The Pros and Cons of Genetically Engineered Food

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by S.A.M., Jun 13, 2008.

  1. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    While we agree that the science behind genetic engineering is improving day by day, there are concerns among farmers, scientists and other concerned people about the way GM foods are being promoted by corporate interests.

    Some of the points under discussion:

    1. Food shortage is an economic and political problem. There is enough food, its just not available equitably. So, do we need GM foods?

    2. GM is an expensive technology. It is being actively marketed in developing countries (enforced upon them even) when they cannot afford it.

    3. Patenting laws are skewed against the poor. Biotech companies patent indigenous products and end up exploiting the poor even more than they usually do.

    4. GM is a young and untested technology. We don't know all the answers yet.

    5. Most important, GM promotes crop uniformity, which is a death knell for genetic diversity, making crops more vulnerable to insects and pesticides and requiring more and more engineering, just to keep up.


    Discuss.
     
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  3. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    If you disagree with how they are promoted disagree with that, not the food them selves.

    There only enough food if we give up meat production, I'd love that, but it never going to happen. Asking if we need high producing crops is like asking why we should have even started messing with nature to being with when we started selectively breeding them, oh that right because then 9/10 of us would not even be alive today if it was not for mass produced food!

    How it being force upon them? Again this is a disagreement of policy not a disagreement on GMO them selves.

    Again this is a disagreement of policy not a disagreement on GMO them selves.

    Fallacy: Appeal to tradition, appeal to fear. Just because it new does not mean it bad. Everything has unknown factors, even selectively bred plants have occasion demonstrated offspring that are toxic or allergenic, I would advice that every new breed no matter how it came to being should be tested for health effects.

    Generalization. By your argument even if I was to make a GMO that cured AIDS you would be against it because it a monoculture? Future agriculture design rely on mix crops using engineered seasonal plants to be perennials (this actually requires a mixing of advance breeding ad genetic engineering to make the offspring viable), thus reducing the need for water, fertilizer and plowing by several fold. Technically we have been in an arms race with pest since the start of agriculture, unless you want to go back to a world that can feed at most .5 billion we are stuck in the arms race. Oh and by the way with GM tech we can mix resistance to pest faster then with selective breeding.
     
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I think the fact that genetic engineers who are under fire in the west and are using developing countries as a "testing" ground for their techniques, is not a fact that can be ignored in the debate. Especially when these populations are already vulnerable to food insecurity, any process with unforseen future consequences, which can negatively impact both quality of life and longevity in vulnerable population groups is a major concern.


    Ironically, the contries where GM food is most actively tested are not countries which consume a great deal of meat.
    So you would add something to the food supply without knowing if it was safe? Not everyone is willing to risk their health and the health of their children simply because they have not developed enough to have an IRB with the same stringent regulations on human testing as is present in developed countries.


    And by your argument, we should try out GM foods even if they make us more vulnerable to AIDS simply because we can. Once released into the ether, a transgenic gene or foreign DNA sequence cannot be recalled, no matter how virulent or disease prone.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2008
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  7. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    All processes have the chance of unforseen future consequences! Again this a problem of policy not a problem specific to GMO.

    Again this a problem of policy not a problem specific to GMO.

    It easy to test if it is safe, testing longterm side effects though is hard to do but then again even conventional crops should be tested. If a country lacks testing facilities or regulations that not the fault of GMOs: Again this a problem of policy not a problem specific to GMO.


    Not at all, I advocated testing, but I do not advocate testing at a higher level the conventional products, in fact generally all products need to be tested more stringently then they are.

    GMO can be design sterile, its simply a matter of requiring such a regulation. By your argument cows should have take over the world because they have been heavily "engineered", this does not happen because most selectively bred and genetically engineered animals can't survive in the wild, and conventional agriculture created mistakes like the killer bee and cain toad, GM tech can prevent such mistakes by engineering organism that can't reproduce or even live without human supervision.
     
  8. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    In other words, you are introducing crop uniformity and hence creating more and more vulnerable crops, while eliminating natural strains, when you don't even know the longterm effects of doing so.
     
  9. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    What natural strains? their are no natural strains for many crops, they all been selectively bred heavy!

    We don't know the longterm effects for much of anything! By that argument we can't do antying without knowing long term effects, its an appeal to fear.

