Truth about GMO

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Locust, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. Locust Registered Member

    Okay you are now on ignore list. I dont have time for redicule.
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  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Do you not believe that land animals became cetaceans?
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  5. Locust Registered Member

    I do believe. But I dont believe that whales evolved from polar bears.
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  7. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Well actually, there's quite a bit of stuff in your computer that is known for sure to cause cancer, not to mention (if it is a laptop) the battery that may explode and burn you to death at any second. Quick, turn it off before its too late!! suspect -- based on nothing but the fact that it is new, even though you know of no actual "bad" about it.

    Yes. Did you know that environmentalism is why the US still gets most of its electricity from coal, which kills more people in the US every year than every nuclear power accident, ever, killed altogether?

    I'm hoping for perpetual motion. It's about as likely as most of those...
    Nonsense: ridicule is a significant fraction of what you are about. Almost every post of yours involves ridicule, including the strawman you set up for ridicule of billvon.
  8. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    billvon, you're not seeing what he's doing: he set up a very specific scenario as a diversion, knowing that the random process of evolution won't produce that exact scenario (whales evolving from polar bears). This is diverting from the general issue you were trying to discuss (random changes can produce major changes over enough time)....which he started by putting in quotes that which you did not say.
  9. Locust Registered Member

    I think that tells about you more than anything. You answer on posts such as "Lie." Period. When I provided source your answer is "nada". Well in short you could be describe as (yada yada-nada) Or you answer with "pseudo science" et cetera. Redicules. Why are you still here and why administrators allow your posts is beyond me. After this your post Im sure Id made good desicion.
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I made no claim of "commercial" anything among ancestors.
    It does not. You can make a case for defining agriculture as the use of irrigation and/or fertilizer.

    I bet you can't. Try it.

    No comparisons that fail to include the contributions of all that stuff are valid. The attempt to credit GMOs with all that benefit is deception. And all those factors produce reductions in the cost of crop production, not the cost of food.

    We have many examples of reductions in agricultural production cost coextensive with increases in the cost of food, especially when large foreign corporate entities have arranged matters to make themselves indispensable: sufferers include the rice and pork eaters of Haiti, before them the fish eaters of Peru, before them the salt eaters of India - the list is not a short one.

    We also have, and it could become relevant here, many examples of decreases in the nominal cost of crop production coextensive with decreases in the prosperity of farmers.

    We know of one entity that benefits, for sure, from GMOs. That entity is the large agribusiness corporation. The rest of us? - that's an argument, and far from a settled one.

    No more do I consider the nicotinoids in tobacco plants to be insecticides "used" by people. But engineered nicotinoids sprayed over entire landscapes full of honeybees are, and if anyone engineers corn, wheat, and soybeans to express lethal versions of such insecticides throughout entire landscapes that would also qualify. And of course if the insecticide is derived from isolated bacterial exudates or some other phylogenetically alien source, and the genome of the plant engineered to produce a variant of it, the situation is obvious. We can get bacteria to make gasoline these days, probably DDT.

    Now you're deleting from my posts and making claims about what you deleted?

    Quit making assertions about "GMOs", and quit confusing yield per acre with profit per acre, and try to comprehend what you read before name calling, and so forth. Then you can begin to discuss GMOs as they exist in the real world.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  11. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I have found that when people start trying to redefine words to make their point, the discussion will no longer be fruitful. Have a good day.
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

    They did not, nor has anyone claimed that.
  13. Locust Registered Member

    To argue about DDT is purely insane idea. Its genotoxic et cetera. For start read wiki page.
  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Right. And it saved millions from malaria. So we have a substance that has done good and bad - and we now have replacements for it that are even better, and that have almost completely replaced it. A good outcome IMO. From Wikipedia:
    DDT is the best-known of several chlorine-containing pesticides used in the 1940s and 1950s. With pyrethrum in short supply, DDT was used extensively during World War II by the Allies to control the insect vectors of typhus – nearly eliminating the disease in many parts of Europe. In the South Pacific, it was sprayed aerially for malaria and dengue fever control with spectacular effects. While DDT's chemical and insecticidal properties were important factors in these victories, advances in application equipment coupled with a high degree of organization and sufficient manpower were also crucial to the success of these programs. In 1945, it was made available to farmers as an agricultural insecticide, and it played a minor role in the final elimination of malaria in Europe and North America. By the time DDT was introduced in the U.S., the disease had already been brought under control by a variety of other means. . .

