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  •  OT, maybe, maybe not: Pollyanacide: suicide (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, protectspice, worldlotus

    through unreasonably optimistic assumptions that one has complete and total knowledge of something new. (I just invented that word.)

    Like nuclear power, GMOs are the result of being able to technically execute something; assuming 'nothing can possibly go wrong'; and then letting the technique be applied widely without sufficient sample over sufficient time to validate the assumption.

    The problem is Reality has a way of testing all human premises, sooner or later; the ones researched, the ones unforeseen and even unimagined.

    The word 'science' comes from the Latin word for 'knowing.'

    It amazes me how few are able to distinguish the difference between employing a technique (with unverified/unverifiable outcomes) derived from using scientific methods, and actually 'knowing of a certainty.'

    A 'best guess given what we think we know now in the absence of a large sample size over a long period of time' is not the same thing as actually knowing.


    Real fixes, outside the coffin fixes, ain't ever pragmatic says DC Bubble Conventional Wisdoom.

    by Jim P on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 02:45:55 PM PDT

    •  actually, virtually all GMO genes have already (0+ / 0-)

      been tested, in the wild, for millions of years.

      BT, for instance, has been living in the soil for several hundred million years--as long as the B thuringiensis species has existed.

      The freeze-resistant tomatoes use genes from the founder fish----that gene has been living in that fish for millions of years.

      Golden Rice uses two genes, from a daffodil and from a bacteria, both of which have had those genes for millions of years.

      Even Monsanto's Roundup-Ready didn't make a completely new gene--it simply copied a gene for herbicide resistance that was already found in wild plants. So that experiment too was already happening for decades before Monsanto ever modified a single seed.

      Some of us seem to have the idea that "genetic engineering" produces totally new genes that have never existed before and spring them onto the world voila.  It doesn't.  Every GMO process in use today works by taking a gene that already exists (and has already existed for billions of years) out of one organism and placing it into another. So that gene has already been "tested" for millions of years.

      "But what about how that gene interacts with the genes in the new organism !!!" you may ask.  Good question.  We already know that too, since all earth organisms share basically the same genes. In total DNA, humans and bacteria share about half their genes. Most of the differences come from things like eyes, legs and hair, which the bacteria gene doesn't effect and isn't effected by. As far as the actual basic biological genes which control the cellular processes (and which are relevant to things like cancer), those are virtually one-hundred percent identical in all living things. So we already have a hundred million years of data on how the genes interact.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 03:31:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please, that's just pettifogery and shifting the (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TakeSake, OHdog, worldlotus, marina

        goalposts. Nature never produced a frog-tomato in the space of a few months. Nature never produced cabbage with scorpion venom on a Thursday. Spiders and goats never mated.

        Taking entire sections of DNA from one class of being and sticking it into another is a NEW thing. Why pretend otherwise?

        And it's impossible for any honest person to say that the down-the-road consequences of this kind of fuckery is a known thing.


        Real fixes, outside the coffin fixes, ain't ever pragmatic says DC Bubble Conventional Wisdoom.

        by Jim P on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 03:56:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Saints in heaven! Just reread what you posted. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TakeSake, OHdog
          The freeze-resistant tomatoes use genes from the founder fish----that gene has been living in that fish for millions of years.
          Right. And how long in Tomatoes? Millions of years in tomatoes you're saying. Or what is it now, 3 or ten years?
          Golden Rice uses two genes, from a daffodil and from a bacteria, both of which have had those genes for millions of years.
          And...... for how long in rice? Millions of years IN RICE, you say?

          This is the kind of stuff that gets self-proclaimed scientists a lack of trust. You understand that if you go look in the dictionary for a picture of sophism, these kinds of things you wrote would be what you would see, right?


          Real fixes, outside the coffin fixes, ain't ever pragmatic says DC Bubble Conventional Wisdoom.

          by Jim P on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 04:01:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  what you don't grasp is that it's the same gene (0+ / 0-)

            There is no "new gene". None. At all. Nada. The gene is absolutely identical in every way whatsoever whether it is inside a tomato or a fish.  And that gene has already existed for millions of years.

