Is GE foods safe?

Discussion in 'Chemistry' started by janelee, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. janelee Registered Member

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    Traditional plant breeding involves crossing varieties of the same species in ways they could cross naturally.For example,disease-resistant varieties of wheat have been crossed with high-yield wheat to combine these properties.This type of natural gene exchange is safe and fairly predictable.

    Genetic engineering(GE)involves exchanging genes between unrelated species that cannot naturally exchange genes with each other.GE can involve the exchange of genes between vastly different species, e.g.putting scorpion toxin genes into maize or fish antifreeze genes into tomatoes.It is possible that a scorpion toxin gene,even when it is in maize DNA,will still get the organism to produce scorpion toxin, but what other effects may it have in this alien environment?We are already seeing this problem——adding human growth hormone genes to pigs certainly makes them grow——but it also gives them arthritis and makes them cross-eyed,which was entirely unpredictable.

    It will be obvious,for example,that the gene for human intelligence will not have the same effect if inserted into cabbage DNA as it had in human DNA——but what side-effect would it have?In other words,is GE food safe to eat?The answer is that nobody knows because long-term tests have not been carried out.

    Companies wanting a GE product approved in the UK or USA are required to provide regulatory bodies with results of their own safety tests.Monsanto's soya beans were apparently fed to fish for 10 weeks before being approved.There was no requirement for independent testing,for long-term testing,for testing on humans or testing for specific dangers to children or allergic people.

    The current position of the UK Government is thatThere is no evidence of long-term dangers from GE foods.In the US,the American Food and Drug Administration is currently being prosecuted for covering up research that suggested possible risks from GE foods.
     
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  3. CarpetDiem Burnin' hours, season days Registered Senior Member

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    It depends on your definition of safe. Yes, there is an inherent risk which as you rightly suggest is unable to be properly quantified or qualified. It will takse decades to properly unravel the total risk quantum. It is too the world's worst marketing disaster. I however would like to eat juicy tomatoes all year round and accept the risk of liver failure in 30 years time. Climate change and the pressure and profitability of food production will have an interesting effect on GE's acceptability in the ensuing years.
     
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  5. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    That said, you are not genetically assimilating the foods you eat. Your body is ripping them apart so that it can use the molecules of which they are made to form glucose and other substances your body needs.
     
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  7. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    Even more troubling that governments around the globe (especially American) pushing GM foods down everybody's throat. Conspiracy folks should investigate this zeal in depth. All GM foods are good for - making plants more suitable for industrial agriculture, which is a crime against future even without GM crops. I really don't see common sense point of GM. What the rush? Mankind would be served much better by outlawing agrobiz and repopulating destroyed rural areas (speaking of USA) with small to medium farms. Destruction of rural way of life is seems another things world governments and business "leaders" are bent on. Depopulation of countryside, segregation of human biomass to mega metropolian areas is going on around the world. That's mighty insane but it serves masters right.
     
  8. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    The point of GM is the same point as the selective breeding that gave us corn and wheat and cabbage and the crops. Humans have been genetically modifying foods for millennia because the altered products are easier/cheaper to grow and have a higher nutrient value and often or more easily digestible than their wild counterparts.

    The most discussed example I know of is using genetic engineering to produce additional dwarf and semi-dwarf cereal varieties. Dwarf wheat saved the lives of a billion people by some estimates, but it's been harder to introduce the same trait into other cereal crops using conventional genetic cross-breeding techniques, or so I have read.
     
  9. John99 Banned Banned

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    It is much, much safer than not eating.
     
  10. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    Not true. The main point of GM, as for today, is to make plants tolerant to the horse doses of herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, mineral fertilizers - the essence of industrial agriculture.


    Genetic manipulation by artificial selection is not quite the same as genetic manipulation by crapshooting foreign DNA attached to golden particles. In essence, GM is not quite science, it has significant element of "trial and error" craft. G modificators don't really know what they are shooting for. And most importantly they can't even guess full consequencess of their crapshooting.

