With 2000+ global studies confirming safety, GM foods among most analyzed subjects in science | Genetic Literacy Project

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“The science just hasn’t been done.”

Charles Benbrook, organic researcher, Washington State University.

“There is no credible evidence that GMO foods are safe to eat.”

David Schubert, Salk Institute of Biological Studies

“[The] research [on GMOs] is scant…. Whether they’re killing us slowly— contributing to long-term, chronic maladies—remains anyone’s guess.”

Tom PhilpottMother Jones

“Genetically modified (GM) foods should be a concern for those who suffer from food allergies because they are not tested….”

Organic Consumers Association

A popular weapon used by those critical of agricultural biotechnology is to claim that there has been little to no evaluation of the safety of GM crops and there is no scientific consensus on this issue.

Those claims are simply not true. Every major international science body in the world has reviewed multiple independent studies—in some cases numbering in the hundreds—in coming to the consensus conclusion that GMO crops are as safe or safer than conventional or organic foods, but the magnitude of the research has never been catalogued.

Still the claim that GMOs are “understudied”—the meme represented in the quotes highlighted at the beginning of this article—have become a staple of anti-GMO critics, especially activist journalists. In response to what they believed was an information gap, a team of Italian scientists catalogued and summarized 1783 studies about the safety and environmental impacts of GMO foods—a staggering number.

The researchers couldn’t find a single credible example demonstrating that GM foods pose any harm to humans or animals. “The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops,” the scientists concluded.

Written By: JoAnna Wendel
continue to source article at geneticliteracyproject.org

56 COMMENTS

  1. Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in
    selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.
    ~ Philip Angell Monsanto’s director of corporate communications.

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in
      selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.
      ~ Philip Angell Monsanto’s director of corporate communications.

      Sounds fair- or am I missing something?

    • In reply to #2 by Elric:

      Please moderators, do not post unrelated paid advertisement and PR in this forum.

      These are a very minor annoyance but please be aware of the financial benefit to RDFRS.
      Do you know that you can cancel the ad before it starts??

    • In reply to #3 by Roedy:

      Provoving something is safe to eat is not the same as proving the gene is safe to release into the environment. In fact testing itself releases the gene into the environment.

      We’ve been changing the genome of every crop and livestock for thousands of years. No amount of evidence will prove the safety to the environuts. NOTHING we eat is natural! Yeah I’m sure this is all one big scientific conspiracy by scientists beholdened to big-ag. Sound familiar?

      • In reply to #4 by Skeptic:

        In reply to #3 by Roedy:

        Provoving something is safe to eat is not the same as proving the gene is safe to release into the environment. In fact testing itself releases the gene into the environment.

        We’ve been changing the genome of every crop and livestock for thousands of years. No amount of…

        Considering the degree of testing done it makes the objectors sound ever more like conspiracy theorists!

    • In reply to #3 by Roedy:

      Provoving something is safe to eat is not the same as proving the gene is safe to release into the environment. In fact testing itself releases the gene into the environment.

      Can you please explain in detail the risks involved in releasing ‘genes’ into the environment?

      You do know that these genes already exist in the environment do you not? Or are your concerns to do with moving genes from one area to another? As if we have ever had control over that anyway, genes will travel.

    • In reply to #3 by Roedy:

      Provoving something is safe to eat is not the same as proving the gene is safe to release into the environment. In fact testing itself releases the gene into the environment.

      “Environmental impact studies are predominant in the body of GM research, making up 68% of the 1,783 studies. These studies investigated environmental impact on the crop-level, farm-level and landscape-level. Nicolia and his team found “little to no evidence” that GM crops have a negative environmental impact on their surroundings”

  2. I’m not against GM foods, but I’m very much against Monsanto and their ilk, who are out to patent every crop that is grown in the world. Since politicians show no inclination to reign in the corporations, an anti-campaign based on safety (even if spurious) will have to do.

  3. I’ve done sufficient research for, myself. I still feel uneasy about this stuff. We have to feed our people, but there has to be a different way. I hear echoes of the potato famine calling in my brain. Diversity is proven king. And oh yeah im back ghouls and boys….kick me off..here we go again.

    • In reply to #10 by ApexDisorders:

      I’ve done sufficient research for, myself.

      Of course you have…for you as you say. Sufficient? What does that even mean for feck sake? How much is “sufficient”?

      I still feel uneasy about this stuff.

      Is that because “sufficient”…for you isn’t really “sufficient” at all?

      We have to feed our people, but there has to be a different way.

      We’re all listening…carry on…

      I hear echoes of the potato famine calling in my brain.

      Which one? What do you know about the potato famines? I’m guessing not much. People were affected by the potato blight because it was their sole source of food. The word famine is a bit of a misnomer, the blight only affected the potato. There was tons of food being produced at the time, it was just not available to those that could not afford it.

