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[P]
GM, let's roll the dice ...

By craigtubby in Op-Ed
Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 09:41:31 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

A public consultation and a three year trial seems set to keep Genetically Modified foods from the shores of the UK, and probably the rest of the EU as well. Of course, Monsanto, being the responsible company that they are, have decided to wind down their operations in the UK and other EU countries, including their non GM businesses.


The public consultation results generally showed that the UK public was sceptical over the benefits, and they felt they didn't know enough. One conclusion of the report was interesting, that the more people looked into GM technologies, the more uneasy they became. Also it seemed the general public were not unconditionally against GM crops, with the report stating, "GM crop technology should not go ahead without further trials and tests, firm regulation, demonstrated benefits to society (not just for producers) and, above all, clear and trusted answers to unresolved questions about health and the environment."

The field study itself cost 6 million UK pounds and took three years to complete, and found what some people suspected - GM foods are more harmful to many groups of wildlife than their non GM counterparts.

Of the three crops trialed, maize, oil seed rape (made by German company Bayer Cropscience) and a type of sugar beet (made by Monsanto), two were found to be more harmful to many groups of wildlife than the normal crop, with the summery of the report (large PDF) stating, "Growing GM beet and spring rape on a large-scale may disadvantage wildlife, particularly farmland birds, bees and butterflies. Fewer weeds may mean substantially fewer seeds important in the diets of some birds, especially breeding and wintering birds. Fewer flowering weeds also mean less nectar for bees and butterflies, especially in the GM spring rape fields."

The third, maize was found to be no more harmful than the traditional crop. A light at the end of the tunnel, then for GM? Well, the normal maize that the GM maize was tested against, was sprayed with a herbicide that has now been banned by the EU as being too harmful to humans and the environment. So really it shows that GM Maize is less harmful than a banned herbicide.

These trials in themselves didn't test the effects of GM crops on human health, nor their ability to cross pollinate wild relatives. But just days before these results were published, another study showed that cross pollination between normal oilseed rape and its wild relatives does happen and was concluded, "We infer that widespread, relatively frequent hybrid formation is inevitable from male-fertile GM rapeseed in the UK... the substantial numbers of predicted long-range hybrids means physical isolation would tend only to suppress rather than prevent hybrid formation."

Of course, that bastion of environmental protection, Greenpeace, also put it's two pence worth in with their executive Stephen Tindale quoted by the BBC as saying, "The real comparison should be between GM and organic agriculture. But organic is so obviously better for the environment that the GM industry refused point blank to have this included in the trials." Greenpeace also said that the GM corporations were wrong when they claimed herbicide-tolerant plants could have biodiversity benefits through a reduction in the use of agrochemicals.

Dr Paul Rylott, of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council has said on their website, "These results confirm what industry has long argued. The flexibility of GM crops allows them to be grown in a way that benefits the environment."

He continued, again from the ABC website "Activist groups claim that GM crops were in effect 'green concrete' and would 'wipe out' wildlife. These studies show that this sort of scaremongering is not supported by the evidence. On the contrary - this evidence shows that GM crops are more flexible and can enhance biodiversity."

The EU itself isn't particularly tolerant of the GM food companies, the European Environment Commissioner reported by the Independent as saying that GM companies tried to lie over GM crops, that they were not trying to solve the starvation of the world as they claimed, but to solve starvation amongst their shareholders.

Where does this leave GM crops? Well, until more studies have been done, it looks like they won't be grown in the UK and EU for quite some time.

I will leave the last words of wisdom, from this BBC article, to Dr Firbank, the head of the research team :

"The results of these Farm-Scale Evaluations reveal significant differences in the effect on biodiversity when managing genetically herbicide-tolerant crops as compared to conventional varieties."

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Poll
Are you bothered about GM food?
o Nah, not at all. 40%
o It makes the cows fatter. 2%
o Whats this stuff? 2%
o Hey, DDT was perfectly safe too. 39%
o It burns, it burns, I'm melting..... 14%

Votes: 109
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o public consultation
o Monsanto
o wind down their operations
o public consultation results
o field study
o Bayer Cropscience
o summery of the report (large PDF)
o harmful to humans and the environment
o another study
o cross pollination
o Greenpeace
o Agricultur al Biotechnology Council
o their website
o tried to lie over GM crops
o BBC article
o Also by craigtubby


Display: Sort:
GM, let's roll the dice ... | 241 comments (182 topical, 59 editorial, 0 hidden)
Is organic farming *really* better? (2.62 / 8) (#10)
by gordonjcp on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 09:54:11 AM EST

Consider this - modern intensive farming methods use synthetic, often petrochemical-derived fertilisers and herbicides. However, this produces a massive yield of crops for a given area.

Organic farming tends to the extensive model, rather than intensive. This means that although you use natural fertilisers (which is why you should *never* *ever* eat raw organic vegetables), which do cause less damage to the environment, you need a vast amount of arable land to get the same yield as you would with intensive farming methods.

However, organically-produced meat is far, far better than meat from intensively farmed animals, so I suppose it balances.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


Raw organic veggies (none / 5) (#19)
by Noodle on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 11:49:32 AM EST

I don't think that organic produce really needs extra-special treatment. Sure, it might have a little more bacteria and bugs than produce that's been treated with petrochemicals, but I doubt the difference is significant. It's not like the petrochemical shit is good for you, either.

{The Nefarious Noodle}
[ Parent ]

Yeah, but.... (none / 3) (#22)
by gordonjcp on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 12:02:30 PM EST

... I mean, you know what organic fertiliser *is*, right? I've shovelled *tons* of the stuff before now, and do you know what? I blanche my carrots before eating them. Boiling water (already boiling, don't put veggies in water and bring it to the boil, that's how you end up with mushy flavourless crap), drop 'em in for 30 seconds or so, then take them out quickly. Lovely.

Otherwise it's, well, it's just... eeeew.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Organic Fertilizer (2.83 / 6) (#23)
by achtanelion on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 12:23:36 PM EST

Organic fertilizer, for those not already in the know, is shit.  Usually a nice mixture of cowshit for most macronutrients, horseshit for loft, and sheepshit for nitrates.  Chickenshit is also a great source of nitrates and may be used in stead of or in addition to sheepshit.  

The same bugs and germs that are attracted to the nutrients in shit based ferilizer are attracted to the nutrients in petrochemical fertilizer.  If you're going to paranoidly blanch all your organically grown veggies, you might as well do the same for your factory farmed stuff.  The only difference is the added toxins (poesticides, herbicides) in factory farmed stuff.

[ Parent ]

I do only eat organically grown veg. (none / 2) (#31)
by gordonjcp on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 01:35:22 PM EST

Homegrown, for preference. Same with meat. I avoid buying anything I can grow.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
The toxins kill the bacteria tho (none / 1) (#79)
by LilDebbie on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 07:01:06 PM EST

That's the point! Whereas they just grow as they like in shit.

I would like to thank you for your explanation on the distinctions between different kinds of shit and their applications in farming, very informative.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Not bloody likely (none / 0) (#228)
by fenix down on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 12:45:04 PM EST

Yes, it's probably true that pesticides can kill some bacteria, but not enough that it means anything. Pesticides kill bugs, herbacides kill plants. Neither of those is going to kill single-celled organisms with any reliability.

[ Parent ]
Agreed (none / 0) (#237)
by I Robot on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 06:02:19 PM EST

In point of fact, bacteria eat pesticides in the compost and, to a lesser extent, in the soil.

http://www.weblife.org/humanure/default.html

Most people have been sold such a bill of goods about their food supply that they no longer have even the simplest of clues about it.

Grow your own sometime. Taste the reality.

[ Parent ]

You guys are terminally crazy (none / 0) (#236)
by I Robot on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 05:57:49 PM EST

You talk about organic fertilizer as if you had a clue and you clearly do not.

Your post, achtanelion, displays a particularly great depth of ignorance. But don't let that keep you from posting ... it hasn't held you back so far.

Manure (from a WIDE variety of animals, including homo sapiens) isn't even a primary constituent of organic fertilizer. It is one, and only one, possibility from a list of literally hundreds of possible organic inputs that include a wide variety of strictly vegetative materials, carcasses / carcass parts, rock powders, herb and compost teas, and yes, barnyard, stockyard and human manures.

Moreover, organic agriculture does not preclude any and all pesticides / fungicides. Read up on it ... I am not defenseless against such things ... not by a long shot.

I used Bt once this year. I treated for slugs (with raw caffeine) once this year. I set a trap for the Japanese beetles (and only caught 3). Everything else, my garden handled for me because I have the necessary biological diversity in my soil.

I have gardened organically for many years and get incredible yields (using intensive methods). I have never yet used manure because I garden in the city and manure is not a good choice for city gardening.

Not because of aroma or pests, but because it simply isn't available in large enough quantities to bother with.

There is NO health reason to avoid animal manures. Google for 'humanure' and get yourself a clue or two.

I'm flaming you because you are such an easy target that I simply can't resist. You did NOT research your posting and you do NOT know what you are talking about from experience. You DESERVE to be slow roasted for spreading such FUD about organic methods.

[ Parent ]

Growing organic food... (none / 0) (#240)
by ckaminski on Fri Oct 24, 2003 at 09:04:32 AM EST

For years I have grown food fertilized with a mix of cow, horse, pig and chicken shit.  They key is to let it sit for a period of time (6 months to a year) before spreading it on your garden.

I have never stopped to cook the fresh corn, fresh peppers and cucumbers out of my shit-fertilized garden, and I'm a ripe 27 yo computer geek.

You sir, are destroying the good flavor of said veggies.  You'd be better off stir-frying them!

:-)

[ Parent ]

Interesting Interpretation (2.82 / 17) (#11)
by RyoCokey on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 09:56:07 AM EST

The study said the GM crops "Harmed the environment" because the fields were less diverse and supported less life, which was almost entirely because there were less weeds in GM crops. So we're to understand that GM crops have damaged the environment by fulfilling their essential function?

This 3 year test, which additionally didn't include wider environmental gains by less insecticide run-off, didn't come up with any environmental downsides to the wider area, just the crop bed in general.

So in short, GM products are actually less dangerous than a more effective fertilizer? It seems this report got some serious spin attached to it, that people claim it shows GM plants to be "worse for the environment."



farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
Huh? (none / 3) (#13)
by whazat on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 11:12:59 AM EST

Why do you think there would be less insecticide run off when they were herbecide tolerant plants?

Personally I don't care if GM crops are grown, as long as they are labelled as such and they don't interfere with farmers that want to grow organic crops.


[ Parent ]

Habitat destruction (none / 2) (#26)
by RyoCokey on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 12:37:33 PM EST

Without weeds, the number of insects and other species in the field decreases, i.e. less pesticides. Additionally, many GM crops are designed to require less pesticide (PDF) than conventional crops.

Herbicide runoff would also be reduced.



farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
[
Parent ]
Would like to see some numbers (none / 1) (#33)
by whazat on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 01:51:02 PM EST

On how herbicide resistant GM reduces insecticide use. Because I sure as hell can't find them. Oh and current insecticide resistant crops aren't that useful in the UK which is why they weren't studied. As to reducing herbicide run off. There are conflicting stories in different parts of the world with different crops.

[ Parent ]
Round-up ready and insecticide (none / 1) (#65)
by RyoCokey on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 05:32:25 PM EST

This farmer was able to completely phase out soil insecticides while others are able to use GM products to achieve no-till farming which results in a decrease of both pesticide and insecticide use.

As for the story mentioned, the increased herbicide use was sporatic, and was linked to Bt crops, not the ones in question.



farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
[
Parent ]
But was it used here? (none / 2) (#83)
by whazat on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 07:57:26 PM EST

Your statements suggest that all GM crops would have less fertiliser and insecticide use.

You haven't shown that these trials would use no-till methodology. Or that it is suitable for our climate and weeds or crops.

The link in my previous point begs to differ about herbicide use. To quote

"Slightly more pounds of herbicides are applied on the average acre of Roundup-Ready (RR) soybeans compared to the average acre planted to conventional soybean varieties.

Fewer herbicide active ingredients are applied on the average acre of RR soybeans relative to the average conventional acre.

Average per acre pounds of herbicide applied on RR soybeans exceeds by 2- to 10-fold herbicide use on the approximate 30% of soybean acres where farmers depend largely on low-dose imidazolinone and sulfonylurea herbicides.