    Bull. Dwarf wheat didn't save squat since without horse doses of chemical fertilizers etc. it can NOT produce significant yields. In fact, without fossil fuel inputs (fertilizers etc.) dwarf wheat is way worse, yieldwise, than old varieties. Industrial agriculture KILLS soils. I'm not sure what "life saving" you are talking about. You can extrapolate current soil helth trends in the future and guess the year of the global mega human die off.
     
  11. John99 Banned Banned

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  12. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    That's how GM is being pushed - saver of the hungry. Ironically, GM saver of the hungry makes people (not so hungry to begin with) fatter and fatter. Truly hungry continue to starve.

    Nobody is going to give away GM food to the pennyless hungry (in significant quantities). Economy doesn't work that way.

    GM boosts corporate and agrobiz bottomline. All hungry in the world be damned. More GM = bigger cost of inputs = larger and large commercial farms to recoup the input costs = more and more hungry landless people in slums. That simple.

    The most important point. Corporations own GM seeds. Farmers (if any left) can't grow and use their own seeds, they must buy seeds every year from a corporation. In a nutshell, in 10-30 years, 3-5 corporations may control food supply of billions. Google terminator seeds. In fact, monsters of GM and Bill Gates foundation are building gigantic dooms day seed vault in the Arctic (afraid of something?).

    GM industry is violating rights of non GM growers. Yet, it's a GM corporation will sue a farmer if a bird dropped GM seed on farmers field (famous case in Canada). A farmer cannot sue GM corporation for contaminating his fields with GM crap. Big brother is hard at work.
     
  13. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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  14. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    personally I try to eat organic, especially milk and cheese, but meh I also eat Doritos once in awhile - which are 100 pure GM food, the chips actually grow their own cheese flavor...
     
  15. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    I wonder, when someone invents a way to grow large slabs of gm "meat", will people eat it? maybe? one could market it as helping people in starving nations get needed protein while at the same time stop animal cruelty. yum yum a 5 meter square chunk of lab tuna or beef...
     
  16. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    , what is this??
     
  17. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    20,285
  18. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    dang, its only on my computer huh. It's FFOC in an itty bitty box and its all over the OP.
     
  19. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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  20. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    <sigh> yes. OK, they are also Inzomnia's sig line. What is Inzomnia's sig line?
    Its my dang computer! It must be.
    FF0C, FF0D, FF09, FF08. WTHell!?
     
  21. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    Not true. Some GM work is geared towards that (and why? because plants resistant to chemicals would be easier to grow and have higher, edible, yields than the fungus and bug-eaten crops you'd prefer the poor be fed), but to call that "the main point" is you just speaking out of your ass.

    In any event chemical fertilizers and the like are good for humanity overall. They also allow for higher yields. GM work that makes them more effective would be a great thing.


    Genetic manipulation by selective breeding is, by your standard not quite science either, since it is susceptible to every one of the half-assed criticisms you throw at GM. To wit

    That's unquestionably true of selective breeding. You never really know what the next generation will look like, you can only guess.

    This was unquestionably true of the early days of selective breeding as well. In the early days, farmers and herders likely didn't even know you *could* select for particular traits and discovered the process by accident.

    In any event, it's COMPLETE BS as applied to GM. Believe it or not most modifications do not arise as the result of pulling random DNA from one place and putting it randomly into another. The results they obtain are often not what they's have expected or hoped for, but the same is true of cross-breeders.

    Neither could cross-breeders! Seriously you seem to be under the mistaken impression that "if Nature allows the cross-product naturally, it must be benign and good." In really cross-breeders were tinkering with the genetic codes of plants and animals in a far more haphazard and way more dangerous way than genetic engineers. Engineers have a sense of what they are doing, they are aware of the problem that may arise (no, you are not smarter/more wise/more aware than they are). In fact they take discrete segments of genes and transpose them, whereas traditional crossbreeders transpose how many genes at a time? (Oh, that's right, all of them!). The result is that cross-breeders often found themselves face to face with plants and animals with major health problems and genetic defects because the selective breeding allowed rare and generally recessive traits to fully manifest.

