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Old 06-25-2017, 05:19 AM
dude robert dude robert is offline
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Is GMO/GE food actually harmful or "bad"? What about treated foods?

So, I'm wondering about all those anti-GMO food advertisements and movements and forums that you sometimes see. Are these products safe to consume and grow, both for the environment and us, do you reckon? What do YOU think of these idea?

Also, what is your opinion on treated foods, such as using irradiation treatment? Do you think that this is a ethical and human safe/environmentally safe resource? What about other treatment methods that said to be safe to use?
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Old 06-25-2017, 06:08 AM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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There's a pretty good range between "modifying" an organism's genetics by more or less speeding up what would otherwise be a (potentially) naturally-occurring intraspecies recombination of genetic information, and modifying it by re-engineering its genome using techniques that introduce foreign-species genetic information--or even genetic information which is itself engineered from scratch.

The former seems a lot "safer" than the latter, and I suspect the degree to which a the latter kind of genetically-engineered food is "unsafe" is based more on assumption than formal data.

Beyond that, what does it mean that any "food" is "safe"? Is sugar "safe"? Alar? I don't mean to be snarky at all; deciding which of the things we consume is "safe" is a pretty complicated question to answer.

So in the end, I think much of the unease around modern genetic modification is an unease around the unknown and not around proven danger. That does not mean no danger exists, either from the direct effect of whatever food was modified, or the indirect effect of dinking around with Mother Nature's "natural" equilibrium.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 06-25-2017 at 06:11 AM.
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Old 06-25-2017, 06:08 AM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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Yes. They're safe, and so are irradiated foods.
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Old 06-25-2017, 07:24 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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We can use modern genetic techniques to make food safer, and we can also use such techniques to make it more dangerous. Given that the whole point is that we have control of the process, guess which one we choose? The only real difference from old techniques, here, is that with the old techniques, we didn't have as much control over the process, and so sometimes ended up with bad results without trying for them.
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Old 06-25-2017, 07:34 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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This seems more like IMHO stuff, but FWIW, here is my take.

First, virtually everything we eat (wild-caught fish excepted) is genetically modified. And the modifications were by a hit and miss process and never tested for possible harm. And viruses can and regularly do move genes between unrelated organisms, so that is not a criterion. The main difference is that modern GMO foods have actually been tested for possible harm and the induced mutations are intentional, not just what happens to show up. So I am completely happy with GMO.

As for irradiated foods, unless they actually show radiation (which I think unlikely to get approval), I don't see the problem. They keep longer and are likely safer.
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Old 06-25-2017, 07:35 AM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
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But, but, but... MONSANTO!!

GM foods are perfectly safe to consume.

Anti-GMO folks are nothing more than conspiracy theorists. They also believe vaccines cause autism, they think we're being gassed by "chemtrails," and that the moon landing was faked. It's all the same crowd.

The anti-GMO memes you see on social media are designed to scare paranoid, ignorant, and gullible people.
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Old 06-25-2017, 07:39 AM
Kimera757 Kimera757 is offline
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Originally Posted by dude robert View Post
So, I'm wondering about all those anti-GMO food advertisements and movements and forums that you sometimes see. Are these products safe to consume and grow, both for the environment and us, do you reckon? What do YOU think of these idea?
They are safe for us to eat. Unfortunately it's political. Generally GMO and nuclear power make the left act irrationally, just like the list of topics that make the right act irrationally. The same people who use science responsibly to study climate change do not use science when talking about GMO and nuclear power because they're disgusted by those. The perceived threat is high, and it doesn't seem to matter if the actual threat is low.

Are they safe for the environment? That's probably on a case-by-case basis. Unless the GMO is sterile, it will breed with nearby unmodified plants, but if the only plants around are domesticated, this won't impact the environment itself. It will just make it impossible for the neighboring farmer to call her corn crops "organic" now that they've been "tainted". Domesticated plants (that aren't sterile) already breed with wild plants of the same type, so I don't see it making the problem worse. (If wild tomatoes end up with beefsteak genes, how bad is that?)

Quote:
Also, what is your opinion on treated foods, such as using irradiation treatment? Do you think that this is a ethical and human safe/environmentally safe resource? What about other treatment methods that said to be safe to use?
I have no problem at all with irradiated food. It's just like using UV light to kill bacteria in drinking water or infrared or microwave radiation to increase the temperature of the food, killing bacteria. You're not exposing yourself to harmful radiation. As long as the radioactive material is disposed of properly there's no concern. It's probably safer than using preservatives (how safe are those preservatives?) because you have to literally eat those preservatives.
  #8  
Old 06-25-2017, 08:18 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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Originally Posted by Kimera757 View Post
Generally GMO and nuclear power make the left act irrationally
While some folks do behave a bit irrationally with respect to nuclear power, the simple fact of the matter is that nuclear plants have accidents (and always will), and no one has yet come up with a really good solution to the nuclear waste issue.