Herbicide use on RR soybean acres is gradually rising as a result of weed shifts, late-season weed escapes leading to a buildup in weed seedbanks, and the loss of susceptibility to glyphosate in some weed species (Hartzler, 1999; HRAC, 2001)."

This is roundup ready soya not Bt crops.  How this would compare to the herbicide resistant crops used in the study I don't know.

[ Parent ]

Tangent (none / 1) (#85)
by RyoCokey on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 08:35:23 PM EST

From my original post:

This 3 year test, which additionally didn't include wider environmental gains by less insecticide run-off

I'm saying that the study didn't include wider impacts on the environment (such as reduced chemical use) but instead focuses solely on the ecosystem within the field.

You haven't shown that these trials would use no-till methodology. Or that it is suitable for our climate and weeds or crops.

You're speaking as if I was focusing on the trial itself. I'm just saying that I don't think this study has given GM crops a comprehensive and thorough look.

farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
[
Parent ]

That I have no problem with that (none / 2) (#87)
by whazat on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 09:10:44 PM EST

I agree with you these tests aren't comprehensive.

My only problem with your posts was your language in suggesting what the outcomes of the other tests might have been.

For example

"This 3 year test, which additionally didn't include wider environmental gains by less insecticide run-off, didn't come up with any environmental downsides to the wider area, just the crop bed in general."

Wouldn't have caught my attention if the bit in bold had been something more along these lines.

This 3 year test was flawed, because it didn't include wider environmental affects. For example no-till agriculture can reduce the amount of herbicide and pesticide used.

This does not prejudge what the further study will actually reveal.

However having said that to do a "comprehensive study" on environmental affects would be ludricously expensive (numerous different habitats to analyse the impact on). There is also the question of how you balance the different environments, is losing the butterflies in the wheat fields worth saving the tadpoles in the river?

So the question is how much testing is enough (with different crops in different climates and different soils) to determine whether GM is bad for the environment or not?

Our pro-GM government decided that these would be enough for the UK, so this is the evidence we have to work with. Not ideal, but then when is the evidence ideal?

[ Parent ]
Ok, my mistake (none / 1) (#91)
by RyoCokey on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 11:06:10 PM EST

Your rephrasing was what I was trying to convey. Personally, from what I've seen of the report, I think it lends support to approving GM foods. The downsides it seems to reveal (Less biodiversity within fields) seem minor to me, while more glaring is what's absent (I.e. no evidence fields do lasting damage to environment, etc.)

GM foods have been consumed in the US since 1992 without adverse affects, I don't see why the UK feels it necessary to run even more tests. Approve them, and if no one wants to buy them, then that's that. No one is going to plant a product they can't sell.



farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
[
Parent ]
Apparently (none / 1) (#96)
by spasticfraggle on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 03:15:58 AM EST

GM foods have been consumed in the US since 1992 without adverse affects,

Without apparent adverse effects perhaps. The ghost of BSE will take a long time to die in Europe. Moo! ^_^

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

reduced biodiversity (none / 1) (#199)
by TomV on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 06:10:32 AM EST

The downsides it seems to reveal (Less biodiversity within fields) seem minor to me,

One problem for the government here is that these trials showed a distinct reduction in songbird populations and the government only recently made songbird populations one of its chosen key Quality-of-Life indicators, making it difficult for them to claim that it's an irrelevance in the decision on permitting GM crops.

It's pretty clear from the initial reactions when the supermarkets first introduced GM products here that, as you say, they wouldn't sell. Except that there seems to be a huge reluctance to ensure that GM products are labelled as such, in the absence of which, consumer choice is a mirage. Plus the difficulties for anyone who is currently running an organic farm within contamination range of a GM field - who is going to pay compensation if these farmers are forced out of their chosen legitimate business by loss of their organic certification due to contamination from nearby fields? Also the US doesn't have the same history of government lies about agriculture, most notably w.r.t. BSE, hence the Cabinet Office report suggesting that introducing unlabelled GM foods could leads to serious civil unrest (not my speculation, the Cabinet Office's findings). It's not that we don't entirely trust our government about food and farming, it's that we entirely don't trust them, at all, because of their past stupidity.



[ Parent ]
Meaningless distinction (none / 0) (#203)
by RyoCokey on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 01:14:38 PM EST

A huge number of crops are already GM, especially if you use a wide definition of the term. To put labels on such food would be meaningless, as virtually all food (In the US and Canada) would be considered GM. Labels aren't currently required because the end product isn't different in any discernable way to human consumption.

As for "Organic" I was under the impression that was a farming method. How would raising BT corn organically (Without artificial pesticides and/or herbicides) not fit the label?



farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
[
Parent ]
meaningful but inconvenient, maybe (none / 0) (#205)
by TomV on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 02:39:11 PM EST

It's not that labelling the stuff would be meaningless - clearly it wouldn't as the label would mean that the product contained GM material.

The reason the US government's fighting any attempt at labelling is precisely because, as you state, they have already let the genie out of the bottle and allowed free mixing of GM and no-GM produce, with the result that, as you say, virtually all food in the US and Canada would be considered GM, labelled GM and, if current opinion polls are anything to go by, be refused by the European consumer as GM.

Whatever the merits or demerits of the case for GM farming, there is, in a European culture at any rate, simply no conceivable excuse for refusing to allow the consumer to choose what he or she eats by evading perfectly reasonable calls for accurate and comprehensive labelling to the standards we've come to expect.

I don't personally consider that it would be dangerous for me to eat most GM products.  I do however feel that it may be dangerous to grow these experimental products in open conditions, which consideration seems to be heavily supported by the findings of these widespread controlled scientific trials.  Trials, it should be rememberded, which were carried out by a very pro-GM government to prove the safety of GM to the public.  The reason US regulations state that the products aren't discernable from their predecessors is that years back now the FDA declared this to be the case on the assurances of the Pharm companies.  There's no more evidence that they're harmful than there is that they're safe because those tests have never been carried out.  The concern as to environmental impact is, however, now strongly supported and I would like, as a consumer, to have the choise of not supporting these products.

"Organic" is both a farming method and, in the UK at least, as Standard maintained by The Soil Association, and their rules for what can be described as "organic" with their logo precludes GM, for whatever reasons good or bad, and basically, if you want to sell your product as "organic", the consumer expects to see Soil Association endorsement to show it's not just snake-oil.

[ Parent ]

Reduced herbicide runoff? (none / 0) (#218)
by pyro9 on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 11:52:41 AM EST

The point of herbicide resistant crops is so you can spray MORE herbicide on them than their unmodified version. I may be missing something, but how does spraying more herbicide result in less herbicide runoff?


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
See the rest of the thread (none / 0) (#221)
by RyoCokey on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 03:55:38 PM EST

The actual amount of herbicide is reduced (although practices vary) due the raised effectiveness of the spraying. In conjunction with no-till farming (made possible through GM crops) the total amount of both herbicides and pesticides used is reduced.



farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
[
Parent ]
Missing the main point (2.60 / 15) (#12)
by fritz the cat on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 11:01:11 AM EST

It always amazes me how people misses the main point in the GM debate: the fact that GM crops are sterile, and after  each harvest farmers have to buy a new set of seeds from the various Monsanto, Bayer and their ilk.
Allowing GM food would mean putting the planet's food supply in the hand of multinationals - NOT a wise choice, in my humble opinion.

As for the risk to wildlife, sprying crops with pesticides cannot be good, but nobody seems to care about it as much as people care about GM.

DOING NOTHING FUCKING SOMETHING

No all are sterile (none / 3) (#14)
by craigtubby on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 11:16:04 AM EST

Hence the fears of inter breeding, if a wild relative manages to get the "herbicide resistant" gene, and it's found to be beneficial, it could, well, spread like a weed.

And even then, sterile plants can cause problems.  Theres a nasty oriental plant, related to rhubarb, that spreads everywhere, pusing up tarmac and taking over hedge rows.  Thats sterile, but is still a major problem.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

Misunderstood (none / 2) (#15)
by craigtubby on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 11:27:00 AM EST

Ooop, I probably misunderstood sterile - you need a male plant to fertilise a female plant which then produces the seeds, which themselves are sterile.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

Japanese knotweed? nt (none / 1) (#16)
by whazat on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 11:28:19 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Yep, thats the one. (NT) (none / 1) (#20)
by craigtubby on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 11:54:48 AM EST


try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

But... if it's beneficial... (none / 1) (#32)
by TheEldestOyster on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 01:49:32 PM EST

What the hell is the problem?
--
TheEldestOyster (rizen/bancus) * PGP Signed/Encrypted mail preferred
[ Parent ]
A weed in other crops, IP laws, Organic farms nt (none / 1) (#42)
by whazat on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 02:17:15 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Biodiversity (none / 1) (#196)
by Kwil on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 01:44:05 AM EST

Consider:

We develop a super-competer, super-beneficial crop.

This stuff grows like crazy, has great output, and basically outcompetes every other similar crop like it. Great huh?

It cross pollinates, giving its traits to other fields. Because it is such a good competitor, it quickly wipes out the varieties that do not have crop in them. But it's beneficial, so no real harm, right?

Except, nature being nature, sooner or later some bug, mold, bird, or other organism will evolve that has a real hankering for this super-crop, an organism that the crop doesn't have much of a defense against.

Now we have a problem. Because all the crops are now this super-crop, the organism has basically our entire supply of this crop as its food source. So it multiplies like crazy, and soon we're left with no super-crop.. but no other crop as well because the super-crop wiped it out/cross-bred with everything else.

Hence the fears of "green-concrete".  If we pave our fields with what seems to be the absolute best thing we can come with up and then find out it has an achilles heel somewhere, we could be in some trouble.

Which is what I find odd about this one scientist the article quotes talking about how the cross-pollinating of the GM crop works to increase biodiversity. Perhaps it does in the short term, as it's not often that non-GM foods are pollinated with fish DNA or whatever, but if the crops were put to widespread use, that claim becomes questionable.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
That's an excellent point (none / 3) (#18)
by NoBeardPete on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 11:42:45 AM EST

That's an excellent point to present to farmers that do not want to be beholden to these companies. I think it makes a poor argument for banning GM crops, though. If a farmer wants to make his operation dependent on one of his suppliers, that's his business. Farmers are already dependent on providers of farm equipment, fuel for said equipment, producers of fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Farmers count on neighboring cities, states and nations abiding by water-rights agreements. There are probably at least half a dozen unions that could shut down most of the farming in any given country.

Should the government ban tractors, fertilizers and pesticides, and unionized workers on farms?


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

govt involved in agriculture? (none / 1) (#200)
by TomV on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 06:20:51 AM EST

Should the government ban tractors, fertilizers and pesticides, and unionized workers on farms?

Well, they banned Atrazine, the herbicide used in the Maize trial. The use of tractors is governed by Health and Safety legislation like any other workplace machinery, and the feeding of rendered cattle flesh was finally banned after many years of government encouragement for its use to improve yields, when it was found to have actually led to the near-total destruction of the UK cattle population.

So in summary, yes, they should. ;-)



[ Parent ]
Worst anti-GM argument EVAR (2.87 / 8) (#29)
by RyoCokey on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 01:25:47 PM EST

It always amazes me how people misses the main point in the GM debate: the fact that GM crops are sterile, and after each harvest farmers have to buy a new set of seeds from the various Monsanto, Bayer and their ilk.

Ummm... most of the grain crops grown in the US and other nations are hybrids. Meaning, that you have to buy a new set of seeds every year, anyway. It's been this way since the 1930's due to the fact hybrids give vastly superior yields compared to conventional crops. If you wanted to keep the fate of the world's seeds from falling into the hands of large corporations, I'm afraid you're around half a century too late.

This page has a good deal of information on the subject.



farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
[
Parent ]
I didn't know that (none / 1) (#34)
by fritz the cat on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 01:52:06 PM EST

Fair do, I should have done a bit of my own research as I know next to nothing about farming.

DOING NOTHING FUCKING SOMETHING
[ Parent ]

In all fairness (none / 2) (#70)
by RyoCokey on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 05:53:22 PM EST

You're correct that this is one of the most common arguments against GM crops. It's just that the vast majority of the arguments are very poorly informed.

