Adoption of genetically engineered crops in the U.S.

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Plazma Inferno!, Sep 2, 2016.

  1. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Wow, you're totally missing my point. Let's back up:
    The anti-GMO activism is like anti-vaccine activism in that the activists prey on people who don't understand the issue and convince them to do the wrong thing. I don't think you get spidergoat's reference "If you aren't for GMO, you are in favor of famine.": It's referring to anti-GMO activists convincing African countries to turn-down GMO crops, which resulted in people dying of starvation.

    In both cases, the activists convince 2nd parties to do the wrong thing and harm innocent 3rd parties. Unlike the anti-vaxxers, the harmed 3rd party in the anti-GMO deaths isn't [potentially] you. So please: consider how the famine deaths of Africans due to anti-GMO activism compares to anti-Vaxivism and re-try your answer. Because I seriously doubt you really meant to suggest that as long as it is only Africans who starve to death you're ok waith it... which is what you inadvertently said.
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  3. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    The answer to a simplistic to the point of uselessness question (even if we set aside the self-contradiction of referring to "GMO" as separate from the millennia of genetic modification in the past): yes. But so what? That doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to do better - and need to in order to keep feeding the world.
    Can you name even a single example of that? Because all signs point to GMO crops as being probably the most successful new technology ever invented (as measured by adoption rate).
    Er...we have! We used to have selective breeding, hybridization and other imprecise and limited methods of GMO and now we have more precise, selective and powerful direct GMO.
    I don't know what that means, but I suspect you don't either.
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  5. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, you're pretty good at being clear about who/what you are.
    So, yeah: anti-corporate is your main issue, which is why you put it in the preface before even getting to the "real reasons". This is a political issue for you, not a scientific one -- because you know the science is not on your side.
    Gibberish. Do you want to try again? What, specifically, do you think could "go badly sideways"?
    You mean like every other industry? Yeah, like I said: this is anti-corporate politics, with nothing whatsoever to do with science/technology. You're a Luddite, wanting to hold back technology because you don't like the fact that it makes some people rich.
    If GMOs succeed, that would be a tragedy because corporations will have done a good thing and made money from it? Yep, I've read you loud and clear.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    If that's sarcasm it doesn't work, as nobody can tell whether you realize just how badly you have mistaken my "side".
    It's become mostly an economic issue, and accordingly the necessary - but expensive and time-consuming - science hasn't been done and isn't being done.
    I mean like no other scientific field.
    Specifically? What specifically can I tell you about what nobody knows? If I knew that others would as well, and it wouldn't be nearly the risk it is now.

    Specifically: In the limited arenas where the science is borderline adequate, we can point to a couple of things. For example, if the observed resistance to glyphosate horizontally transfers and/or abets rapid resistance to the other common, cheap, and more easily handled herbicides, as seems possible or even likely from recent developments, Monsanto may have already ruined most applications of an entire method of industrial agriculture (no-till) that had great promise and had absorbed serious investment. Along the way it would have abetted the more serious poisoning of groundwater, suburban landscapes, etc, by trashing the effectiveness of the more benign herbicides. Whether what we are seeing is evidence that that has happened we do not know, and we won't know for a while. But that would be a disaster, no?

    Generally: Anything in a significant area that hasn't been researched, which is a hell of a lot in such a powerful new field. For example: if the byproducts and side effects of Bt and glyphosate resistance expression genetics in corn alter the gut biomes of some children in some way detrimental in adulthood, as we recently found with artificial sweeteners, we won't know about it until it's too late - there's been essentially no research addressing that entire area of the unknown, the entire field is new, and nobody is monitoring. Or if the "horizontal" transfer rate of some engineered genetics is unusually high from some GMOs compared with other GMOs as well as wild type, and it's creating a disaster in some ecosystems, that almost certainly would not be noticed until long past the ability to do anything about it: there's no monitoring being done capable of picking anything like that up early. And so forth.