            You can wave your arms all you want--it doesn't change those two simple basic facts.  (shrug)

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 04:58:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  what you don't grasp is that the gene is in an (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              protectspice

              environment of other genes, and slicing it from one set where it has evolved and adapted over a period of millions of years and throwing into another 'ecology' where it has never been operative is a major change in the recipient organism.

              If what you were saying were true, IT WOULD BE UNNECESSARY TO SLICE IT FROM THE TOMATO AND PUT IT IN THE CHICKEN BECAUSE THE CHICKEN WOULD ALREADY BE EMPLOYING IT.

              BUT THE CHICKEN DOESN'T, and there might very well be good reasons for that: reasons which it would be impossible to know because genetic science is in its infancy; and there has not been time enough to gain data on what fucking around with things does.

              Sophistry mimics knowledge and reason, but it leaves out salient points.


              Real fixes, outside the coffin fixes, ain't ever pragmatic says DC Bubble Conventional Wisdoom.

              by Jim P on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 06:38:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I grasp that fine (0+ / 0-)

                What YOU don't grasp is that:

                1. the gene in question is already in basically the same environment, since the cellular genes of all organisms are basically the same

                and

                2. the genes selected for GMOs are NOT pleiotropic--that means they only do one thing, and do not interact with other genes. They are not involved with regulation, they are not involved with development, and they are not involved with cell division or cellular functions.

                If what you were saying were true, IT WOULD BE UNNECESSARY TO SLICE IT FROM THE TOMATO AND PUT IT IN THE CHICKEN BECAUSE THE CHICKEN WOULD ALREADY BE EMPLOYING IT.
                You're babbling nonsense. Mostly because you don't understand basic biology and biochemistry.

                The genes they have in common are the basic cellular genes, the ones that control things like differentiation and cell division. The things that, when they go wrong, cause things like cancer.

                The genes they do NOT have in common are the species-specific adaptations to their particular environment. Chickens don't have a gene for antifreeze because they don't live in the Arctic. The fish does.

                But (and here's where you want to mlisten closely and look up any words you don't understand) the fish gene already lives with the same basic cellular genes as the chicken has. The fish cellular-control genes and the chicken cellular-control genes are virtually the same.  Indeed, you could (and scientists HAVE) take the cellular gene out of the chicken and put it into the fish, and it works precisely the same.

                So when you take the fish antifreeze gene and put it into the tomato or the fish, it works precisely the same.  The genes it is now with are no different than the genes it was with before, because the chicken and the tomato and the fish all have the same basic cellular-control genes.

                And that is why you don't get two-headed chickens, or tomatoes with feathers, or whatever the hell else you are yammering about.

                In the end, reality always wins.

                by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 07:26:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  um, no, it's reality (0+ / 0-)

          A fish gene is a fish gene is a fish gene, whether it's in a fish or in a tomato. They are absolutely identical.  They have exactly the same ACGT sequence.  And they produce precisely the same protein.

          And since that fish gene has been in the environment for millions of years, we already know what its effect on the environment is.  It has the same effect whether it's inside a fish or inside a tomato.

          You are indeed under the delusion that genetic engineers produce totally new genes that have never existed before.  And you are quite wrong about that.  The genes have already existed since before the time of the dinosaurs.  (shrug)

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 04:37:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Genes don't have an effect on the envionment (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, worldlotus

            but organisms do. And the products of metabolism resulting from  expression of transferred genes in new plant hosts may affect the environment (soil, other plants, animals, microbes) in novel and unpredictable ways. But don't worry, be happy. In the meantime I'm still waiting for the 60's dream of tranferring THC production from marijuana into it's closest relative, the hop plants for some awesome beer.

            Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

            by OHdog on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 04:57:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  you have shown no such interaction. none. (0+ / 0-)

              And indeed since the gene has already existed for millions of years (inside the same basic biochemical machinery) and has produced no such effect, I think you will not show any such interaction.

