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In my last diary, I was attempting to answer the objections of the GMO labeling opposition.  Based on the comments made, I could have done a better job of defining my subject and emphasizing the issue of labeling.  Hopefully I can do that with this diary.

First of all, what are GMOs?  You intellectual purists out there will object to my source.  So, provide a better source with a different definition.  According to Wikipedia,

"Genetic engineering (GE), also called genetic modification, is.....the changing of an organism's genome using biotechnology. These methods are recent discoveries…An organism that is altered by genetic engineering is a genetically modified organism (GMO)… The first GMOs were bacteria in 1973..."  
(http://en.wikipedia.org/...)

      According to www.dictionary.reference.com/browse/, "A GMO is an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there."  The World Health Organization defines GMO as "organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally."

 GMO s are NOT the result of cross pollination or hybridization, which have been around a lot longer than GE.

                                SOME EXAMPLES OF GE
     According to the USDA the production of genetically engineered (GE) crops such as cotton, soy beans, and corn has increased dramatically in this country since 1996.  In 2013, 76-85% of corn, 75-82% of cotton, and 93% of soybeans grown in the country were GMOs.  The Obama Administration has approved the unrestricted growing of genetically engineered alfalfa.  Herbicide-tolerant crops are those that are genetically engineered to survive the effects of herbicides that kill weeds and which are strong enough to kill the crop as well except for the genetic modification.   The corn, cotton, and soybean GE crops referred to above include herbicide tolerant varieties.  The corn and cotton GE crops also include insect-resistant varieties.  These crops contain a gene from soil bacteria which produces a protein that is toxic to specific insect pests.

      GMO Yellow Crookneck Squash and Zucchini contain protein genes that protect against viruses
.
       

"To increase the quantity of milk produced, cows are often given rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), which is also banned in the European Union, as well as in Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Australia." (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...)
 
    GMOs are used to produce non-food products, as well.  Cotton, of course. (But cottonseed oil is an ingredient in many processed foods.) Thanks to LibDemFop I now know about cats that are modified to glow in the dark and multi-colored, glow-in-the-dark aquarium fish.  

                                           WHY?
        Why would anyone want to manipulate genes?  The short answer is money.  There is money to be made selling Genetically Engineered products.  Monsanto, the largest manufacturer of Genetically Engineered products, earned almost $1.5 billion dollars in the three months ending on February 13, 2013.
      The "official" reason for genetically altering the food supply is to save people in third world countries from starving, to lower food costs, to save water, to increase crop productivity.  
       So why are some of us opposed to GMOs?  Some people believe food consumption of GMOs can and/or has made some people ill.  Some people think gene manipulation is contrary to God's will.  Some think GMOs threaten the quality of the environment.  Some fear that GMO crops will make the world's overpopulation crisis worse.  Some people don't like being treated as human guinea pigs.
       I think, regardless of these objections, that GMOs are here to stay. Even if some new disaster arises that affects the majority of people, it would probably be extremely difficult if not impossible to scientifically prove that specific GMOs were the cause.
       Are GMOs absolutely necessary?  In my opinion, no. (I just read the nation of Bhutan has decided to go 100% organic.)  The alternative, however, would require a massive shift to humans living in harmony with Nature, which those in power in this country would not favor.  I can't imagine how the American Upper Class would survive such a shift.  

                                GMOs and the LAW
       Comments by Roger Fox referred to an article in the August, 2009 issue of Scientific American (http://www.scientificamerican.com/...) which explains that big agrotech companies such as Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta require the purchasers of genetically modified seeds to sign an agreement that prohibits the seeds from being used for independent research.  

