's that.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:41 am 
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duh. but Monsanto (effectively synonymous with GMO) are still croissants, and are really trying hard to give GMO as bad of a name as possible by association.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:42 am 
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Yes, joshua! it's so hard to separate GMO from Monsanto. Because sure in theory it has great potential, but what's out there right now that we can look at as a positive example?

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:45 am 
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I saw a special on PBS about Monsanto. They are scary as hell.


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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:09 am 
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Let me requote his assertion that Monsanto's domination of the GMO market is the fault of the anti-GMO movement:

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Moreover, the reason why big companies dominate the industry is that anti-GMO activists and policymakers have made it too difficult for small startups to enter the field.


Monsanto wouldn't be as big as it was if there was competition; there's no competition because there's basically no market for any other GMO stuff because everyone has decided that GMO foods are the worst thing ever.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:16 am 
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Yeah, I read that. It makes sense to me, sorta, but the terrible business practices of Monsanto can't be blamed on anti-gmo activitists. If Monsanto somehow had good and fair business practices, people's opinions of GMO food might not be so negative.

And I get that the reason they were able to get so evil is because of lack of competition, but that doesn't really explain why they're so evil, just why it was so easy for them to get that way.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:42 pm 
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Right, and I don't think anyone else was competing for the Agent Orange market, either :\



I would like to know the dude's real motivation for bringing this all up at this point in time.

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.


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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:18 pm 
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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

The papaya industry was in trouble until they developed a transgenic papaya - http://www.agbioforum.org/v7n12/v7n12a07-gonsalves.htm

Herbicide resistant crops allow for minimal or no-till crops which prevents a huge loss of topsoil - http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publicat ... efault.asp

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:20 pm 
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I think the unmentioned nightmare behind GMO crops is also the patenting of said crops allowing for corporations to have ownership of food

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:21 pm 
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Adam Crisis wrote:
I think the unmentioned nightmare behind GMO crops is also the patenting of said crops allowing for corporations to have ownership of food


That's a problem with patent law though (which is broken in a bunch of ways) and not an issue with GM crops specifically.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:21 pm 
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
Yeah, I read that. It makes sense to me, sorta, but the terrible business practices of Monsanto can't be blamed on anti-gmo activitists. If Monsanto somehow had good and fair business practices, people's opinions of GMO food might not be so negative.

And I get that the reason they were able to get so evil is because of lack of competition, but that doesn't really explain why they're so evil, just why it was so easy for them to get that way.

Most of the activism I see is more focused on GMO's themselves than on the business practices of Monsanto. There is an implication made that they are inherently unhealthy or even dangerous.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:56 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

The papaya industry was in trouble until they developed a transgenic papaya - http://www.agbioforum.org/v7n12/v7n12a07-gonsalves.htm

Herbicide resistant crops allow for minimal or no-till crops which prevents a huge loss of topsoil - http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publicat ... efault.asp



Yeah but who makes herbicide resistant crops? Monsanto!

I'm ok with the other 2, but non-careful herbicide use leads to resistance and such.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:41 pm 
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~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.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:54 pm 
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^"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!

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:25 pm 
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We all have to do what we feel is best for ourselves. I personally feel that tinkering with the genetic make up of things can lead to unexpected and harmful issues down the road. Especially when there are not long term, unbiased studies on the human body. Just my humble opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:33 pm 
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A lot less is known about the "tinkering" that is done when plants are selectively bred. In that case, you can pick up genes that were not intended or acquire new mutations, but I don't see anyone fussing over the safety of that supposedly "natural" process. When genetic engineering methods are applied, single genes are changed with much more precision, and safety testing must be done before the food is sold.

I understand the fear that comes with anything new and unknown, but at some point we have to get over our emotional reponse and look at the evidence.


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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:07 pm 
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Look at what evidence? This food is at market with virtually no testing to see if it is safe for consumption or not. Even if Monsanto had done extensive testing, I wouldn't trust a corporation with that history to release the results (see big tobacco, etc).

Our food security relies in crop diversity, not placing all eggs in the basket of one type of rice, etc.

My guess is the recanter has joined the payroll of an industry group.


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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:44 pm 
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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.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:52 pm 
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Beanitarian wrote:
I understand the fear that comes with anything new and unknown, but at some point we have to get over our emotional reponse and look at the evidence.


This.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:53 pm 
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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.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:02 am 
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Vantine wrote:
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.

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. We have been meddling with genetics for a long, long time.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:21 am 
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Yup.

Corn, in particular, is wildly different from the original grain.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:58 am 
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Not that I'm saying it's the exact same thing as GM crops mind, just that phrases like 'nature intended' really don't mean anything when it comes to our current food situation.

I also don't think accusing him of being bought out is a particularly great way to go about this conversation.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:05 am 
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caterpillar wrote:
Not that I'm saying it's the exact same thing as GM crops mind, just that phrases like 'nature intended' really don't mean anything when it comes to our current food situation.


Allow me to introduce my friend, the pathetic fallacy (the name, not a judgement).

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:07 am 
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JillW wrote:
Our food security relies in crop diversity, not placing all eggs in the basket of one type of rice, etc.

"GMO" is not mutually exclusive to "diverse"!

how often do you see non-orange carrots at your local grocer? a few have them, but even the organic non-GMO produce is fairly ordinary in terms of diversity. even conservatively estimating, I see at least 95% orange, and occasionally white/purple..and I shop mostly at local co-ops or organic grocers.

there are reasons for some of it: fitness for conditions, reduced yield, market expectation, etc. but what if GMO allowed less hardy species to thrive, and thus opened the door for greater crop diversity?

like everything: there are both responsible and irresponsible ways of using technology. writing off an entire branch of technology because of one reckless use-case is an awful approach.

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