              But I'm always open to evidence.  Can you point to an observed example of such an effect in soil or environment or other plant or animal or microbes? And please make sure you explain how transfer of a gene is bad bad bad when it comes from a transplanted gene, but NOT bad bad bad when it comes from the original source of the gene---why is transfer of a fish gene that has been inserted into a tomato bad bad bad, but the  transfer of that very same gene from the fish itself, is not? Are there little molecular traffic cops that patrol around looking to see which organism a particular gene originally comes from?

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 05:32:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Take the case of the locust and the grasshopper (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                marina, OHdog

                They are the exact same genetically. Literally the same species, same everything. And yet entirely different. And the fact is that we can't know what triggers there may be in the various genes we've inserted. The likelihood that they're benign is probably high, but who knows what the interactions with other genes will produce? And more importantly, who knows what interactions with other genes in the changing climate will produce.

                So the idea that we can just insert a gene into a new organism and it will turn out the same is absurd. That's magical thinking.

                If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                by AoT on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 05:41:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  not a good example (0+ / 0-)

                  That is not caused by interaction with any non-locust gene. And if you insert a locust gene into a porcupine, it won't make the porcupines gather in a huge mass and eat their way across North America. Why? Because the behavior in the locust is not even caused by a single gene.

                  And the fact is that we can't know what triggers there may be in the various genes we've inserted. The likelihood that they're benign is probably high, but who knows what the interactions with other genes will produce? And more importantly, who knows what interactions with other genes in the changing climate will produce.

                  So the idea that we can just insert a gene into a new organism and it will turn out the same is absurd. That's magical thinking.

                  But you are mistaken on two counts:

                  1. Yes, we CAN know what the gene will do in the environment, because it's already been in the environment for millions of years. The fish antifreeze gene in the tomato has been around since there were fish living in cold water, back to the Devonian. The gene has no effect on the environment.

                  2. We also know what the gene will do in interaction with other genes, because the fish already shares over half its genes with the tomato and has been interacting with those shared genes for millions of years.

                  Despite all the horror tales, there is no example of any transplanted gene causing any damage to anything of any sort whatsoever.  And that is not at all surprising, since the same gene has already been around for millions of years, and did bupkis to anything.

                  You would have a more valid argument if it were directed against a real NEW gene, one that was artificially designed and never existed in nature (and that has not been done by any commercial GMO company---though i would be very surprised if the military Biological Warfare guys were not working on it, that incidentally being another very valid argument against GMO technology). But even then, the odds would be astronomically low. It would be very difficult to even come up with a totally new gene, since Mother Nature is very inventive, and if any gene can have any noticeable biological effect, it's probably already been tried. Evolution works by randomly trying every possibility and keeping the things that have effects. Any artificial "new" gene would almost certainly either already exist somewhere in nature for millions of years or just be a variant that does something that another gene already does. After all, genes simply produce proteins, and Mother Nature is pretty sure to have already tried any particular protein. I doubt we can actually make anything truly "new".

                  In the end, reality always wins.

                  by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 05:55:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  What you seem to be saying is that (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    OHdog

                    genes and proteins have a one to one correlation and that the existence of a gene in one organism means that the gene will produce the same protein in another organism and effect the organism the same way.

                    After all, genes simply produce proteins, and Mother Nature is pretty sure to have already tried any particular protein.
                    Then why are there more proteins in the human body than there are genes?
                    the fish already shares over half its genes with the tomato
                    It shares half its genes with a tomato, which means it doesn't share the other half. So it hasn't interacted with half of the genes that it is now interacting with. That's a huge number of genes. A tomato has more than thirty thousand genes. That's not a small number by any stretch of the imagination.

                    Gene's do not simply produce proteins. If this were true it would be impossible to take a gene from a food we can eat and add it to another food we can eat and get something we cant eat. Do you have an ounce of evidence for that claim?

                    I also wonder how you account for protein interaction in the model you're working from. There's the case of prions, BSE and Scrapie being the most well known. Gene's obviously can't bend proteins so a switch between families could mean a completely different expression in that respect.

