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Sorry, my beloved lefty friends. I still love you but as a biologist/biochemist I can't hold it any longer. Many of your posts are well-intentioned but uninformed.

Labeling products as GMO only tells me the technique that was used to put the gene into the organism or get it out. It tells me nothing about what the gene does.

Yes, please do label GMOs. Then label it further to say what was done to modify the organism and why. The regulatory process should deal with these on a case-by-case basis, with consideration to the application, not a broad brush to ban the technique.

Why all the effort against the transgenic/knockout technique itself, which does some good (insulin production, getting rid of peanut allergens, reducing pesticide and herbicide use, etc.), when you could target the bad uses (putting Bacillus thuringiensis toxins into plant cells rather than an external application, for example)?

Some GMOs are health hazards, some are environmental hazards, some save our ass. Don't throw away the technology without regard to the benefits, while keeping an eye on the abuses.

Now pile on. I'll still love you.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the little lesson in GMO's, I knew none (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of this ohter than the knee jerk reaction to it on the part of my lefty people or so it seems to me.  Now at least I have the most rudimentary understanding of this technology.  Can you recommend a read on this subject for someone like me, I would not say science is my strong suit.

  •  You should write a diary about it (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crose, FG, armd, DrTerwilliker, blueoasis

    Oh, that was the diary?  Seriously, it's an interesting topic, I'd love to read more about it than this, especially by someone with some cred.  I'm open minded.

    You come at the king, you best not miss. -- Omar Little

    by Gator Keyfitz on Thu May 23, 2013 at 09:19:49 PM PDT

  •  I'd like to see an even fuller overview (7+ / 0-)

    of the subject if you've got the time and inclination. We've been hybridizing for new strains forever, and separating out variant strains to create new types of plants and animals for a very long time. As far as I can tell, the new processes simply make the process a lot shorter and a whole lot more patentable. Okay, and it opens up a whole new can of worms in the magnitude of variation it can produce.

    I'm never sure when I see the 'normal' reaction to gene modification whether I'm seeing a legitimate concern or simply a lack of foundational information about the process. If you can save me having to go back to the scientific literature to get a solid foundation, I wouldn't mind at all.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Thu May 23, 2013 at 10:13:18 PM PDT

  •  If you're interested, (10+ / 0-)

    awesomely-named diarist pat of butter in a sea of grits was kind enough to organize a debate between two of us over California's attempts to mandate GMO labeling back in October, and this in turn led to some good discussions in the comments.

    I'm on your side as far as this issue goes, but this diary isn't a particularly good way to raise the discussion as far as this site goes, and especially for a new user.  When it comes to issues like this, where the site has a more vocal anti-GMO sentiment than pro-, readers are going to prefer links, facts, and information that they can chew on and discuss.  They may not agree, but it'll give them more to work with than a well-meaning but not very substantial rant.

    The section on "good" versus "bad" types of genetic modification would make for an especially interesting discussion, if you could flesh it out more.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu May 23, 2013 at 10:16:19 PM PDT

    •  Thank you. I missed it when it first appeared. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, nomandates

      I've just read the diary and a part of the comments, and will go back to it later and go over it again. A very, very nice set of arguments, including the expansion in the comments.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu May 23, 2013 at 10:38:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  March Against Monsanto, May 25 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crose, VeggiElaine

    Don't listen to the corporate lapdogs.

    "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

    by Crider on Thu May 23, 2013 at 10:20:52 PM PDT

  •  The anti science left is strong here..... (9+ / 0-)

    I know a lot about GMOs and agriculture, and this site has had many many discussions with very professional folks like mem from somerville explaining things in detail over the last decade.  I have joined in with lots of facts and links as have others, so welcome to join in.

      Folks here appreciate all the possible medical breakthroughs but a vocal group embraces the fantasy that big pharma is repressing natural cures for all ailments, GMOs are killing the bees or causing autism etc.  The other night some diarist claimed Hershey Was patenting thousands of natural remedies.  No links, just that statement which I challenged.

    Labeling GMOs is a philosophy like the hormone free meat and milk labeling.  Most labeling increases the cost of food without any data that there are health benefits- it is political not biological.  GMO foods are resented because of corporations, even while big companies buy up organic foods labels and make billions on the reputation for everything being natural.  Honestly, if someone starts ranting on about Monsanto, I have ceased to even open and read, much less comment.

    This is complex and rooted in no small part in the excellent desire to remake the American diet to a healthier, more plant based diet.  There is a desire to promote more flavorful fruits and vegetables from local sources, more pesticide free gardening with animal fertilizers and kinder treatment of dairy and egg animals.  People want to eat better local food are willing to pay more for that, but aren't able to solve the problems of feeding the world.  Our country is a huge exporter of food and agriculture technology and there are lots of GMO research including biotech enhanced plant breeding for bacteria and virus resistance around the world.  The reaction GMO bad, Monsanto bad is not rooted in understanding of science of genetic engineering of plants and animals but in the desire to promote a healthier life style, with the difficulty being proving what is healthier.  Is gluten free a fad based on reality of celiac disease or quack remedies from folks diagnosing themselves as allergic to various foods.  Of course it is complex, with big food companies rushing to sell the latest diet fad like low carb or low fat.