    The willingness to ignore - to positively deny, even - the scale of the ignorance involved in this brand new field, and the scale of the risks accordingly being run in such a massive and rapid conversion of an entire continent's food supply among other also significant things, would be difficult to believe if it weren't so flagrantly common.
    That is completely typical of GMO proponents. It's like they're being stupid on purpose.

    The entire field seems to be in the hands of people who think exactly like that. That isn't safe.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
    coffeetablescience likes this.
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Nobody has ever died of starvation in Africa because they were restricted to farming non-GMO crops.

    GMO crops have many advantages, but yield boost compared with otherwise identical crops farmed in an equivalently sophisticated manner is not one of them. GMOs are set up to take a (presumably small, although we lack public data) yield hit for expressing the extra code, in return for some other presumably greater advantages.

    The influence of large corporations on local politics, including foreign agribusiness and banking interests arranging the conversion of agriculture for local consumption to agriculture for export without a gain in local profit sufficient to buy replacement food, has caused famine in Africa. Specifically GMO activism has not. (Other activism has been more dubious, such as anti-road animal conservation efforts, but none of it has caused as much food shortage as climate change, the weapons trade, or the violence surrounding mineral and oil extraction).
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
  9. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Doesn't work that way.
  10. coffeetablescience Registered Member

    How can you say that current GMO's aren't different. When you pick up a gene from an entirely different species and put in a crop, its not natural breeding. What we are doing currently, is way over selective breeding for traits.

    Bollgard II, Roundup ready were not released because they were new generation of iPhones. They were released because previous crops failed to deliver what they promised.Is this not botching up?
  11. coffeetablescience Registered Member

    You really need to look outside the country you are in to see that GMO s are NOT feeding the world. They might do that in the future, but whatever you are listening to, you really need to dig deeper than that.

    Bollgard, Bollgard II, Round up ready. ..... these are all Monsanto products.... how you not know about them and still speak about GMOs.

    Second person in the discussion who says this. (At the risk of sounding condescending) Well, all GMO proponents here, you really need to read a bit more about how GMO crops are actually grown. To simplify, just like how organic farming requires areas around it to stop using pesticides, GMOs needs areas around them to be grown with non GMO crop
  12. coffeetablescience Registered Member

    Would you care to elaborate, in your own words, how GMOs work? and with real life examples please!

    Again, I would like to clarify, I am not anti-GMO. I do think the technology has potential but we can't be gung ho over it right now, because its not working as of now and we need to correct it till it works.

    This is like supporting the use of iterations of light bulb that didn't work and never knowing that a bulb actually glows!
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Yes, it does. Study up - even at an elementary level, biology is a fascinating field with insights that can change your whole worldview.
  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I agree.

    I was responding to your statement "Well, "which is worse?" is largely a matter of opinion, but for me personally, whether something has the potential to harm me personally as opposed to just harming others isn't part of my calculus." That I disagree with. It is very much a part of my calculus, and things that might harm others are (and should be) treated completely differently than things that might harm me.

    Like I said, YOUR decision to eat GMO's or not eat GMO's is yours; it affects only you and your family. YOUR decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate your family affects far more people. One is OK - one isn't.

    I have little respect for people who oppose GMO's as a rule. They have some valid concerns (i.e. a future GMO could be hazardous, even though none have been so far) but the good done by GMO's far outweighs any potential bad. I have even less respect for people who oppose vaccination programs; their foolishness could kill far more than GMO opponents might.
  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

    No. They were indeed effective at reducing bollworm infection. They were less effective in some places; in Indian crops (for example) they were less effective because the growing season was longer; the variant was designed for the shorter US growing season.

    So they introduced a new variant that was more effective.

    This happens all the time, and will continue to happen. The Iphone 7 is better than the Iphone 6. That does not mean that Apple "botched up" the Iphone 6.