    In 1955, the World Health Organization commenced a program to eradicate malaria worldwide, relying largely on DDT. The program was initially highly successful, eliminating the disease in "Taiwan, much of the Caribbean, the Balkans, parts of northern Africa, the northern region of Australia, and a large swath of the South Pacific" and dramatically reducing mortality in Sri Lanka and India.

    Again, if GMO's save only as many people as DDT did, it will be a huge success. They may well be later replaced by something even better - like entirely synthetic organisms.
  15. Locust Registered Member

    "Open Sesame, I want out." C. Bukowsky
    Okay I give up on DDT argument. Im sure any person can easily find data on its own. I will let people judge on their own. Please dont trust me. I encourage you to look for yourself and decide was DDT good idea. If anyone here doesnt know it already.
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Now what? Somebody was attempting to redefine a word? Where?

    Look, you might try, sometime, responding to something I've actually posted here, especially after quoting me. If you are interested in the topic of the thread, anyway. It was about GMOs, and even though the OP is clearly vague on the subject there are obviously what one calls issues on the table.

    We haven't, actually, found a "good replacement" for DDT. The indiscriminate overuse of that very valuable compound all but destroyed it, and the various replacements for its various roles all have significant drawbacks we wish we did not have to deal with.

    And the entity that destroyed DDT, and that still waits to take advantage of any attempts to revive it in the still continuing struggle with malaria and other mosquito borne diseases, is large corporate agribusiness.
  17. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    That leads me to ask whether the FDA ought to be relegated this task, or whether it falls under the bailiwick of other agencies as well, such as the USDA, NIH, EPA, etc.

    I think this explains the likely kind of fear that folks associate with "mutant" foodstuffs. My first reaction was that the odds of this happening would be nil, since, (a) the probability of producing a specific gene this way are nil, (b) the odds of it surviving the enzymes in the saliva, and then somehow entering (the bloodstream?) and then somehow finding a particular parasitic host cell, and then invading it like a virus, are nil (to the 4th power) , and (c) if such a scenario were feasible, then everything we ate / touched / inhaled would be cross-pollinating our DNA, causing rapid and universal mutations of every kind. I looked for any studies and found that my instincts weren't too far off:

    We conclude that, although fragments of DNA large enough to contain an antibiotic-resistance gene may survive in the environment, the barriers to transfer, incorporation, and transmission are so substantial that any contribution to antibiotic resistance made by GM plants must be overwhelmed by the contribution made by antibiotic prescription in clinical practice.

    It's a formidable issue. The question I have is whether GM meat and dairy animals can be bred which carry programmed immunities to pathogens such that this practice may someday be eliminated.

    I think the evidence supports it to some extent.

    It's hard for me to imagine that any such stone is left unturned. I am finding some evidence of research which suggests I might be right. Here is one study which had 37 collaborators, which seems pretty intense:

    I didn't find research targeting GMOs as the cause of bee colony crashes. What I see are studies targeting any possible causes, which I think are still inconclusive. Environmental / ecological damage (principally toxins) and invasive species are usually cited. For example:

    GM crops may be beneficial to bees in this regard, if they reduce the use of chemical pesticides sprayed on fields and orchards.

    I see this as better explained in terms of the strategy for GM soybeans, which began initially as a way of immunizing against Roundup and then, when that succeeded, by giving GM soybeans an additional protein (Bt, named for a bacterium from which the gene is derived) known to repel or kill destructive pests. I can't tell you definitively whether bee studies for the Bt protein began before or after deployment of the GM Roundup Ready Soybean, but it looks like the bee impact studies were probably already reporting favorable to its use by the time the Bt protein version of GM soybeans was deployed. My gut level reaction is that someone was actually awake at the wheel when this transpired. Here's quite a litany of studies at least attesting to the level of concern over the poor bees (Apis mellifera ):

    I can't decide if it was luck or not. I believe there is a history here which included substantial concern for bees as expressed in the above studies. As long as the GM crops were not deployed until after there was some evidence that the Bt protein is safe, I would not fault the chemical industry -- at least not the ethics of their scientists.

    Not since Bunsen Burners usually run on natural gas!