    Agriculturalist did not know the long term effects of breeding African bees and European bees, they thought it was a good idea, if they had had GM technology they could have made the hybrid bee sterile and then we would not have killer bees!
     
  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Are you arguing for my case or against it?
     
  11. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    are you arguing to do nothing? Give me a scenario were a unforeseen consequence is not possible? Your argument is a fallacy. "If we don't know what X can do, we should not do it" X can be anything, sometimes the potential benefits and consequences need to be weighed, for example

    Pro: Engineering Rice that produces Vitamin A could help end malnutrition.

    Con: Engineering and organism could have some kind of side effect that can't be detected through short term study, chances of this are grossly unlikely.

    Pro wins.
     
  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Such pros that ignore grassroots and cultural influences are useless.

    For example, when riboflavin (or was it thiamin?) enriched rice was mixed with regular rice in India, most people would remove the enriched rice and discard it as it had abnormal colouration; because Indians usually clean the rice manually picking out anything that looks unusual before cooking it.

    I have to go now, I'll look up more points in argument against GM foods over the weekend.
     
  13. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    Well then that a con that would have the be consider, like educating the people that golden rice is meant to look like that. People have learned over time, take the potateo and the tomato, both of which were looked down upon as nightshades and potentially toxic (actually there is a small amount of toxins in both to this day, but the long term effects have never been assessed

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    ) over times the potateo in particular was major boom for Europe.
     
  14. Simon Anders Valued Senior Member

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    They will fuck up and it will hurt us, let alone nature in general.
     
  15. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    if we want to leave alone nature we should go back to being cave men. Just because something in natural does not mean it is the best way for something.
     
  16. Simon Anders Valued Senior Member

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    Not that I said anything remotely like that, I would consider nature 'innocent until proven guilty', rather than 'let's replace recklessly since we can make money off of doing that'.

    We cannot keep track of the outcomes with GM. But because it will make a few people money it will get pushed on us. It will eventually make the introduction of rabbits in Australia look like dropping a penny down a drain in the street.
     
  17. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    What is innocent about nature? Are you saying that just because something is natural it can be trusted?

    Its easy to keep track of the outcome of GM: make the organism sterile and reliant on people to survive. It simply a matter of implementing it as a regulation, I'm not against regulating GMOs.

    You have watched to many movies. GMO can't lead to problems as worse cain toads and killer bees, and unlikely selective breeding and introduction, GMO can be more easily regulated.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2008
  18. kmguru Staff Member

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    GM food is tested in USA where GM corn such as Starlink is an animal feed. Perhaps it is also sold to the developing countries to increase their meat supply for domestic use as well as export.

    Best way to solve the food problem is to sterilize the population....then there will be no reason to device ways to make more food!

    One can not have the cake and eat it too....
     
  19. Simon Anders Valued Senior Member

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    I was using that as metaphor, hence the citation marks. Perhaps a better metaphor for you is: if it ain't broke don't fix it. As other people have pointed out the primary problems with food today are around distribution. You could also make a great case for meat production using up far too much land given how much usuble protein it produces. We are creating new species and mixing genes in ways that we cannot keep track of the effects of. We shuold be humbled by errors made introducing new organizms into different ecosystems, but we are not. The motivation is money, anything else mentioned is PR.

    Well, that's a decent proposal, but there are products out there right now that do not follow your rule. In fact they have been mating with neghboring farms, some of them organic ones.

    I certainly hope you fight to get your proposal accepted. I do not think it is remotely enough, but I respect it.

    Can be, but isn't. Not to speak of accidents.
     
  20. kmguru Staff Member

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  21. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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  22. Simon Anders Valued Senior Member

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  23. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    Replacing? No it not a qualitative change at all, agricultures plants and animals are grossly altered from their natural forms.

    I simply asking what level of GM is acceptable to you?

    Cold Pasturization is anther topic for perhaps another thread, but again fear of it is another example of poor risk judgment.

    Sounds like you have a problem with the cooperations, best to focus that problem on them and not the technology.

    I ask you first, you said you were against it now provide reasons why. I already stated reasons for it.

    So? does that mean All GM is bad? I been saying that lack of standards like sterilization is the problem, the technology its self is not.

    I'm all for stringent testing and recalling when evidence against comes out, I don't think it fair to assume I trust industry, infact I would rather like industry more regulated. Should I assume you would advocated against penicillin and polo vaccine?
     

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