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  •  The term 'GMO Foods' does not mean anything (11+ / 0-)

    You need to be specific in what you are talking about.  The paper studies Roundup-tolerant corn, which express a specific bacterial protein,  5-enolpyruvoyl-shikimate-3-phosphate synthetase, making them resistant to roundup.

    On the other hand, some GMO crops promise to be quite beneficial.  For instance, Golden Rice has been modified to produce more beta-carotene to help fight Vitamin A deficiency in the developing world.

    The term 'GMO' as a blanket means nothing, because technically, every domesticated animal and plant we've developed is 'GMO'.  We need to focus specifically on the GMO's that may cause us harm while not throwing out the entire method out-of-hand.

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

    by Brian A on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:16:24 AM PDT

    •  Yes, virtually every crop eaten by people (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brian A, docstymie, terrypinder

      in modern times is an GMO!

      •  A few more details . . . (7+ / 0-)
        . . .  he was mimicking what he and his colleagues have been doing quietly around the globe for more than a half-century — using radiation to scramble the genetic material in crops, a process that has produced valuable mutants like red grapefruit, disease-resistant cocoa and premium barley for Scotch whiskey.
        snip
        Though poorly known, radiation breeding has produced thousands of useful mutants and a sizable fraction of the world’s crops, Dr. Lagoda said, including varieties of rice, wheat, barley, pears, peas, cotton, peppermint, sunflowers, peanuts, grapefruit, sesame, bananas, cassava and sorghum. The mutant wheat is used for bread and pasta and the mutant barley for beer and fine whiskey.

        The mutations can improve yield, quality, taste, size and resistance to disease and can help plants adapt to diverse climates and conditions.

        link

        There are something like 2000 plus crops now in use created by "scrambling" their genetic material in this way (which, one might think would be WAY more alarming than precisely adding a single gene to a GMO . . . .)

        •  Resistance to disease (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          4Freedom, Brian A, S F Hippie, G2geek

          is not the same thing in the real world as resistance to increased concentrations of applied pesticides, obviously.

        •  Scrambling sounds scary (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          terrypinder, G2geek, Roadbed Guy

          But its really not.  Obviously the radioactivity is not going to be carried over from the organism you mutated in the first place.

          More importantly, by using this technique, you're really only drawing from genes already available to the plant.  Grapefruits are not poisonous to us, we know that.  Trying to introduce random mutations within the grapefruit genome to, say, increase juice yield is not going to suddenly make them poisonous.

          On the other hand, a reasonable arguement can be made that whenever we introduce an external gene (like this Roundup-ready business, for instance), a lot more research needs to be done, because we were not already eating that protein / gene product.

          "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

          by Brian A on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 11:32:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Objections to GMO made by more modern (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            terrypinder, Brian A, G2geek

            "engineering" methods include the truncation/interruption of proteins (e.g., where the transgene is inserted, even though that can easily be tested for . . .).

            So, although that's not really a concern when external genes are introduced, it is potentially a major concern when the genome is scrambled.  Who knows how proteins are recombined, and what new structures come out that could be immunogenic?

            How do you think the Ruby Red grapefruit became "Ruby Red" when derived by this technique?  Most likely by up-regulating the production of a red dye or perhaps by synthesizing an entirely new red molecule - which very well COULD be toxic.  The larger point is that plants make many, many toxic molecules and the massive genetic scrambling no doubt facilitates this (in fact, if you read the blog I linked to, they essentially are making the point that they are speeding up tens of thousands of years of evolution into an instant - thus instead of slowly evolving these new chemicals over eons, when presumably animals that ate them could co-evolve resistance, they're doing so instantly).

            Overall, I agree with your point that none of this is particularly dangerous.  However, the anti-GM types really have no standing to argue that in one case this technology is super dangerous when a closely related version passes by without objection. The rank hypocrisy of the stangest sort.  Or, at least a quite strange sort.

