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  #1  
Old 25 October 2012, 10:02 PM
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Glasses Scientists defend safety of genetically modified foods

Alteration of crops is widespread, producing plants with higher yields, less need for pesticides and other desirable qualities. And, many scientists say, such crops are as safe as any other.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/...,5914417.story
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  #2  
Old 26 October 2012, 08:19 AM
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Almost all the food we eat has been modified already. Selective breeding and cross pollination have changed our food over the past few hundred years so that it barely resembles what people ate 200 years ago. Why would GM be any different?
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Old 26 October 2012, 12:14 PM
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I think that's a bit like asking: "All plants and animals have been transplanted from one place to another. What's the difference if they're brought to another continent or not?" But you know from living in Australia that transplants to another continent are a whole new game and are sometimes disastrous for native species. What we can do with breeding and hybrids etc. is like moving around on one continent. If it could make any kind of organism then we wouldn't need anything else. But it is limited so we have moved on to genetics.

Like transplants - even those between continents - most of them are almost certainly safe and controllable. If we meet one that isn't, it might be extremely hard to deal with the consequences. These kinds of disasters with transplanted organisms (some on purpose, some by accident) are almost too numerous to count but we've been moving species around the globe for hundreds of years. We've only been doing genetic modification for a very short time by comparison. Probably the first few decades of transplantation were relatively uneventful as well. We still have a lot to learn. That said, like transplantation, GM has a heck of a lot to offer. We probably wouldn't be feeding half the people we do now without transplantation. Almost all the foods we have now. So I think it will be (and is quickly becoming) with GM foods. But it won't all be for the better.
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  #4  
Old 27 October 2012, 11:31 PM
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It's said that Norman Borlaug saved a billion people through his research which I believe that fell firmly into "GM" territory. But then we have Monsanto. So, it's about 50/50 right now for me on the topic.
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Old 17 December 2012, 11:27 PM
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I think it's one of those things you really have to look at on a case-by-case basis. "Genetically modified" can mean a lot of things. I don't think you can collectively call them all safe, or all unsafe.
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Old 18 December 2012, 01:31 AM
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The problem with GM foods is really the lack of transparency and adequate testing before being sold to make sure that the effects are known before we start eating them.

BTW, ColBosch, you migrated over here from the Battletech forums?
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Old 18 December 2012, 01:59 AM
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I'm pretty unconcerned about them being dangerous to eat. Except as allergens, which is a concern, I don't think any of them are likely to be dangerous to eat after testing shows them to be safe. But they could be devastating to ecologies and current agricultural crops and practices. Again, I keep coming back to that first transplanted kudzu plant, hybrid honeybee, etc. Just moving animals and plants around on the globe has had serious repercussions. On the other hand, we couldn't feed the world without doing so. So I think the risks are worth it as long as we keep in mind that every now and then we'll have to deal with the consequences, sometimes disastrous ones.
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Old 18 December 2012, 03:33 AM
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It's not the fact that they have been modified as much, for many people, as it is how they have been modified and for what reason.

If I remember the details correctly, one of the biggest issues is the so called "roundup ready" crops that Monsato has developed. Who, not coincidentally, also make roundup. These are crops which are resistant to Roundup, so the fields can be literally drenched in Roundup and the crops live but the weeds die.

There are several objections to this. For one thing, many people (and most definitely, VEHEMENTLY myself included) have NO intention of eating crops that have been doused with toxins in such high concentration. Not to mention the escalation of even more toxins in our groundwater and soil.

Then there is the problem that the weeds will develop resistance to the Roundup too. There is also the ethical issue of poor farmers in third world countries buying these seeds and then they can't just use some seed from their crop for next year, as farmers have been doing for thousands of years, because these seeds are patented so these subsistance farmers then have to buy the seeds again every year, which they really can't afford to do. http://www.businessweek.com/news/201...e-court-review
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The legal issues stem from Monsanto’s efforts to ensure that farmers have to buy the genetically modified seeds every year, rather than planting part of the harvest from the previous season. Farmers who buy seeds from an authorized dealer must agree that they won’t use any harvested seeds for planting.
It might be legal but when you are dealing with subsistence third world country farmers it's not ethical. It reminds me of when Nestle went to Africa and South America (in the 70's I think) and tried to get these poorest in the world women to buy formula instead of breast feed, which they were too poor to do properly so they watered it down and babies starved, and they didn't have clean water to mix it with or any way to sterilize the bottles so babies got and died from intestinal tract illnesses.

It amazes me how evil companies can be. These aren't urban legends - these companies really do knowingly do these things.
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  #9  
Old 18 December 2012, 03:44 AM
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It's always amazing how much evil can be accomplished by simply being insulated from the effects of one's actions combined with apathy and the motivation to please shareholders.