    More importantly, there was no risk to humans. The usual issue that GMO opponents have is that GMO's are harmful; there was no harm done here (other than to the wallets of some farmers.)
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I think it's more like supporting carbon filament lights until tungsten filament lights came along. Carbon filament were not great, but they were far, far better than candles.
  17. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Implementing genetic instructions doesn't "use up" the plant's stores of energy, they direct it to use it's energy for our ends, not it's own, for instance turning a corn the size of grains of wheat into what we now know as corn, which can be a foot long. Peppers and tomatoes used to be tiny. Virtually all the vegetables we now take for granted bear no resemblance to their ancient ancestors.
  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The problems come from denying the scale or likelihood of the potential bad, and even the existing bad (such as the severity of the consequences of the damage done to glyphosate herbicide's effectiveness and Bt pesticide's effectiveness, the economic effects of de facto monopoly corporate dependency on vulnerable small scale farmers, and so forth.)

    bizarrely overestimating the accomplished good - going to the extremes of entering projected or hypothetical good in the ledgers as if it had been accomplished, and accusing those toting up the downside of what's actually happening of being enemies of this wonderful good and wanting to take these wonderful benefits away,

    and all the while ignoring the elephant in the room, namely the corporate agribusiness domination of the actual development, deployment, and terms of use of the actually existing GMOs, with all the attendant lying, cheating, stealing, and damaging that invariably accompanies such gold rush style booms, and a more or less complete loss of focus on the original wonderful and hypothetical benefits.
    So who's sounding like unscientific anti-vaccers or climate change deniers now?

    Selective breeding and hybridization are in no relevant way similar to genetic engineering, unless the engineering intentionally imitates them (as with, say, a couple but not all of the current programs to create disease resistance in American elms and American chestnut trees, entirely laudable and worthy of all the hoopla attendant). There are some older techniques - such as induced mutation - that are marginally similar in their results, but only if one ignores the exact features and potentials most at issue in a discussion of GMOs.

    Yes, expressing genetic code in plant structures and behavior does use "energy" from the plant's available supply. In the case of the significant efforts required to manufacture pesticides or deal with herbicide poisoning, the cost in energy and other limited resources (nutrients, etc) can be substantial. And the research done in this area is very difficult to track down and look at - it is seldom published, often treated as proprietary corporate secrets. For some reason.
    The promise was that they would not rapidly create resistance, that they would remain effective and cheap as was necessary to justify the conversion, that they would not do the kind of harm they did to farmers in America or India either one, that the dependency created by signing on to the corporate program specifically and explicitly would not lead to exactly the mess it did in fact lead to in India, as predicted by GMO critics, who had been dismissed as gadflies and ignorant nuisances.
    Which didn't work either, at even greater costs of many kinds. The problem apparently was that the resistance engendered by the first variant abetted the even quicker development of resistance in the second. Plus the second one created some additional problems in the area of harmful use of other pesticides and herbicides, greater debt loads and predatory banking, etc and so forth.
    The food supply and landscape ecology and economic structure of an entire population is not some gizmo you can throw in the trash when it screws up, and be no worse off than a couple week's wages lost. Meanwhile, if any IPhone had crashed the way Bt cotton did in India, you wouldn't have the Apple corporation to kick around any more.
    There was not only great and obvious risk, but at least some of it happened - there was documented harm done, especially socially and economically, by the still continuing failure of Bt cotton in India. There was also high likelihood of other and various harms, undocumented, in America and India both. And more to come.
    What you casually dismiss as "the wallets of some farmers" is something you might want to check out, first.

    Also: "no harm done" is an assessment one makes after, not before or in lieu of, investigation into the various areas in which harm was possible. So it's premature, to say the least, in the Indian cotton growing regions that have been dealing with GMOs.
  19. coffeetablescience Registered Member

    Are you reading this from the Monsanto site?

    No........ they had to introduce it because the previous one failed to live up to the mark, it promised.