    There are folks here who post informative series on basic science for folks, who seem to enjoy reading these link filled blogs- that is what earlier posters indicated upthread.  You might find that approach fore helpful than a rant.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Fri May 24, 2013 at 12:03:02 AM PDT

    •  Oh and welcome.... (5+ / 0-)

      there are lots of well educated folks here- I have a PhD in genetics, teach biotechnology at a university, and there are many others with excellent credentials.  Avoid lecturing too much and be aware the healthy diet folks have a lot to contribute to the conversation, even if it is anti GMO with little real science.  Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman for example want better diet and resent processed corporate food and big agriculture.  I think a lot of GMO politics is based on this vegan will save the world philosophy.  And as someone eating less processed, less animal based diet, I value their recipes.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Fri May 24, 2013 at 12:18:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  BTW, what ever happened to (0+ / 0-)

      mem from somerville? Last thing I see from her was a diary over a year ago.

      Sometimes truth is spoken from privilege and falsehood is spoken to power. Good intentions aren't enough.

      by ebohlman on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:39:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're completely wrong on economic grounds (7+ / 0-)

      Let's say for the sake of argument that gmo foods are perfectly harmless.

      Let's also assume that there are no health differences between yoghurt and cottage cheese.

      Why would we establish a rule that says a consumer isn't allowed to know whether the container he is buying on the dairy shelf is yoghurt or cottage cheese?

      Even if a person doesn't want to eat gmo foods purely on aesthetic grounds, under current economic theory he should have the information to do so.

      The reason there is opposition to labeling gmo foods is that in addition to the fact that some people have safety concerns, many people have aesthetic or ethical concerns.

      The fact that companies like Monsanto lobby against labeling shows that they really are trying to override consumer choice and force these foods down our throats which makes them not only deeply unethical, but violators of our fundamental economic rights as consumers.

      Another error you made has to do with "feeding the world":

      Our country is a huge exporter of food and agriculture technology and there are lots of GMO research including biotech enhanced plant breeding for bacteria and virus resistance around the world.
      I realize that people with scientific backgrounds become frustrated with scientific illiteracy, but people with economic backgrounds get frustrated with the even more staggering economic illiteracy of most scientists.

      People are not hungry around the world because they don't have gmo foods. American production and export of food does not contribute to food security in areas where there are the most hungry people; just the opposite, cheap American food has wiped out local farming (especially in West Africa) leading to greater hunger and food insecurity.

      By creating tighter monopolies on seeds, companies like Monsanto are going to radically increase hunger.

      By contrast, the greatest improvement in food production, the green revolution, was made possible by scientists at public institutions (like the International Rice Research Institute) that collected vast amounts of land race seeds, cross bred them, and made the improved seeds available.

      Monsanto may be a good science company, but it is, as even the most hysterical, anti-science critics say, economically evil.

      Most people are hungry for reasons completely unrelated to the gross quantity of food production. People are hungry because of social and economic relationships, like landlordism (Philippines, Central America), unemployment, food dumping by developed countries and the like.

      Exporting gmo food will predictably have zero positive economic benefit for agriculture in developing countries which is why, rationally, they are against it. It's ironic that so many otherwise bright people can't see this or even comprehend that when a minister of agriculture with a PhD in agricultural economics declines to accept gmo food such minister is being rational and not anti science. You might want to give such well educated economists the same benefit of the doubt that you would like people to give scientists.

      •  And not a single peer reviewed scientific (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Study to back up a single word of your nonsense.  Your post is a fact free zone.

      •  If you don't want to eat GMO foods, there are lots (0+ / 0-)

        to choose from.  Why should people who care not a whit pay more too?

        As for other countries, the USA isn't the only place with scientists capable of making a GMO crop.  Twenty-five years of GMO foods haven't solved the world's food problems, but in a world market we are still a big exporter of crops, not all to undeveloped countries, so acting like a thriving export business is food dumping also oversimplifies what happens.  I can't attribute evil to a corporation.  It is just doing what a corporation does, and the farmers willingly buy the seeds, making them hand in glove with seed and agrochemical companies.  I am not oversimplifying the economy, just not convinced it is anything but a political or economic choice for the most part, not a food safety issue.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Fri May 24, 2013 at 04:09:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fencing in/fencing out (0+ / 0-)

          That's completely illogical. We ask almost all food makers to list ingredients. We don't have as a norm that food is sold in boxes as generic "food" or "human chow" and then say some food companies can list ingredients if they like.