    One of the issues the selective breeders have left us with is that there is not really a lot of genetic diversity in our crops, and GM may be able to help with that in the long term.

    I am glad that the people afraid of GM foods were not around at the dawn of civilization, because selective breeding would have scared the shit out of you since back then it had no track record.

    If you don't want to eat GM foods, that's fine, I support you right to choose. If you feel that those of us unafraid of science should be forced to change our society and economy because you are, then fuck you. If you prefer poor people starve rather than grow/eat GM foods, then fuck you twice over.

    The Nobel Prize committee disagrees with you.

    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1970/borlaug-lecture.html

    See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Revolution

    Face it, you spout propaganda because you like to believe, in your romantic naivety, that natural farming method are quainter and better. Nature would never steer us wrong ! (Unless you count all those plagues nature throws at us, often coming from the animals and crops that we grow and tend to!) Anything that is contrary to that rose colored vision of the past that you'd like to see made the future, you deny. This is not even to worry about the other flaw in your "many small farms" approach: that many small farms require lots more land, and hence leads to deforestation. That was one of the many well acknowledged advantages of the dwarf wheat solution that you wrongly claim was ineffective, that not only did it save people from starvation, that it saved forests from people pushing your agenda.

    You will no doubt say that I spout propaganda, but you'd be wrong. I only care about making things better and I was (and am) open to the notion that there might be a better way, and then I read up on the the way food is produced and distributed and realized that traditional crops are not well suited to the number and geographic dispersion of the people of the Earth.

    In any event, you lose. People in the modern age, in general, trust science more than doomsayers. There is no great movement afoot to ban GM foods in the west, and the only real problem is that people on your side have occasionally convinced leaders of third-world nations to let their countrymen die rather than feed them with GM products.

    Despite the claims about using many small and plucky local farmers to grow all the food that's needed for a given population, that model has not swept the world.

    Why not? Consider it for a moment. You model is inexpensive. It doesn't require industry to produce chemical fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, etc. It seems ideal for third-world nations, and many of those nations are disproportionately likely to face food shortages. The reason this model has not overtaken the third-world as the common sense and superior method is not agribusiness lobbying local governments, it's that it doesn't produce the surplusses you anticipate it producing. The nations relaying on your model alone generally find they are more likely to need to import food from nations with higher yields (i.e., to a disproportionate extent, nations that reject your preferred model.

    The dwarf wheat/Green Movement started in Mexico and completely transformed their agriculture, then moves around the planet. THAT swept that world! And that's why Norman Borlaug, father of dwarf wheat, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 and was awarded India's Padma Vibhushan in 2006.

    Your claim that dwarf wheat saved no lives is nothing more than ignorance. At the time it was introduced in India there were people on your side of the table, arguing that it was dangerous and wrong, and yet it saved India from a looming famine. Again though, your side is very big on telling people "If you do X, you will die" and very poor at giving anyone any practical solutions for problems of food production, save for big talk that works only on paper on on internet message boards.

    In the 2006 ceremony at which Borlaug was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the Mexican Agricultural Ceremony said that Borlaug with his dwarf wheat had saved more lives than any other person in the history of the world. In 2005, the President of the World Food Prize Organization (which Borlaug's works helped to create) said of Borlaug:

    Your side has only cost people lives. It takes some nerve to claim that Borlaug hasn't in the face of your side's failures.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2008
  22. kmguru Staff Member

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    Someday we will have lemon size soybeans...would that not be nice...more food for the population? May be instead of eating that soybean, whole, we could extract the protein, oil etc...which should be free from plant toxins....hopefully...if not, we would be screwed....

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  23. Gently Passing Registered Senior Member

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    Bah, the real threat is not GM.

    Not to sound like a Hippie, but plant a garden! Or go to a local farmer's market.

    The solution is simple: circumvent the machinery put in place by the Corporatocracy and simply buy food from your neighbors.

    Problem solved.
     

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