I actually considered going into Genetic Engineering, but figured I wouldn't want to spend years working on a product to better the life of the impoverished, only to show up for work one day to a smoking ruin of a lab.

At least people don't seem to have an irrational hatred of oil.



farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
[
Parent ]
They're already beholden (none / 1) (#30)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 01:31:00 PM EST

Needing to buy seeds every year isn't unique to GM crops. And you know what? The world food supply is already in the hands of corporations. If there were world-wide catastrophe and modern society collapsed then you couldn't fix farm machinery or keep the distribution channels going and billions would starve. Failing that, governments can regulate whatever they want to. Just like now.

And it's not just pesticide spraying. For example no-till soybeans reduces erosion and use of gas. You just kill the weeds later with roundup (which decomposes pretty quickly).  I'd say that's pretty good for the environment.


[ Parent ]

That is a terrible argument (3.00 / 5) (#74)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 06:18:21 PM EST

1. Not all GM crops are sterile. Some are, and Monsanto developed a terminator gene, which would have ensured that more were, partly to assuage concerns about biological contamination (although concerns about their bottom line may have been involved too). Due to public pressure, they have decided *not* to use this.

2. Almost all commercial grain crops are super-productive hybrids. They are not sterile, but their offspring are basically uneconomic crops. Farmers therefore must buy new seed every year.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

I think the bigger picture is... (1.87 / 8) (#24)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 12:23:38 PM EST

That your government actually seems to work!

Those of us in North America aren't used to such abnormalities.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown

Almost had me (1.63 / 11) (#28)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 01:21:07 PM EST

You almost convinced me that you were a reasonable person. Someone I disagree with to an extent, but reasonable. Until you mentioned the tax-evading and terrorist organization Greenpeace as a credible group.


What's that on your shoulder? (none / 4) (#40)
by spasticfraggle on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 02:10:51 PM EST

It sure looks like a chip of equal size to the one Greenpeace has.

Leaving aside their "tax-evading" and (groan) "terrorist" nature, Greenpeace, through it's membership, represents the opinions (right or wrong) of a significant number of people. By proxy, the opinions of Greenpeace matter, because they are the opinions of a subset of the (common) people.

Not to mention the implication of the "bastion" and "2 pence" remarks wasn't entirely positive; or so I interpreted it (FWIW).

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

Don't have a chip on my shoulder (1.50 / 4) (#44)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 02:26:51 PM EST

But I do call blatantly shifting much of their tax-exempt donations to their non-tax-exempt activities "tax evastion". And I'm not saying they're as extremeley terrorist as, for example the PLO, but I do label intentionally ramming ships to obtain through terror what they cannot through legal means "terrorism".


[ Parent ]
Do greenpeace activists really inflict terror? (none / 1) (#46)
by spasticfraggle on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 03:03:35 PM EST

I wasn't aware they'd been ramming ships. Most of the time they just seem to get in the way in their rubber dingies whilst burly whalers hose them down.

Of course, since the French government took up murdering them perhaps they have changed their tactics. Now that's terrorism.

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 2) (#47)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 03:13:59 PM EST

Greenpeace did stop spiking trees a number of years ago. While I think their motivation was more along the lines of avoiding jail time for murder, they did stop. A splinter group does that now.

And they've only rammed a couple of ships, most recently that I know of, a japanese research vessel in the Antarctic. I think they stopped after the French incident.

And I don't agree that "murder" is an appropriate word for the actions of governments (quite aside from arguing whether the French government's actions were or were not justified). Similarly, "state-sponsored terrorism" is somewhat of an oxymoron.

If a state sponsors an action, then it is by definition "legal". If another government, such as the US doesn't like it, they can negotiate or retaliate. However, if individuals within the government are murderers, then they should be charged and prosecuted. If the US government feels that happened to US citizens, then they should try and extradite them. Not that France is very cooperative about extraditing murderers and (notably) rapists.


[ Parent ]

A splinter group? ^_^ (none / 2) (#50)
by spasticfraggle on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 03:27:14 PM EST

They killed a man. Pleaded guilty to manslaughter, so perhaps it wasn't murder (reckless but not deliberate etc) but not for the reasons you give.

All you have said is that killing can be legal if the state approves of it. If country F says the state can approve killing, and then some people from F go to say state N, and kill someone, the laws of F are irrelevant. It's the law of the land that counts.

And if you think that "state-sponsored terrorism" is an oxymoron you need to check a dictionary (I do note the "somewhat" though).

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

Definition of murder (none / 3) (#52)
by Rich0 on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 04:07:59 PM EST

Murder is usually considered a personal action.  If a government asks somebody to kill somebody else they are a soldier - not a murdurer.

North Vietnamese soldiers who shot at Americans in South Vietnam weren't murderers.  Depending on the circumstances they might have been unlawful combatants - but if they were in uniform they were legally in the clear.  Granted, that won't change the fact that if a US soldier sees one of them they're going to get shot at just the same.

If a government-sponsored agent travels from F to N to kill somebody, that is generally a dispute between F and N, and possibly the nation of citizenship for whoever they killed.

The reason soldiers belonging to country XYZ don't fly to the USA and blow up the white house isn't because it is murder.  It is because the USA would put XYZ in a world of hurt.

When it comes to war - might generally makes right.  There are the Geneva conventions - but those are a statement about how two groups of people should go about killing each other, and not whether they should be killing each other.

I'm not a big fan of war, but I don't pretend to live in utopia either...

[ Parent ]

Except (none / 3) (#56)
by spasticfraggle on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 04:32:04 PM EST

The man that died was a civilian. When soldiers kill civilians we call it murder. 'Round our way at least.

Might generally makes right? Wow, I don't really know how to communicate with somebody that believes that. I assume if you're ever assaulted or raped by a "mighter" member of society, you will consider going to the Police, but then remember that as you consider their actions morally right, it would be morally wrong (you less mighty person you) to persecute them, so you will limp forward in life, content that justice has been done.



--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

Wrong (none / 2) (#57)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 04:39:20 PM EST

He didn't say might makes right between individuals, he said that applied when it when it comes to war.

Learn to read.


[ Parent ]

Oh, so if I add a precondition: (none / 2) (#60)
by spasticfraggle on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 04:56:13 PM EST

"There is a war ongoing", the actions stated magically become morally right?

Learn to think. Or be pleasant. You choose.

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

No, not at all (none / 2) (#68)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 05:47:58 PM EST

You're the one who added the adjective "morally". I have no problem thinking, although I'm not always pleasant.  If you've read any history at all, you just might come to the (not very original) conclusion that the winners write the history books.


[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 2) (#55)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 04:29:04 PM EST

Yes, killing is legal if a government sponsors it.  As in, Saddam's government action in massacreing thousands of his own citizens with chemical weapons was legal inside of that country. Or on the other hand, as in when several governments in the Middle East sponsor groups such as Al Quaeda who then go on to fly planes into civilian buildings, then I label this not murder, but an act of war. I said somewhat because the definition of "terrorist" is highly disputed even  by experts in the field. I lean towards thinking of terrorism as being perpetrated by non-government groups against civilians to influence governments.

And I have no problems using a dictionary, but I think you may need to increase the frequency at which you consult one.


[ Parent ]

Lets test that shall we? (none / 3) (#58)
by spasticfraggle on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 04:45:25 PM EST

Rather than allude to my need for a dictionary, perhaps you could take the time to point out exactly why I should frequent one more often? Or perhaps you're just being obnoxious.

MW says: terrorism is "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion".
oxymoron: a combination of contradictory or incongruous words

Clearly a state can engage in terrorism. I think somes Jews might well have been terrified of the German government at some point in time.

I was going to continue with explaining oxymoron to you. But I've decided I really don't give a rats ass if you understand or not.

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

Thank you for demonstrating how childish you are (none / 2) (#59)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 04:51:38 PM EST

Shall I now refer you to the definition of ad hominem? Or that that's the terrorism definition of 1795? Or point out to you that my recommendation to use a dictionary was in response to yours?


[ Parent ]
Yes, do that (none / 2) (#62)
by spasticfraggle on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 05:04:40 PM EST

Refer me do the definition of ad hominem. Or even better (as I for one know what it means), point out where I have attacked your character. It's your inability to use words according to their meaning that I attacked. The major difference between our recommendations that the other refer to a dictionary are apparently that I both both have, and didn't need to.

MW definitions are from www.m-w.com, as of about 20 minutes ago.

ps) I know you are but what am I? ^_^

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

We enact. (3.00 / 6) (#63)
by K5 ASCII enactment players on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 05:19:23 PM EST

    o__ __o     ____o__ __o____   o__ __o__/_   o         o  
   /v     v\     /   \   /   \   <|    v       <|>       <|> 
  />       <\         \o/        < >           / \       / \ 
 _\o____               |          |            \o/       \o/ 
      \_\__o__        < >         o__/_         |         |  
            \          |          |            < >       < >
  \         /          o          |             \         /  
   o       o          <|          |              o       o   
   <\__ __/>          / \        / \             <\__ __/>   

     Both of you.
     It's pathetic.     We mean it!
     /                  /
    /                  /
   /                  '
  O                  \O/ 
 <|>                  |
  |                   |
 /|                   |\


--
"come, nail thyself to my planks"
[ Parent ]
You know you shouldn't give us attention (none / 2) (#64)
by spasticfraggle on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 05:23:09 PM EST

But thanks anyway Dad. ^_^

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]
Hey! I enjoy being pathetic once in a while (none / 2) (#66)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 05:44:38 PM EST

It blows off steam.


[ Parent ]
RE-enactment of us keeping an eye on you (2.83 / 6) (#72)
by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 06:00:45 PM EST

  If we hadn't stolen this shtick from
  Tex Bigballs, we might be miffed.
                   /
  _   __    #####
 / \\/ \\-_/__ ##
 |@|=|@|  |||_)  D
 \_//\_//-|||o  |
          | /___/
          ||


[ Parent ]
The hardcore Liberal mindless response would be... (none / 0) (#232)
by OzJuggler on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 12:38:28 AM EST

"But no-one forced you to read our thread!"

Mindless because (of course) the author knows comments are posted with the intention that other users will read them, that responding to conflicting opinions is necessary in a free but cohesive society, and that there is no reasonable basis on which the opinions of bystanders should be excluded from debate.
"And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.
[ Parent ]

Not an act of war (none / 1) (#138)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 01:50:29 PM EST

Only states can initiate acts of war.

[ Parent ]
That is tax avoidance ... (3.00 / 6) (#73)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 06:12:08 PM EST

... which is legal. Tax evasion is illegal. Shockingly, a great many charities do similar things to maximise their useful income.

Secondly, in order to be terrorism, something has to inflict *terror*. Not all acts of sabotage or even of geurilla warfare are terrorist.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Hmm... (none / 2) (#78)
by inadeepsleep on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 06:49:28 PM EST

Maybe so, and maybe a great many "charities" do it, that's irrelevant. Non-profit entities are set up to obey certain tax *laws*. Whether you're avoiding, evading, breaking, folding, spindling or mutilating it, it's still the law.

I agree with your statement about terror. Are you saying that if you were a crewmember on a ship that was being rammed by a Greenpeace ship, that you would not feel terror?  Maybe not, I wouldn't. I was in the Navy for several years, and I don't think that's how I would react, but I think some people would. And I think that was their intent.


[ Parent ]

Sigh (none / 3) (#118)
by Simon Kinahan on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 10:09:34 AM EST

1. Please pay careful attention to the meaning of the word "legal". It means you're allowed to do it. Tax avoidance is legal. You may not like it, but given that many non-profits do the same thing, its hardly a compelling argument that Greenpeace is bad.

2. Obviously any act of violence will scare the people who are attacked. Terrorism aims to terrorise other people as well. Its a way of using very small forces to acheive large effects. Greenpeace don't scare anyone much.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Balance (none / 1) (#103)
by craigtubby on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 05:37:33 AM EST

I've added another paragraph from the ABC institute to balance the amount of space Greenpeace get.

You may consider Greenpeace to be a quack organisation, but a lot of people don't and will listen to what they say.