          It's like the classic economic problem of fencing in and fending out among farmers and livestock owners. A regulatory HAS to make a choice that livestock is either fenced in or fenced out, and that choice imposes a cost on one side or the other. It is incumbent on sellers of GMO food to label it as such, not on the makers of non-makers of GMO food to label it as such.

          And you can't separate an "economic issue" from what people spend their money on when they buy food. It's inherently an economic issue -- which can't be separated from the ethics of the corporation.

          There is no set of economic circumstances under today's conditions in which GMO food can reduce food insecurity.

          Many people without economics background make the mistake of believing that the "food problem" as you put it is about the amount of food the world produces.

          The world is drowning in overproduction of basic food stuffs. Price support programs cause it to be purchased, stored until it rots, dumped in the ocean, etc. Increasingly it's fed to animals.

          It's absurd to introduce a technology to produce more food. Any scientist who works on GMO plant science because he thinks that its value to mankind is to produce more food has wasted his entire life on a nonsensical and useless quest. He is a useful idiot to the biotech companies.

          Yet the economics is central to why corporations produce GMO food. It's not to increase the amount of food, especially not for the hungry.

          It's to increase the control of certain corporations over  patentable genetic property rights and therefore over the food supply.

          And no, farmers don't always have choices, especially once they experimentally buy into the regime of seed purchase rather than seed saving. It's often a one way choice that is almost impossible to reverse, and that will become more so in the future.

          •  hybrids prevent seed saving.... (0+ / 0-)

            from being practical.  The fight over hybrids is pretty much over, except in a few areas like cotton and soy with less use of hybrids.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Tue May 28, 2013 at 05:56:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Think beyond argumentum ad monsantum (0+ / 0-)

        It baffles me how people who consider themselves progressive can be so regressive when it comes to this issue.  It goes back to the hatred of corporations.  It’s really blinkered thinking.

        They have to be able to separate the tech from the company.

        Ironically, it's the stringent testing, regulations and prohibitive cost to get a gm crop approved that keeps it in the hands of corporations. They are the only ones who can afford to do it.

        And activists like Greenpeace fight against a beneficial gmo like Golden Rice even though it wasn't created by a corporation.

        Probably the biggest problem with the campaign against gmos is that progressives have thrown in their lot with the crackpots, frauds and charlatans. Their go-to guy is Jeffrey Smith, a yogic flying, dance teacher with no scientific credentials.

        Anti-gmo activists spend more time trying to discredit studies and scientists than they do looking to see if the science they are trying to discredit is sound.

        Even if a scientist has industry ties, that doesn't automatically make his/her science bad. Even if it does make you suspicious, check out the actual science instead of trying to find ways to discredit them.

        I find it incredible that anti-gmo folks see being an expert in the field as a negative rather than a positive.

        •  Really? (0+ / 0-)
          Ironically, it's the stringent testing, regulations and prohibitive cost to get a gm crop approved that keeps it in the hands of corporations. They are the only ones who can afford to do it.
          Fighting disclosure and regulation is not something Monsanto is doing because it wants to open up the field to its competitors.

          Are you advocating that we NOT ask for stringent testing and regulations before we allow Monsanto to control the world's food supply because....they are the only one to afford it?? And if they have to label stuff and go through testing they might not take over the world's food supply after all?

          Or are you saying that corporate competition over the world's food supply is a greater good than making sure that corporations are not doing any long term harm to our food supply?

          You've convinced me. Let's regulate and test the hell out of anything GM.

  •  Sorry, we need to close Gitmo NOW! (0+ / 0-)

    Oh ... never mind!

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Fri May 24, 2013 at 01:27:59 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, now a question (5+ / 0-)

    I think you kind of answered this but what are the GMOs to avoid? I've thought that products with corn and soy should be avoided because they are modified to tolerate increased application of Round Up. CW would suggest that increased pesticide residue would follow its way into the food. For example, I've been preaching to my daughter to avoid baby formula, for my prescious grand daughter, that has 'GMOS'. So what's the truth here? Have I been an idiot? I'm really interested in knowing more about this.

    •  They just raised the limit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the oklahoma kid, VeggiElaine

      on how much glyphosate (RoundUp) residue can be on your food. Quite similar to how the Japanese government has dealt with the horrendous radiological disaster of mass meltdown/blowups at Fukushima. Raise the allowable limit on radiation exposure and the problem goes away!

      Of course, raising the dose limit for infants and children to a level of exposure higher than most nations allow for nuclear workers will tend to make the children go away too, but that's apparently okay with the Japanese. Just as poisoning all American citizens with pesticides, herbicides and plain old arsenic is apparently okay with the U.S. government.

      So long as nobody looks behind the curtain at the fact that the cafeteria at Monsanto headquarters is forbidden to serve any GMO foods, it'll all be fine. Right?