I personally wouldn't put nuclear power in the same class as GMO foods. Your body can digest GMO foods without any issues and the end result is the same sugars, fats, proteins, etc. that you get from "natural" food. Standing in a puddle of nuclear waste isn't quite as harmless, and thousands years from now, that puddle of nuclear waste will still be deadly.

When folks start talking about how only natural things are good for you, I like to point out that arsenic is 100 percent natural, and is also fat free, gluten free, and low-calorie.

If you only want to eat the "natural" versions of foods that haven't been modified by man, take a look at the images here:
https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-...esticated-them
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Old 06-25-2017, 08:51 AM
Flyer Flyer is offline
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Anti-GMO folks are nothing more than conspiracy theorists. They also believe vaccines cause autism, they think we're being gassed by "chemtrails," and that the moon landing was faked. It's all the same crowd.
Incorrect.

I've seen chemtrails myself. I assure you that they are vastly different from contrails. Most people just aren't observant enough to notice them.

On the other hand, I am perfectly fine with GMOs and vaccines. I also think that anybody who thinks the moon landings were faked is an extreme idiot.

Some people--especially these days--are anti-vaccine not because they are anti-science, but because they are simply uninformed or misinformed. Some people who are anti-GMO are not anti-science, but rather they simply don't trust the government to keep harmful products off the market. They are bolstered in that view by the handful of high-profile cases where a product or procedure was approved, and then later banned because of harmful effects.
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Old 06-25-2017, 08:56 AM
Flyer Flyer is offline
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When folks start talking about how only natural things are good for you, I like to point out that arsenic is 100 percent natural, and is also fat free, gluten free, and low-calorie.
I've sometimes wondered how long (if I were disposed to do it) I could get away with selling "100% natural, organically-grown hemlock--permanent pain reliever." Mind you, I don't have a source of hemlock, so it's a moot point.
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:16 AM
QuickSilver QuickSilver is offline
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I've seen chemtrails myself. I assure you that they are vastly different from contrails. Most people just aren't observant enough to notice them.
Me too. It was a crop duster.
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:30 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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There's an overwhelming scientific consensus, backed by decades of practical experience, that genetically modified foods are safe to eat.

Political/ideologic/fear-based opposition is not however based on logic and evidence, and so these folks will never be convinced, just like their counterparts in other movements heavily based on conspiracy narratives (like antivaxers). They rely on anecdotes and claims by outliers in the scientific community (who generally are untrained in the disciplines in which they claim to be experts, and/or are outright loons).

Meantime, food sellers have discovered extra $$ can be earned by promoting "non-GMO" brands to consumers, even though they're no safer than GMO counterparts (and there've been numerous instances of organic foods contaminated with Listeria or other pathogens).

Ranting about nonexistent GMO food dangers will only be quelled once there is serious decimation of coveted crops like coffee or oranges by disease, which can best be overcome by genetically modifying them to resist pathogens (just like antivax propaganda is much less effective when people are confronted with outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease, like the recent measles outbreaks in California and Minnesota). Reality-based fears have a way of trumping* fantasy-based ones.

*hoping that bad associations don't destroy the word "trump" as they did the word "niggardly".

Last edited by Jackmannii; 06-25-2017 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 06-25-2017, 11:05 AM
XT XT is offline
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A video from SciShow on Why are GMO's Bad. It goes into some details on what GMO's are and how they are used.

SPOILER:
Their conclusion...they aren't, not intrinsically. As with everything, you could use them for good or evil.

Last edited by XT; 06-25-2017 at 11:06 AM.
  #14  
Old 06-25-2017, 01:50 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quoth Crafter_Man:

But, but, but... MONSANTO!!
I'd be a little leery about eating Monsanto GMO food, but that's because of Monsanto, not because of GMOs.

engineer_comp_geek, certainly nuclear power plants have their risks. That's not the issue. The issue is that so do all other power plants, and the risks from nuclear plants are far lower than from coal plants. If we're going to have power at all, then we can't afford the risk from not using nuclear power.