Greenpeace to me, seem to represent green issues to the exclusion of all other and have a no compromise attitude. I respect them for this, but don't necessarily agree with everything thay say.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

Shouldn't this be about role-playing games? (2.50 / 12) (#45)
by waxmop on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 02:35:16 PM EST

GM, lets roll the dice made me think the article was about tabletop RPGs. What a @#%@$%ing disappointment this biotech stuff turned out to be.
--
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar
That would be DM? Oh... I'm a TSR junkie NM [nt] (none / 0) (#49)
by simul on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 03:26:09 PM EST



Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks
[ Parent ]
Not in the UK (none / 2) (#82)
by whazat on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 07:31:17 PM EST

Where quite a few peoples first experience of Role playing games was the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Which had GMs.

[ Parent ]
Not with lots of RPG players (none / 0) (#191)
by Calieri on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 01:14:57 AM EST

Who cut their teeth on games other than D&D etc., most of which use the term GM instead of DM - after all, most of them aren't about dungeons.

[ Parent ]
Labeling, labeling, labeling (2.69 / 13) (#51)
by simul on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 03:28:40 PM EST

I'm actually a BIG FAN of GM foods. (Really, you can read my site). I love the stuff. Yum. So whay can't I go out and find out which foods have been genetically modified so I can buy them? Because of all the damn secrecy surrounding GM foods.

Please, please let's all just agree... the people who don't like GM foods (nearly everyone), and the people who do (me), can we just agree to put labels on the stuff?

That way the people can make a choice! And I can get my probiotic wheat germ.

Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks

Cross-Pollination leaves us no choice (3.00 / 6) (#113)
by danharan on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 09:27:42 AM EST

There's no such thing as a no-pissing side to a public swimming pool: either people piss in it, or they don't.

GM food adoption will have to follow the same pattern. If one farmer uses GM crops, none of their neighbours can guarantee their crops aren't contaminated. And forget about saving seed.

In Canada, the case of farmer Percy Schmeiser illustrates this, as well as Monsanto's questionable tactics (on par with the RIAA).

Well meaning environmentalists that want to defeat GM food with labelling are barking up the wrong tree. Once released in the environment, genes can not be retrieved (the same applies to entire organisms: try eradicating the zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, or Caulerpa Taxifolia in the Mediterranean), the regulatory framework will be next to impossible to roll back, farmers will have lost even more freedom, and companies will have made even more money selling pesticides they've engineered their plants to resist (so you can spray even more!).

Let's dump this labelling idea. Compare GM with organics, and it becomes clear what the superior solution is.

[ Parent ]

Uh (none / 1) (#195)
by Calieri on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 01:39:32 AM EST

If the GM crops are sterile, how are they going to pollinate anything else?

Organics are for people who make a comfortable living. That's not to say anything about GM, just that the 'superior solution' isn't superior unless you are making lots of money and actually think there is anything wrong with ordinary supermarket food.

[ Parent ]

Terminator (none / 0) (#220)
by pyro9 on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 03:44:45 PM EST

The terminator gene can do this. The plants produce viable (sort of) pollen. However, the resulting seed contains a gene that will kill it as it begins to germinate.

So if your non-GM (and non-infringing) crop is pollinated by a neighboring terminator crop, you will get a perfectly healthy harvest, but the seed you save for next planting will never germinate.

Not such an issue in the U.S. where seed is usually bought every year, but in many countries, seed from the harvest is typically saved for the next planting.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Labeling is the only solution (none / 0) (#219)
by simul on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 12:00:30 PM EST

It will reduce demand for GM foods to the point where they are not profitable.

Once the GM camp has less cash on hand, they wont be able to fight the mounting tide of public opposition.

This is precisely what happened with cigarettes. LAbelling, followed by profit losses, followed by bans on public smoking.

This is a roadmap for success. No progress will be made until we are united in this. And we need progress NOW.



Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks
[ Parent ]

But this isn't necessarily bad like cigs are... (none / 0) (#234)
by gte910h on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 02:52:58 PM EST

There is a good chance GM foods are GOOD to be growing.

I wouldn't want every tap or bottle of water taken off a municipal suply to be label "Chemically Modified" because they added floride. Its the same principle. There are benefits that EVERYONE can get from GM food.

I, as a vegetarian, can't wait until they create a high protein plant that isn't based off soy. Or that is based off soy but is in a more usable fiber format (like high protein wheat....mmmm...shredded proty wheats).

This isn't a super complex science as people seem to think it is. You can understand what's happening pretty easily with a little reading.

[ Parent ]

eat raw eggs (1.00 / 10) (#69)
by tofubar on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 05:53:06 PM EST

put in orange juice or some shit to get away the nasty taste, it's all u need.

Raw eggs are not nasty tasting (none / 0) (#80)
by LilDebbie on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 07:03:47 PM EST

Try them yourself and then apologize for this baseless slander against raw eggs.

Unless, of course, you're breaking the yolks, in which case you are stupid and should stop doing that.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Well I don't (none / 1) (#144)
by tofubar on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 04:55:16 PM EST

break the yolks, but i don't like the taste, so you shut the fuck up

[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#182)
by i on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 05:37:37 PM EST

I do break the yolks, because I like it this way.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
europeans are ignorant about gm (1.63 / 11) (#84)
by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 08:30:32 PM EST

by passing laws against it, all it means is that the great future discoveries in gm food that makes cheaper, more nutritious, easier to grow, better on environment, etc. foods that help developing people around the world, will move to places like china, where they laugh in your face about your ignorant sensitivies about gm food

so europe will fall by the side of the road in gm, and you guys can all enjoy your overpriced cheese (weren't y'all trying to tell the rest of the world a few weeks back that you own the rights to things like the word "campagne", "feta", etc?)

i think europeans got some sort fo stick up their ass about their food... it's just food, dude

at the best, europeans are snobs about their food stuffs, and will suffer the fate of snobs on any issue: irrelevance over time... the rest of the world really doesn't care about your little idosyncratic obsessions with your food

at the worst, europeans will be spending more money on their food than other people in the world, and maybe that's just fine... except for the fact that it shows you really don't give a shit about the poor in your own communities, never mind the rest of the world

do you europeans care about the world environmnet? do they care about the poor? prove it! don't stick your head in the sand over gm food! help shape the argument about gm food and it's promise by moving it in the direction of being nicer on the environment, about being more nutritious and cheaper for the poor... that's the promise of gm food!

but if you obsess over what monsanto is doing, and then retire from the debate in cynical dismissal about what evil captalistic companies are doing, you are doing no one any good

if you examine every argument about gm food, it all boils down to ignorance and unfounded fears

gm food really promises to give us cheaper, more nutritious foods that are nicer on the environment

fuck the capitalistic companies: you can shape how they work, you don't have to jettison them completely because they are inherently evil or something... they're not, they just follow the money trail a little too much. so fucking give them a slap in the face and redirect their efforts. that's what europe can do.

if you REALLY care about farming around the world taking less impact on the environment and destruction of rainforests, etc., than europeans would instead be reshaping the debate on gm: that is, europe can insist that all gm research is only into cheaper, more nutritious, less-environmentally imapcting foods.

but instead, europeans are just sticking their heads up their asses in denail about gm

they will reap the rewards of their unfounded fears: more expensive foods, and eventually, their great grandchildren will look at the food in the rest of the world in envy

and then, when europeans try to buy form us glow in the dark indianapolis popcorn, we can tell them that we own the rights to the word "indianapolis popcorn"

lol

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

evil capitalism (none / 4) (#86)
by jjayson on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 08:54:37 PM EST

I think that many of the European intellectuals and leaders really do think that making a profit is evil.

The "demonstrated benefits to society (not just for producers)" is stupid. You mean that even if GM is the same as current methods, it still wouldn't be allowed because then it would only benefit the "producers"? What kind of stupid argument is that? Oh no! It might be cheaper to produce. We'd better no let that happen!

Or what this European environmental commissioner says: companies did it to "solve starvation amongst their shareholders." And that is bad?

It is one thing to argue that there are real, tangible environmental impacts to GM food. It is entire stupid to abandon that issue and instead focus on how some company is only doing it for profit. No shit! The only reason people work is to exchange labor and consume. Stop the presses, a corporation is trying to make money!
_______
Smile =)
A determined United Europe army would probably get their butts kicked by an LA street gang! — Parent ]

Man (1.33 / 6) (#89)
by Fredrick Doulton on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 10:58:05 PM EST

Do you always get like this when people hide your happy pills?

Bush/Cheney 2004! - "Because we've still got more people to kill"
[ Parent ]

it is bad if it's (none / 5) (#99)
by vivelame on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 04:05:29 AM EST

in the same sense that Bhopal was there only to solve the starvation amongst the Union Carbide's shareholders.
IE, enhancing the bottom line of Monsanto's by shifting the costs to, say, Health, or environmental preservation funds, is not something we want. You can be ass-raped all you want by your corporations, we don't have to take the same.

[ Parent ]
Have a look at the history of BSE (none / 3) (#88)
by whazat on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 09:29:06 PM EST

to find out why the British are suspect and fussy about food. I agree with you about how people should treat GM crops. However we would need a labelling system as proposed by the EU (and rejected by the US) in order for the European consumer to be able to distinguish first between GM and non-GM and I would argue as well for labelling between the different varieties of GM so that consumers can choose the correct varieties of GM to buy, in order to protect rain forests etc.

[ Parent ]
Oh, foo... (none / 1) (#160)
by epepke on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 04:21:21 AM EST

BSE happened in the first place because the British aren't fussy about food never have been. We're talking about a country where in pubs the drains below the beer taps go straight back into the barrels. In some pubs, incompletely drunk pints are poured into plastic bucket again to be returned to the barrels.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
We don't care about that sort of stuff (none / 0) (#163)
by whazat on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 07:44:10 AM EST

It is just when scientists tell us it is safe that the alarm bells start ringing.

[ Parent ]
Your examples (none / 0) (#166)
by melia on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 08:36:13 AM EST

are for beer, not food. Nobody's going to waste beer.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]
Beer is food (none / 0) (#213)
by epepke on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 03:54:09 AM EST

But if you want a non-beer example, how about the sausages in pubs?

I still shudder when I remember a time when my mother suffered one of her frequent delusions and decided that the "hamburgers" (from cans) sold by a street vendor in London "smelled good" and compelled all of us to eat one and to pretend to enjoy it. A needless experience, I might add, because there were perfectly decent kebabs and samosas sold just down the block.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
I bet the average EUian eats better then the (none / 1) (#90)
by auraslip on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 11:06:08 PM EST

average USian

and lives longer
___-___
[ Parent ]

Obviously false! (none / 2) (#92)
by RyoCokey on Thu Oct 16, 2003 at 11:10:00 PM EST

Aren't we fatter, per capita?



farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
[
Parent ]
Heres a Scenario (none / 2) (#106)
by craigtubby on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 05:47:22 AM EST

There is a herbicide that is so powerful it kills every plant it comes into contact with.

A GM food is made to be resistant to this herbicide. This very strong herbicide is then used to spray the GM crops.

Now, this gene manages to get into a weed. The weed finds that this is a useful gene, and it spreads rather quickly through out the weeds - these weeds are now immune to the herbicide.

This new super weed finds it has whole fields to take over ...

GM crops could have magnificent benefits, maybe being herbicide resistant isn't one of them, but it is the type of GM food that is pushed by the GM companies.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

i know that (none / 1) (#111)
by circletimessquare on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 07:52:29 AM EST

now it's up to europeans to help gm fulfill it's real promise, and not the cynical one companies are delivering

after telling me your example, tell me that it's not impossible for gm crops to make food more nutritious, cheaper, easier to grow in more varied environments, and help decrease the impact of agriculture on world habitats

that's the real promise

hopefully europe will move gm in that direction, rather than stick their heads in the sand over cynical disavowal of examples like yours


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Okay (none / 2) (#112)
by craigtubby on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 09:13:33 AM EST

> gm food really promises to give us cheaper,
> more nutritious foods that are nicer on the
> environment

Lets look at somewhere that allows GM food.

The US.

There are still massive subsidies, there is still world hunger, stronger herbicides are used.