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    But here I would want to split hairs with you, only to remind you that the chemical reactions of cooking food (and regardless of whether it's over wood, kerosene, gas -- all organic -- or whether nuked, roasted in lava or baked in the Sun) are well described in organic chemistry. More to the point, keep in mind that the process of digestion is largely governed by organic chemistry.

    Quite an expensive and highly risky -- but hugely successful, and, probably largely contained (as far as new sites) for obvious reasons.

    I see this differently. First, the human gut is extremely versatile. We can (on average) subsist on just about any kind of nutrient. Our ancestors are believed to have lived on a diet of termites. People left to starve have been known to survive by eating clay or weeds. So I agree with you in part that the versatility of the human gut is the product of evolution. But the foods we eat (civilized people) is largely the product of ancient GMO, just known under the more innocuous banner of "artificial selection"..

    That's hard to compare. Nukes are not unsafe on account of using radioactive fuel, they are unsafe because, although the risk of parallel failures is extremely low, those failures are the kind capable of dumping copious radiation into the environment. Actually the word "safety" gets confused here. There are two parameters involved - the mean time between failure (MTBF) which drives the cost of parallel subsystems needed for emergency backup, and Cost, which is a technical term referring to the potential severity of an accident when the backups were inadequate. Divide Cost by MTBF (roughly speaking) and you get Risk, a number that more closely measures safety.

    In the case of GMOs it would be hard for me to measure safety without better understanding the failure syndromes. At this point I haven't found any examples of toxicity that would lead me to consider the odds that GM foods are unsafe for me to eat. And the rest -- like whether they harm bees -- seems to be a matter of research which is reporting favorably for allowing GM agriculture to proceed. Either of those would be assigned a huge Cost, so even a small chance of occurrence would yield a substantial Risk, for which we would be compelled to declare them unsafe. Since a lot of really smart people seem to be saying Risk=0, I'm inclined to say GM crops are safe.

    But fragments of DNA from the food we eat are not viral. If they were, natural foods would cause severe illnesses like cancer and leukemia and, presumably, bizarre mutations across the entire population,

    Pine sap is an insecticide. So is cedar, cinnamon, peppermint, the high octane stuff in a jalapeno, and just about anything we consider flavorful or zesty. Those compounds are there to deter pests. The only question that remains is whether the insecticide transgenetically engineered into the GM crop compares with the one made from petroleum etc insofar as human toxicity is concerned, or whether it compares with the insecticide in a jalapeno or the one in cedar chests which keeps moths from eating wool. As far as I can tell, the GM chemicals are as close to nature as conceivable. This would be an excellent point to pursue. I just haven't researched it.

    I agree with you that devising a cotton plant which kills the boll weevil deprives that pest of food. Does it mean the boll weevil will evolve into a new form, potentially more harmful or resistant? I doubt it. I think they will either vanish or adapt to eating some other form of cellulose. This is another good question. Without the research to be sure, my guess is that the track record of insecticide use is one of decimation of species, not mutation and selection leading to evolution.

    You mean they harbor Roundup? I haven't found evidence for that but I will look into it. That would be a case for discontinuing Roundup, which I believe may come to pass anyway. Another thought that comes to mind is to deliver a genetic alteration to the weeds which renders them sterile, or perhaps genetically engineer pests that target the weeds. I think I have seen some news about this somewhere.

    Excellent points, iceaura. You really put me through the paces, but I went off and studied new stuff and came away with a desire to understand it better.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
  18. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    DDT severely damaged ecosystems and sickened and killed people. But it saved possibly millions of lives by eradicating disease carrying insects. And it could possibly be credited for helping pull the US out of the Depression (i.e the recovery from the Dust Bowl era). Agent Orange was probably the last of its kind, a true chemical weapon that was never put through proper audits before its use. It is nothing like GM science because is was developed at the leisure of the DOD without accountability and oversight. Since it was a true weapon (or considered as such) it was released into the military units under the same secrecy that protects advanced weaponry from spies. Nukes are another category, since they involve the safety engineering standards for complex systems which are hard to compare to the relatively simple stages of developing and testing GMOs.

    The big advantage we have today is that these are Baby Boomers and their kids / grandkids who are creating the new safety nets to ensure that GMOs are safe. They know today what the designers of DDT, Agent Orange and nukes did not know. And there is accountability -- provided, of course, that we keep agencies like the EPA out of the courts and away from meddlesome legislators who want to browbeat them into letting Big Business revert to laissez-faire.

