A Conversation for Frankenstein (Genetically Modified) Foods

GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 121



I haven't read it all yet, but this looks good http://gause.biology.ualberta.ca/bio208.hp/labs/biodiversity/ch1.htm#van

*preparing towel*

GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 122


"The current reduction of diversity seems to approach that of the great natural catastrophes at the end of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras--in other words, the most extreme in the past 65 million years. In at least one important respect, the modern episode exceeds anything in the geological past. In the earlier mass extinctions, which some scientists believe were caused by large meteorite strikes, most of the plants survived even though animal diversity was severlely reduced. Now, for the first time, plant diversity is declining sharply (Knoll, 1984)."

"It follows that both the per-species rate and absolute loss in number of species due to the current destruction of rain forests (setting aside for the moment extinction due to the disturbance of other habitats) would be about 1,000 to 10,000 times that before human intervention."

Well, I think that's my side of the fence propped up. smiley - smiley Not that's it's a very heartening story...

GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 123

TraKter Pilot

So lets wade into this extensive debate.

Labeling is essential - As a consumer I have the right to make an informed decision about what foods I buy and to vote yay or nay about their viability in the market place with my dollar. Here in Canada I am currently unable to make that decision because labeling is an option.

Testing Is Essential - This goes beyond testing to see that they have the same chemicle properties of the parent material. ie: Soy Oil is fundamentally the same regardless of what genes you put in. However the additional genes can carry baggage. Reported cases of allergic ractions to Soy Product came only after the introduction of peanut genes into the Soy Bean plant.

In addition BT Corn pollen has been found to kill with out preference, including benefitial insects.

Who's in Control - Current technology allows the insertion of how many genes? 3. Great, but what are the Corps doing, inserting genes that will allow for exclusive use of their other product lines and lock producers into a rotation that keeps them using a specific product line. Why are we not seeing the adoption of genes that increase yield (current understanding is increased yield is simply from agronomic benefits, not inherent crop trairts) or nutrition first.

What about resistance - You dump that much Round-Up in a nation, and how quickly are the weeds going to adapt. There are already isolated cases of new weed species coming from hybreds, what about the control of volunteer GMO's

Science is not evil - Destruction of private property is a crime. This stuff does have the prospect of creating something benefitial, but we have to look at this in a long term scenario, not next quarters earnings.

Monsanto is not Evil - Evil is a trait exhibited by a person. Monsanto is not a person. It is the actions of people with in Monsanto that are Evil. Deal with them, through the courts.
(Poss action - I grow a non GMO crop and people at The Big M decide to grow a GMO crop next to it. The plants do what they do and cross pollenate, I can not sell the crop as non GMO and loose that niche market, who is responsible, here in Canada, M has decided that I am at fault, and that I now owe them money for the use of their technology. Needless to say its in the courts.) But more importantly the first step needs to be to make Corporations more accountable, and hold them responsible when the actions they commit harm the public.
First step - Solid Whistle Blower Protection
Second Step - No Defense Based on "Just following orders" If a product kills people and harms the environment the people develop, distribute and support the action are responsible.
It holds in Military Law lets hold some shareholders and CEO individually accountable for the next f** up.

What's the Result - Lets look at Canola. Producers see the prospect of higher yields and move to GMO Canola to increase an already shrinking profit margin. It locks thenm into a very chemicle, pesticide, and herbicide depoendant pattern of production. All geared to increase yield. Net result. More Canola for crushing. So much so that the price drops because of over supply. Farmer response, (at least in Western Canada) incorporate greater efficentcies (Produce more) to compensate. At some point the issue becomes a matter of having enough land to sustain increasing growth. They first scrap all forms of conservation to use more marginal land. Once this option is expended, they buy out other farms and de-populate rural regions. Putting more strain on urban centres.

There's more, but hit my page and check out RAFI first.

Does the public have a right to know?

Post 124


I don't know....I step away from the computer for a day.......

>>Do the uninformed public have a right to discuss these matters?

>Contrary to popular belief, this is still a country where there are some freedoms afforded to the populace. One of these is freedom of speech.

Methinks that you take my words a 'little' bit too literally. I merely meant to imply that there are some uninformed individuals who believe that they ARE informed. Not that they should be locked up in irons and the key swallowed by the nearest fish-eating-tomato.

It just annoys me when those who are ignorant refuse to believe that they are....
They can attempt to learn the facts and fair play to them if they do but when they just listen to what the GREAT Vannessa has to say about it all then........ooooh, it makes me mad.