And opposition to nuclear power and GMOs seem to cross party lines. While there are certainly liberals (and too many of them) who oppose both, there are also conservatives who oppose them (though not necessarily for the same reasons).
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Old 06-25-2017, 02:06 PM
dude robert dude robert is offline
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I'd be a little leery about eating Monsanto GMO food, but that's because of Monsanto, not because of GMOs.

engineer_comp_geek, certainly nuclear power plants have their risks. That's not the issue. The issue is that so do all other power plants, and the risks from nuclear plants are far lower than from coal plants. If we're going to have power at all, then we can't afford the risk from not using nuclear power.

And opposition to nuclear power and GMOs seem to cross party lines. While there are certainly liberals (and too many of them) who oppose both, there are also conservatives who oppose them (though not necessarily for the same reasons).
What's wrong with Monsanto? I found a question about it on Quora, and thousands of people seem to think there is nothing that bad with Monsanto..
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Old 06-25-2017, 02:07 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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. . . the risks from nuclear plants are far lower than from coal plants . . .
On the average, taken all with all, yes. But the dangers have a kind of statistical spike in them, with very low probability, very high damage. It's like living right downstream from a dam. It doesn't make anyone feel really comforted saying, "Driving on the freeway is more dangerous." (We very rarely see traffic incidents causing 10,000 deaths.)

Fortunately, the danger (if any!) from modified foods is in the "freeway" model, not the "downstream from a dam" model. If large numbers of people would be made sick, we'd know that already. And if only one or two persons per million might get sick -- well, you take your chances with mercury in fish, glass shards in peanut butter, botulism in canned beans, and so on.

Nothing in life is totally risk-free, but GMO foods are as safe as modern product testing can assure.
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Old 06-25-2017, 03:52 PM
Mr. Miskatonic Mr. Miskatonic is online now
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The good news is that GMO protests may start falling by the wayside. It was easier when it was the big bad Monsanto was the villain, but when Unviersities in developing countries start doing the GMO work on their own to increase staple yields (which you know, lets people live) aliong with increasing nutrition levels the GMO protestors wind up looking like hysterical freaks.

Eventually I hope that GMO opponents will be ashcanned alongside the folks who opposed test-tube babies.

For background: http://www.theskepticsguide.org/gmo-banana-hubbub
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Old 06-25-2017, 03:56 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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GMO foods are fine. It's that gluten you gotta watch out for. That stuff is pure evil. Insidious, like a cancer.
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Old 06-25-2017, 03:59 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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Professional geneticist here. There are a few ways of answering this:

First and foremost, there is exactly ZERO evidence that any GMO has harmed a single human being's health in any way whatsoever ever at all. There are some legitimate discussions, debates, and arguments to be had surrounding the use of GMOs, but (so far), impact on the health of consumers is not one of them.

Based on the understanding of the basic science involved, you'd almost have to go deliberately out of your way to design a GMO to be harmful, and (again, so far), no one has decided to do that. The chances we're making are insanely minor, and well within the range of natural variation we're exposed to with every bite of food we take.

Now, there are some related concerns regarding things like business practices and pesticide use and hybridization to wild related plant species that should be taken seriously, but the fearmongering around "Frankenfoods" is just utter nonsense.
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Old 06-25-2017, 04:21 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
While some folks do behave a bit irrationally with respect to nuclear power, the simple fact of the matter is that nuclear plants have accidents (and always will), and no one has yet come up with a really good solution to the nuclear waste issue.
There is a solution--at least a better solution than burying it--to the nuclear waste problem. It is called a traveling wave reactor. It produces a lot more energy for a given charge of uranium than the standard models and can use current nuclear waste as a charge. It produces some waste but it is relatively short-lived with half-lives in decades. The main problem is starting over. But I am in total agreement with the rest of your post.
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Old 06-25-2017, 04:39 PM
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There is a solution--at least a better solution than burying it--to the nuclear waste problem. It is called a traveling wave reactor. It produces a lot more energy for a given charge of uranium than the standard models and can use current nuclear waste as a charge. It produces some waste but it is relatively short-lived with half-lives in decades. The main problem is starting over. But I am in total agreement with the rest of your post.
Isn't that the technology that Bill Gates was promoting in recent years?

Is that all just talk at this point? Any plans to put it into action?
  #22  
Old 06-25-2017, 05:04 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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Question: in the context of this post, what does "treated foods" mean?

(We all know there are problems with "processed" foods -- too much salt, vitamin loss, etc. But that isn't what is meant, is it?)
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Old 06-25-2017, 05:55 PM
rat avatar rat avatar is offline
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Professional geneticist here. There are a few ways of answering this:

First and foremost, there is exactly ZERO evidence that any GMO has harmed a single human being's health in any way whatsoever ever at all. There are some legitimate discussions, debates, and arguments to be had surrounding the use of GMOs, but (so far), impact on the health of consumers is not one of them.