            •  though, i would argue that... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Brian A

              ... genetically engineered foods should be subject to at least a minimum standard of in-vivo testing to ascertain if there are unforeseen effects: health effects from eating them, potential ecosystem effects such as on the pest ecosystems and on other crops, and so on.

              "Born safe" doesn't cut it.  And "natural" doesn't mean "safe" either, as we're discovering with cases such as "natural" arsenic taken up by "natural" rice and concentrated to levels that may have risks.  

              There was a time when people could be reasonably sure that regulatory agencies were looking out for food safety.  Today with the prevalence of e-coli and salmonella outbreaks, antibiotic resistance via antibiotic misuse/abuse in factory farming, and so on, the general impression is "you're on your own, bub."  THAT more than anything else, leads to the heightened suspicion over items such as GMOs, even GMOs that are already well-known to be health-safe and eco-safe.

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 01:33:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Testing is fine, I suppose, if it is applied (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Brian A

                with equal vigor to all new crops (and for that matter, any new source of foodstuffs - for example, when those 10,000 year old wooly mammoths were found in the melting ice and somebody decided to eat some, was THAT adequately tested in advance?).

                But according to this diary, testing DOES have it's limits - as according to the study in question, the authors were essentially not able to find any chemical differences in the foods that wer tested - which would seem to indicate that then GMO-derived stuff should be safe . . .

      •  No. Just, no. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shaharazade, USHomeopath, chimene

        Come on, you are a science type guy.

        Selective breeding vs introducing genes from other species are 2 entirely different processes.

        Please.

        Life is a school, love is the lesson.

        by means are the ends on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 11:04:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'll have to check, but I think the Golden Rice (10+ / 0-)

      claim is marginal at best.

      What it does do is trick farmers into indentured contracts with predatory GMO corporations. Just like GMO cotton did to Indian farmers.

      This isn't about creating a better product, it's about creating food that can be copyrighted and licensed and controlled for corporate profit and power.

      Let's at least be honest about the underlying motivation here.

      Vote Tea Party Taliban! Bring the Burqa to America.

      by Pescadero Bill on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:28:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Technically... (10+ / 0-)

      That's a tough word. Yes, the strict definition of the words "genetically modified organism" would apply to pretty much everything we've ever domesticated.

      However, my understanding is that the line is usually drawn between the selective breeding process of domestication and injecting DNA cross-species (or higher on the classification chart). In that sense then yes, there is a fundamental difference between continuously selecting the biggest and best corn to replant, or even cross-breeding different corn species in the same family to make hybrids, and injecting DNA from different kingdoms into the same organism.

      I would agree that it's a murky line at best, but that's the general distinction being made between traditional genetic manipulation and GMOs.

      •  Great explanation! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        "However, my understanding is that the line is usually drawn between the selective breeding process of domestication and injecting DNA cross-species (or higher on the classification chart)."

        Great explanation of the differences between GMOs and selectively bred crops!

    •  Then let's be specific. We're talking about (6+ / 0-)

      forced mutations that wouldn't happen in nature with out genetic modification in a laboratory.

      How's that?

      Vote Tea Party Taliban! Bring the Burqa to America.

      by Pescadero Bill on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:56:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fair enough (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terrypinder, nickrud, Roadbed Guy

        But I still take exception with how the article is presented in this diary.  It's more than a bit of a leap to go from "roundup-ready corn may cause cancer" to ZOMG GMOS CAUSE CANCER!!!

        Look, I'm a scientist, so of course I'm going to want people to look at this on a case-by-case basis.  By all means lets talk about how awful Roundup is for the environment, and about how Round-up ready crops may be dangerous.  But lets not use this discussion to blanket a technology (GMO) that has not seriously been approached as anything else than a money-making scheme.  There is a lot of good that can come from GMO, but our government doesnt really fund much research on that, so private corporations swoop in.

        FULL DISCLOSURE before people start saying i'm in the pocket of Biotech or some crap: I'm employed by a nonprofit research university and am paid from funds from the NIH.