It's sometimes pointed out that such things are the exception rather than the rule, but there are more sober drivers than drunk drivers, and few people try to use that to justify easing restrictions on driving under the influence.
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Old 18 December 2012, 03:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snapdragonfly View Post
For one thing, many people (and most definitely, VEHEMENTLY myself included) have NO intention of eating crops that have been doused with toxins in such high concentration. Not to mention the escalation of even more toxins in our groundwater and soil.
What makes you think the Roundup plants get more toxins than other food plants?
Quote:
Then there is the problem that the weeds will develop resistance to the Roundup too.
Yes, that is an issue for all pesticides. GM foods don't increase the use of pesticides, at least not yet. (They have the potential to reduce them but it's still too early to tell whether that will pan out.)
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There is also the ethical issue of poor farmers in third world countries buying these seeds and then they can't just use some seed from their crop for next year [...]
The issue about seeds has almost nothing at all to do with GM. This has been a business practice of seed distributors for a long time before GM was ever on the scene.
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  #11  
Old 18 December 2012, 05:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
What makes you think the Roundup plants get more toxins than other food plants?
There's been a longstanding complaint about Monsanto that it's GMing plants specifically to be more resistant to Roundup in order to encourage farmers to use higher concentrations of the herbicide. I have no idea how much truth there is to the complaint, but it's something that's been widely claimed.
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Old 18 December 2012, 05:26 AM
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Well, as long as we have 36 million dying each year from starvation (thats more than all losses on all sides during the entire world war 2, every two years!), and almost a billion malnourished, they are plenty safe enough. We just can't afford to grow old crops with much lower yields, the human cost is too high.

Sure, there might concievably be some minor problem that we've been overlooking, but there is no way that we can have overlooked a problem three times more deadly than WW2, so it's safer than not using GMO.

It's that simple.
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  #13  
Old 18 December 2012, 06:32 AM
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Frankly, I think a lot of the GM debate is mostly scaremongering nonsense, with some legitimate critique of ONE corporation mixed in.

I voted against the labeling act in this state. Sorry guys, but organic farmers aren't inherently more ethical or less corrupt than Monsanto and letting them muscle in scare-labeling to try and increase their sales isn't something I believe the state should be involved in.
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Old 18 December 2012, 07:42 AM
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And I wonder how much of the criticism of that ONE company is incorrect, unsubstantiated rumors, or simply no different from every other company in the same business. My guess: practically all of it. Not that that means I approve of the way they do business but let's at least get the facts straight before singling them out as the ONE company it's OK to criticize.
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  #15  
Old 18 December 2012, 08:27 AM
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I've certainly read reliable criticism of Monsanto, but I've also seen more than a few people throwing the name around much the way Glenn Beck used ACORN. So I'm very skeptical of claims without evidence.
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Old 18 December 2012, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snapdragonfly View Post
There is also the ethical issue of poor farmers in third world countries buying these seeds and then they can't just use some seed from their crop for next year, as farmers have been doing for thousands of years, because these seeds are patented so these subsistance farmers then have to buy the seeds again every year, which they really can't afford to do.
Which is the same situation that these farmers are in for every other good or service they purchase. If they buy diesel fuel from Citgo, and use it, they have to buy more diesel next year. If the practice is too burdensome, standard, non-patented seeds are still available for purchase.

I've never understood my Monsanto is supposed to follow a business practice that would ensure that they lose each customers after a single sale.
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Old 18 December 2012, 02:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
I've never understood my Monsanto is supposed to follow a business practice that would ensure that they lose each customers after a single sale.
Except they wouldn't. Seed merchants existed long before Monsanto and still do today - and they have repeat customers. I'm in two minds about it, but I think the outrage comes from the fact that it's a change from standard practice, to the disadvantage of the consumer. I suspect a similar reaction would have occured if, say, Sony started selling DVDs of movies that could only be watched a certain number of times. As long as they're clear about it upfront, then it's legal, but it would still feel "off".
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  #18  
Old 18 December 2012, 03:08 PM
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To what extent does Monsanto actually breed/design the seed to be single-season only? I know a lot of hybrids are only good for the first generation, and subsequent generations will not breed true, giving you less desirable crops when they cross-fertilize each other. This is not a matter of nefarious efforts, but just the nature of quite a number of hybrids.

Also, it seems to me this would be an area for charitable NGOs to get involved in, developing good seed that will breed true so it can be re-used without having to go to the big commercial seed companies every single year. The lack of such being supplied/offered suggests that the Monsanto seed is so much better that it is nonetheless worth accepting the limitations.

More important to the well-being of poor farmers would be for the developed nations to stop the trade barriers that benefit their domestic farmers. Monsanto makes a good scapegoat, but the evil of the market interventions by the government is far more onerous, both on non-favored producers and consumers.
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Old 18 December 2012, 03:11 PM
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So Monsanto would only lose some of their customers every year or at least lose some of the sales to each customer per year?

Also, would those seed merchants be prohibited from selling Monsanto seeds?
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  #20  
Old 18 December 2012, 06:30 PM
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Read This!

I have some very rabid anti-GM (more specifically anti-Monsanto) friends, and among their postings there have been the claims of massive numbers of suicides of Indian farmers - in numbers ranging from hundreds to thousands to hundreds of thousands - because of Monsanto. That nobody could agree on the numbers seemed to be a bit of a red flag. I couldn't find many sites without anti-GM bias that covered the subject, but I finally found this article to be a good and non-biased take on this issue.
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