"Under the threat of litigation, scientists cannot test a seed to explore the different conditions under which it thrives or fails. They cannot compare seeds from one company against those from another company. And perhaps most important, they cannot examine whether the genetically modified crops lead to unintended environmental side effects."
 From the companies' viewpoint such measures are necessary to protect intellectual property, and they certainly don't want anyone else producing and selling "knock-offs".
      According to this article, research on genetically engineered seeds, presumably supplied to scientists by the seed companies, has been published.  But only those studies approved by the seed companies are published in peer-reviewed journals.  I suspect that the researchers are required to agree not to publish their studies without company approval. If there are any such researchers who are reading this but who are not seed company employees, please enlighten us as to what the procedure is.
    This alleged suppression of non-flattering research findings may be related to the following incident.  There was a congressional budget bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in March, 2013.  In an article entitled "Critics Slam Obama For 'Protecting' Monsanto" by Lindsey Boerma, CBS News (March 28, 2013) (http://www.cbsnews.com/...), it was reported that a provision was surreptitiously included in that bill which
"protects genetically modified seeds from litigation suits over health risks posed by the crops' consumption."
That should have read "protects the manufacturer" (one of which is Monsanto).  If Monsanto is so convinced that GMOs are safe, I can't help wondering why they would be worried about losing law suits.  In their defense, it is costly even for a multi-billion dollar international corporation to defend itself in court.  On the other hand, I can't imagine Congress taking away the right of American citizens to sue car companies that decide to suppress information about safety defects rather than issuing prompt recalls.  
     Monsanto does not want people to sue it, but it is not shy about suing farmers for patent infringement.  According to its own website (http://www.monsanto.com/...), Monsanto has filed lawsuits against American farmers 145 times since 1997.  These suits are prompted by farmers who save seed from GMO crops they have grown in order to plant the seed next season.   Monsanto claims it "catches" most violators as a result of other neighboring farmers reporting the GMO seed savers.  It seems to me that if a farmer discontinues buying Monsanto seed each year, all Monsanto needs to do is send investigators onto the farmer's property to get a crop sample which will be analyzed to see if it is a Monsanto GMO.  This is not limited to the farmers who buy the GMO seeds directly.  The Monsanto GMO pollen can be carried by the wind to neighboring farms who don't want to grow GMO crops.  When Monsanto has found GMO crops grown from the seed these farmers have saved and subsequently planted, Monsanto has pursued legal damages from them, as well.
      The Grocery Manufacturers Association has introduced a bill (HR 4432) in Congress that would block states from enacting GE food labeling laws.  It would give the FDA the exclusive power to decide if a GE food should be labeled.  If the FDA deems the product safe, the manufacturer will not have to label it as a GMO (http://beta.congress.gov/...).  If it isn’t safe, it seems to me the FDA would not allow it to be sold.  In effect, this law will prevent GMO labeling in the U.S.
      Sixty-four countries, including members of the European Union, "enforce consumer 'right to know laws for GE foods" according to the Center for Food Safety    (http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/... international-labeling-laws).

                                          LABELING
       The question I am posing is a simple one.  It is not whether or not some GE food is safe and other GE food not safe.  It is not whether God intended for man to manipulate genomes.  It is not whether GMO foods are "natural" or not.  It is not whether or not GMO crops in third world countries will worsen the overpopulation crisis.  It is not whether or not Rodeo Roundup is responsible for "Superweeds" or whether it is responsible for a 90% decrease in the population of monarch butterflies.  These are all worthy questions, but for me, the issue is should people have a right to know if the food they are eating contains GMOs or has been produced through means of genetic engineering?
        According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) spent about $68 million just to defeat GMO ballot initiatives in California (Prop 37) and Washington State (I-522).  They tried the same thing in Vermont but failed.  I have read that the GMA plans on challenging the Vermont law in court. Or they may just wait to see if HR 4432 passes.
        I will compare this issue to skydiving.  An imperfect analogy but the best I've got at the moment. Some people are not meant to skydive.  They may have an intuition about it.  Sky-diving enthusiasts will never understand those people.  They will insist that anyone's chances of landing safely are 99.5% or whatever.  If I were to force people who are not meant to skydive, to do it because the danger is miniscule, I would be violating their basic rights.  
       Coercing people into eating food whose genes have been artificially manipulated by banning mandatory GMO labeling is abusive and a violation of human rights.
       I would feel the same way about the FDA approving the adding of sawdust from rare tropical forest trees to processed foods as a fiber supplement.  Even if the FDA deemed it safe to eat, I would remain morally bound to boycott that food.  I could not do that if the food containing the offensive ingredient was not labeled as such.  People who don't care, have a right not to know what is in the food they eat.  All they have to do is not listen to the information and not read food labels.  People who do care should likewise have the right to know what the food they eat contains.  If you care, take the OCA pledge to boycott products manufactured by those companies opposing mandatory GMO labeling in the United States.
     For some problems there is a scientific solution.  There is also a sensible solution.  They aren't always the same.                                                        rgantibully

 

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Comment Preferences

  •  Unless there is a difference to human health (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yoshimi

    and to date no such difference has been observed, why label?

    There are SO many other agricultural practices that really DO threaten human health that we are ignoring. Like feeding antibiotics to domestic livestock. Or unhealthy slaughterhouses. Or eggs from sick hens. Or arsenic in rice grown in land that used to be used for cotton.

    And we are putting so much energy into labeling GMOs?

    •  some people would prefer to avoid for now (4+ / 0-)

      so why not label?