    I encourage you to start reading scientific reports about the safety of GMOs. I think it will surprise you to discover that all is not as it seems. There is actually a lot of testing going on, unlike anything seen in past generations. In fact, I would challenge you to find anything out of a scientific study that supports the main ideas you started with in the OP. I haven't done more than a few cursory searches, and the results I got looked remarkably like the search results on evolution or climate science -- the anti-GM folks resemble the pseudoscience of creationists distorting all the technical reports coming from scholarly sources. Isn't that crazy? But I don't think this will divide along the lines of the culture wars. I think this will divide along the lines of science literacy and probably nothing more.

    The key is (and always has been) to strike a balance between unbridled fear of the unknown and the priceless benefits of discovery. But we can do better than that in this thread. We can actually turn to scientific research to answer the questions you raised in the OP. You really should at least take a glance at the cites I posted above.
  19. Locust Registered Member

    Which of 9 points from OP its not as it seems?!
  20. Locust Registered Member

  21. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    neonicotinoids most likely factor in bee die off?

    while were here,
    Thoughts on likely environmental effects of bt producing gm trees?
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The main deceptions of the current real world GMO promulgators:
    1) It's a continuation of ordinary breeding and mutation nurturing, with the same low level of risk and high level of experience behind it.
    2) The GMOs are being monitored and vetted - somebody official and competent and independent is keeping track and gathering information on the effects of long term consumption, landscape prevalence, ecological influence, economic infrastructure pressures, and so forth.
    3) The great benefits are established - the wonderful potential of GM tech is being realized by the GMOs actually marketed and promoted worldwide.
    4) The engineers know what they are doing - they have a reasonably thorough and complete understanding of the potential roles and effects of their modifications in the real world.
    5) GMOs are a coherent body of innovations that resemble each other in most important ways - experience with one is informative of all.
    Until somebody is doing it, converting essentially all of the agricultural product of the breadbasket of the world to a small set of these unexamined and unmonitored GMOs is folly. You can make a long list of possibly relevant agencies and entities that are not vetting these things or investigating even the obvious downside potentials - nobody is. We're feeling lucky, apparently.

    There is no safety in ignorance.

    "Toxicity" is not really the problem here - direct poisoning and allergy triggering are among the few harms these corporations take seriously, and check out. Plus, they are cheap to test for. (Early on, they had a scare: "they" engineered soybeans to express the missing amino acids beans need to be a complete protein for animal feed, using Brazil nut genetics - they had that stuff fully developed and marketed, in the retail bins of South American feed stores where the poor shop for human food, before an outside researcher noticed and thought to actually check the beans for allergenicity. Oops. They tried to get it all back, with partial success - as far as I can discover nobody knows how many people they killed, but they sure don't want to repeat that in a First World country).

    The problem is that if this brand new dietary additive complex is doing long term damage or somewhat rare harms - a percentage increase in birthweight problems or developmental abnormalities in the children of pregnant ice cream eaters, circulatory system damage in adults fond of pizza as children - it will not be detected in the current monitoring regime. The example you might want to pay attention to is trans fats from hydrogenation of vegetable oil - even that level of damage and outright lethality can hide for decades if nobody is investigating, and vast profits resting on not investigating then become a risk factor.

    And that is just the medical aspect of human consumption. We still have ecological, political, economic, and other arenas to consider.

    All that stuff has been vetted by thousands of years of human experience. We don't eat naturally harmful plant insecticides and pesticides, because what we haven't evolved to abhor we have learned from experience not to ingest - or to handle, as Andes potato eaters and Polynesian manioc eaters show us. In the absence of such knowledge, one "natural" potato can kill a small child. In the absence of experience - such as Russians moving to North America and eating familiar looking mushrooms just like the ones they so enjoyed in their home country - we get into trouble. You would not want the chemicals a cedar tree uses to repel insects to be engineered into your cotton underwear, without checking for long term side effects (such as the scrotal cancer that used to afflict chimney sweeps from soot exposure). There is no safety in ignorance.

    Converting our entire food supply to a narrow set of GMOs we have no such experience with should be done very, very carefully. Slowly.

