The Future of GM Technology...

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by ULTRA, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. leopold Valued Senior Member

    GM foods, the method, can be best summarized thus:
    introducing the genes of fish into tomato plants.

    science is going about this the wrong way.
    instead of trying to make current foods "bigger" they should try to figure out how to grow fruit without the trees or meat without the animal.
    in other words taking a single tomato cell, inoculating it, and it becoming a tomato.
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  3. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

    Personally, having argued the case with numerous anti-GM enthusiasts, I am convinced that anti-GM enthusiasm is mostly engendered by superstition. I know this, because data, and rational argument has no effect in such arguments.

    I suspect that most anti-GM people are the people who harbour the superstitious belief that "Natural is good and unnatural is bad." Any intelligent person who can think rationally, need only consider the wide range of both 'natural' and 'unnatural' things in this world, to see that no such rule exists.

    For example : over time, human society has changed to become less 'natural', and this change correlates perfectly with increase in human lifespan. Tongue in cheek I say, obviously people live longer if they distance themselves from what is 'natural'.

    However, for those who believe that GM is wrong because it is unnatural, let me point out that GM occurs in nature also, and has done so for billions of years. Retroviruses enter the eucaryote call, and introduce alien DNA. If the cell they enter is a gamete or pre-gamete, that new DNA may become part of the genome of a new organism, and be passed down through the generations for billions of years. Such DNA is a sizeable part of the human genome.

    Some of the alien DNA so introduced actually comes from other organisms than the retrovirus. This is because the virus can pick up its hosts DNA (transcribed to RNA), and later introduce the new DNA into another host. Prairie dogs have been found with snake DNA in their genome.

    There is a new science which looks at genetic changes by alien DNA transfer. These studies are very new and big discoveries await, but it is already clear that significant amounts of DNA, including human DNA, originated from other organisms. 'Natural' GM.

    For example :

    I quote : "The adzuki bean beetle Callosobruchus chinensis is infected with several strains of bacterial Wolbachia endosymbionts. A genome fragment of one of these endosymbionts has been found transferred to the X chromosome of the host insect."

    It is rather probable that a significant portion of the 'junk' DNA found in the human genome will be from retroviral sources, and may include genes transfered from other organisms. When sufficient evidence of this appears, and we demonstrate that GM has been occurring in nature for billions of years with no devastating effects, will this change the views of the anti-GM radicals?
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  5. leopold Valued Senior Member

    the current method of GM foods is not the way of the future.
    you will still need vast land resources which the future of humanity will put large constraints on. wars have been fought over land resources.

    the method i propose is natural and a lot safer in that will require almost no testing.

    i understand the need of science to flex its intellectual muscles but couldn't this be best achieved by applying gene manipulation to industrial uses?
    for example an organic filter that converts sewage into drinking water.
    or a filter that removes the toxins from coal burning?
    or maybe even the above that converts those toxins to something useful.
    there are plenty of areas that can benefit from genetic manipulation without getting into the human side of it.

    because i feel we must protect humanity's gene pool does not make me a radical.
    how do you know the current trend in obesity isn't the result of GM foods?
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  7. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

    Humanity's gene pool is not threatened by GM. If humanity changes its genome, it will be as a result of deliberate action - not some accident from a genetically modified cotton plant.

    On obesity.
    The current obesity trend began long before the move to GM crops and foods. Besides, there is no known mechanism by which GM creates obesity, while there are several extremely well known ways that other factors cause obesity.
  8. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    In some cases, I'd agree with you. But by no means all of them
    There are legitimate concerns about GM usage that are being mostly ignored.

    About here and our previous discussions:
    Whenever you're given legitimate concerns, you ignore them. And I've yet to find a cite -even the university ones, that will meet with your standards...I think it's because you're not going to admit that the technology might not be perfect.

    Again, I am not against the cautious use of GM, but that's not what's currently occurring, at least not where I live, where it's supposed to be about 80% of the corn (maize) crop.
    There's not been any major incidents, but the technology's not being carefully monitored.
    We've already been around this bend for too many pages-you and those of us who disagree with you. I'm not going around it again.

