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GMO science, dangers, and politics

shagg

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GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, is a label most often used to describe certain food crops, like corn and soy, that have been genetically modified to produce more, resist pests or disease, and/or enhance vitamin/mineral content. Possibly other goals could be achieved as well, but these are the ones I hear the most about. While most people seem unconcerned, there's an (apparent) minority that feels very strongly about keeping us safe from the dangers of GMOs.

Whats the big deal?
Before the FDA decided to allow GMOs into food without labeling, FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GM foods can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored.
gmo danger

Since then, findings include:

Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants
Mice eating GM corn for the long term had fewer, and smaller, babies
More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, and were smaller
Testicle cells of mice and rats on a GM soy change significantly
By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies
Rodents fed GM corn and soy showed immune system responses and signs of toxicity
Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen
Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced
The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer.
Studies showed organ lesions, altered liver and pancreas cells, changed enzyme levels, etc.

Unlike safety evaluations for drugs, there are no human clinical trials of GM foods. The only published human feeding experiment revealed that the genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function. This means that long after we stop eating GM foods, we may still have their GM proteins produced continuously inside us. This could mean:

If the antibiotic gene inserted into most GM crops were to transfer, it could create super diseases, resistant to antibiotics
If the gene that creates Bt-toxin in GM corn were to transfer, it might turn our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories.

Although no studies have evaluated if antibiotic or Bt-toxin genes transfer, that is one of the key problems. The safety assessments are too superficial to even identify most of the potential dangers from GMOs. See our Health Risks brochure and State of the Science report for more details and citations.
Institute for Responsible Technology - GMO Dangers

A lot of "ifs" and "we don't knows" and even "evidence hints at bad but we're not certain yet". The consequences, if these fears are well founded, could be severe, maybe... I suppose its the fact that the FDA has been so nonchalant about GMOs that's scary. Even still, I'd be skeptical about the skeptics, if it weren't for.....

Obamas perceived connection to and support of Monsanto -

California Prop 37 would have required all foods containing GMOs to say so on the label. those opposed raised approximately 5 times the funding as those for it (~9 mil vs ~46 mil) with Monsanto putting ~8.2 mil into the opposition. The defeat of the bill spawned the March Against Monsanto.

The protest was also motivated by President Barack Obama's signing, on March 26, 2013, of the Farmer Assurance Provision, which is Section 735 of US H.R. 933.[21] The section of the bill is called the "Monsanto Protection Act" by critics, and it authorizes the United States Department of Agriculture to allow the planting and cultivation of genetically modified food while environmental reviews are being completed, even if there is a legal ruling against their approval.[22] Independent US Senator Bernie Sanders attempted, unsuccessfully, to introduce Senate Amendment 965 to the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013, legislation that would require labeling of GM food products. Sanders criticized Monsanto for its opposition to his initiative, saying that Monsanto and other biotech companies "were able to gather a whole lot of support in the Senate".
Now I'm a little worried. This is something with Obamas name on it, and the republicans seem to be uncharacteristically silent.

Could it be... politicians from all sides have a vested interest seeing GMO products sold, incognito, successfully in the US?

Is that why special rules were made for GMOs? Is a desire for profit outweighing realistic concerns for the health of consumers?

How do you personally feel about GMOs? Is this just a bunch of tree-huggers making noise?
 

Fisher

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How do you personally feel about GMOs? Is this just a bunch of tree-huggers making noise?
In part, but in part it is simply the reality that GM foods have prevented a lot of people from starving, and, the supporters of labeling ignore certain realities--most processed foods contain GM food and non-gm foods covered in pesticides and fungicides and chemical fertilizers are not necessarily better for consumers, and that is what the alternative would be, just more expensive. This is nothing but organic farmers being haughty and having their cause taken up by anti-corporatists.
 

sawyerloggingon

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Just the other day my 250lb sis in law was standing next to her petite sister saying that there is evidence GMO food is making people fat. She's a lib of course and is always looking for someone to blame and never takes any personal responsibility. Having said that I try to grow or hunt most of my food and what I can't grow I buy from organic farmers at the local farmers market. That's not about GMO though, it is more about herbicides and pesticides.
 

shagg

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In part, but in part it is simply the reality that GM foods have prevented a lot of people from starving, and, the supporters of labeling ignore certain realities--most processed foods contain GM food and non-gm foods covered in pesticides and fungicides and chemical fertilizers are not necessarily better for consumers, and that is what the alternative would be, just more expensive. This is nothing but organic farmers being haughty and having their cause taken up by anti-corporatists.
This is how I feel/felt mostly. After reading up on what I could find about it I'm *almost* on the fence. I'm still inclined to think this though. "Golden Rice" has done a lot in the fight against malnutrition in china, and certain strains of GMO crops don't require pesticides, or far less pesticides depending on the crop/strain. I don't know if I'm just not seeing all the info that's out there or if its just that opponents can only fabricate so much scientific sounding doubt without committing to checkable facts. The part that concerns me most is the government and FDAs position and seeming nonchalance about it. Makes me think of Reagan replacing the head of the FDA in order to get aspartame cleared for consumption, and how any study done by an aspartame producer shows its harmless, and any study done by anyone else shows its harmful. Sometimes profits come first, is this one of those cases?
 

ttwtt78640

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One must be careful with outside "independent" research showing what GMO foods "can" do. First of all, are they using actual on the market products or simply varients that they made or that were rejected by those making them as "not quite ready for prime time"? If a danger from a currently marketed GMO product can be shown then, by all means, show us the actual harmful effects in humans. Pesticides, like GMOs, that are fatal for insects, and highly toxic (in large doses) to other tiny mammals, may have little or no noticable negative effects when consumed by humans or cattle.