Based on the understanding of the basic science involved, you'd almost have to go deliberately out of your way to design a GMO to be harmful, and (again, so far), no one has decided to do that. The chances we're making are insanely minor, and well within the range of natural variation we're exposed to with every bite of food we take.

Now, there are some related concerns regarding things like business practices and pesticide use and hybridization to wild related plant species that should be taken seriously, but the fearmongering around "Frankenfoods" is just utter nonsense.
I absolutely agree with your post, although I am not a geneticist I want to clarify on the last paragraphs mention o pesticides.

GMO foods have the potential of being actually safer for consumers, workers and the environment than even Organic foods.

The "Organic" label really has no relation to safety, it only indicates that the substances used are naturally occurring.

Quote:
Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.
As natural is in no way related or connected to safety this comparison is absolutely invalid.

In fact some of the most commonly used pesticides in organic farming have far more significant environmental and health impacts.

One example is Rotenone, which is also used to kill fish has a demonstrated link to Parkinson's disease in farm workers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21269927


Unfortunately for us consumers labels like organic are best thought of as being similar to a kosher mark. It is a branding effort to market products at a particular market segment that holds a particular world view.

To be clear I am not arguing against that labeling in this post, but stating that for those who do not ascribe to those world views, but that those who are more interested in gauging real risks there is a complete lack of transparency.

As consumers we really lack any mechanism to judge safety or impact at the point of sale.

While anecdotal, I have tried to have conversations about this with friends. Some do subscribe to a naturalist viewpoint in their world view, but the majority (self-selection bias warning) I talk to assume that there is a documented, real safety advantage for themselves, their family, farm workers and environments. If this is the reason for the original poster posing the question I would caution that the implications of 'organic' does not directly map to your concerns.

Also note that Many organic products on the market have been developed with chemical and nuclear mutagenesis. And the nuclear version is very different than irradiation but would in theory provide a higher risk compared to GMOs as the mutations are purely random.
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Old 06-25-2017, 06:21 PM
anomalous1 anomalous1 is offline
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As others have pointed out, GMO food is safe. The entire situation is created by gullible people who are easily swayed by their political arena. It's akin to those otherwise healthy people who won't eat gluten besides not having celiac disease, because a friend of theirs said its bad.
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Old 06-25-2017, 06:55 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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I tend to go out of my way* to avoid foods that proclaim "GMO-free" because they seem to use that as a reason to charge me more money.

*Not too far out of my way, though. If it's the only option, I'm not going to waste my time going someplace else.

Irradiated food? Where is that available? I remember reading about it years and years ago, but it was my understanding then that it would never be used because of silly objectionists. If it's in use today, then bravo!
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Old 06-25-2017, 07:02 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quote:
Quoth Trinopus:

On the average, taken all with all, yes. But the dangers have a kind of statistical spike in them, with very low probability, very high damage.
Sure, but the risks for coal plants have those spikes, too.

And the thing with organic food is that you'll see a lot of people saying things like "I buy organic food because I oppose cruel treatment of animals". Except that organic has nothing at all to do with how humanely animals are treated. You can have cruel organic food, or humane non-organic, just as easily as humane organic or cruel non-organic. Say what you actually mean. If you oppose cruelty to animals, then buy cruelty-free food.
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Old 06-25-2017, 08:25 PM
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Generally GMO and nuclear power make the left act irrationally, just like the list of topics that make the right act irrationally.
They would lose their shit if they knew that a lot of "conventional" produce is bred using radiation to induce mutations in plants, and then growing the resulting seeds to see what happens. If it turns out to be handy, they cultivate them.

Several sorts of popular produce has been produced this way- for example, Rio Red and Star Ruby graperfuits, Calrose rice, Golden Promise barley (used in the UK for beer and whisky), etc...

To me, that seems a LOT more haphazard than deliberately inserting specific genetic material into a plant's genome for a specific purpose.

Last edited by bump; 06-25-2017 at 08:25 PM.
  #28  
Old 06-25-2017, 09:56 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is online now
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Irradiated food? Where is that available? I remember reading about it years and years ago, but it was my understanding then that it would never be used because of silly objectionists. If it's in use today, then bravo!
A lot, something like 1/2 to 3/4, of dried herbs are irradiated to prevent spoilage and contamination. So if you buy those little jars of spices at the grocery store you've almost certainly had some irradiated food.
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Old 06-25-2017, 11:17 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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And opposition to nuclear power and GMOs seem to cross party lines. While there are certainly liberals (and too many of them) who oppose both, there are also conservatives who oppose them (though not necessarily for the same reasons).
Certainly so. In my circles, the anti-GMO folks are predominantly right wing, not left. Don't know so much about the nuclear power, as I don't hear about that often. I'm fine with both.
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Old 06-26-2017, 12:17 AM
anomalous1 anomalous1 is offline
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I agree, I also see it with right wingers as left wingers. I suppose it is for different purposes.