      Part of the cause of the blights effectiveness was due to the lack of genetic variation within the crop in Ireland.

      “The large dependency on this single crop, and the lack of genetic variability among the plants that made up the crop in Ireland, were two of the reasons why the emergence of Phytophthora infestans had such devastating effects in Ireland and had less severe effects in other European countries (which were also hit by the disease)”

      Ironically, it is through modern science and DNA sequencing that we know so much about the blight that caused the famines.

      Diversity is proven king.

      Diversity through evolution you mean?…I don’t think there are many here will disagree, depending on what you mean by king. You do know that humans have been tinkering with evolution for tens of thousands of years?

      “Farmers in Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea first domesticated bananas. Recent archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence at Kuk Swamp in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea suggests that banana cultivation there goes back to at least 5000 BCE, and possibly to 8000 BCE.”

      “All widely cultivated bananas today descend from the two wild bananas Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. While the original wild bananas contained large seeds, diploid or polyploid cultivars (some being hybrids) with tiny seeds are preferred for human raw fruit consumption.”

      As Ray “bananaman” Comfort discovered to his embarrassment. Not divinely designed at all as he assumed.

      And oh yeah im back ghouls and boys….kick me off..here we go again.

      A bit paranoid, but I can understand why you might get booted. Your first post under a new membership and moniker is a lot of self asserted ignorant and substance-less tosh, with some ad hom abuse thrown in for good measure.

      • In reply to #13 by Ignorant Amos:

        In reply to #10 by ApexDisorders:

        I’ve done sufficient research for, myself.

        Of course you have…for you as you say. Sufficient? What does that even mean for feck sake? How much is “sufficient”?

        I still feel uneasy about this stuff.

        Is that because “sufficient”…for you isn’t really “sufficien…

        You threw the hammer down on me son. What you must realize is that I was making no assertions. Only opinion.
        Your rant Sounds a tad bias or agenda driven.
        If you would like an open debate this is not the place.
        I have concerns about our people. People need food. I will always question what is going into my families mouth. I would never want to become complacent to my peoples lives.I am sufficiently unsure with the stability of the crops as they have not been proven over a substantial amount of time, under current/FUTURE, conditions. Caveat my friend I play too.

  4. Roedy, I so enjoy many of your comments here at RD.net. You are spot-on on so many topics. BUT… your unscientific diatribes against GM food are getting very tiring. Aren’t you impressed at least a little bit by this study which pulls together 1783 scientific studies that find no deleterious effects of GM crops on the environment or on our health? Your fanaticism against GM food borders on… that of the religious.

    • In reply to #11 by prietenul:

      Roedy, I so enjoy many of your comments here at RD.net. You are spot-on on so many topics. BUT… your unscientific diatribes against GM food are getting very tiring. Aren’t you impressed at least a little bit by this study which pulls together 1783 scientific studies that find no deleterious effects of GM crops on the environment or on our health? Your fanaticism against GM food borders on… that of the religious.

      I couldn’t agree more.

      Some of Roedy’s comments are outstanding and some are WTF? exasperating. I suppose that kind of diversity in thinking and opinion is what makes the stimulating debate so driven on some threads on this site. It’s also what makes us all so different here…even our atheism is very diverse. It wouldn’t be just as much fun and educational if RDFRS was all back slapping agreement on all subjects. I love it…and I love Roedy too for making me disagree with him on quite a few issues. It imbues me to go look for myself on a wide range of topics, as does the comments of many others.

    • In reply to #11 by prietenul:

      Roedy, I so enjoy many of your comments here at RD.net. You are spot-on on so many topics. BUT… your unscientific diatribes against GM food are getting very tiring. Aren’t you impressed at least a little bit by this study which pulls together 1783 scientific studies that find no deleterious effect…

      What is also tiring is the complete blind eye turned to the sleazy underhanded manipulative unethical business tactics of big agro. Remember big tobacco how they trotted out their “science” on how harmless or even (at their most shameless) how good their product was for our health? Amazingly even now after it has been established their products kills and disables millions of people at huge cost and suffering they still haven’t been shut down and now ply their trade most aggressively in the more vulnerable developing countries.

      The GM debate is much broader and deeper than just waving studies in the air as valid as those may be.

      • In reply to #16 by godsbuster:

        In reply to #11 by prietenul:

        Roedy, I so enjoy many of your comments here at RD.net. You are spot-on on so many topics. BUT… your unscientific diatribes against GM food are getting very tiring. Aren’t you impressed at least a little bit by this study which pulls together 1783 scientific studies…

        Not with you old boy. tobacco was recognised to be dangerous because of the preponderant weight of evidence that showed the link between smoking and cancer.