        "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

        by Brian A on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 11:27:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  here's what's up with that: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brian A

          Time was when we could count on .gov food regulators to keep the food supply safe.  Then along came endless budget cuts and Ayn Randism run rampant.  

          Now we have:

          = Frequent e-coli and salmonella outbreaks.

          = Overtly poisoned food/drug/cosmetic products from China.

          = Frequent food recalls due to disease or contamination, usually only after there have been illnesses and deaths.  

          = Rampant antibiotic abuse in agriculture, leading to a major problem with antibiotic resistance in general (and public health MDs are sounding the big fire alarm on this one).

          None of which have anything to do with GMOs as such, but ALL of which produce the impression that the food supply is becoming less and less safe.  

          This leads to a general increase in suspicion about the food supply, and that includes suspicion about anything people don't understand, such as GE.  

          The result is that even well-proven health-safe and eco-safe GMOs are coming under the cloud of suspicion.

          And the bottom line is, we have got to bring our food safety regulations into line with current science, and put real teeth into enforcement.  When the public feel that food safety is aligned with public health, and policy is aligned with science, they'll trust the food supply, and they won't freak out every time they see anything with the word "genetic..." on it.

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 01:42:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  BS. GMO is very specific. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pigpaste, shaharazade, G2geek

      Selective breeding is not at all what is meant by the acronym GMO. This is disinformation propaganda put out by Monsanto et al.

      And Golden Rice is a total scam, which has actually worsened conditions where it has been introduced.

      1. The cause of Vit A deficiency is starvation, ie, not having enough fat in the diet to process this fat soluble vitamin. That is why people can be eating acres of greens and still develop Vit A defiency. Golden rice does nothing for this.
      2. Golden rice is rarely as productive as the native strains it aims to replace. So people who are starving are being encouraged to plant a staple which will reduce their caloric sustenance.
      3. Peasants all over the world eat lots and lots andlots of greens and veggies because they are cheap and available--if they can afford to room in their stomach and not starve as a result. As a forager, I can tell you that edible greens which hold nearly toxic amounts of Vitamin A grow abundantly on nearly any vacant lot, weed patch, or sidewalk crack available. I can walk out my door 9 months of the year and have wild foraged greens cooking on my stove in 10 minutes. Poor people know this, too, believe it or not.

      Their problem is that they are starving.
      In fact, when they are starving they often supplement their diet with lots of roughage and poor-quality fibrous vegetal matter just to fill their stomachs. They thus starve less quickly. But they starve, filled to the gills with Vitamin A.

      They are lucky when they get rice. However, if they have rice, they have to stuff themselves as full as possible with the stuff just to stay alive, and there is not that much room for greens. Not to mention, they are starving. And there's no fat or animal products to process the vitamin A.

      Again, Golden Rice is a marketing/propaganda tool for the GMO industry. Like those nice environmentally friendly things oil and gas tell you that they do companies in their feel-good ads.

      Life is a school, love is the lesson.

      by means are the ends on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 11:02:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry for the typos. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shaharazade, G2geek

        That is:

        "those nice environmentally friendly things oil and gas companies tell you that they do in their feed-good ads."

        Life is a school, love is the lesson.

        by means are the ends on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 11:07:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Perhaps golden rice is a bad example (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          terrypinder, G2geek

          I totally agree with you an other posters that Monsanto and other biotechs that develop and market GMOs behave extremely unethically and do not take good safety measures into account.

          But there are huge potential benefits to GMO technology if they were sponsored by say, the government.  What if we created an institute within the NIH to fund GMO experiments for the public good?  That is all I'm asking people to consider before dismissing the entire field.

          "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

          by Brian A on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 11:35:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i'm with you on this. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brian A

            On both counts: nuke Monsanto, and put GMO research in the hands of .gov or at least corporations that can be kept safely on a leash.  

            And strengthen food safety enforcement, and most importantly for global public health, ban the abusive uses of antibiotics in agriculture.  

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 01:50:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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