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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:24 am 
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This is my understanding: the type of forking around that is done with GMOs and the type of breeding that happens with selective cultivation (or whatever it is we've been doing for thousands of years to get modern-day broccoli) are fairly different. There needs to be testing done to make sure that we're not creating stuff that might be toxic, poisonous, cancerous, and all that bad stuff. Testing not done by Monsanto. I am pretty sure that this is still a valid point that at least a few people in the scientific community agree with. I'm not anti-GMO as a rule, but I'm still avoiding GMO products for now.

And I don't buy that us whiny lefties are keeping small orgs from entering the market. I think that distinction can be given to Monsanto until further notice. Don't blame the public for demanding to know if their food is truly safe.

ETA: Not an "emotional" response. I was pretty stable while typing this.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:24 am 
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The methods used for GMOs are very different than selective breeding, but the end result is a much more known quantity than that produced by selective breeding. In most cases, a single gene had been changed, whereas selective breeding can change many genes at a time, unmask recessive traits, or introduce entirely new genes due to errors in the normal transfer and reproduction of DNA. I'm certainly not claiming that we know all of the potential consequences of genetic engineering methods or that further research shouldn't be done, but we can't completely predict the consequences of selective breeding either -- in fact, there is usually a lot more guesswork involved in aiming to change only the desired traits and hoping the rest of the genes are the same.

If we demand rigorous safety testing for GMOs, we really ought to require it for new selectively bred varieties as well, and any existing plant lines that may have developed significant genetic differences from their progenitors over time due to mutations or other naturally occurring genetic changes (transposons, viruses, etc).


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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:47 pm 
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joshua wrote:
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.


First let me say I'm fairly uneducated on this topic. But I thought one of the issues with GMO is that the GMO strains end up taking over other varieties - so for ex, GMO corn may contaminate the many native species of corn in Mexico and threaten the biodiversity, as discussed in this article:

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/525

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:15 pm 
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Aubade wrote:
First let me say I'm fairly uneducated on this topic. But I thought one of the issues with GMO is that the GMO strains end up taking over other varieties - so for ex, GMO corn may contaminate the many native species of corn in Mexico and threaten the biodiversity, as discussed in this article:

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/525


viewtopic.php?p=511770#p511770

(Actually all of the worries raised in this thread seem to have been addressed in the thread linked to above to some extent).

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:57 pm 
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IsaChandra wrote:
And I don't buy that us whiny lefties are keeping small orgs from entering the market. I think that distinction can be given to Monsanto until further notice. Don't blame the public for demanding to know if their food is truly safe.

ETA: Not an "emotional" response. I was pretty stable while typing this.


It read as pretty stable.

I think the point of saying that "whiny lefties" have killed the GMO market is that at this point, the push back against GMOs is so strong that only very large and establish companies can survive in this environment-- Monsanto continues because they're huge. If somebody tried to start a a company today that was explicitly producing GM crops, imagine the backlash-- they'd need some pretty hardcore publicity and serious spin to get much past even revealing that they exist and have goals, let alone to get a product to market. So while ethical GM companies can exist, they don't because the political environment won't let them get started and nobody's going to take that much risk.

Does that make sense?

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:05 am 
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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.


I would love to see the proof. We can all name companies that have been bought out by multinationals as soon as they started to get really profitable. Toms of Maine and Silk are two that come to mind. It is nothing to do with "activists and policymakers" it is simply that the large companies have the money to buyout the small ones.


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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:44 pm 
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OK.

Golden Rice:

http://discovermagazine.com/2012/may/11-big-idea-going-old-school-to-fight-hunger/

Quote:
Then Golden Rice ran into a brick wall of political resistance. Environmental groups like Greenpeace attacked the project, petitioning governments because of perceived health and environmental dangers. The PR campaign worked: No developing country allowed open field trials of Golden Rice.


(The developer did go on to start using breeding techniques, but it's slower, and isn't GM the way we're talking about, so the point stands.)

http://www.acbio.org.za/index.php/media/64-media-releases/412-african-civil-society-calls-on-the-african-union-to-ban-genetically-modified-crops

Quote:
An urgent appeal has been made to the African Union (AU) to discuss a ban on the cultivation, import and export of genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa at the next AU summit, to be held in January 2013. An African Civil Society Statement, signed by over 400 African organisations representing small-scale farmers, faith-based organisations, social movements, non-governmental organisations, organic producers, consumers, business people and ordinary citizens, has been sent to the Permanent Representative Council (PRC) of the AU. The statement was supported by a substantive document detailing the failure of GM technology to deliver any of its promised benefits since its global introduction some 16 years ago.