Maybe for the left its for being closer to nature, the right worrying that it may compromise their safety. Who knows. I too am fine with both. I think Nuclear power should be admired by both. Its clean, and it saves money. The GMO thing should follow the same, it allows more people to eat and live on hardier plants, and saves money (supply and demand, growing crops that are harder to fail).
  #31  
Old 06-26-2017, 12:47 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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A video from SciShow on Why are GMO's Bad. It goes into some details on what GMO's are and how they are used.

SPOILER:
Their conclusion...they aren't, not intrinsically. As with everything, you could use them for good or evil.
I agree, but I think it's important to note the category of 'evil' that would be at play here; It's not so likely to be the Bond Villain Dr Evil cackling maniac type of evil. That's fairly rare. it's more likely to be the banal evil of profit motive ignoring externalities - the same kind of evil that deals with disposal of hazardous waste by shipping it to developing countries for their children to pick over in landfills, or the same kind of evil that concludes it's cheaper, therefore better, to clad high rise buildings with flammable plastic.

Last edited by Mangetout; 06-26-2017 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 06-26-2017, 09:25 AM
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There's a pretty good range between "modifying" an organism's genetics by more or less speeding up what would otherwise be a (potentially) naturally-occurring intraspecies recombination of genetic information, and modifying it by re-engineering its genome using techniques that introduce foreign-species genetic information--or even genetic information which is itself engineered from scratch.

The former seems a lot "safer" than the latter...
Why would randomly making changes to an organism's genome "seem" safer than taking a known characteristic, inserting that, and then knowing what to look for in the testing of it?
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Old 06-26-2017, 09:28 AM
CurtC CurtC is offline
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I've seen chemtrails myself. I assure you that they are vastly different from contrails. Most people just aren't observant enough to notice them.
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Originally Posted by QuickSilver View Post
Me too. It was a crop duster.
I don't think he was talking about a crop duster, since he said that most people aren't observant enough to notice the difference between that and a contrail. There are probably very few people who wouldn't notice THAT difference.

So Flyer, tell us more! What have you seen that's vastly different from contrails, which most people aren't observant enough to notice the difference?
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Old 06-26-2017, 02:42 PM
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Why would randomly making changes to an organism's genome "seem" safer than taking a known characteristic, inserting that, and then knowing what to look for in the testing of it?
I got it backwards... I meant to say that the genetic engineering is a lot less haphazard than irradiating plants and seeing what happens.

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Old 06-26-2017, 04:41 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Certainly so. In my circles, the anti-GMO folks are predominantly right wing, not left.
Those are some unusual circles you move in. Perhaps they are crop circles?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
I think it's important to note the category of 'evil' that would be at play here; It's not so likely to be the Bond Villain Dr Evil cackling maniac type of evil. That's fairly rare. it's more likely to be the banal evil of profit motive ignoring externalities - the same kind of evil that deals with disposal of hazardous waste by shipping it to developing countries for their children to pick over in landfills, or the same kind of evil that concludes it's cheaper, therefore better, to clad high rise buildings with flammable plastic.
Darn you, Monsanto!!!

I remain mystified at the banality of GMO Evil that encompasses many thousands of scientists as well as employees of food companies, Monsanto and myriad other corporations, not to mention politicians, think tank members, random Internet posters* - all heedlessly promoting and selling technology that they realize will sicken and kill them and their families.

Hardly seems banal at all, hmmm?

*at least we're enjoying a bounty of $hill Bucks and orgitastic parties before we croak of GMO Diseases.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 06-26-2017 at 04:45 PM.
  #36  
Old 06-26-2017, 05:43 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
Those are some unusual circles you move in. Perhaps they are crop circles?
*shrug* Don't know what to tell you, but that's the case. My folks and extended family, especially, and their friends are very much Republican, and are "natural cure" type people, tend towards anti-vaxxing, and are very much anti-GMO; very much the type of people that Kevin Trudeau and his "Natural Cures They Don't Want You To Know About" cater to. This is hardly a partisan position, in my experience. I have a few on the left that have similar resrvations, but the majority of the anti-GMO folks I know are on the right, not left.