    I think only Iceaura is entirely against GM, and I'm not 100% sure about him. I'm pretty sure Ultra's cautiously for it-I believe it's what he has done for a living?

    Carry on believing I'm superstitious because I think we're using an unproven technology very broadly and not monitoring it enough.
    But it's very bumptious of you to keep repeating it.
    There are legit concerns there, whether you're honest enough to admit them or not.

    Well, Petrimeat's something I'm looking forward to...but there you're talking about lab-grown foods, period... and it's currently kind of expensive to lab-grow stuff.

    Not sure if that would work...
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  9. leopold Valued Senior Member

    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  10. Skeptical Registered Senior Member


    Legitimate concerns do not get ignored. In fact, the whole anti-GM movement was instigated, in effect, by GM scientists. Greenpeace and all the others, who later became anti-GM activists, had no conception that there might be concerns at all, until a group of scientists who were developing GM products, decided to be totally honest, and inform the public about the technology, including any possible side effects. This was done. In due course, and very much as a result of that honesty, the anti-GM enthusiasts got cranking, and have not stopped yet.

    The problem is that the anti-GM activists were not as honest as those scientists, and have pushed a whole load of garbage that has been shown by proper scientific studies to be wrong. eg. threats to monarch butterflies. Pusztai and his GM potatoes.

    Yet even today, the GM scientists publish any possible concerns from the products they develop. This leads to scientists testing those concerns before such products are approved.

    On being superstitious.
    I have not specifically accused anyone on this forum of being superstitious. IMHO, the worst offenders in that category are the leaders of the anti-GM mob. We have some in New Zealand who are very, very irrational.

    The thing that no-one opposing GM on this forum has acknowledged, is the importance of 16 years large scale and world wide cultivation of GM crops without a single significant adverse incident due to the fact that the crops are GM. And hundreds of millions of people eating GM foods without a single case, no matter how minor, of someone being harmed by the fact that their food is GM.

    I would love to see Ultra, or iceaura, or leopold, or yourself, admitting that this is a pretty damn impressive record.
  11. leopold Valued Senior Member

    there is an interesting article in wikipedia about this.
    and what happens to "world renowned" scientists such as pusztai that publishes contrary evidence from controlled experiments?
    it seems they lose their jobs.
    impressive indeed:
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  12. tantalus Registered Senior Member

    . Yes Monsanto are are untrustworthy folk, but that doesnt change the fact that conventional breeding is an unnatural (unnatural doesnt have to mean bad) way of producing new genetically different varities. Thus I rationalise that they are both genetic modification (although clearly different forms). I think the problem here is there is focus on the idea that this somehow this proves that CB and GM are the same or something, because they are both forms of genetic modification and because Monsanto et al. would like to muddy the waters. I am not trying to do that. Oranges and apples are both fruit, but there not the same, CB and GM are both forms of genetic modification, but there clearly not the same. but even Monsanto bad practices shouldn’t change what things are and how we interpret them, to abandon this appropriate classification because some would sprout misinformation is not the best approach imo. I have offered my line of thought, a definition and applied it in previous posts and as I already said just because they are both genetic forms of modification doesnt change the differences. If anyone disagrees with terming CB as a form of genetic modification, please offer a clear thought why or an alternative definition, not simply why CB and GM are different, that for me is best left to a sub-category of Genetic modification. If people say this is pedantic

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    I maintain semantics are vital. Other wise misinformation and understanding of the fundamentals are missing...
  13. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Tantalus, you do have a good point...
    They are both genetic modification.

    One is accomplished by artificial selection of random mutations the plants go through themselves, though, the other by genetic alteration on a direct molecular level...and since the one has only been used for 16 years, has not been monitored very well and has a lot of unanswered questions...people have reservations. will probably find that Skeptical disregards your links as "quackery," biased and illegitimate in other words... And that's where we kept going around and around with him.

    I maintain that there's a possibility that they haven't found the problems with GM because they aren't looking for them...and that this insures we won't find them until they become spectacular.

