Also, please note... while I personally think GMOs should not even be legal, the big battle going on now is over LABELING them. They don't want us to KNOW what we are eating.
Historically, labeling has led to a withdrawal of such ingredients from the market, so while the law may be about labeling, history (in Europe, Japan, and Australia, among other major markets) demonstrates that requiring labeling results in removal of those ingredients from the marketplace.
For those who are interested in avoiding GMOs in the US, you do already have that option. If you purchase organic foods, those foods by definition do not contain any GMO ingredients.
It's been my understanding that genetic science has not yet reached the level at which artificial, man-made substances can be genetically coded into an organism.
That is that genetic modification can only be done by inserting bits of existing genetic code from one plant or animal, into another.
That means that any "pesticides" that are genetically coded into a plant have to be pesticides that are found in the natural, animal kingdom.
I understand that it may be possible to put animal DNA into plants, but ordinarily that isn't done.
That means that what they're doing with GMO plants is taking bits of DNA (and what that DNA does) into other plants. So the "pesticides" being bred into some crops are pesticides that occur naturally in other plants (though some of these are plants that we do not generally eat).
Since the pesticide has to be organic (has to come from a living plant or animal) to be inserted into the DNA of the plant being modified - that means it's a pesticide that organic farmers are allowed to use.
One of the reasons I decided against entirely organic diet, is that I could only afford mass-produced organic - and many of the organic pesticides used on large organic farms are every bit as dangerous as the non-organic ones.
I'd rather eat a GMO crop that contains the genetic coding to produce a natural pesticide than to eat a crop heavily treated with either man-made or organic pesticides - but my preference is to eat locally grown, small-farm, organic. The cost of becoming certified, is prohibitive for small farms, meaning that most small organic farmers can't afford to be certified. And many small farms, even if they're not fully organic, generally produce safer crops than mega-farm organic.
I'm not saying that all or even any GMO crops are perfectly safe, but it does mean that it's important to not only know if a crop has been genetically modified, but how it's been genetically modified.
For example there's a genetically modified corn that is fed to cattle, but not to humans. The reason being that the corn contains I believe a bit of soy or peanut DNA (or some other plant that is a common allergen). The reason it's not considered safe for human consumption is that people allergic to the plant that was used to modify the corn, might react to the modified corn with that plant's DNA.
A few years ago, some of the GMO corn got into the food supply. Only a few brands of corn meal and corn tortillas were affected (if I'm remembering correctly) and it caused a bit of a panic. Many people believed that all corn was unsafe to eat.
I'm not so worried about GMOs that take genetic code from one edible or safe-to-eat plant (some plants are safe to eat, but are considered inedible because of flavor or the amount of undigestible fiber) and insert it into another (which I believe is as far as Monsanto and genetic engineering has gotten outside of the lab, that is into the food supply).
I think there is potential for problems, of course because it's at least theoretically possible to put tangerine DNA into an apple and get something toxic, but in practice I think it's unlikely.
The biggest risk of GMO crops currently (in my opinion) is to the economy and to the ecology.
To the economy because Montanso "ownes" the genetically modified organisms. That means if your crop becomes cross-polinated with a GMO, Monsanto owns your crop as well as it's own. It also means that you can't buy and grow GMO plants without the permission of (and payment to) Monsanto.
To the ecology because GMO crops, because of their modifications have an unnatural advantage over the natural vegetation of an area. Send GMOs to third world countries and you might save the population from starvation, but destroy their ecosystems in the process.
In terms of edibility, I think GMOs are currently pretty safe because they're blending edible plants, and if anyone has proof otherwise, if you could refer me to publicised data - journal articles, books, or professional association or university websites, I'd greatly appreciate it (not private organization or individual websites though - there are tons of those out there claiming outlandish and impossible things).
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And again, I think Nikel1979 was not calling you a freak-out personally.
Sorry, yes, I was referencing some WAY OTT freak-outs on facebook. Like it's all a terrorist plot conspiracy type freak outs. Freak out as in verb, not noun.
Just for clarity here, Bt is a naturally occurring microbial soil bacterium. I'm a soil science major, entomology & plant pathology minor, and work in a plant path lab. I'm quite certain on this point.
July 4 Goal
Last edited by Nikel1979 : 01-06-2013 at 02:26 PM.
Just to clarify... I didn't feel as if I "had" to leave the thread. But I am at 3FC to lose weight... to receive support and hopefully offer encouragement to others. I am not offended and not upset in any way... the GMO debate over labeling is "hot" in my state right now and I have and will continue to fight for labeling. However, this forum is, for me, not the place for it.
First major goal met 12/7/12. Next major goal ONEderland!
I think the consumer should be able to know what is in their food. If food producers are afraid of consumer reaction to a GMO label, the producer can stipulate what has been done to the product, and then the consumer can use or not use that product based upon that additional information.
Currently, I've been trying to buy more organic, but it is pricey.
I think one of the biggest problems I've had with the GMO issue (actually, with many issues) is that the anti-GMO arguments have really been designed to evoke fear, without necessarily addressing the central issues. Mark Lynas essentially admits the latter in his talk.
I teach a college seminar in persuasion and have read a lot about persuasion from a psychological POV. Fear is a very popular persuasion tactic, and it tends to do a great job at changing attitudes. So when I see fear tactics being used (and using death and illness as outcomes of doing X is definitely a fear tactic), especially when logical arguments seem to be avoided, I tend to just be skeptical of the endeavor. So I have been wondering about GMOs, because so much of the persuasion involves fear appeals, and what science I do know seems to be ignored.
Anyway, reading Mark Lynas' talk confirmed to me that many of the people leading the anti-GMO movement were doing exactly as I feared.
My personal opinion is that the issue is complex, and if our goal is to feed the planet the solution not necessarily obvious. GMOs are likely not nearly as dangerous as many would like us to believe, but probably the outcomes of using GMO foods not completely known.
I do think that any of us who are concerned would benefit from really figuring out what we mean by GMO and do our best to seek out unbiased sources -- or at the very least not pay attention to sources who seem to only want to scare us. But that can be tough!
I think that advice actually goes for lots of issues...
Just my mutterings and musings...
My 5 C's of healthy living: Commitment to conscious control, with the understanding that choices have consequences
I have an app in my phone that rates food products on various criteria & gives an option to warn me about GMOs. It warns that GMOs are "likely" in almost all products I have looked up & rates them down on that. I love the app but to me it reflects certain points of view that I mostly share but are clearly just opinion & l often find myself lacking possession of an informed personal conclusion that I can come to but at least I have a kind of labeling system.
I would like to see more effort made in the U.S. to actually require a definition of GMOs & other factors about the production of each individual food sold & a clear labeling requirement.
I didn't know that Forbes took the action of retracting Monsanto's 2009 "Company of the Year" award over their business practices (thanks, deetermined2). I remain unconvinced of the safety of this stuff, and will continue to campaign to get it labelled. Monsanto and the food processors have already started their work on weakening the meaning of the USDA Organic label; check the list of newly-approved additives if you're interested.
Heather, I absolutely agree with you that the fear tactic seems to have become the sole way information is presented. I am so very sick of being told how to "feel" - instead of being given facts, and being allowed to THINK. It seems to me that this might have a lot to do with why civilized dialogue has become such a rarity; everyone's so caught up in emotional absolutes that they have trouble listening to opposing viewpoints and evaluating potential merit and (gasp) learning from them.