Last edited by pulykamell; 06-26-2017 at 05:46 PM.
  #37  
Old 06-26-2017, 05:51 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Basically, for them it's all part of the chemtrail/fluoride in the drinking water type of nuttery. The people who take the "Coast to Coast AM" program on radio seriously, not as an amusing diversion.
  #38  
Old 06-26-2017, 06:40 PM
GIGObuster GIGObuster is offline
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Originally Posted by anomalous1 View Post
I agree, I also see it with right wingers as left wingers. I suppose it is for different purposes.

Maybe for the left its for being closer to nature, the right worrying that it may compromise their safety. Who knows. I too am fine with both. I think Nuclear power should be admired by both. Its clean, and it saves money. The GMO thing should follow the same, it allows more people to eat and live on hardier plants, and saves money (supply and demand, growing crops that are harder to fail).
I'm also in favor of nuclear power and GMOs but before you get so hung up on the left as getting the blame here, I have looked at this issue in many past discussions, in essence there are several liberals in government that were in favor of nuclear power and Obama also did help directly on the continuation of the few nuclear power being build now. As for the rank and file.. while one can find a good number of leftists being against GMOs or Nuclear power the reality is that there is a very significant number of right wing conservatives that are also opposed to them.

And then one should ad that when one looks at a country like France that did successfully employ nuclear power for most of its needs, the way they did it looks not just liberal but socialist too.

https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...&postcount=122

I just can not picture the current congress to be willing to do any of those things.

Even though very right wing states like Arizona did talk about things like making a nuclear dump facility since other states are not willing to do it. Unfortunately, after talk about that waste facility, now there is just silence. Regarding the GMO issue I also noticed that anti GMO groups actually boasted about the high number of conservatives that also support their reprehensible opposition to the technology.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 06-26-2017 at 06:42 PM.
  #39  
Old 06-27-2017, 07:49 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
*shrug* Don't know what to tell you, but that's the case. My folks and extended family, especially, and their friends are very much Republican, and are "natural cure" type people, tend towards anti-vaxxing, and are very much anti-GMO; very much the type of people that Kevin Trudeau and his "Natural Cures They Don't Want You To Know About" cater to. This is hardly a partisan position, in my experience. I have a few on the left that have similar resrvations, but the majority of the anti-GMO folks I know are on the right, not left.
Actually, if you check polling data, attitudes towards GM foods are not greatly different when left/right or Democratic/Republican affiliation are considered. The big difference is in leaders of the anti-GMO movement, who tend by a considerable margin to be left of center. Just look at who's pushed mandatory labeling laws.

https://newrepublic.com/article/1397...nce-not-really

* I consider it false equivalency to suggest that (for instance) Democrats have as big an anti-science problem as Republicans. The GOP has a lot more to answer for - but that doesn't mean that Dems/the left can be complacent about antiscience lunacy in their ranks. We need to demand better of our leaders.
**Antivax nuttery in my experience is a bi/multipartisan disease.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 06-27-2017 at 07:50 AM.
  #40  
Old 06-27-2017, 03:21 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
I remain mystified at the banality of GMO Evil that encompasses many thousands of scientists as well as employees of food companies, Monsanto and myriad other corporations, not to mention politicians, think tank members, random Internet posters* - all heedlessly promoting and selling technology that they realize will sicken and kill them and their families.

Hardly seems banal at all, hmmm?
Are you suggesting it won't happen because of those things? I think we could probably find good examples of corporations happy to fuck people over in order to make a profit - outside of the GMO arena, most likely, but I'm fairly sure the phenomenon exists.
  #41  
Old 06-27-2017, 04:27 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
A lot, something like 1/2 to 3/4, of dried herbs are irradiated to prevent spoilage and contamination. So if you buy those little jars of spices at the grocery store you've almost certainly had some irradiated food.
Really? I don't mean irradiated with IR, but some type of ionizing radiation. I had no idea they were doing these with dried herbs these days, because, well, dried herbs had been available prior to cheap radiation sources, I thought.
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Old 06-27-2017, 05:13 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
Actually, if you check polling data, attitudes towards GM foods are not greatly different when left/right or Democratic/Republican affiliation are considered.
That is completely unsurprising to me. My initial post on the matter was to agree with Chronos that opposition to GMOs and nuclear power crosses party lines. In my circle, it happens to be more on the right side, (as a counterpoint to some posts in this thread which smeed to imply it was mostly a "left" thing. )

Last edited by pulykamell; 06-27-2017 at 05:14 PM.
  #43  
Old 06-27-2017, 08:32 PM
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Are GMO products safe to consume? It depends on the product. Are arctic apples (that don't brown) or golden rice safe to consume? Absolutely. Is corn that produces the insecticide bt safe to eat? If you aren't a caterpillar, yes. Are roundup ready soybeans safe to eat? That may depend on how much roundup residue is on them. Plants with a fish gene to make them more resistant to freezing? Unless you are allergic to that fish protein, sure.