      Dear NSA: I am only joking.

      by Shahryar on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 12:11:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  charliehall2 (3+ / 0-)

      I think you are missing the point.  I am not claiming GMOs are harmful to human health.  Nor am I saying they aren't.  I doubt anyone but Goddess knows for sure at this point.  I am saying consumers  should have the right to know if the meat they are eating has been fed antibiotics or comes from unhealthy  slaughterhouses.  Consumers should have a right to know if the eggs they are eating came from sick chickens and if rice they are purchasing contains arsenic.  Some people would opt to eat this stuff anyway.  But they should still have the right to know.   Same goes for GMOs.  Nor is health the only reason a person may not want to consume GMOs.   Since when is health the only consideration when deciding what to put on a label?  I, personally like to know what is in the can before I open it.

    •  Here's Why On Arsenic In Rice (4+ / 0-)

      Cotton is a crop that's heavily sprayed with pesticides.

      From : livingsafe.com

      It seems we humans have once again inadvertently poisoned ourselves.  Inorganic arsenic is [...] a common component in pesticides and fungicides, wood treatment chemicals, fire retardants and more. This type of inorganic arsenic that we produce, use and then wash away, remains in our soils, rivers and oceans and therefore as rice is grown in water-logged rice paddies and is especially adept at retaining arsenic...

      Social justice is part of the implication of loving thy neighbor. - Frances Perkins

      by paz3 on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 12:42:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Because labeling is the least we should be doing (7+ / 0-)

      I reject your premise that no human health problems can be linked to GMO's. Mental health is also a factor. Many people have died because of the economic monopolies created by these GM crops. Farmer suicide has become a major problem in India and other nations because of the loss of their livelihoods created by the debt that the farmers could not pay because the massive harvests promised by these liars at Monsanto did not happen.

      Just because Monsanto and the other food monopolists have been successful so far in keeping any direct health problems created by GM crops out of public view it doesn't necessarily follow that there are not real health problems being created. Lives have be destroyed and personally I don't want to support the monopolization of our food. Labeling empowers people like me to be able avoid GMO's if we wish and we should be allowed to have access to that information.

      Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

      by RMForbes on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 12:46:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lets do some real research first (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i saw an old tree today

      But Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta wont let that happen.

      SO the open source scientific community has no idea if these GMO products are harmful to humans.

      .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 01:24:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Roger Fox (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        Independent research would be a good idea, especially before new technologies are marketed.  But I personally wouldn't care if the independent research linked GMOs  to a rise in rates of cancer, allergies, and autism or ruled the GMOs out completely as possible factors.  I should stilll have the right to avoid foods containing GMOs.  That being impossible where I live, I choose to boycott the companies that want to deprive me of my right to know.

    •  Since the observation hasn't occured (0+ / 0-)
      to date no such difference has been observed
      That quote has no has no bearing on reality. Scientists arent allowed to observe ( conduct Research) without signing an end user agreement which prohibits any result not approved by the proprietary corporation being published or publicly discussed.

      .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 05:55:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tags are comma separated. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox
  •  Yes To GE Labeling! (6+ / 0-)

    I am not against the manufacture of all genetically engineered seeds, but I adamantly oppose the lack of labeling of any and all genetically engineered (GE) plant products that allow for the application of herbicides without any damage to the GE plant. Same with plants that contain 'pesticides.' The accumulation of these herbicides and pesticides in the food plants thus produced is established.

    At this time, no long-term peer-reviewed studies on the effects of the accumulation of, say, the herbicide glyphosate in human tissues, from infanthood to aged, have been conducted and published.

    Please remember that after testing, DDT was regarded as safe for a long time.

    Now we find, many years after the fact, that organic solvents  increase the risk of breast cancer. The "T" in DDT is trichlorethylene, an organic solvent.

    Greed, in this case represented by the ongoing push for profit by firms who manufacture GE crops, is not a taskmaster to be trusted.

    Ultimately, if GE labeling becomes required, the firms (mainly Monsanto and Syngenta) who have all these patents on GE products will suffer short-term profit loss, no doubt, but you can bet that they will find other ways to thrive over time.

    Social justice is part of the implication of loving thy neighbor. - Frances Perkins

    by paz3 on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 12:22:03 PM PDT

  •   Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta (3+ / 0-)

    Don't allow independent researchers assess to their GMO seeds, no one is allowed to get their hands on GMO seeds without signing a very restrictive end user agreement.

    The odds of a non flattering paper being published in a quality peer reviewed journal are nil.

    Here in the US we are not allowed to to research these seeds in an open and transparent manner.

    .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 01:21:55 PM PDT

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