                    I just feel like you're being unnecessarily reductive because some people are afraid of eating the wrong DNA.

                    If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                    by AoT on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 06:43:04 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  no--what I am saying is that the genes that are (0+ / 0-)
                      genes and proteins have a one to one correlation
                      selected for GMO use have a one to one correspondence.  They are specifically selected because they only do one thing, and are not involved with the function of any other genes.

                      That is not true of ALL genes, but it IS true of all genes used in GMO.  That's why they were chosen to begin with.

                      It shares half its genes with a tomato, which means it doesn't share the other half. So it hasn't interacted with half of the genes that it is now interacting with. That's a huge number of genes. A tomato has more than thirty thousand genes. That's not a small number by any stretch of the imagination.
                      But that half is irrelevant, since they are genes specific to the tomato, and they don't interact with the other genes.  The genes all living things have in common are the ones that control the basic cellular functions---cell division, cellular structure, cell differnetiation, emrbyonic development.

                      The cells that are different (50% different in humans and tomatoes, 0.5% different in humans and chimps) are NOT those genes--they are the specific genes particular to that species--such as hair in chimps and antifreeze in fishes.

                      Now here is the important part to understand---those genes are NOT involved in any way with cellular division or differentiation or development. Just as your gene for eye color has zero effect whatsoever on your cellular functions, the gene for fish antifreeze doesn't have anything to do with ITS cellular development or division.

                      That is why mutations in your gene for eye color don't give you cancer--that gene simply has bupkis to do with cellular functions.

                      And that is why a fish antifreeze gene has no effect at all on the cellular division or differntiation of any other organism that it is placed in---because that gene doesn't interact with those genes. It has no cellular function. For the very same reason, placing your gene for eye color into a frog won't make it grow two heads--because that gene has nothing whatever to do with growing heads.

                      In the end, reality always wins.

                      by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 07:33:35 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  "genes and proteins have a one to one correlation" (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        OHdog

                        This is false.

                        Let me quote Nature Magazine

                        How Many Protein-Coding Genes Are in That Genome?
                        Interestingly, the same "remarkable lack of correspondence" can be noted when discussing the relationship between the number of protein-coding genes and organism complexity. Scientists estimate that the human genome, for example, has about 20,000 to 25,000 protein-coding genes. Before completion of the draft sequence of the Human Genome Project in 2001, scientists made bets as to how many genes were in the human genome. Most predictions were between about 30,000 and 100,000. Nobody expected a figure as low as 20,000, especially when compared to the number of protein-coding genes in an organism like Trichomonas vaginalis. T. vaginalis is a single-celled parasitic organism responsible for an estimated 180 million urogenital tract infections in humans every year. This tiny organism features the largest number of protein-coding genes of any eukaryotic genome sequenced to date: approximately 60,000.
                        Genes are far more than just proteins.

                        If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                        by AoT on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 07:46:16 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  you are mis-reading (0+ / 0-)

                          Not all those 35000 or so human genes are involved in regulatory or cellular functions. Many are, but not all. The gene for eye color, for instance, isn't. It only has one function, and it doesn't interact at all with any of the regulatory genes.

                          The same is true for other species. And those are the genes that are selected for GMO.

                          In the end, reality always wins.

                          by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 08:36:21 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Several genes affect eye color and it is the (0+ / 0-)

                            combination that that determines the observed color. Seems that as with many of your assertions, you have not done the background reading.

                            Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

                            by OHdog on Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 08:07:38 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

          •  You don't know what you're talking about (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            protectspice
            And since that fish gene has been in the environment for millions of years, we already know what its effect on the environment is.  It has the same effect whether it's inside a fish or inside a tomato.
            This is flatly wrong. Completely wrong. Gene's are not gene expression and a gene does not necessarily correlate one to one with what happens to an organism. This is a nineteen fifties version of genetics and doesn't conform at all with contemporary genetics.