16 years isn't very long, especially when government policies forbid actual field trials:

http://www.scidev.net/en/features/can-gm-crops-feed-the-hungry-.html

Quote:
Guillaume Gruere, a research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) believes that most of the reasons behind the fact that there are no publicly-developed GM food crops available for the poor can be traced back to resistance.

Many of the obstacles in developing countries have "in large part resulted from influences from countries and organisations opposed to the use of GM food", Gruere says.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/23/gm-crops-africa-biotechnology

Quote:
Europe's opposition to genetically modified crops is robbing the developing world of a chance to feed itself and could threaten food security, a leading African scientist warns.

Dr Felix M'mboyi of the Kenya-based African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum has accused the European Union of indulging in "hypocrisy and arrogance" and called on development bodies within Europe to let African farmers make full use of GM crops to boost yields and feed a world population expected to reach 7 billion by the end of the year.

(...)

M'mboyi, a former agricultural adviser to the Kenyan government, will make the keynote speech at the Crop World Global conference at the end of this month. He said: "The affluent west has the luxury of choice in the type of technology they use to grow food crops, yet their influence and sensitivities are denying many in the developing world access to such technologies which could lead to a more plentiful supply of food.

"This kind of hypocrisy and arrogance comes with the luxury of a full stomach," he said.




...so, yeah. Greenpeace and European groups have leaned on or lobbied African governments and convinced them to ban GMOs-- even field trials-- and have thus reduced the market for GMOs to places that don't regulate them as much, like the US. And Golden Rice wasn't even a big Monsanto thing, and was designed and sold (or given away) as a humanitarian aid in order to combat vitamin A deficiency, AND could be replanted from seed from the previous crop, so you can't argue that it was even supposed to be a yearly purchase thing like Monsanto crops.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:24 am 
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i dont know how to feel about this. but i do know that i hate the blatent "gmo is bad. always. forever." attitude

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:17 am 
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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.

but it is naturally occuring.
...?

i know linking to wikipedia is stupid in an internet argument, but the history seems pretty sound to me. he purchased the seed from a random guy who might have collected it from a scrap heap, he planted it and let it grow and it just so happened to have had some sort of mutation that people liked.
(or are you talking about how it's grafted? grafting is absolutely nothing like genetic modification.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hass_avocado

i really don't know what you're getting at. VIT specifically excluded hybridization in her comment. (nature makes hybrids all the time. so nature intended the haas to occur.)

::edit:: oh, maybe you're talking about how the mother tree doesn't exist anymore, so the genes are only being continued on the rootstock of other avocadoes. (most orchards will be made of grafted trees, whether it's apples, cherries, nuts etc. consistency and predictability is good when you have an orchard, so grafting will be widespread. (but like i said, grafting doesn't change the genes of the branches or fruit.)

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:52 pm 
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supercarrot wrote:
(nature makes hybrids all the time. so nature intended the haas to occur.)


This fallacious idea is, I think really common and frustrating. Nature has no intention. Hybridization happens naturally but that doesn't mean that the products of that hybridization are any more likely to be crafted for human consumption. In fact, hybridization can result in a crop that has properties making it less suitable for humans. And as was pointed out earlier, intentional cross-breeding for a certain trait very frequently brings along numerous other undesired or even unhealthy traits.

Whereas with genetic engineering, the overall genetic changes are much smaller and better understood.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:06 pm 
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deleted for redundancy because I don't read ahead.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:27 pm 
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vegimator wrote:
Hybridization happens naturally but that doesn't mean that the products of that hybridization are any more likely to be crafted for human consumption.

i didn't imply that. (also, "nature intended" is just a figure of speech.)

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:21 am 
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vegimator wrote:
supercarrot wrote:
(nature makes hybrids all the time. so nature intended the haas to occur.)


This fallacious idea is, I think really common and frustrating. Nature has no intention. Hybridization happens naturally but that doesn't mean that the products of that hybridization are any more likely to be crafted for human consumption. In fact, hybridization can result in a crop that has properties making it less suitable for humans. And as was pointed out earlier, intentional cross-breeding for a certain trait very frequently brings along numerous other undesired or even unhealthy traits.