    As far as GM bacteria or plants for pharma and supplement production (one of the articles you linked) I don't usually have any problems with that. In that case, the GMO's in an isolated environment and the product is monitored. The incident with tryptophan occurred some time ago, and I believe more monitoring of the supplement industry has been laid on worldwide since then.
    A lot of our pharmaceuticals are made from altered e.coli, I understand.
    in my college biology 1 class we got to insert jellyfish glow genes into e.coli. Yep, glow-in-the-dark butt bugs.:bravo:
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  14. leopold Valued Senior Member

    There are at least three other areas of uncertainty. The most important are the effects of eating GM foods on human health. Astonishingly, this has never been investigated, either in North America or in the EU. In the rare cases where research has been carried out on animals or humans, the results have been negative. This is an area that the Government has chosen to disregard.
  15. leopold Valued Senior Member

    what he says and what he can prove are 2 entirely different things.
    judging by my brief searches on this subject very little data on independent tests exist.
    from what i can tell public opinion on this matter is negative.

    if you read the article in wiki that i alluded to earlier it is evident that most scientists would think twice before submitting negative reviews for GM crops.

    searching the following yields exactly zero results as to the safety of GM foods: of GM foods&ie=UTF-8&sort=date:D:L:d1&oe=UTF-8&ud=1&start=0

    have the tests been carried out?
    you be the judge:
    In recent years, there has been a notable concern on the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods/plants, an important and complex area of research, which demands rigorous standards. Diverse groups including consumers and environmental Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) have suggested that all GM foods/plants should be subjected to long-term animal feeding studies before approval for human consumption. In 2000 and 2006, we reviewed the information published in international scientific journals, noting that the number of references concerning human and animal toxicological/health risks studies on GM foods/plants was very limited.

    Since the commercial approve in 1996, the global area of transgenic crops has raised more than 50 times. In the last two decades, governments have been planning strategies and protocols for safety assessment of food and feed genetically modified (GM). Evaluation of food safety should be taken on a case-by-case analysis depending on the specific traits of the modified crops and the changes introduced by the genetic modification, using for this the concept of substantial equivalence. This work presents approaches for the risk assessment of GM food, as well as some problems related with the genetic construction or even with the expression of the inserted gene.

    and the most damning evidence:
    We summarize the major points of international debate on health risk studies for the main commercialized edible GMOs. These GMOs are soy, maize and oilseed rape designed to contain new pesticide residues since they have been modified to be herbicide-tolerant (mostly to Roundup) or to produce mutated Bt toxins. The debated alimentary chronic risks may come from unpredictable insertional mutagenesis effects, metabolic effects, or from the new pesticide residues. The most detailed regulatory tests on the GMOs are three-month long feeding trials of laboratory rats, which are biochemically assessed. The tests are not compulsory, and are not independently conducted. The test data and the corresponding results are kept in secret by the companies.

    now i ask, why aren't these tests independent and why are the results being kept secret by the companies?
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I strongly support the use of GM technology in a wide variety of efforts.
  17. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

    To leopold

    Let me tell you what I told Ultra and iceaura.
    I will totally ignore any reference that comes from non reputable sources. GM has become a highly politicised matter, and all kinds of political lobby groups have web sites using extremely lousy science to attack GM.

    I will give full credence to any reference coming from a reputable scientific source. If you post material from peer reviewed scientific journals, or popular but reputable science news journals like New Scientist, Scientific American, The Scientist, Sciencedaily, or reports from good science research institutes, or the research departments of government health bodies etc., then I will treat those references with respect.

    On the other hand, if you post political bullshit, like , then I will treat it with total contempt.

    On the GM potatoes and the now discredited researcher Dr. Pusztai.
    This work was evaluated by the British Royal Society, which is one of the most reputable scientific bodies on the planet.

    I quote :
    "But a committee of six eminent members of the British Royal Society, set up in April of 1999 to review the Pusztai data, reached the opposite conclusion. The committee sent out the material they received from Pusztai, the Rowett and other sources to scientists with expertise in statistics, clinical trials, physiology, nutrition, quantitative genetics, growth and development, and immunology. The committee reviewed the opinions it received and issued a summary statement in June of 1999. The consensus of these experts was that the experiments were poorly designed, the statistical inappropriate, and the results inconsistent. Their recommendation was that the experiments be repeated and the results published."