            You clearly need to read some more about genes and development if you really believe that  gene have been "tested" because they've existed in some organism before.

            If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

            by AoT on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 05:17:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  actually I do (0+ / 0-)

              The genes used in GMO are specifically selected because they are NOT pleiotropic. They do not interact with any developmental genes, and they produce only one protein.

              Why the heck would they WANT to do otherwise? Their only interest is in getting a particular protein into the target, whether it's Bt toxin or fish antifreeze or whatever. They don't WANT that gene to do anything else--that only makes everything harder and more complicated. So they deliberately do NOT select any genes that play any role in development or differentiation--they pick the ones that are NOT pleitropic. They WANT the gene to do what they want it to do--and nothing else.

              It's like your gene for eye color.  If you put it into a frog, it's not gonna make the frog grow two heads, it's not gonna cause the frog to get liver cancer, it's not gonna turn the frog pink.  Why not? Because that gene doesn't play any role in cephalization or cell division or skin color. All it does is make a particular-colored protein in the iris instead of a different-colored protein.

              Yes, many genes play roles in development and differentiation, and many genes make more than one protein that plays different roles.

              But many do not.  And those are the ones used in GMO.

              Specifically because they only have one effect.

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 06:47:13 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  They don't interact with any protein (0+ / 0-)

                in the original organism. That's true.

                Your claim that genes are tested in the environment makes no sense.

                If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                by AoT on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 06:56:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  they don't interact with any other genes, either (0+ / 0-)

                  Indeed they are specifically selected because they don't.

                  And that makes the whole question of "what other genes are they found with?" completely irrelevant, since they don't interact with them anyway.

                  The genes have been tested in the environment.  They have existed for millions of years. In the environment.

                  In the end, reality always wins.

                  by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 08:11:57 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I have yet to be presented with evidence (0+ / 0-)

                    that they don't interact with other genes.

                    If you have said evidence I would be happy to see it.

                    You speak as if every gene is "tested in nature" just because it's a gene and it exists. You seem to have changed that to say that the genes that are chosen for ingestion don't interact, but again you haven't offered any evidence for that. Honestly, you haven't offered evidence for anything, just claims.

                    I would suggest that you present evidence along with your claims if you want to represent the scientific side of things.

                    If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                    by AoT on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 08:23:26 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  so you don't accept the existence of (0+ / 0-)

                      non-pleiotropic genes . . . . ?

                      Come onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

                      In the end, reality always wins.

                      by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 08:51:54 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  They don't interact with genes in the original (0+ / 0-)

                        organism. You're claiming that a gene that doesn't interact in one organism can never interact in any other organism. I have yet to see evidence of that.

                        If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                        by AoT on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 09:12:06 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  that's what non-pleiotropic genes DO (0+ / 0-)

                          That's what mAKES them non-pleiotropic.

                          It's like claiming just because trees don't eat cats at the seashore doesn't mean they don't eat cats on a mountaintop.

                          You're just being silly.

                          In the end, reality always wins.

                          by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 10:01:00 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

      •  I don't buy that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OHdog
        "But what about how that gene interacts with the genes in the new organism !!!" you may ask.  Good question.  We already know that too, since all earth organisms share basically the same genes.
        By that logic, you'd let your dog chow down on dark chocolate, since humans are fine with it, and you'd drink methanol, because it doesn't harm laboratory rats. And your dog would be dead, and you'd be blind.

        Then there's epigenetics. As I understand it, GMO genes are basically shotgunned into the recipient's genome, so there's no control over where it ends up. Which means there could be a position effect. Or variable frequency of transcription of the new gene. Or partial transcription. Or different folding of the new protein, because of its different environment in a different organism.

        •  OK, so you don't know what (0+ / 0-)

          "regulatory" genes are, or "cellular mechanisms".

          Do you know that you share half of your genome with a banana?  Do you know WHY you share half your genome with a banana? Do you know the difference between the genes that you share with a banana and those that you don't?

          (sigh) The level of scientific illiteracy here is stunning.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 08:54:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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