Naturally those with a competing product want to have the gov't "prove" that the competition "may be" less safe, but labeling beef as "containing GMOs" because 1% of their feed source was GMO corn is getting a bit overboard. Who is to say that products advertised as "organic" were not exposed to insects or other pests that had also visited a GMO field nearby, or were fertilized using manure produced by animals eating feed contianing GMOs?
 

jag2594

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GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, is a label most often used to describe certain food crops, like corn and soy, that have been genetically modified to produce more, resist pests or disease, and/or enhance vitamin/mineral content. Possibly other goals could be achieved as well, but these are the ones I hear the most about. While most people seem unconcerned, there's an (apparent) minority that feels very strongly about keeping us safe from the dangers of GMOs.

Whats the big deal?


Institute for Responsible Technology - GMO Dangers

A lot of "ifs" and "we don't knows" and even "evidence hints at bad but we're not certain yet". The consequences, if these fears are well founded, could be severe, maybe... I suppose its the fact that the FDA has been so nonchalant about GMOs that's scary. Even still, I'd be skeptical about the skeptics, if it weren't for.....

Obamas perceived connection to and support of Monsanto -

California Prop 37 would have required all foods containing GMOs to say so on the label. those opposed raised approximately 5 times the funding as those for it (~9 mil vs ~46 mil) with Monsanto putting ~8.2 mil into the opposition. The defeat of the bill spawned the March Against Monsanto.



Now I'm a little worried. This is something with Obamas name on it, and the republicans seem to be uncharacteristically silent.

Could it be... politicians from all sides have a vested interest seeing GMO products sold, incognito, successfully in the US?

Is that why special rules were made for GMOs? Is a desire for profit outweighing realistic concerns for the health of consumers?

How do you personally feel about GMOs? Is this just a bunch of tree-huggers making noise?
China mandates GMO labeling. And yet, we are the freest country in the world:roll:
 

shagg

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One must be careful with outside "independent" research showing what GMO foods "can" do. First of all, are they using actual on the market products or simply varients that they made or that were rejected by those making them as "not quite ready for prime time"? If a danger from a currently marketed GMO product can be shown then, by all means, show us the actual harmful effects in humans. Pesticides, like GMOs, that are fatal for insects, and highly toxic (in large doses) to other tiny mammals, may have little or no noticable negative effects when consumed by humans or cattle.

Naturally those with a competing product want to have the gov't "prove" that the competition "may be" less safe, but labeling beef as "containing GMOs" because 1% of their feed source was GMO corn is getting a bit overboard. Who is to say that products advertised as "organic" were not exposed to insects or other pests that had also visited a GMO field nearby, or were fertilized using manure produced by animals eating feed contianing GMOs?
It could be even simpler than that, the "organic" farm might be downhill from a non organic one, and the runoff from rain and irrigation will carry the chemical fertilizers and pesticides of the non organic farm to the organic one. Theres always a caveat emptor when you deal with labels like "organic". With GMOs it seems like it would be a hard line, where .02% and 99% get the same label and consumers have little or no way of knowing the difference, or if the difference even matters.

As for the "outside independent research" I can't bring myself to believe its unbiased. It would be very easy to find the most toxic example of GMO crops and bombard lab rats with hundreds of times the amount a consumer would be exposed to and point at the tumors and loss of reproductive function and shout "See, its evil!", because the investigating agency had very well defined agenda to produce proof of the dangers.

My problem is I see reason to doubt both sides, and I'm at a loss as to how to find the truth of the matter.
 

shagg

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China mandates GMO labeling. And yet, we are the freest country in the world:roll:
While i see the argument that the ignorant consumers will avoid GMOs like the plague due to fear mongering of its opponents, a PR campaign aimed at dispelling that fear and educating the public on the nature and usefulness of GMOs as well as where they likely already consume them could be highly effective, and infinitely more honest. And yet they chose to lobby and back-door in some legislation protecting GMOs. It all comes down to money, and there's a lot of it wanting to keep GMOs legal and incognito. A lot of people who would otherwise reflexively support obama are pissed at him over this, and yet the conservatives do not capitalize. That alone makes me suspicious.
 

jag2594

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While i see the argument that the ignorant consumers will avoid GMOs like the plague due to fear mongering of its opponents, a PR campaign aimed at dispelling that fear and educating the public on the nature and usefulness of GMOs as well as where they likely already consume them could be highly effective, and infinitely more honest. And yet they chose to lobby and back-door in some legislation protecting GMOs. It all comes down to money, and there's a lot of it wanting to keep GMOs legal and incognito. A lot of people who would otherwise reflexively support obama are pissed at him over this, and yet the conservatives do not capitalize. That alone makes me suspicious.
fair enough not all gmos are bad. However europe and other eastern countries are cautious about them....
 

GottaGo

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GMOs may have their benefits, such as added nutrients for third world countries.

However, the USofA is not a third world country. Most of our citizens are not so malnourished that the added nutrients are going to provide a true benefit to it's citizens.

What the USofA is, is a supposed place of freedom. However, being that the government knows best for us all :roll: we should accept the GMO products without a quiver, without the choice to know what is in the foods we are consuming.

Those who feel that labeling is a negative shadow on GMO, and feel that GMO-free foods (organic) should be the ones to tout their status, and GMO foods should remain unlabeled.

I believe we have the right to know what we are consuming, just as other contents are labeled, so should the GMO foods.
 
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