The only people benefiting seem to be the GM producers.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

what you just said (none / 1) (#133)
by circletimessquare on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 12:27:58 PM EST

is similar to saying "well, it's 1962, and computers have been around for over a decade, and what have they given us?"

gm is rather new dude, it's not like fire, or bronze, or the wheel... it's very much still evolving, in it's infancy

so like i said, jump in and frame it's evolution... don't give up in cynicism and stand on the sidelines with your arms crossed and declare the war over and the capitalists have won, and gm food is nothing but an evil capitalist tool, and never will be anything more

that's stupefyingly shortsighted of you

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Have we been down this road before? (none / 1) (#162)
by craigtubby on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 05:55:30 AM EST

DDT was a magnifcent chemical when it first came out.  It was going to solve all our problems, and it was harmless.

I remember seeing a "DDT Manufacturer Commercial" with a scientist drinking a glass of the chemical, (I don't remember if it was mixed with water) and saying "Look, no harmful effects".

Ooops, will that be the same DDT thats now found to cause significent harm to the environment and humans?

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

false alarmism (nt) (none / 0) (#206)
by circletimessquare on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 04:22:16 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
interesting situation (none / 2) (#161)
by The Central Committee on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 04:24:05 AM EST

europe bans gm food and falls behind in the technology american corporations take advantage of the technology europe cries about evil american corporations and patents

You personaly are the reason I cannot believe in a compassionate god, a creature of ineffable itelligence would surely know better than to let someone like you exist. - dorc
[ Parent ]

Great MLP, great debate (2.00 / 6) (#101)
by nebbish on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 05:21:51 AM EST

+1 FP

The schism between Europe and the US on this is massive. Why?

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

Business interests are the problem (2.75 / 8) (#104)
by nebbish on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 05:41:07 AM EST

The focus is on increasing yield. So, superfluous weeds - the ones that wildlife need to thrive - are wiped out as GM crops are made resistant to powerful herbicides. The result is acres of barren monoculture and no wildlife.

I can't see how anyone can argue that anything else is the case - this is what has been developed, what was proposed if GM got the green light, and what was tested. There is nothing at all mentioned about helping the developing world or any of the other theoretical possibilities mentioned by some posters.

Much of the developing world pays to import food from the west - rice from the US to Latin America for example. Because production in the west is subsidised the developing world's own farmers cannot compete, and move into growing cash crops to supply the west.

Acting as a homogenous monopoly through the WTO the west dictates the low price of these cash crops, and the developing world loses out. How will increasing production through GM technology solve this? The price will fall if anything.

Thinking that GM will solve the food crisis in the developing world shows a serious misunderstanding of how the world economy works.

And we don't need any more food in Europe - the EU buys up tons of food from over-producing farms as it is. You can buy a loaf of bread for 5 pence (7 cents) in the UK - it cannot and should not get any cheaper.

We actually need to produce less and turn some farmland over to tourism or other more profitable rural industries to stop the wasteful subsidies system.

GM is not just damaging to the environment, it is completely irrelevant and does not address the real crisis in food production and farming in the EU, which is overproduction.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

Re: Business interests are the problem (none / 1) (#135)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 01:44:23 PM EST

What weeds are you referring to?

I grew up amoung farms, and at the farms I worked at, the wildlife ate the crops, not the weeds...

[ Parent ]

Off hand... (none / 1) (#139)
by nebbish on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 01:56:54 PM EST

Bees feed on wild flowers - those are weeds.

Im not sure if the report proper has been released yet, the only info we are getting is along the lines of this from an article in the Guardian -

"In the case of conventional oil-seed rape, five times as many weed seeds survived, providing food for birds like skylarks, than in the GM field."

So, nothing precise as yet.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

This seems like a weak complaint (none / 2) (#143)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 04:27:29 PM EST

So the big complaint about Roundup Ready GM plants is that there aren't as many weeds growing in the fields? Farmers have been coming up with new ways of getting rid of weeds for pretty much the whole of agriculture. They're getting pretty good at it with this new technology. Who are you to tell them how many weeds they have to leave in their field? When I was a kid, my mother used to turn me out into the garden with instructions to pull up weeds all the time. Should the government have put a cap on how good of a job I could do at pulling them all out?

There are a lot of complaints one might make about GM plants that pass the laugh test. This is not one of them. Farmers should not be under any obligation to have weeds in their fields.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Read my original message (none / 0) (#215)
by nebbish on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 06:10:30 AM EST

We do not need higher crop yields in Europe. Not only do we not need them, they are harmful for our economy.

What you are suggesting is destroying wildlife habitats so farmers can receive more subsidies from taxpayers.

Sorry, but I don't see the logic.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

The Clue Train has arrived! (none / 2) (#154)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 11:18:15 PM EST

Hint: Birds eat the good seeds too.

Ever plant a garden?

[ Parent ]

There is more than one type of animal (none / 0) (#216)
by nebbish on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 06:12:11 AM EST

Do bees eat wheat? Do caterpillars eat any kind of plant they want? Etc.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

gm just not for food (2.66 / 6) (#108)
by dimaq on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 07:40:40 AM EST

does anyone know of any serious developements in gm crops (or organisms in general) for other purposes than food?

to start with, let's consider more efficient production of rapeseed oil for use as fuel?

the other end of spectrum would be useful injestable bacteria, though that'll take much more time.

Re: (none / 2) (#109)
by nebbish on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 07:45:36 AM EST

the other end of spectrum would be useful injestable bacteria, though that'll take much more time.

Great! I can't think of anything that could possibly go wrong there!

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

BT cotton (none / 0) (#124)
by wiredog on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 10:34:13 AM EST

Cotton that has a gene that produces the same toxin as Bacillus thuringiensis. Kills boll weevils so the farmers don't have to spray the crop with pesticide.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
cool! (none / 0) (#214)
by dimaq on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 05:14:51 AM EST

now does anyone seriousely object to that?

I really suspect a double standard thing here - thy can't touch our food, but thy are free to do anything else.

[ Parent ]

Word of the Day: Frankenfood (none / 4) (#122)
by danharan on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 10:31:37 AM EST

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for Oct 17 is:

Frankenfood

Such a nice coincidence, I thought I should share that :)

Heh, like anyone really gives a damn (2.00 / 7) (#126)
by godix on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 10:43:50 AM EST

GM is worse for the enviroment of a field that conventional crops. Great arguement, there's just one flaw, no one really gives a fuck. If anyone actually cared about enviromental influence they'd work at killing the subsidies and protectionism that's keeping thousands of acres as useless farmland. Instead I see the same people who defend this huge waste of resources and enviromental damage turn around a bitch because a couple less birds feed in GM fields. You guys don't give a damn about the enviroment, instead you just use the enviroment to justify you hatred of GM food. Once you grow up enough to actually care about what you claim to care about ask yourself if that land by your town is better served as a park or a huge pesticide sprayed field producing food that the government pays god knows how much to grow then god knows how much to get rid of since no one actually wants it.

GM has the potential to be a great thing for humanity AND the enviroment. Less acreage required to grow food means more acreage to return to the wild, which has a much higher biodiversity range than a chemical drenced field, if we wish. Of course there are dangers involved but despite fears of mutant Audrey plants they really aren't any more dangerous than introducing non-local crops to an area like we've been doing for centuries. We should procede with caution but even if we don't the results will be annoying rather than devestating (ask any Australian farmer about rabbits or any southern US farmer about kudzu).

I don't understand spending all that money for a fancy shot ... when pregnancy ain't nothing that a good coathanger or a pair of steel toed boots can't fix<

Not exactly... (none / 1) (#150)
by levesque on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 09:53:16 PM EST

they really aren't any more dangerous than introducing non-local crops to an area like we've been doing for centuries

Introducing a gene from one form of life into another form of life is not at all similar to that practice.

[ Parent ]

More difficult than that (none / 1) (#193)
by Calieri on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 01:22:37 AM EST

You are saying this everywhere in the thread. But you're just saying it's different. The trouble is saying how it's different, and how the difference is important enough to make one dangerously unnatural and the other one totally acceptable.

Can you define 'form of life' without reference to genetic differences?

If not, then how is sexual reproduction not 'introducing a gene from one form of life into another form of life'? For that matter, mutation is 'introducing a novel gene into a form life, resulting in different form of life'?

[ Parent ]

I agree and (none / 0) (#231)
by levesque on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 10:03:22 PM EST

make one dangerously unnatural and the other one totally acceptable

This is the problem, it's neither. I just posted this in that context, hoping to clarify my quibbles.

[ Parent ]

Wonderful, thank you. (nt) (none / 0) (#239)
by Calieri on Fri Oct 24, 2003 at 06:57:07 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Will Frankenfood Save the Planet? (2.16 / 6) (#127)
by wiredog on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 10:46:16 AM EST

From the October issue of The Atlantic Monthly.

from an environmental point of view no-till farming looks like a dramatic advance. The rub...is that the widespread elimination of the plough depends on genetically modified crops.

The United Nations, in its midrange projections, estimates that the earth's human population will grow by more than 40 percent, from 6.3 billion people today to 8.9 billion in 2050. Feeding all those people... will require food output to at least double, and possibly triple.

What is much less widely appreciated is biotech's potential to do the environment good. Take as an example continuous no-till farming, which really works best with the help of transgenic crops. Human beings have been ploughing for so long that we tend to forget why we started doing it in the first place. The short answer: weed control. Turning over the soil between plantings smothers weeds and their seeds. If you don't plough, your land becomes a weed garden--unless you use herbicides to kill the weeds. Herbicides, however, are expensive, and can be complicated to apply. And they tend to kill the good with the bad.

Dennis Avery estimates that if farming techniques and yields had not improved since 1950, the world would have lost an additional 20 million or so square miles of wildlife habitat, most of it forest. About 16 million square miles of forest exists today. "What I'm saying," ... "is that we have saved every square mile of forest on the planet."

the great challenge of the next four or five decades is not to feed an additional three billion people ...but to do so without converting much of the world's prime habitat into second- or third-rate farmland.



Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

Will GM Save the Planet? (none / 1) (#152)
by levesque on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 10:07:59 PM EST

From the September issue of The Network of concerned farmers.
Roundup Ready (RR) soya clearly requires more, not less, herbicide than conventional soya. In 2001, more than 9.1 million kg of extra herbicide was used with GM soya compared with non-GM. The use of glyphosate doubled from 28 million litres in the period 1997/98 to 56 million litres in 1998/1999, and reached 100 millions in the last (2002) season.

RR soya crops also yield 5% to 10% less compared with the non-GM varieties grown under similar soil conditions, confirming findings in the United States.



[ Parent ]
-1, "It's Dangerous"....but how? (2.62 / 8) (#132)
by thelizman on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 12:13:08 PM EST

You (along with most of the anti-GM food crowd) to explain how it was determined to be dangerous. In a few instances, it is harmful to animals because it is weed-resistant, but those animals would get shot/poisoned/scared away anyway.

There's too much disinformation and hysteria - especially in Europe - over GM foods, without much scientific basis as to why. I doubt most people are aware that 99% of commercially available corn is genetically modified through cross breeding.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
why do you even bother to post crap like that? (1.11 / 9) (#134)
by rmg on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 12:55:26 PM EST

"In a few instances, it is harmful to animals because it is weed-resistant, but those animals would get shot/poisoned/scared away anyway."

are you brain dead?

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

-1, Author is a Fucking Troll [n/t] (none / 1) (#157)
by thelizman on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 12:01:06 AM EST


--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
that notwithstanding... (none / 0) (#159)
by rmg on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 02:10:30 AM EST

what defense do you offer for the original post?

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

My Defense Is Forthcoming... (none / 0) (#175)
by thelizman on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 01:58:46 PM EST

...as soon as you actually make an allegation.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
observe the following: (none / 0) (#178)
by rmg on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 03:31:09 PM EST

"In a few instances, it is harmful to animals because it is weed-resistant, but those animals would get shot/poisoned/scared away anyway."

the sentence is misinformed, illogical, certainly untrue, and brutally stupid.

how do you plead?

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

Cagey Trolls (none / 0) (#181)
by thelizman on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 05:35:07 PM EST

the sentence is misinformed, illogical, certainly untrue, and brutally stupid.
How? You're still being a troll.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
oh i'm the troll? (none / 0) (#183)
by rmg on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 05:45:49 PM EST

i don't have time for this sort of foolishness. either answer or shut up.