Whereas with genetic engineering, the overall genetic changes are much smaller and better understood.

Yes this.

I think its very hard to get over the emotion that that natural = better.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:17 pm 
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http://www.vegangmo.com/

I thought I'd share that website :)

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:31 pm 
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VeganinBerlin wrote:
I think its very hard to get over the emotion that that natural = better.

like isa above, my belief that a combination of genes that is likely to have occurred naturally is better than a combination of genes that never would have occurred without genetic modification isn't emotional. it's pretty steadfastly centered in logic. (especially for a plant that's wind pollinated. at least with an insect pollinated plant, it's possible to enclose the entire plot within a fine netting and not have the genes contaminate non-GMO crops.)

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:39 pm 
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But there's no guarantee that those combinations of genes won't cause problems anyway. Poisonous plants got poisonous naturally, after all.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:55 pm 
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we already addressed that earlier. (i didn't scroll back that far, but it's probably in this thread.)

TL;DR version: poisonous plants are limited to a handful of families. it's unlikely that plants outside those families will naturally spawn a new poisonous species or variety. introduce genes not previously found in that family, and who knows? (especially once that gene gets into a plant far down the road that was never humanly intended to have that gene. things can get out of hand rapidly.)

i think i'm looking at it from the perspective of seeing the devastation that introduced species can have on an ecosystem. they may not have been invasive in their original ecosystem because something had them in check. bring them somewhere else, and they're the king of the hill! (just scale that down to genes in a new species/genus/family)

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:10 am 
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The vegetables and fruit we consume now is not "natural". Neither is GMO. To figure out which one wins in the "more natural" game is futile. GMO is not more unnatural just because it's newer. In what way is randomly combining vegetables and waiting for the result safer, more natural or better than selecting individual traits and combing these?

Besides, I still don't see how natural=better is rational. "a combination of genes that is likely to have occurred naturally is better than a combination of genes that never would have occurred without genetic modification" Why? What are you basing this on?

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:47 am 
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fine, i'll never convince you. i stick to my opinion that something that could have theoretically happened without human intervention is more natural than GMO. (barring the strawman argument that humans are natural therefore what we do is natural. it seems like a perversion of the word.)

i wish i had a better way with words so i could explain myself better, but it makes complete sense to me that something that could not have EVER happened in nature (not hyperbole. interfamilial crosses hardly ever happen in nature, forget about orders, classes, phylums and kingdoms) just doesn't qualify for having the descriptor "natural"

to try and explain how interfamilial crosses pretty much don't happen, i'll explain it in animals. (even though plants are more flexible) humans, chimps and orangutans are all in hominidae, but no matter how much sexing is going on, there will never be a natural hybrid. our gametes don't match. if the gametes have different chromosomal numbers, maaaaaaaaaybe you can get a cross (like in mules, but they're sterile because their chromosomes are odd. but they're only an interspecific cross that's 2 levels down) but it's way easier to cross if the gametes have the same number of chromosomes.

for some reason, gamebirds are easy to cross interfamilialy. but that's all i'm aware of. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamebird_hybrids

so, bypassing the gametes and natural recombination [that happens with sexual reproduction] with GMO explains why i would never attribute the term "natural" to it.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:04 am 
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I think people understand what you're saying. They just don't agree with you.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:07 am 
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jordanpattern wrote:
I think people understand what you're saying. They just don't agree with you.


Yup.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:11 am 
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sorry. maybe i misunderstood her questions.

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:34 pm 
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Sorry if my wording was wrong. I didn't mean to say GMO is natural.
You're explaining why it's not natural and I agree, it's not natural. But

a) why is something being natural automatically a good thing?
b) our food system as a it is in not natural. an organic piece of veg is not "natural". Seeing as both are not natural, why is GMO supposed to be even less natural?

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:06 pm 
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i can't explain it. (this is another reason why i wish i was better with words.) i think it's because that's what's been proven to be healthy for millennia. i don't want to be a guineapig. there are plenty of things that scientists thought weren't harmful and were approved that turned out to be anything but harmless. it seems like GMO is going along the same course. (and like i said above is hard to contain and will be impossible to eradicate if genes spread and are someday proven to not be as harmless as they initially thought)

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?)

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 Post subject: Re: Environmentalist who helped start anti-GMO movement reca
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:40 pm 
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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.

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