Are they safe for the environment? Bt corn may be rough on monarch butterflies. Roundup ready soy may be rough on farm hands and the downwind neighbors, especially in places with weaker safety regulations than the US.

Irradiated food? Completely safe to consume. Much safer than the untreated foods -- it makes sure there are no residual live bacteria or agricultural pests lurking in those spices. But there are some risks in moving around the radioactive material used to do it, which need to be managed. Of course, that material would otherwise be nuclear waste from reactors, so maybe it's safer to make it a valuable commodity.
  #44  
Old 06-27-2017, 10:37 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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You don't necessarily need to use radioactive material to irradiate food. You can produce X-rays in a variety of ways that just need you to be able to plug into a power outlet.
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Old 06-28-2017, 09:37 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Are you suggesting it won't happen because of those things? I think we could probably find good examples of corporations happy to fuck people over in order to make a profit - outside of the GMO arena, most likely, but I'm fairly sure the phenomenon exists.
I'm suggesting that damning entire technologies (or medical interventions, in the case of vaccination or water fluoridation, or chemtrails, or whatever the Fear Du Jour is) on the basis that Corporations/Big Pharma Are Evil is not a reasonable viewpoint. Beyond the scientifically illiteracy involved, it postulates a conspiracy of (at least) silence on the part of vast numbers of people who themselves stand to be seriously affected if the antis' claims are valid.

Which makes zero sense to me.
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Old 06-29-2017, 08:23 AM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
I'm suggesting that damning entire technologies (or medical interventions, in the case of vaccination or water fluoridation, or chemtrails, or whatever the Fear Du Jour is) on the basis that Corporations/Big Pharma Are Evil is not a reasonable viewpoint. Beyond the scientifically illiteracy involved, it postulates a conspiracy of (at least) silence on the part of vast numbers of people who themselves stand to be seriously affected if the antis' claims are valid.

Which makes zero sense to me.
No, no, heís right. I spend about half of my time figuring out how to make it harder to repair cars without going to the dealership, how to consume more fuel to enrichen the oil companies (they secretly own us, of course), how to decrease safety by specifying cheaper steel, planning obsolescence, and just generally trying to figure out how otherwise to screw over our customers. And because itís an industry-wide plot, I canít simply drive a competitor vehicle. The evil you know is better, right?

Pretty much, any of us who donít work on organic communes are involved in this conspiracy. Itís time the world know.
  #47  
Old 06-29-2017, 08:56 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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I wish the companies that fervently espouse anti-GMO activism would pay more attention to keeping shit out of their food and drink products.

An investigation has showed alarming levels of fecal-type bacteria in coffee drinks from several chains, and the "worst offender", Costa Coffee has promoted its anti-GMO stance and urged other coffee producers to "say no to genetic modification".

Not that other corporate food and beverage companies are immune from the problem, but there's a special irony that numerous firms that tout their wonderful organic/non-GMO products (including Jeni's Ice Cream and Chipotle) have been selling us contaminated food.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 06-29-2017 at 08:57 AM.
  #48  
Old 06-30-2017, 12:00 AM
Gunslinger Gunslinger is offline
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Anti-gmo is right up there with whatshisface claiming that God created the banana as the perfect food. Bananas as we know them, and more importantly all the cereal grains (and meat animals, for that matter) are genetically modified, just the slow way via selective breeding.
  #49  
Old 06-30-2017, 12:54 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
I'm suggesting that damning entire technologies (or medical interventions, in the case of vaccination or water fluoridation, or chemtrails, or whatever the Fear Du Jour is) on the basis that Corporations/Big Pharma Are Evil is not a reasonable viewpoint. Beyond the scientifically illiteracy involved, it postulates a conspiracy of (at least) silence on the part of vast numbers of people who themselves stand to be seriously affected if the antis' claims are valid.

Which makes zero sense to me.
OK, understood and agreed - the banal evil of corporations would be a reason to regulate the level of allowable evil in general, not to restrict any particular technology.

I guess there might be exceptions if there are technologies that are inherently dangerous and liable to run out of control, if any such exist.
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Old 06-30-2017, 01:32 AM
wolfpup wolfpup is online now
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OK, I have to get involved here because there's so much hyperbole on both sides of this debate that important nuance is being lost.

