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View Diary: GMOs: What we can all agree on (230 comments)

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  •  Is it possible for them to tell us (6+ / 0-)

    Exactly what they did, in layman's terms?

    After all, the ways they do it can affect the food too. What process they used can be as important as what they put in.

    That being said, the least they can do is tell us what they deliberately put in, even if they can't tell us what is accidentally in there.

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 12:11:57 PM PDT

    •  Partially. (7+ / 0-)

      To say exactly what they did is likely neither feasible nor partiularly informative to somebody not trained in the science. The process used to manipulate a plants genome is sufficiently far removed from the food produced that quite honestly I would not expect to see a difference in the outcome from a particular change no matter what method or vector I used to cause that change - It's the actual genetic changes that potentially alter the composition of your food.

      You could, however, probably come up with some rational categories of changes that would go a long way to addressing the need for a buyer to be properly informed. Something like this:

      Type A: Suppressing or enhancing the expression of an already existing gene.
      Type B: Replacing a gene with, or altering it to resemble an equivalent one from a different variety of the same plant species.
      Type C: Replacing a gene with or altering it to resemble one from a related plant species
      Type D: Replacing a gene with or altering it to resemble one from an unrelated plant species.
      Type E: Inserting a gene from other living organisms, not normally expressed by plants.
      Type F: Causing the expression of a novel protein not otherwise found in nature.

      Types A, B and some of type C are simply shortcuts around old-fashioned selective breeding. A good example of the sort of thing you might accomplish with these is getting the increased drought resistance of one variety into another, without also bringing over the changes that make the drought-resistant variety produce worse-tasting fruit.

      On the other hand, Bt corn would be a Type E GMO.

      Personally I wouldnt worry myself overmuch eating types A through D. I would probably draw the line at types E and F.

      •  This is a great way to label GMO's but (8+ / 0-)

        I worry that folks have already made up their mind on GMOs based on emotion, not consideration of the technology.  I am a PhD scientist and find the classification above to be accurate, but not really addressing what folks want to know about GMOs which is are they safe to consume.  I think additional safety regulation through the FDA would be a good idea too, since then companies could point to safety studies to show their products are as safe as non-GMO.

        For those of you on this board who don't want to consume GMOs, be aware this technology isn't going away and is also be used in the pharmaceutical industry to produce important molecules which are used as lifesaving drugs.  This is important technology with huge potential and frankly it disappoints me how its become  fodder for Facebook hate adds.  I dislike Monsanto's business practices, but this technology is important and has huge potential. I really urge this community to become more educated on what GMO technology is and try to evaluate based on facts.

        "Life is short, our work lasts longer" Rose Wilder Lane

        by HarpLady on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 02:37:13 PM PDT

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        •  If consumers have misunderstanding (9+ / 0-)

          of the technology, I do not think it will resolve their understandings by hiding information they care about.

          Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

          by MrAnon on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 03:04:31 PM PDT

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        •  Nobody thought the masses (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MrAnon, mikidee

          would use seat belts either, but sufficient education proved that they would. Some people would eat anything if it was cheap. Some would avoid all GMOs entirely. Some would educate themselves and make a rational decision, given the information.

          You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

          by northsylvania on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 03:08:48 PM PDT

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        •  A big problem (addressed in a recent diary) (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT, Kane in CA, HarpLady, mikidee, wonmug

          is that the technology has become the target, rather than the results of the technology being under individual scrutiny. GMOs can be a boon or a disaster, but those are not mutually exclusive - they're independent, coexisting possibilities, and they always will be. Aiming at the technology is not going to work, as you point out. It's here to stay, so we'd better figure out how to determine what's happening in a GMO that is different from its also-massively-modified (by careful breeding) parent organism.

          Understanding how the technology is used, and getting the technologists to grasp the complexity of the organism's response system and how to test for a few thousand unexpected responses to what we imagined was a simple change - those are useful responses, whereas being "anti-GMO" is not. Being generically "pro-GMO" is also not terribly helpful as a response to that position! [for the record: Ph.D. in biochemistry]

          We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
          Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

          by pixxer on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 04:34:44 PM PDT

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          •  I fully blame the industry for this (9+ / 0-)

            And the people who were out in front of the GMO revolution constantly spread PR lies about how it would end malnutrition and hunger and then we see former Monsanto execs heading the organizations that are suppose to be regulating this stuff. People were sold a false bill of goods on this and they are entirely justified in not trusting the people who are continuing to say the same thing again and again.

