The Pros and Cons of Genetically Engineered Food

S.A.M.

uniquely dreadful
Valued Senior Member
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.
 
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.

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

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

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!

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.


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!

Ironically, the contries where GM food is most actively tested are not countries which consume a great deal of meat.
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.

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.


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.

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.
 
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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.

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

Ironically, the countries where GM food is most actively tested are not countries which consume a great deal of meat.
Again this a problem of policy not a problem specific to GMO.

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.
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.


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.
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.
 
Electric Fetus said:
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

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.
 
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.

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!
 
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!

Are you arguing for my case or against it?
 
Are you arguing for my case or against it?

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.
 
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.


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.
 
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.

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 :p) over times the potateo in particular was major boom for Europe.
 
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.
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.
 
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.

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.

It will eventually make the introduction of rabbits in Australia look like dropping a penny down a drain in the street.

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.
 
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Ironically, the contries where GM food is most actively tested are not countries which consume a great deal of meat.

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

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.
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.

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.
Can be, but isn't. Not to speak of accidents.
 
Monsanto on the Menu

A picture is worth a thousand words

0612_mz_monsanto.jpg
 
if it ain't broke don't fix it.
Then we would still be cavemen! "Why improve on stone tools?"

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 neighboring farms, some of them organic ones.

Then implement the rules, I'm not against that, just don't hate the technology.

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

Why do you find it not "remotely enough" what would be enough for you?

Can be, but isn't. Not to speak of accidents.

The chances of an accident like getting a sterile organism to breed is equal to getting you to clone your self spontaneously! Again proper risk assessment judgment is needed: do the potential benefits out weigh the potential risks, how likely are the risks and how likely are the benefits? Laymens are grossly incapable of determine the chances of the risk, they simply fear any risk no matter how remote and generalize that as a full band on the technology.
 
if it ain't broke don't fix it.
Then we would still be cavemen! "Why improve on stone tools?"
We starting to replace life forms. And we endangering naturally occuring life forms, ourselves included, via GM. It is a qualitative change from other agricultural breeding technologies. The variables are too many to be followed and predicted. You keep wanting to make the case that if you are against GM you are against all technology. That is not the case. I don't want food irradiated either. That does not mean I am against forks or even blenders.

Then implement the rules, I'm not against that, just don't hate the technology.
I do hate this technology. I am not in a position to implement. And opinions against GM are mocked as 'emotional'. And the companies that want GM have vastly more power to influence government. Still, I do what I can and we shall see.
Why do you find it not "remotely enough" what would be enough for you?
Why do you assume it is OK?

The chances of an accident like getting a sterile organism to breed is equal to getting you to clone your self spontaneously!
Hello. There are non-sterile GM products on the market.
Again proper risk assessment judgment is needed: do the potential benefits out weigh the potential risks, how likely are the risks and how likely are the benefits? Laymens are grossly incapable of determine the chances of the risk, they simply fear any risk no matter how remote and generalize that as a full band on the technology.
And you reached the conclusion that it was safe by what process? I am sure you wuold have defended DDT or widespread PCG dispersal or thalidomide use using the same knee jerk trust in industry claims.
You haven't done any research on the industry's oversight, have you? You just figure it is OK.
You trust you intuition since you know that industry does not have influence over those who are supposed to monitor their safety practices.

Yeah, right.

Your need to trust is and keep the status quo is based on emotion. You can come back and say you have read all these articles and really looked into the how Monsanto, for example, can and cannot influence government oversight, etc. But you never did these things. So between you and me, just spend a little time looking at your process for deciding it MUST BE ok.

Rather than trying to get me to examine mine in ways you never bother to uphold yourself.
 
We starting to replace life forms. And we endangering naturally occuring life forms, ourselves included, via GM. It is a qualitative change from other agricultural breeding technologies. The variables are too many to be followed and predicted. You keep wanting to make the case that if you are against GM you are against all technology. That is not the case. I don't want food irradiated either. That does not mean I am against forks or even blenders.

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.

I do hate this technology. I am not in a position to implement. And opinions against GM are mocked as 'emotional'. And the companies that want GM have vastly more power to influence government. Still, I do what I can and we shall see.

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

Why do you assume it is OK?

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

Hello. There are non-sterile GM products on the market.

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.

And you reached the conclusion that it was safe by what process? I am sure you wuold have defended DDT or widespread PCG dispersal or thalidomide use using the same knee jerk trust in industry claims.

You haven't done any research on the industry's oversight, have you? You just figure it is OK. You trust you intuition since you know that industry does not have influence over those who are supposed to monitor their safety practices.

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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