    The point I was trying to make was that even if iPhone 7 is available and Apple wants you to buy the new one, they are also ok if you buy iPhone 6. This is why they reduce its price.

    In case of Bt cotton, the first generation was simply removed from the market because it was a huge failure and continuing its sale/ sowing would cause more damage to the enviroment, crops, farmers, everything around it. It was like a feast for worms.

    The issue of GMO is not a game of Monopoly. You cannot look at it just in terms of damage to me. You have to take into consideration the social, economic, ecological impact of the using GMOs. Using Bt variants will not only kill pests but also impact other insects/ microbes in the soil that might be extremely useful to maintain the health of the soil. You cannot be okay with the soil being ruined with every crop just because the feed you get saves you the trouble of using a herbicide.

    GMO application needs a holistic study and action. You cannot go on a loop of addressing a single parameter, seek feedback, address the gaps, seek feedback, address the gaps and so on.

    This is why Monsanto is being criticized and ridiculed by many. Don't put out something just because you can. You need to understand its short and long term effects.

    Farmers have lost lives not just money. It's not the same
  20. coffeetablescience Registered Member

    Plants are not doing you a favour by putting your needs above their own. They are growing the fruit for their own propagation. We insert a genetic code so that it can do something it could not before and we can be benefitted.

    It's like installing an app. When the app works, it will drain the battery. May be little, may be more, depending on the kind of work the app is doing. But it will use up more energy than your phone used to, before the app was installed!
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

    They would have introduced it anyway, because farming (whether GMO based or not) is a constant battle between artificially bred crops and natural evolution of pests. This one did not meet its performance promises, so it was replaced sooner rather than later. But even had it met its target the first year, it would not have maintained that for long.
    Uh - no, Apple at some point simply stops making the Iphone 6. You may be able to buy old inventory from Apple or one of its retailers, but they're not OK if you want to stick with an iPhone 6 forever. Technology moves on, and they will no longer make you an Iphone 6 once their inventory is depleted.

    Again, does that mean the Iphone 6 was a huge failure?
    That's completely incorrect, and in fact nonsensical. It was so damaging and toxic that it was . . . a feast for worms?
    1) The risk to humans is the primary consideration.
    2) I completely agree that you have to look at all aspects of using them.
    And you cannot be OK with the massive and soil-killing application of fertilizers and insecticides to non-GMO crops. Which tells me the problem isn't GMO's, it's industrial agriculture.

    Fortunately you have a choice. You can buy food grown to (for example) Oregon Tilth standards.
    We've done that for the past 10,000 years or so. Seems to have worked. There is a drought and we breed more drought-resistant crops. Then there is a blight and we breed more disease-resistant crops. Then there is a plague and we breed more insect-resistant crops. Then there's a period of stability and we breed higher-yield crops and nitrogen-fixing crops. All those aspects have been addressed by addressing a single parameter at a time, addressing the gaps and moving on. (Often serially and/or in parallel with other single-parameter changes.)
    Which farmers have been killed by GMO's?
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Crops generally are not doing that. There are plenty of crops that can no longer propagate on their own. (Bananas, seedless watermelons.) There are other crops that cannot propagate well from their own seed (modern corn.) They are being artificially selected to perform specific functions - greater yield, better disease resistance, Roundup resistance.

    The only reason we say that "they seed for their own propagation" is that in nature that is the selective pressure, so the genes from plants that seed well are conserved. When it comes to crops, genes from plants that have the desired commercial characteristics are conserved, and genes that do not are not conserved - even if those genes are coding for seeds or fruit. (That's why you can no longer reliably grow corn from seed crops, because the genes that drive successful reproduction are no longer selected for - beyond what the seed company needs to create seeds in the first place.)
  23. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    The only limitation is the amount of nutrients, water, and CO2 available. We can engineer the genetic code of pumpkins, for instance, to grow flesh around their seeds until they weigh a thousand pounds or more!
    We breed many plants so that they can no longer even reproduce on their own.

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