And if you want to involve the government here then perhaps they are to be blamed for the current bad media coverage. Although free speech exists, I think the government should have a role in leaning on newspapers to promote this! This is something that should have happened a long time ago....I don't see how they could acheive it now as papers are too powerful. The government should be out to protect science against unfair bad press.

Incidentally, I do not appreciate the opinions expressed towards students. I'm willing to accept that some of us do have delusions of superiority but most of us are just lazy gits. Gone are the days of political movements etc. etc., we are branded boozers, not stuck-up losers.

Does the public have a right to know?

Post 125


>Methinks that you take my words a 'little' bit too literally

Everyone does it to me smiley - winkeye

>It just annoys me when those who are ignorant refuse to believe that
>they are

I agree.

>Although free speech exists, I think the government should have a
>role in leaning on newspapers to promote this!

So you see the government as an advocate of free speech!?

>Incidentally, I do not appreciate the opinions expressed towards
>students. I'm willing to accept that some of us do have delusions of

As a student for 6 years I feel justified in being able to rail againsgt my own breed. And for a Monday morning you were sounding a little delusional. No offence meant smiley - smiley, and if you look further up you'll find that some of my comments about "the general public", have not been quite as kind.

>Gone are the days of political movements etc. etc.

Nonesense, some of us are still up there on the barricades, fighting for truth, justice, and free narcotics for all. Even if we have to change out of our suits first!! And we just get branded as violent anarchists...

GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 126

Chalaza Researcher 16977

Well done TraKter Pilot!! We too are in Canada and are Organic Farmers(before legislation on limited use of pesticides and herbicides denoting 'organic'). I fear Monsanto and Cargill. I remember the farmers in India putting up a hell of a stink for personal seed production being eliminated by the big C...they won for now. I want all my food labeled. We must never forget 'saccharine'.

GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 127

Sigma Delta

You all seem to forgoten that genetic engendering in the selective breeding method has been going on for years. The Egyptians ancient documented it.

What is the big problem?

I agree that allergies such as penult allergies may be transferred accidentally but there is very little chance of this because on average it takes 30 or so groups of 3 nucleotides to code for a single protein. There is not much chance of accidentally transferring 90 extra nucleotides is there, also such a complex thing as an allergy would be made up of loads of proteins possibly all on different parts of different chromosomes. Hmmmmmm... What are the odds now?

Anyone considered that anything with a really bad gene in it would die? Genetics is a very complex thing and if we where to make a mistake the plant or whatever we modified would probably die.

My only real concern with gm foods is parallel gene transfer, like most tree hugging gm activists know what that means. Its when a bacteria exchanges DNA with another cell, this worries me because in the process of genetic engineering you have to give the cell you are modifying genetic resistance to something that can kill the cell usually a perfected poison that we also use in antibacterial medicines.
this means that a bacteria could gain genetic resistance to that antibacterial and we would have a bacteria that is immune to drugs and can pass on this immunity to other bacteria. Bacteria do this naturally its called evolution, ever heard of it? Anyway we just come up with another poison anyway and we could also just use one that bacteria are already immune to anyway.

GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 128

TraKter Pilot

As a tree hugging activist that doesn't know what he's talking about, here are some questions and a few statements.

Interesting info on the gene transfer and number of nucleotides. That is information that I was unaware of. I will acknowledge that allergic reactions are a slim possibility, but currently there are no tests to determine whether or not the new product causes an allergic reaction or not. The industry argued that these plants are exactly the same as the previous so do not require those tests. But any chance of these allergic reactions is a major concern. It may be small, but it is still a chance, and it has happened i.e. soybeans in the past.

Selective breeding is exactly that. The insertion of genes from other species has never been done in anything but fruit trees. Selective breeding for desired traits is a controlled process where we determine what is useful in the plant. Selective breeding has been done for ever, in both plant and animal. I do not take exception to selective breeding.

There is no such thing as a good or bad gene. They simply have different results. It is entirely possible that a plant with genes that prove negative to our crop production and health can survive. Hell there are lots of poisonous plants out there.

As for parallel gene transfer and the argument you lay out it seems very confusing and muddled. First off antibiotic resistance is a real issue based on our use of medicated feeds and the unmonitored treatment of disease in animals. There is a very high probability of gene transfer between microbes and since our last line of human defence is being used in the livestock industry it is only a matter of time before the developing resistance there transfers to human diseases. The over all trend and threat however is indicative of the type of scenario we see in GMO's in two areas.