    Of course, the anti-GM radicals and Dr. Pusztai himself will argue against these conclusions. But I trust the British Royal Society, as being good scientists. I do not trust the radical opposition.

    On the question of monitoring.
    It is kind of laughable that we keep getting the complaint that no-one monitors. Actually, the truth is that this kind of research is intensive, but consistently fails. In other words, the researchers give up because they cannot find anything wrong. Numerous Ph.D. students of epidemiology have tried to find links between GM and disease. This has become a pretty neglected field, for the simple reason that such links have not been found. It is hard to get a Ph.D. on the basis of a thesis that is consistently negative!

    So when Chimpkin says little data from independent tests exist, she is right. That does not mean those tests have not been done. Many have been done. The problem is an old one in science. When a researcher runs tests, and finds negative results, the researchers tend not to publish.

    If a researcher tests the safety of a GM food or crop, and discovers a problem, it gets published pretty damn quick. If no problem is found - no publication. This distorts published research results. Those who understand how things work, understand this distortion and allow for it. Those who do not understand, read into it things that do not exist. The difference between those who understand how science works and those who do not.

    I have no problem with more research being done. If government regulations require long term feeding studies, I applaud. Gathering extra data is never a bad thing, as long as it is done via good science, and not from political web sites.
  18. ULTRA Realistically Surreal Registered Senior Member

    When I was involved in genetics, our lab produced enzymes for the lysis of DNA strands at specific points. In effect, out enzymes would recognise a specific piece of code, and split the strand there. The new DNA was introduced and the strand was annealed. My job was comparative gel electrophoresis. I would mash up some of the DNA, perform PCR on it and bind a UV marker to it. Then I'd make some agar gel and put samples into wells in it. Then I'd pass electricity through it and it would seperate into bands. By studying these bands, I could tell if the DNA was included in the sample as compared to a control sample.
    Perhaps Skeptic would like to point out the superstition in this process? Because I can't see any..
  19. Skeptical Registered Senior Member


    Please do not throw up red herrings by trying to suggest I said things I did not.

    I have enormous respect for good science. You described a laboratory procedure. Fine. No problem.

    Where I get critical, is when political lobby groups use lousy science to push a barrow based on poor data and worse interpretation. I think I am justified in calling beliefs based on such an invalid base as superstition.
  20. leopold Valued Senior Member

    NCBI is a valid science source.
  21. ULTRA Realistically Surreal Registered Senior Member

    All I have ever argued for Skeptic is best practise. If this means labelling food or not planting GM crops when natural ones will do, that's what I want. If pollen makes people ill, I want it brought into a lab to see why, not to sweep it under the carpet and pretend everything is fine. What do you learn from that?
    I have no worry about growing GM crops for valid reasons, or GM bugs for medicines. But I want proper safeguards for people and the environment. I don't think that's at all unreasonable.
  22. leopold Valued Senior Member

    from monsantos website:
    "Why aren’t you running human clinical trials on GM crops?"
    monsanto: "Because existing food crops are recognized as safe, the logical starting point for safety assessment of a GM food is to ask what’s different?
    . . .
    There is no need to test the safety of DNA introduced into GM crops. DNA (and resulting RNA) is present in almost all foods--the only exceptions being highly refined materials like oil or sugar from which all cell material has been removed."

    there is no need?
  23. Skeptical Registered Senior Member


    I agree that NCBI is reputable.
    The reference from them, though, gave nothing solid. Merely a vague hint. This is not something for anyone to get their teeth into. Please look for data to support your case, rather than vague hints.

    The arguments that Ultra and iceaura are coming up with are of hazards from GM. I really cannot accept intangibles as sound argument. If you find, through a reputable source, a genuine hazard, nailed down by testing, let me know.

    Such things do exist. I have seen them. Of course, the particular GM crops or foods with real hazards attached never made it into the field. A hazard detected and prevented is no longer a hazard.

    If you want to make a case that GM crops and/or foods are genuinely dangerous, you must find a genuine danger. That requires hard data rather than hints, or vague concerns.


    You say you want safe foods and crops. You have got them.

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