            At some point there will be a rash of sicknesses linked to a GMO product and then the antis will have everything they need to push this back into the bottle, on a widespread scale at least. I've always said that using this technology with food first was a horrible idea. I hope I'm wrong about that, but if I'm not then there are going to be some real problems.

            All this is really just to say that we don't have unbiased testing that is trusted across the board, or even by a majority. That should have been the very first thing that was established. The very first.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 05:08:16 PM PDT

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            •  Agree completely. But I think the first use of (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Kevskos, AoT

              transformed cells was not in food. It was to create single-celled organisms that did something like secrete insulin in huge vats, so it didn't have to be gotten from pigs at enormous cost (especially to the pigs) with very limited supply. Agree that going for food at this point is probably premature.

              We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
              Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

              by pixxer on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 08:42:49 PM PDT

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          •  They can only be a boon (7+ / 0-)

            if the people creating them understand the pit falls of farming.

            They have been doing a very poor job of this with the F1s where they are breeding for transportation survival at the expense of nutrition and taste.

            If they don't get a handle on the actual real world out side their labs the law of unintended consiquences may be  
            really nasty.

            I for one will not eat GM corn which simply means I grow my own from saved seed. I did the chipmunk test also, they won't eat it. That tells me something is very wrong with it.

            It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

            by PSWaterspirit on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 06:38:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not Anti-GE, But Anti-Greed (0+ / 0-)
            A big problem (addressed in a recent diary) is that the technology has become the target, rather than the results of the technology being under individual scrutiny. GMOs can be a boon or a disaster...
            If you believe this, then you ought to be working to repeal the laws that prevent the study of patented GE crops unless permission is given by the patent holder; this legislation also allows the patent holders to prevent publication of any unfavorable testing and studies.

            Give me any other reason aside from protecting the bottom line for this. Lacking that, greed always leads to corruption somehow; psychological science confirms that.

            Corruption is dangerous, and leads to hurting humans.

            Talk me down!

            "Treat others as you would like them to treat you." -St. Luke 6: 31 (NEB) Christians are given a tough assignment here: Love the people you don't even like...

            by paz3 on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 11:03:05 AM PDT

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        •  It's not making up their minds on emotion, but on (1+ / 0-)
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          simple observation of corruption and greed posing as "science."

          We have no way of knowing how bad GMOs are.  We absolutely know that Monsanto is not to be trusted.  We know that the FDA is effectively a puppet which does not provide sufficient testing or oversight.

          I would suggest that the belief that GMOs are somehow beneficial for humanity is also just a belief.  I see no evidence of this, just of another piggish corporation trying to corner the market on food.  

          Just because they cry "science" must we suspend the precautionary principle?  These are not just potential poisons, not just potential self-reproducing poisons, but potential self-reproducing poisons that can possibly spread to other plants and crops.

          Extreme caution is called for.  It is not being used.

      •  Agrobacterium Transformation Of Plants Is Natural (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        northsylvania, pixxer, Roadbed Guy, FG

        We tend to forget that the way we knew foreign DNA isn't that hard to put in plant cells is because it happens naturally in legumes.

        Every legume you ever ate is probably from a plant that had bacterial DNA randomly inserted into the roots, and that's been going on for 100 million years or so.

        There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

        by bernardpliers on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 02:53:42 PM PDT

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        •  Legumes also have live bacteria living within (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          their root nodules.

          I did not know that these bacteria (or their ancestors) had transfered genes into the legume genome, but that is quite plausible since our own bacterial symbionts have apparently done the same.

          •  Several Species Of Bacteria And Plants (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy

            There's plenty of evolutionary evidence to suggest there's a lot of this going on.