The use of GMO crops that are currently resistant to chemicals results in the producer being locked into a certain spray regimen. This regimen is however set up by the company, and does not take into account proper chemical rotation (in some cases). So if a producer uses improper chemical rotations he increases the risk of weeds developing resistance to those chemicals, and then losing control because there are only limited numbers of chemical families. this is just on this one farm. Now blow the example up and put Round Up Ready Wheat, Canola, Soybeans, and anything else out there and you are sure as hell going to see weeds develop resistance because producer use of these different crops in rotation is not controlled. He can grow them back to back (unsure about the soybeans) and use the same chemical for control. Its a nightmare.

The transfer of genes into wild species is unlikely from most sources that I have heard from. Canola doesn't cross with thistle. However you again run into the improper use scenario. If I grow Round Up ready Canola in one field, and my neighbour grows Liberty Link in the next field they can cross pollinate and suddenly I have Canola that is resistant to two different families. After three of four years of GMO Canola in Canada we have a variety in Alberta that is resistant to three different chemical families. A producer can still control it but his options are greatly reduced, and it is still unknown how long this seed stays viable in the field. So while we may not transfer the genes into the wild, we may be throwing out entirely new weeds of our own creation.

To wrap up there is another scenario, and example of where this breeding is going wrong because it is driven by profit and not producer mandates.

Rust is a major problem and can wipe out most Canadian grain crops. The Cereal Research Centre has stayed one step ahead of naturally developing resistance by selective breeding, but it is a very costly and narrow lead. Apparently Rice is not susceptible to rust. Yet instead of leading with the gene for not just rust resistance, but making rust a null factor, they have led with chemical resistance.
the science may be sound, but its current use is not based in the public interest.

But what do I know I'm just some type of mis-informed tree hugger.

GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 129


Those sound like pretty good points to me...

What annoys me greatly is when people who haven't got a clue what they're talking about start deriding GM foods. But you seem to know what you're on about, so go right ahead smiley - smiley

Seriously, though, I'd agree that there are some problems with the way GM technology is being used, and allergies are certainly a safety issue... but in the long run, I think GM technology is likely to be beneficial. Might take a while, though.


GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 130

TraKter Pilot

Over all I agree.

In the long run it will be beneficial. But the debate needs to be public, and goals and changes need to be based on public interest not on corporate profits.

Consider this.
How much opposition would have been generated if the first wave of GMO's increased the health benefits of food, or the ability to produce effectively? Why is it that a company like Monsanto that is profit driven is being granted sole ability to fundamentally change a living being and release that into the ecosystem with out anything more than cursory checks.
Secondly I want the right to chose, as a consumer in a consumer society it is a fundamental right, and now I am being shut out of the system. There is a level of mistrust out there, but none of the corps want to address the situation and break rank on the issue of labelling to address what could be a lucrative market.

But I've ranted enough.
It is Fascinating technology with wonderful implications if and only if it is used appropriately and in the public interest. As a side note I do recognise a difference between the consumer and public interest. Its a finer line, but I'll save that for another site.

GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 131

Sigma Delta

I didn’t mean offence with the hippies statement but I just feel that you people go and start destroying fields and stuff like that when you could work things out in much better ways.

What I feel is blown this issue right out of proportion is the bias media coverage.

Anyway the point is that hey there may be some mistakes but nothing that would ever dent my faith in science. It’s the moral issues here that are really holding us back not the science inability.

I think this subject is pretty dead now though so I have nothing more to say.

GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 132


I agree whole heartedly. In my country (New Zealand) a group of so called "environmentalists" went around and destroyed the GM potato crop which several PhD students were working on for their thesis. They stuffed up an entire years work in a single night.

Mabey they wont be so opposed to it if we tell them that GM could improve the quality of the hemp they smoke!!

GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 133


yeah, but the gene in question is, I believe, one for pest resistance, which produces a natural insecticide (normally produced by bacteria, and which has been used as a spray for years) in the leaves. The gene is in an inactive state in the beans, and hence does not alter or produce any protein. The oil recovered is identicle - it contains no DNA or products of altered DNA

GM Foods - what Real diference would they make

Post 134


On the topic of allergies, test anything against a large enough population and someone will be alergic to it.

As for why the first examples of transfered genes are chemical resistances, its simply because these are the easiest. One resistance gene has a well defined function, and shouldn't interact with any other proteins within the plant. They are also very easy to test for, the plant either grows or it doesn't. This reduces the cost of the research in a very expensive field.

More complicated and useful functions could be transfered using GM techniques. However not enough is known about the plants genetics at this point in time to be able to realistically atempt it.

Genes usually work in groups, collectivly providing a greater function that the sum of the parts. But if 2 genes are transfered then there is the possibility of imparting one new function per gene and one for the combination of these genes. This possible number of functions will go up exponentially for each extra gene that is added to the group. And it is simply not understood how these more complicated interactions would effect the plant.

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