    The standard, common, predictable effect of overuse and heedless broadcast use of any antibiotic - insecticides and pesticides considered as subsets of antibiotics in general - is rapid evolution of resistance in the target pest (boll weevils, Staphylococcus bacteria, quack grass, whatever) in an environment newly purged of their competitors and predators and diseases and other curbs on their fecundity. Most of the malaria carrying mosquitos on the planet evolved resistance to DDT, for example, and their populations rebounded into an environment freed of competition and predation by the poison. That was largely a consequence of agricultural use in their landscape, btw, - agribusiness has a miserable track record of irresponsibility and short term profiteering in this arena. We lost the enormous benefits of DDT to the short term profiteering of plantation agriculture.

    They are often available to the bacteria in your gut, for swap and incorporation. In that light, we note that the antibiotic resistance marker code used in some - not all - GMOs derived from a bacterium in the first place, and is well suited for incorporation into a bacterial genome (it even comes with the appropriate insertion and swap code, sometimes - left over from the engineering.) And so forth.

    Plants only harbor glyphosate if it's been sprayed on them, and they have been engineered to sequester or otherwise tolerate it. Glyphosate is one of the most useful and benign herbicides we have. It does not persist in the environment, or bioaccumulate, or poison people in trace amounts they encounter from overspray and accident, or cost a fortune and require special gear and training to handle safely. That it is being destroyed by Monsanto for corporate profit is a near tragedy.

    And when it is discontinued, the agricultural practices and infrastructure and methods currently dependent on it will need either a replacement chemical, unlikely to be as benign, or replacement themselves, a large and damaging expense.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
  23. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I shortchanged some stuff:

    That study is among the best we have, and it illustrates my point in considerable detail. Here's a quote from the abstract, which I think is taken fairly and in enough context to represent the problems:
    That is just baffling, OK? These are professional scientists, sincerely concerned, and they:

    1) lump a bunch of studies of different GMOs together, as if the results of one added to the security of the findings of another
    2) used the qualification "the majority of " without evaluating the comparative power or reliability of the minority in number.
    3) Used the words "prolonged period" to describe studies that did not even cover a single lifespan of rats and mice, rodents which have lifespans measured in months, and most of them far less time than that even (for FDA approval, which was most of that, 90 days suffices) (I know they were less than even one lifespan, because only one study on record fed its rat cohorts for their entire lives and then thoroughly autopsied them - that study produced evidence of serious harms of several kinds from one of the common GMOs, but based on too few long-lived rats for stat power).
    4) left the deceptive impression that most, or at least many, of these studies involved thorough data gathering of many aspects of rodent physiology, while in fact very few involved checking more than of couple of preselected aspects such as certain cancers or particular hormonal abnormalities.
    5) lumped different formulations of the feed together, some with poor controls on the control group chow, some with no control group, many with incommensurable or poorly controlled dosage regimes, etc.

    and so on. That is your state of the art in GMO medical safety evaluation. To repeat: there has never been a thorough, long term consumption study of any GMO in a mammal.

    And it gets worse:
    Read that carefully. They are looking for chemical toxicity - direct poisoning severe enough and specifically predictable enough to show up in the limited aspects of rat health that they check, within 90 days. They won't catch anything else, reliably. Birth defects and cross generational effects? Brain damage that does not affect weight? Immune system problems? Invisible. And that is, in the view of the people we are depending on for our safety, more than adequate. They say so.

    It's the obliviousness, not the ethics, that most obviously concerns.

    The fact is that when the bees started to die there was a rush to perform a variety of studies that had not been performed: Multiyear exposure studies involving new hives splitting off; Different weather patterns and seasons; Different surrounding landscapes, with real world availability of alternative nectar and pollen sources as well as pesticide/herbicide exposure as bees face it; combinations of GMOs and various ag chemicals such as one finds in real life; etc - they are still going on. The jury, as noted, is still out, years later.

    The safety of a few Bt varieties had been studied, prior to this, in topical application contexts. It's a very safe group, as pesticides go. Rules had been laid down protecting beekeepers - no spraying certain kinds of Bt within so many weeks of bee arrival, that kind of thing. But none of these precautions are available if the plant itself is making the stuff. And the needed studies for this new situation were not done until too late - dead bees everywhere, no studies settling the critical issues.

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