            A. tumefaciens causes crown-gall disease in plants. The disease is characterised by a tumour-like growth or gall on the infected plant, often at the junction between the root and the shoot. Tumors are incited by the conjugative transfer of a DNA segment (T-DNA) from the bacterial tumour-inducing (Ti) plasmid. The closely related species, A. rhizogenes, induces root tumors, and carries the distinct Ri (root-inducing) plasmid. Although the taxonomy of Agrobacterium is currently under revision it can be generalised that 3 biovars exist within the genus, A. tumefaciens, A. rhizogenes, and A. vitis. .....

            The plasmid T-DNA is integrated semi-randomly into the genome of the host cell,[1] and the tumor morphology genes on the T-DNA are expressed, causing the formation of a gall. The T-DNA carries genes for the biosynthetic enzymes for the production of unusual amino acids, typically octopine or nopaline. It also carries genes for the biosynthesis of the plant hormones, auxin and cytokinins), and for the biosynthesis of opines, providing a carbon and nitrogen source for the bacteria that most other micro-organisms can't use, giving Agrobacterium a selective advantage.

            There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

            by bernardpliers on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 06:59:03 PM PDT

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          •  And In This Case It's Not Inherited (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy, sewaneepat

            Just to add a little twist, the agrobacterium is infecting the plant roots and adding their DNA.  The change is not in the seed or inherited.

            But in the lab, plasmids based on the agrobacterium plasmid (minus the virulence genes)  are used to transform plant cells, and then whole plants are regenerated and bred, and those changes are inherited.

            There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

            by bernardpliers on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 07:02:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Involuntary Exile

              microbiologist has know that for a long time.  We, and plants, are a bacteria transportation device.  

              Your lack of knowledge of plants does show in this argument RB guy.  Read up on plant sex.  The biggest advance of the seed plant is sex without water.  You can not do it.  

              The sperm has to have water to get to the egg.  Pollen does not.

              That is why I do not like GMO plants.  That's why hybrid plants do need to be tested carefully.  More then they are.  Some of the newer methods of making hybrids are pretty cavalier.

              I just don't like taking a cavalier attitude to how we treat the world.  No mulligans.

      •  Thank you for this well written (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy

        proposal. So often people react to GMOs as if it's always and only about "Franken Food."

        Could you also please explain why you

        would probably draw the line at types E and F[?]
        As HarpLady notes, what [most] people want to know is are GMOs safe - is there something fundamentally and necessarily unsafe about your Types E and F?

        TIA ...

        Out with the gloomage - in with the plumage!

        by mikidee on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 08:45:29 AM PDT

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        •  Yes, it's not like people don't mix (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          proteins from different phyla ranging all the way up to the kingdom level already while eating . ..  and they do this all the time.  For example, a mushroom onion bacon cheeseburger - there's at least 3 kingdoms right there.  Probably 4 since it is most likely contaminated with bacteria as well.

          So, by the time the food is well chewed, the proteins are going to be well mixed and as hazardous as can be (or not hazardous, as is more likely).

          Of course, the proteins might interact in deleterious ways inside the transgenic crop - but that's basically a problem for the plant, not whatever is going to eat it later.

        •  If the proper safety and testing regimes were... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...already in place and the resulting crop had been through them, I wouldn't be bothered much by E or F either. However, with the current state of affairs I simply dont trust Monsanto et al enough. Hence the drawing of my personal line at the boundaries of "plants expressing plant genes."

          It's simply a matter of asking myself "ok, assuming that they are cutting corners for the sake of their bottom line, where on this spectrum would my tolerance of risk have me stop?" That's simply my own opinion, and I can't justify it in scientifically rigid terms although I will own up to the conceit that my own background in molecular biology makes it a somewhat informed opinion. Ultimately, though, it comes from the gut not the head.

    •  If they can't tell you, in plain English, (7+ / 0-)

      they don't understand it sufficiently well. [I'm a science teacher :) ]

      Or else they are intentionally obfuscating to make you think it's just something beyond your capability to understand and you shouldn' worry yer purty li'l head about it.

      We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
      Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

      by pixxer on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 04:24:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or If Someone Can' Explain Why They're Objecting (0+ / 0-)

        ....either they don't understand it...or refused to listen even though it's been explained many times....or they have a phobia, like being afraid of clowns.

        There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

        by bernardpliers on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 03:38:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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