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

I'd Answer If There Was A Question [n/t] (none / 0) (#194)
by thelizman on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 01:27:40 AM EST


--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
We enact your fearlessness of the unknown (2.57 / 7) (#136)
by K5 ASCII enactment players on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 01:44:43 PM EST

   this AI is totally
   untested! we have             so you're saying that
   no idea what it will          there's no proof it's
        do!  \                   harmful? fire it up!
__________    `                     '
`       ' \     \O                 O
S K Y N E T|\    |\               <|>
  9 0 0 0  | |_  |                 |
_._. . . ._|_|   |\               /|
             \
              \
               \mmmmm. flesh.


--
"come, nail thyself to my planks"
[ Parent ]
Awesome (none / 1) (#192)
by Calieri on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 01:18:32 AM EST

We should draw more object lessons from 'Terminator.'

Just remember: if you don't know how it works, then no one knows how it works, and it is probably fatal.

For example, we (armed with the excellent wisdom of 'Terminator') ought to destroy all robotics labs before the robots magically become sentient and aggressive and kill us all.

[ Parent ]

It's known dangers (none / 2) (#145)
by wij on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 06:12:00 PM EST

GM food is loaded with chemicals, and we all know that chemicals are dangerous. It's not called frankenfood for nothing. No informed person would ever consent to eat it.

"I am an intellectual of great merit, yet I am not adequately compensated for this by capitalism; this is the reason for my opposition to it."
[ Parent ]
particularly (none / 1) (#148)
by Work on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 08:12:13 PM EST

dihydrogen monoxide.

[ Parent ]
Chemicals? (none / 1) (#198)
by thelizman on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 02:05:36 AM EST

And they're dangerous you say? Like, Oxygen Dihydride, or C6H12O6? I think both of those are fatal in large amounts.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Confusing (none / 1) (#155)
by levesque on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 11:56:16 PM EST

genetically modified through cross breeding

This is not untrue, but the practice of Genetic Modification is unrelated to the practice of Cross Breeding.

[ Parent ]

Care to explain how? (none / 0) (#156)
by thelizman on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 11:59:19 PM EST

Cross breeding does the exact same thing, it just takes longer and is more difficult to incorporate traits.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Not unrelated but different (none / 0) (#158)
by levesque on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 12:45:32 AM EST

Promoting traits through the process of controlled breeding is not the same as taking a gene from a bacteria and introducing it to the genome of a plant.

[ Parent ]
Ahh (none / 0) (#168)
by Everett True on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 01:05:54 PM EST

So you've never heard of mutations then.

Today is gonna be the day that they're gonna throw it back to you!
[ Parent ]

Indeed, He's Never Heard of... (none / 0) (#176)
by thelizman on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 02:02:55 PM EST

...retrovirii, which daily alter genomes of millions of species irreversibly by incorporating their own DNA into ours.

I think some people are of the notion that DNA found in one species is utterly incompatible with another species. That is why there is so much horror in things like Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (aka "mad cow disease", or for humans it's Krutzfeld-Jacobs disease).
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Hun? (none / 0) (#185)
by levesque on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 07:26:36 PM EST

Why would pointing out that modification through cross breading is different from genetic engineering techniques imply that I've never heard of retrovirii.

[ Parent ]
What? (none / 0) (#197)
by thelizman on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 02:03:51 AM EST

This is like talking to a brick wall, only slight less stimulating.

Fundamentally, there is no difference between cross breeding and direct genetic manipulation, except that there's less gambling when you use a restriction enzyme to enforce a genotype. Your statement presupposes that mutation or bacterial/viral influences do not occur in nature.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
What I see so far (none / 0) (#230)
by levesque on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 09:36:11 PM EST

Sorry for taking so long and posting one sentence replies, but losing a few posts with the recent site troubles put me off, I guess my first reply could also have been less ambiguous.

Genetic modification or GM refers to recombinant DNA plant breeding techniques but these terms are often used to refer to other techniques and I find this tends to confuse a critical evaluation of what should or should not be done at this stage of the game.

The use of restriction enzymes are a step in the technique of GM and do have a part in natural processes as does the use of viral agents to insert DNA. Mutagenesis is a technique in itself and of course occurs naturally.

But personally I would not say that cross breeding, in the context of partner selection/sexual reproduction, is fundamentally the same as GM any more than I would say it's fundamentally the same as random mutagenesis.

I sort of agree with what you have being saying but more info and less sound bytes from everyone would help people be better informed.

[ Parent ]

Difference (none / 0) (#201)
by whazat on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 06:48:04 AM EST

Retro Viruses don't normally alter the germline so they have minimal affects on th whole organism just on the cells afftected.

Also there cannot be gross morphological changes due to the fact they modify the genome after the organism has developed.

Genetic engineering of food crops is slightly scary, because of the sheer rate of change of the enrire food crop. With natural selection the gene pool of the food crop changes slowly and those eating it have some time to get adjusted to any changes, build up tolerances etc. With GM it all changes at once. And the changes we have seen to crop genomes are minimal compared to what we might see in the future.

Oh and BSE is not a DNA disease it is a prion protein based disease.

[ Parent ]

Dontcha think... (none / 0) (#202)
by thelizman on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 11:15:36 AM EST

...saying "prion protien based" is a bit redundant? The point was to establish that genetic modification isn't something humans have exclusive domain on. Which comes back to the point of retrovirii - which can modify a genome if they infect a gamete. Case in point, there was an article a few years back that proposed that a specific birth defect was caused by vaginal yeast infections (somewhere at new scientist).

GM Foods aren't nearly as scary as some people would like us to believe. Anyone calling them frankenfoods obviously never read Mary Shelley's works.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
And why do you think that? n/t (none / 0) (#184)
by levesque on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 06:30:24 PM EST



[ Parent ]
disinformation and hysteria (none / 1) (#233)
by craigtubby on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 07:58:18 AM EST

I'm sorry, I never said that GM food was dangerous - these trials showed that 2 out of 3 GM crops were worse for the environment than their non GM counterparts.

These test were not "Anti-GM" funded, they were funded by a Goverment that has an interest in seeing them succeed.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

heh organic is better for environment (2.00 / 7) (#141)
by Work on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 02:20:35 PM EST

Surely it is.

But the yields are so low and difficult to attain millions would starve.

Hence the point of GM foods: Increase yield without spraying nerve agents (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides) on them.

You're exaggerating. (none / 4) (#142)
by waxmop on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 03:06:43 PM EST

Organic food is often priced higher than conventional food at the same type, but it's not an enormous premium. The grocery store by my house sells conventional and organic brocoli, and there's always a price difference, but it's not even a 50% difference. The same is true for organic milk vs. regular milk: the organic stuff is a little more expensive, but probably at most 25% more expensive.

If organic food was as low-yield and labor-intensive as you're making it to be, that would show up in the price. Prices for organic bananas would be larger by several multiples relative to the conventionally grown stuff.

Of course, you could argue that all those organic farmers are selling their goods at below cost, but I don't believe that because this market has been going on for years and years now.
--
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar
[ Parent ]

25% is quite a big mark-up (none / 2) (#164)
by melia on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 08:19:27 AM EST

I don't know what the average milk production of a farm is, but i'll bet it's a lot. Imagine if your next car was 25% more expensive, that's the sort of scale you're talking about.

Also, remember that for billions of people a pint of milk could take a major chunk out of their weekly paypacket. A 25% rise in any value is very large.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]

Current subsidies are worse. (none / 2) (#174)
by waxmop on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 01:58:15 PM EST

If we go with this untested 25% markup number, then the cost of organic food is probably at most about 25% more, and if we assume unit elasticity, then we can say that yields are about 25% less with organic techniques vs conventional.

Due to the farm subsidies throughout the industrialized countries, we're throwing a lot of food away, so we can switch to a slightly lower yield and still feed everyone.

If we were really worried about making sure food was affordable, we certainly wouldn't subsidize it's production. Any first-year economics student will happily explain how subsidizes raise the price for a commodity above the market level, thus resulting in a surplus, which in the US, is just destroyed.

We could cancel subsidies (which, by the way, don't help Ma and Pa Kent; instead subsidies led to a few huge corporations dominating the farm industry) and then take that money and hand out vouchers to help people afford the slightly more expensive organic stuff.
--
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar
[ Parent ]

Millions are already starving. (none / 2) (#146)
by kitten on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 06:26:22 PM EST


mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Malthus (none / 1) (#190)
by Calieri on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 01:09:29 AM EST

Decrease the starving and increase the carrying capacity consumed. Back at square one.

'Make more food' is a really shitty answer to starvation.

[ Parent ]

There is no need for GM crops in the US (2.62 / 8) (#147)
by NateTG on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 07:12:59 PM EST

After seeing several posts about organic farming and it's "low yield", I can't help but point out that most of k5's readers live in a country that probably throws away or destroys more edible produce than makes it to the store because to prevent the price of produce from dropping too low.

Using non-GM technology, California is, by itself, capable of providing produce for the entire country.  There is no fundemental need for more productive farming in the US.  GM might be more attractive for a country that has limited farmland, and a large population, like China.

There are also some serious issues with the concept of GM and the patenting of life forms.  This, and the associated control issues are much more worrisome to me than the use of GM crops. How long do you think it will take for designer babies to be popular, or how much it will cost to license decay resistant teeth for your children?

In defense of GM, it's not really anything new.  We've been co-evolving with many other species of life on the planet for thousands of years, and GM really only makes it faster.  After all, it shouldn't be all that difficult to breed a herbicide resistanct soybean, but it takes time, money, and runs the risk of creating herbicide resistant weeds.

Realistically, the GM issue is really a symptom of petrochemical driven cash cropping.  Just like mass produced cattle, cash crops are usually grown in inappropriate and overcrowded environments, and propped up by oil-driven machinery, and the farmer's motivitation for using GM is not sustainable production, but increased cash yield.

GM farming reduces oil consumption (none / 0) (#204)
by RyoCokey on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 01:19:18 PM EST

Google for "no-till" farming to see why you end up using less fuel for GM crops. If you want to take it to a further extreme, it might be possible to extend gasoline (via corn-based ethanol) using GM crops that require less petrochemical fertilizers than they would output the equivalent of.



farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
[
Parent ]
-1, Green propaganda (1.71 / 7) (#149)
by Hide The Hamster on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 08:32:42 PM EST

People first, animals second. People are starving, people.


Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

Not for a lack of GM food n/t (none / 1) (#151)
by levesque on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 09:55:31 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Causes, not symptoms. (none / 2) (#153)
by irrevenant on Fri Oct 17, 2003 at 11:09:25 PM EST

Producing more food is only a stop-gap measure.  AFAIK, we already have greater food production than at any point in history, yet the starvation problem remains.  As long as the world's population keeps infinitely growing, we will never produce enough food to keep it fed!

There are also logistic, political and economic factors preventing starving people from accessing food.  As other posters have pointed out , there is much food going to waste in the world.

Short version:  We don't need to keep increasing the amount of food we produce - we need to stop increasing the demand on it, and to efficiently distribute the food supplies that we have.

[ Parent ]

Anti-GM Campaigners are funny (2.12 / 8) (#170)
by Everett True on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 01:30:01 PM EST

Its funny because, here in the UK, they aren't interested in scientific inquiry into finding out precisely if/how GM crops are harmful to the environment. No, they've already made up their minds: GM crops are bad!

It follows, therefore, when you have a *political* viewpoint on GM crops and not at all a scientific viewpoint or a viewpoint interested in getting at the truth of the matter, that you will seek to make sure that others cannot investigate the truth. So in the UK the anti-GM campaigners are more than happy to campaign against *trial* crops of GM plants designed to find out the truth, and to disrupt and scaremonger around scientific programmes designed to investigate these issues.

They're not interested in finding out. They've made up their minds on purely political biases. They are enamoured of the idea that all that created by science is bad, and that mankind is inherently evil, and that the "untested" is inherently dangerous.

Its nothing we haven't seen before - whether it is scaremongerers sayign that "trains are untested" and will destroy agriculture, make cows infertile, and make people's heads fall off if they travel in them above 20mph. The luddites are another good example of this hatred of progress, and the desire to deny the benefits of new technology to others for the sake of shoring up your own political platform and interests. Its no surprise that most anti-GM campaigners are socialists - they are the ones who have most to gain politically by keeping the third world unable to grow crops in nitrogen poor soils or grow cheap vaccines, and the most to gain by spreading a climate of fear regarding the motivations of small companies (like Monsanto - 1/5th the size of Tescos for goodness sake yet pumped up as a paragon of global evil by the socialists, rather than just another company that is trying to serve the customers as best it can).