To get one thing out of the way, to the question "are today's GMOs safe?" the overwhelming evidence suggests that this can be answered with an unequivocal "yes", and any possibility of hazards often can be shown to exist in equal or greater probabilities in non-GMO products. Is mutagenesis through chemistry or ionizing radiation riskier than genetic engineering? The National Academy of Sciences certainly believes so.

There are, however, two issues to keep in mind moving forward. And herein lie some of the subtler nuances of this question. The first is that transgenic bioengineering has unbounded scope to introduce more diverse and more novel genetic combinations in the future than have been done to date, potentially creating genuinely novel DNA combinations from distantly related species that will require more robust safety protocols than exist today. The second is that many of the large international players involved in this, one of the world's largest industries, are frankly about as trustworthy as the tobacco and fossil fuel industries as far as self-regulation and voluntary disclosure are concerned. This is not an argument against science and progress; it is an argument for responsible public policy.

The first point -- potential future risks -- has been addressed in the literature, for example:
... A significant limitation may occur in the future if transgenic technology results in more substantial and complex changes in a foodstuff. Methods have not yet been developed by which whole foods (as compared with single chemical components) can be fully evaluated for safety. Progress also needs to be made in developing definitive methods for the identification and characterization of protein allergens, and this is currently a major focus of research. Improved methods of profiling plant and microbial metabolites, proteins, and gene expression may be helpful in detecting unexpected changes in BD organisms and in establishing substantial equivalence.
http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/71/1/2.full
Likewise, the National Academy of Sciences rates both biolistic and agrobacterium transfers of rDNA from distantly related species to be at the highest level of risk of unintended genetic effects, roughly on a par with chemical and ionizing mutagenesis:
Hazards associated with genetic modifications, specifically genetic engineering, do not fit into a simple dichotomy of genetic engineering versus nongenetic engineering breeding. Not only are many mechanisms common to both genetic engineering as a technique of genetic modification and conventional breeding, but also these techniques slightly overlap each other. Unintentional compositional changes in plants and animals are likely with all conventional and biotechnological breeding methods. The committee assessed the relative likelihood of compositional changes occurring from both genetic engineering and nongenetic engineering modification techniques and generated a continuum to express the potential for unintended compositional changes that reside in the specific products of the modification, regardless of whether the modification was intentional or not (Figure ES-1).
On the second point -- trustworthiness of the principal actors and the need for regulation, a Canadian panel looking into the future of bioengineering made dozens of recommendations including this one:
The Panel recommends that the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Commission (CBAC) undertake a review of the problems related to the increasing domination of the public research agenda by private, commercial interests, and make recommendations for public policies that promote and protect fully independent research on the health and environmental risks of agricultural biotechnology.
Which concern is supported by facts like this:
Monsanto consistently outspends all other agribusiness companies and interest groups to protect and maintain industrial agricultureís dominance over our food system ... In 2008óthe year the previous federal Farm Bill was completedóthe company reported a whopping $8.8 million in lobbying expenditures (see table below) intended to influence decisions in Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal agencies ... According to documents the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it spent $100 million on advertising in fiscal year 2011, $87 million in FY 2012, and $95 million in FY 2013.
http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agric...l#.VubFfLUmx8E
To draw a rough and imperfect analogy, asking whether GMOs are harmful is a lot like asking whether "manufactured foods" are harmful -- i.e.- the question is essentially meaningless, and almost everything we eat is in some sense "manufactured" or at least processed and none of it has harmed us yet, with a few very rare exceptions that have nothing to do with their manufacturing provenance but are simply related to substances or additives that have turned out not to be as safe as previously believed.

So the moral of the story is that efforts to establish regulatory regimes and testing and labeling protocols for genetically engineered products are not entirely misguided when looking at the long term, even though many such demands today may be motivated by unfounded fears and self-serving interests. The complete story has to include the potential for much broader bioengineering strategies in the future, and the fact that none of the global industries with vested interests involved can be trusted any more than we have ever been able to trust the tobacco or fossil fuel industries.

The cautionary tale here is not about GMOs having ever caused harm or the silliness of buying non-GMO "organic" labeled foods because they're better for you (if organic produce looks and tastes better, which it often does, go for it -- but in general, the "non-GMO" label is pretty useless as an indicator of anything at all). The cautionary tale is all about the future, when the scope of genetic engineering explodes into new realms that will require much more rigorous oversight and testing than we have provisions for today. I'll say it again: This is not an argument against science and progress; it is an argument for responsible public policy. Any other attitude -- like blanket support of all GE activities including unknown future ones as unconditionally perfectly safe -- is reckless and irresponsible, the modern equivalent of "trust the tobacco companies -- after all, more doctors smoke Camels than any other brand!"
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