    •  You got me curious, so I went looking - (3+ / 0-)

      teh Google is my friend, and I distrusted my initial reaction, which was to pooh-pooh your worries.

      A partial answer for you - the modifications for corn and soybeans mostly let them need less pesticide while they're growing, so that particular problem probably isn't one. The primary problem is that there seem to be new allergies cropping up related to some of the new variants. Whether there are actually negative effects probably won't be known for several generations, simply because of the incredible level of potential interactions that are going to have to be tested.

      The positive side of this is that, from a cursory search, Gerber and Nestle both seem to have adopted a non-GMO policy for babyfood. I say seem to, because I did a fairly simple search.  I used gmo in baby food as my search terms, and skipped over the OMG-bad! sites to look for balanced presentations. This page at WebMD was one of the clearer links I found.

      Hope this helps until someone with more knowledge gets back to you.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Fri May 24, 2013 at 08:20:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are confusing the specific (3+ / 0-)

        gene segments inserted into the GMO cultivar, as well as confusing the difference between an herbicide and a pesticide.

        The original Monsanto patented GMO cultivars of corn and soy were called "RoundUp Ready" because they'd been given genes from unrelated plants (very tough weeds) that Monsanto's RoundUp herbicide could not kill. IOW, they were "glyphosate resistant." This served to make the corn and soy crops similarly resistant to RoundUp, so farmers could spray more roundup on the fields for a longer period of time - repeat applications to kill the weeds, the crop was resistant. This means there's more herbicide residue on the food, so FDA raised the limit to allow us to consume more RoundUp. Hoping that we too are "RoundUp Ready." Glyphosate is a toxic chemical substance.

        The insertion of Bt genes from soil bacteria into crop cultivars serves to make the plants express bacterial toxins in every cell (roots, stems, leaves, fruit, pollen, seeds). If the field's crop is being attacked by an insect pest sensitive to the bacterial toxin(s), the plant it's eating will kill it. So the farmer doesn't have to spray pesticides on the crop - the crop IS the pesticide. Humans have never ingested these toxins in the entirety of our evolutionary history (no reptile, amphibian or mammal digestive systems produce enzymes that dissolve the bacterial spores and energize the released bacteria to produce the toxin), so nobody knows what will happen long term from us consuming so much of these raw toxins.

        Seems to me that individuals who don't wish to serve as guinea pigs for Monsanto, et al. in long term feeding trials should have the easy ability to avoid GMO foods. And the easiest way to avoid GMO foods is to be able to read on the label whether or not the food contains GMOs. Monsanto, et al. absolutely do not want to give anybody that choice.

        •  Thanks for the information. I do appreciate it. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          the oklahoma kid, Joieau

          That said, I can't say that "GMO" should be used as a pejorative on an overall basis. It strikes me that labeling foods as containing "vitamins" or "minerals" would be the equivalent to only saying GMO.  There needs to be a vocabulary developed that would let the specific genetic changes/primary areas of effect be called out, the same way you'd specify iron, magnesium, fats, etc.

          Possibly the ingredient listings might include designated cultivars used - specifying different types of wheat, for instance.  My only objection would be that the people who make magnifying glasses would suddenly get a lot richer.

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Fri May 24, 2013 at 10:44:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, I have to take reading glasses (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            to the grocery store these days, don't want to have to bring a magnifying glass.

            A few years ago I read about a scheme somewhere to just include "genetically modified soy" or corn, or tomatoes, or potatoes, or whatever on the ingredients list. Which helpfully comes in order of appearance (most first, least last). There's a separate list for vitamins, minerals and the fats/protein/carb chart. So just add another list for the GMOs, with numbers to designate which variety. You could punch these into a cell phone sized handy dandy accessory and it would display the details of that cultivar. Or use your iPad or smart phone.

            People who care (like me) would definitely use the technology. Most people would not, any more than most people read labels in the first place. I doubt it would cut significantly into any biotech gigacorp's profit margin.

      •  Your post makes me sad inside (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Please get your information from PEER REVIEWED scientific journals

  •  Thanks for the good welcome, all. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates, freerad, nanoboy

    As a long time lurker, first time diarist I appreciate everyone's input. I am frightfully short on time lately but will try to expand on this in the future. I just had to get this out last night.

    The patent protection and global economic issue are related topics that concern me, but I will limit myself to the science.

    Frustrating as it is to see the far left and far right both so anti-science, it does astound me that there are areas where common ground can be found, however misguided.

    •  Glad you took the plunge, aFlyoverPerson. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The advice in many of the comments above is excellent, but if you're like me when I first posted a diary here, you need to learn how to post links and blockquotes. Feel free to send a message (kosmail) if you have any questions.

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

      by nomandates on Fri May 24, 2013 at 05:38:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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