In any case, one thing is clear: the motivations and arguments of the anti-GM crowd have precisely nothing to do with an interest in seeking the truth and what is best for their fellow man, and everything to do with their own narrow political ambitions. If they were truly interested in either, then they would take a middle, cautionary road regarding GM, recognising that it may have its dangers but it may have great benefits as well, just like any other new technology ever invented. They would also support trial crop planting and the investigation of GM's viability in the UK, rather than ceaselessly opposing and disrupting it.

As things stand, their hard-line attitude of "we've already made up our minds" just shows that they are nothing more than hardline selfish lefty zealots with ulterior motives and nothing but their own interests at heart, and as such, they should be roundly ignored by all sensible men, as the insignificant scaremongering rump they are.

Today is gonna be the day that they're gonna throw it back to you!

It's worth considering (none / 3) (#172)
by calimehtar on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 01:35:24 PM EST

That pro-GM campaigners are just as biased. There are meaningful arguments against GM. Evidence that plants bred to contain pesticides aren't fighting off pests but breeding stronger ones and problems with intellectual property to name just two.

Of course Monsanto has more money to fund studies and pay off government officials, so it's also reasonable to assume that you're going to get more, and more effective pro-GM propaganda than anti-GM.

Personally the detail in the whole story that bothers me the most is the pro-GM lobby's (so far successful) to keep GM labelling off food in supermarkets. Why the secrecy? Don't we deserve to know what we're eating and make up our own minds about whether it's safe or not?

+++

Let heaven exist, though my place be in hell. Let me be outraged and annihilated, but for one instant, in one being, let Your enormous [ Parent ]

actually (none / 3) (#173)
by Work on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 01:52:32 PM EST

alot of the european anti-GM propaganda comes from the various government agencies that are supposed to watch food and drugs. One could argue that politics are surely at work in this, particularly after such impotent showings in containing such issues like mad cow, and foot & mouth, and are looking for a way to convince jaded and skeptical citizens of their relevance.

In the US anyway, the FDA has a fairly good record and extremely strict requirements and citizens typically don't have the same mistrust that their european counterparts do.

[ Parent ]

Well (none / 2) (#177)
by Everett True on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 02:17:42 PM EST

The same is true of spraying incesticide on plants: creatures get stronger to counteract the increased potency of their prey. Same with antibiotics and a million other things. Should antibiotics and incesticide be banned because they result in creatures becoming more resistant to them? No, I'm sure you'll agree.

Regarding food labeling, why should they be forced to label it? I certainly don't understand the argument. Should every company include every possible details about the manufacture of their products? "Smith's Rice - GM, made using incesticides, harvested with a Telefunken A5000 Autoplooker, etc". I think they shouldn't be *forced* to do anything. Competitors are of course free to put "contains no GM produce" on their products, and to detail whatever they think makes their product attractive. This is a bit like the sort of people who moan about fatty foods saying that all grub should carry a "Fat" label, when given enough consumer demand companies will fall over themselves to provide clearly labelled "low fat" products.

If most people don't care about GM (as is in fact the case), but there exists a small amount of people who do, then they are free to be catered to via grossly wasteful "organic" produce.

Today is gonna be the day that they're gonna throw it back to you!
[ Parent ]

labelling non-GM illegal (none / 3) (#179)
by danharan on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 04:15:50 PM EST

There's one huge, gaping hole in your argument: Monstanto and their ilk have lobbied very hard to make sure farmers and processors could NOT label their food as GMO free. In many countries, it is illegal (not sure what the status is in Canada).

There were similar battles fought over RGBH-free milk, etc... If these companies can not sell their products on the free market, why should governments allow them to reduce information available to consumers?

And about plants "engineered" to have BT toxins: organic farmers use small applications of non-engineered bacteria to kill some pests. By having the toxin in plants all the time (they don't just disappear in two weeks), GM companies are accelerating the demise of this natural method of pest control. They'll make a bit of money, and cost organic farmers just as much... sounds like sabotage, doesn't it?

[ Parent ]

Well (none / 1) (#180)
by Everett True on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 04:34:44 PM EST

I certainly disagree with that, but it doesn't affect my attitude towards GM. This is more of an argument about the practises of the government and its tendency to interfere in the free market, and as such, irrelevant to the argument about whether GM is safe/worthwhile.

For example, just because governments love to massively interfere in the plane industry by massively funding Boeing and Airbus and stymying competitors, this is not a suitable argument for banning planes. Its an argument for taking the government to task.

Today is gonna be the day that they're gonna throw it back to you!
[ Parent ]

Labelling (none / 2) (#186)
by Simon Kinahan on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 08:46:42 PM EST

<P><I>Monstanto and their ilk have lobbied very hard to make sure farmers and processors could NOT label their food as GMO free. </I>

<P>Which only works if your government is wetter than the Pacific Ocean. The EU has instituted rules than require products that include anything even remotely related to GMOs to be labelled, to a degree that is, IMHO, quite unreasonable, and has yet to suffer whatever the supposed consequences of the wrath of Monsanto might be. Fundamentally, this is a problem with your *government*, not with genetic modification, or even with the companies pedelling it.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

organic farming - an aside (3.00 / 8) (#171)
by calimehtar on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 01:30:28 PM EST

In Romania most crops are still grown in the traditional way with hand tools. Most people, even in the capital city, Bucharest, still buy food from directly from peasants even though supermarkets are beginning to appear.

Farming in Romania is in, all details but certification, organic, and the result is some of the best (and most consistently good) fresh produce I've ever had. Ironically the reason for it is mostly poverty, while in North America the existence of organic farming is due mostly to affluence.

It would be foolish to think that Romanian farmers can be frozen in this innocent state permanently.

+++

Let heaven exist, though my place be in hell. Let me be outraged and annihilated, but for one instant, in one being, let Your enormous

Second That (3.00 / 4) (#188)
by flimflam on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 11:33:38 PM EST

The best tomatoes I've ever had were in Romania. Eggplants as well.

Poverty doesn't necessarily lead to environmentally-friendly farming (see much of Latin America), so perhaps there is hope for the future of organic farming in Romania.


-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]
Time to start growing food indoors (2.71 / 7) (#187)
by QuantumG on Sat Oct 18, 2003 at 09:00:33 PM EST

There's these things called "factories" that make most of our food these days (that's what it means to live in an industrial society - most of your food comes from factories) but they still get their raw product from the fields. This is pretty half assed industrialism in my view. Essentially our industrial society is still dependant on its agrian roots. It's time we started building factories that actually make food, not just package/freeze or dry it. By growing food hydroponicly we can:
  • make better use of space. Grow in three dimensions.
  • cut down on transportation costs. Both economic and environmental, by moving the production of food out of the farmlands and into the cities.
  • use non-solar forms of energy. Yes, I do mean fossil fuel and nuclear power.
  • decentralize food production. The dangers of centralized food production are more immediately today than ever.
  • stop interfering with nature. We can genetically engineer our foods any way we like without fear of destroying natural biodiversity.
It makes sense, and it's not like we don't have a lot of experience with hydroponics. Hell, entrepreneurial pot heads can figure it out.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
Are you serious? (none / 4) (#207)
by scruffyMark on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 06:37:14 PM EST

Aside from the basic fact that hydroponic produce tastes like refried sand compared to organic, or even non-organic field grown stuff, (incidentally, hydro pot tastes crappy too) your arguments largely make zilch sense.

  • make better use of space; cut down transportation costs. OK, those two I'll buy.
  • use non-solar forms of energy. Yeah, that blasted solar energy - it's free, it's plentiful, and any nuclear waste is disposed of at no cost, 150 million kilometers from the Earth. We'd best get away from that.
  • decentralize food production. Yes, move from a large number of fields with low-density production, to a small number of factories with high-density production. That would be centralization, not decentralization.

    My favourite, though:

  • stop interfering with nature. We can genetically engineer our foods any way we like without fear of destroying natural biodiversity. Yeah, nobody would ever throw a rock at a glass greenhouse. Or get lazy and drive home in their work clothes. I suppose we could lock the workers into the greenhouses, and shoot anyone who tries to step out into the open air. As long as we never missed, and shot a hole in the glass.

    Of course, that doesn't solve the problem of getting the food to the people who would eat it, and disposing of the remains, without anything growing anywhere. I suppose you could track the number of apples people buy, and require them to turn in an equal number of apple cores for incineration (etc., apply to every crop capable of being planted), but that sounds like a costly and cumbersome solution. Doesn't help with grains either - it's the seeds you eat, so you can't turn those in. More effective would be to simply lock everyone in the greenhouses, and shoot anyone who tries to step out into the open air.



[ Parent ]
On your last point.. (none / 0) (#211)
by QuantumG on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 12:35:46 AM EST

It's pretty simple to inject the food with dna cutters..

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
DNA cutters? (none / 0) (#212)
by scruffyMark on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 02:13:53 AM EST

OK, I'm not familiar with the term, but - even assuming this would work, are you suggesting that making enough of this stuff to see to an entire food supply, then paying people to individually inject them in every grape produced, would
a) result in food that's fit to eat (both safe and tasty)
b) be cheaper than just growing crops in a field

Besides, it seems to me, the energy required to manufacture these substances would likely be far, far, more than the caloric energy stored in the produce itself.

[ Parent ]

There's these things called viruses.. (none / 0) (#217)
by QuantumG on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 07:40:20 AM EST

they do that already. The problem appears to be that you think "frankenfoods" could never be as safe as the stuff grown out in the fields.. You don't have much faith in humanity.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Stop it with the generic assoc of 'GM' with evil (2.71 / 7) (#189)
by Calieri on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 01:05:26 AM EST

I would have appreciated more specific attention to exactly which 'GM crops' were tested, rather than tarring all possible GM crops with one brush. 'Genetically modified' seems to suggest that genetic modifications per se are dangerous, a really common and really egregious implication.

Genetic modification of species isn't new or unnatural. Selective breeding is genetic modification. Inbreeding is GM. Hybridization is definitely GM. Of course, violations in the assumptions for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium - like any mutation, migration, or nonrandom mating - also constitute genetic modification by the environment.

The class of species produced by people using these GM techniques includes most of the 'non-GM' crops we eat (e.g., wheat). The class of species produced by genetic modifications, of course, includes all species.

What defines GM is that it involves modification of genes. The difference between old GM and new GM is, primarily, that you don't hear about or worry about the possibilities of mutation, except maybe in the context of pathogens.

If you would like to complain about specific techniques or strains, be my guest. But, for God's sake, just stop feeding the ignorance and misinformation about genetic modification in general:

Oh no, there are GENES in my FOOD! And they CHANGE!

Oh no, there are CHEMICALS in my WATER!

Oh no, this drug CHANGES THE FUNCTION OF MY BRAIN!

Oh no, PEOPLE HAVE DISCOVERED A WAY OF MAKING BABY ANIMALS WHICH ARE SIMILAR TO EXISTING ADULT ANIMALS!!

HOLY SHIT, THE SKY IS FALLING!

Well, yes. (none / 1) (#209)
by pla on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 11:04:11 PM EST

I would have appreciated more specific attention to exactly which 'GM crops' were tested, rather than tarring all possible GM crops with one brush.

Except that currently, you pretty much can paint them all with one brush.

The single most common meaning of "GM" relates to the splicing of a plant's DNA with a gene for one of Bacillus thuringiensis's delta-endotoxins.

As a somewhat unrelated aside, Bacillus thuringiensis exists as the same organism as Bacillus anthracis, the cause of Anthrax. They differ only in their plasmids (a sort of extra blob of DNA that bacteria can trade with one another to gain various abilities such as toxin production or antibiotic resistance).


[ Parent ]
Well, yes. (none / 3) (#210)
by pla on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 11:47:48 PM EST

I would have appreciated more specific attention to exactly which 'GM crops' were tested, rather than tarring all possible GM crops with one brush.

Except that currently, you pretty much can paint them all with one brush.

The single most common meaning of "GM" relates to the splicing of a plant's DNA with a gene for one of Bacillus thuringiensis's delta-endotoxins.

As a somewhat unrelated aside, Bacillus thuringiensis exists as the same organism as Bacillus anthracis, the cause of Anthrax. They differ only in their plasmids (a sort of extra blob of DNA that bacteria can trade with one another to gain various abilities such as toxin production or antibiotic resistance).


[ Parent ]
No (none / 0) (#225)
by Calieri on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 05:18:21 AM EST

Of course, 'genetically modified crops' properly means genetically modified crops: a general class of crops distinguished by having been genetically modified.

It isn't right that 'the single most common meaning of GM' is anything other than 'genetically modified.' News stories, as a reliable rule, expand GM as an acronym for 'genetically modified,' the meaning of which is not in question, and as a very good rule, fail to mention Bt at all. It's also very telling that quite different manipulations are discussed as GM without skipping a beat (like the one with the beets and the 'antifreeze gene' from a fish. All the usage I observe follows the same pattern. I don't talk to farmers, though.

A couple of web search results: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/harvest/exist/ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2067040.stm

You can also look at the contents of most discussion on GM and work backwards to what it is taken to mean: much discussion occurs about whether scientists know enough, whether the scientists are immoral or ungodly, whether the multinational corporations are evil, etc., maybe in addition to discussion of Bt, which would be consistent with the idea that Bt is widely understood to be GM, but GM not necessarily Bt. On the other hand, 'Frankenfood' is easily understood to be a near (connotatively different) synonym for GM, while very clearly alluding to the general sort of objections, the objections not keyed on the consequences of the modification or even the technique used, but rather on the fact of modification involving multiple animals, and the whiff of unnaturalness or immorality and danger. That's enough about what common usage is, I don't expect this will settle anything and you're perfectly welcome to claim whatever wild thing about usage you like, it doesn't really speak to what I said.

Hopefully you would admit that it would be an error to actually conflate Bt crops with all possible crops produced by genetic manipulations, or even (say) just ones involving bacteria and new techniques. Hopefully you would admit that this latter class is so diverse in its consequences that the only way to attack it as a class is by complaining about the fact that there is manipulation, or finding on good authority that all of the techniques for gene modification would involve fearful risks. And hopefully you would admit that either of these attitudes, applied to such broad classes with so little to go on, is irrational. If so, then it would only be rational to admit that 'you can't tar all possible crops produced by genetic modification with one brush,' because that is what this sentence meant.

Many use the actually very broad word 'chemicals' to refer to a more specific class of unpalatable substances like bleach or benzene. This isn't correct, but the situation becomes absurd when a substance is taken to be dangerous because it is 'chemical,' as if this were exceptional.

Suppose someone claims that organic foods don't contain chemicals. Echoing your argument, we could justify this with an argument that, by usage, 'chemicals' means 'nasty pollutants.' This would put the claim in a better light, but it wouldn't make the practice any less conducive to a particularly nasty sort of confusion which really does exist, even if you know everything about Bt crops. If people understand chemicals, the nasty stuff, to be pretty necessarily manmade, then they will go around believing that something being natural certifies that it is harmless, or that something being manmade necessarily makes it more harmful. That's very much wrong, and it does us harm to form policy around this nonsense.

[ Parent ]

Say *what*? (2.77 / 9) (#208)
by pla on Sun Oct 19, 2003 at 10:32:00 PM EST

GM foods are more harmful to many groups of wildlife than their non GM counterparts.

Because GM crops don't allow as many weeds or plant-eating pests to grow on them, they hurt weeds, plant-eating pests, and birds who would normally eat one of those two groups?

Gimme a frickin' break here! You can't describe the PRIMARY PURPOSE of something as a drawback. Those "side effects" have nothing to do with the GM-ness of these crops, it has to do with more effective pest control. You'd see the exact same results if you came up with a perfect weed-and-pest controlling robot that patrolled the fields.

I don't exactly like the idea of GM food, but we really need to focus on the "real" problems, such as how spliced-in BT toxins affect humans. Citing incidentals that result from the very traits that make GM crops more desireable, while having nothing to do with the actual GM, does nothing but spread FUD.


Biodiversity is a concern. (none / 2) (#224)
by mr strange on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 03:44:31 AM EST

Yes you're right, he is saying that we want farmers to grow weeds for us. 'Weeds' provide an environment for many small animals that we don't want to drive to extinction.

To be honest, I think this is a more reasonable objection to GM that the rather dubious claims that GM foods are harmful to human health.

By far the most compelling argument against GM is that it threatens to enslave third world farmers to huge American corporations. Frankly, GM's effects on human health or the British countryside are side issues.

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
[ Parent ]

It is reasonable (none / 0) (#227)
by nebbish on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 11:24:28 AM EST

Now that farms in the EU have a negligabable contribution to make to the economy preserving wildlife is a major factor in deciding whether we want GM or not.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

This is precisely why GM is a problem (none / 1) (#226)
by nebbish on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 11:16:19 AM EST

You can't describe the PRIMARY PURPOSE of something as a drawback.

Well, you can, and by doing so you have a very strong case for banning its use.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

Okay, let me rephrase that... (none / 1) (#229)
by pla on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 01:10:50 PM EST

you can, and by doing so you have a very strong case for banning its use.

Now, you may say that naked molerats and grasshoppers and the yellow-throated thrush all have a right to inhabit a given field. However, I would like to point out two facts before all of the villagers head off to Baron von Monsanto's castle with torches.

First, although they may quickly turn into homes for various critters, a yearly-plowed field of totally-non-GM crops does not in any sense of the word count as a "natural" home or food source for any animal on the planet. We may as well say that sealing up the eaves of your house denies squirrels a place to spend the winter, or not leaving trash out for the bears makes them more afraid of humans. Both true, and like the actual issue of GM crops, both desireable outcomes, that people do their damnedest to attain.

Second, you operate on the assumption that we will never, ever find ways to expand agriculture onto new land, thus displacing the animals already there. Yet how many acres of rainforest vanish each day for the sake of farming? By increasing the yield per acre, we can slow the rate of consumption of newly available land, and possibly give some of what we already use back to nature (abandoned farmland makes some of the cheapest non-desert property in the US, and many wildlife preserves occupy former farmland left over from when the shift to industrial-ag in the midwest made small-scale farming less economically viable).

So yes, I will agree with you on the technicality that we can indeed accuse GM crops of living up to their intended purpose. We can probably even ban them, thanks to the Luddite currently in the White House. That does't make doing so even remotely sensible, however, and I would really like it if people looked beyond the FUD associated with "Frankenfood" - Lots of bad words and emotional triggers, and very little rational argument.


This reminds me of another peeve of mine. The anti-smoking "the Truth" ads have a pair of ads that always crack me up (or really piss me off, if I let them get to me) - In one, they point out that light cigarettes don't cause any less damage, because people will just smoke more to get the same dose of nicotine (fair enough, a well-studied phenomena in animals). In another, they damn the tobacco companies for adding ammonia to cigarettes to enhance nicotine absorbtion in the lungs (also true). However, if you look at that pair of facts together, rather than in isolation, you'll see that at least one of them you need to credit the tobacco companies for, in that better nicotine absorption means people will smoke less, thus causing less damage over time.


Not all systems exist in isolation, and when we look at them as if they do, we suffer for it.

To put my point another way - Another simple and 100% effective way exists to prevent pests from reducing crop yields - Grow them in a warehouse, entirely enclosed, augmenting the reduced sunlight with a few million watts of government-subsidized MH lighting. Would that make all the anti-GM people happy, by causing far more damage to the environment?


[ Parent ]
WTF? (none / 2) (#222)
by ENOENT on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 04:33:48 PM EST

You tell the GM to roll the dice, and then you start ranting about genetic engineering? I'm glad that I've never gamed with you!

:-)

So nyah.


The elephant in the living room (none / 1) (#235)
by error 404 on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 05:45:57 PM EST

Is the economic impact. You can't say that, because then you get into all this planned economy anti-communist paranoia.

Follow the benefits. Who wins with GM foods? Not the starving, there is enough waste and surplus to feed everybody. People are starving first because of economic inefficiency (my definiton is a little different from the usual term - I consider an economy efficient when it enables a civilization to thrive) and second because of distribution issues. In both cases, the root cause is often corrupt and violent politics. The end consumers don't win - the production cost of raw food is a tiny fraction of what the grocery store or restaurant charges. The farmers don't win, because increased production quickly results in reduced prices - that market is, in the technical sense, extremely efficient. The primary winners are the GM vendors, followed closely by the vendors of the specialized pesticides and fertilizers, and then there are, possibly, a few points on the distribution chain that may enjoy slightly higher profits.

There are significant risks involved in large scale GM. I'm not talking about the food being toxic or the plants running amok. Those are relatively easy to control, and liability is reasonably easy to assign. Those costs will almost certainly be charged against the GM profits. I'm talking about things like the hazards of monoculture. The Irish Potato Famine was caused by a blight that was pretty specific to one strain of potato. If the potato normally reproduced sexualy, the blight would have been a minor problem. Some fields would have been hit hard, others growing a slightly different kind of potato would have been damaged, still others unaffected. Might have bankrupted a few marginal farmers and raised the prices in a few villages. But the potatoes in Ireland were clones, because that's the easy way to grow them. All exactly the same genetics. And when a microorganism that was perfectly adapted to that potato hit, it ripped through the entire island's crop. For those unfamiliar with the history, huge numbers of Irish starved, and even huger numbers left, causing one of those waves of immigrants in the US. There are now - as a direct result of that disatster - more Irish in the US than in Ireland.

That example wasn't anybody's fault, but it does illustrate the danger.

But what if that crop were a proprietary GM? If it turned out to be toxic, the company would be liable. If it escaped and destroyed nearby crops, same thing. (well, I think there is a case where that happened and the company, rather than paying reparations to the victim, sued for IP infringement.) But what if the crop is such a popular product - provides high yield of attractive produce at low cost - that farmers grow it to the exclusion of all else (and that's pretty likely in major agribusiness - you pick a corporate standard) and then some new bug, or more likely, an existing bug that never was a major pest, destroys the entire agricultural output of a state? Who can blame the GM company for doing their job very well? You can't blame the farmers either - if they didn't pick the most profitable crop, economic forces would drive them off the land.

What if the product succeeds so well that a small country shifts its agriculture and then the market is flooded, ruining that country's economy? You might point out that in that case the country's govornment failed to lead well. But from a non-interventionist point of view, that govornment did right. Unless the govornment pushed the adoption of the product, for which there is ample historical precident. Now you've got another bunch of hungry, angry people. Possibly sitting on a large supply of fertilizer they have no good use for.

GM food provides benefit to a small number of companies (Hey, I think profit is a very good thing, profit from science and innovation doubly so) and spreads (externalizes) costs and risks. Does it create net wealth or do the externalized costs exceed the profits? I don't know. You don't know. Monsanto doesn't know. The EU Minister For That Kind of Thing doesn't know. Because anybody studying the question is obviously a stinkin' commie. Whatever the answer is, it opens big cans of worms about protectionism and indirect subsidy.
..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

This is a non-issue (none / 0) (#238)
by kurtmweber on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 08:34:58 PM EST

If someone decides he wants to eat genetically-modified foods, there is no valid reason to prevent him from doing so. Government doesn't need to get involved in this.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
You Europeons are so cute (none / 1) (#241)
by trhurler on Fri Oct 24, 2003 at 04:54:19 PM EST

Oh, big bad Monsanto decided they don't want to be fucked around by the world's currently most insanely out of control bureaucrats? Too fucking bad. Maybe you don't understand this, but Monsanto has decided to be a biotechnology company - and ONLY a biotechnology company - in the future. If Europe won't let them do that effectively, then why should they do business in Europe?

More companies will follow. Europeans seem to think they can regulate anything in any way they like without any negative effects upon themselves. It won't work out that way. In the history of the world, it has always been true that those who refuse to move forward are left behind.

Finally, regarding the topic at hand: if you'd included any of the(vastly more numerous) studies that have been done in the US to satisfy various government agencies and for other purposes, you'd already know that those butterflies apparently have a method of avoiding toxin producing plants, as their numbers seem unaffected by those plants, and that so far, even when there have been regulatory breakdowns that, for example, allowed people to eat corn that was not approved for human consumption, there were precisely ZERO problems.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

GM, let's roll the dice ... | 241 comments (182 topical, 59 editorial, 0 hidden)
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