        Here the weight of evidence is for GM crops not against, so in what way are the manufacturers similar to tobacco producers? I’m doubly perplexed at your logic in dismissing nearly 2000 studies because the debate is “broader and deeper” Are you saying we should ignore scientific evidence and go with public opinion. How else do we decide what is safe and not without using scientific research? How would we we even know what we were talking about?

        I think you should explain why your opinion ( unjustified in the sense you reject all evidence that could form it) should stop vital development going into disease resistant crops which require far less pesticides and is therefore a better long term strategy in agriculture and are better for the environment?
        The big agriculture picture is irrelevant to whether this is the best technology for future agriculture. I wonder if you realise after all that most modern wheat lines were created in the 50s with process that involved RADIATION called muto-genesis. It produced hardier and more nutritious grain by mutating the genes and picking out the best specimens. Without this and other “big agriculture” innovations there would have been world wide famine by the nineties.

        Finally I would like to point out that there are scientists working in the UK working on GM potatoes that are resistant to potato blight. If they had those back in the 19th century there would have been no famine.

        • In reply to #21 by mr_DNA:

          My main issues with the subject are that there should be legislation preventing GM companies from cutting corners – essentially that all trials for GM products should be published as in Ben Goldacre’s similar proposal for company drug trials – and that we should be critical of the claimed advantages of GM crops. It won’t, for instance, solve the problem of overpopulation – at least, not in the long term – and relying on it to do so is likely to make the situation worse, since an increase in crop yield will enable a corresponding increase in population.

          • In reply to #24 by Zeuglodon:

            In reply to #21 by mr_DNA:

            My main issues with the subject are that there should be legislation preventing GM companies from cutting corners – essentially that all trials for GM products should be published as in Ben Goldacre’s similar proposal for company drug trials – and that we should be critic…

            I’ve not heard anybody claim that GM crops will stop over population. Do you have link to anybody who says it will? Contraception will stop over population.
            What GM crops might do though is stop catastrophic famines occurring by making entire harvests less likely to fail. I suppose that could contribute to over population but unless you are Ebinezer Scrooge you will see that as a god thing (thousands of people not dying in agony)
            It might also stop the build up of chemicals in the environment that have unforeseen and disastrous consequences. The recent global decline in honey bees springs to mind.

          • I must say, this has been a very enlightening post; I had no idea exactly what research was available. I was not an opponent of the idea of GMOs per se, but of the particular ones marketed by the likes of Monsanto, and of their business practices (which I still oppose, but then they are like many other large corporations). I was also a bit confused by links that opponents often post to studies that purported huge tumors caused by GMOs in rats, or hair growing inside of the mouths of hampsters, because there was never anything like that happening to people. Not even close.

            In reply to #25 by mr_DNA:

            It might also stop the build up of chemicals in the environment that have unforeseen and disastrous consequences.

            But so far, isn’t the largest share of the GMO market the “Roundup Ready” seeds? I followed the link to the summary of the study in the article, and found that study of the landscape around Roundup-sprayed crops was included. Still, I wonder if enough time has passed to really assess the impact. I wonder if it will be similar to smokestacks that used to pump their smoke into the atmosphere beginning in the industrial revolution: after thirty years or so nobody thought anything of it, but more than 100 years later we see what we’ve done to the environment and the climate.

            I also wondered about the effects of Bt corn on the bees, but just poking around this morning I came across a study from the U of Maryland where they put beehives in a Bt cornfield and additionally fed them Bt pollen cakes, and those bees were fine.

          • In reply to #30 by dandelionfluff:

            I must say, this has been a very enlightening post; I had no idea exactly what research was available. I was not an opponent of the idea of GMOs per se, but of the particular ones marketed by the likes of Monsanto, and of their business practices (which I still oppose, but then they are like many o…

            I was talking about the effects of numerous pesticides leeching into the soil. If crops can be made that don’t require as many pesticides then we can reduce the harm they are doing. And unlike GM crops theres lots of studies that show manufactured compounds can cause damage to the environment.
            And just like your CO2 example we don’t have a good idea what the long term damage of this pollution will be.
            So maybe worth factoring that in when considering the long term risk?

          • In reply to #33 by mr_DNA:

            I was talking about the effects of numerous pesticides leeching into the soil. If crops can be made that don’t require as many pesticides then we can reduce the harm they are doing.

            I see. Yes, we have that with the Bt corn that produces its own toxins to the corn borer, so pesticides don’t need to be sprayed. On the other hand, though, right now we have increased spraying of herbicides on the Roundup Ready crops including soybeans, alfalfa, corn, canola, sugar beets and cotton. That’s a lot of Roundup. For how many years will that be okay?

          • In reply to #30 by dandelionfluff:

            Still, I wonder if enough time has passed to really assess the impact. I wonder if it will be similar to smokestacks that used to pump their smoke into the atmosphere beginning in the industrial revolution: after thirty years or so nobody thought anything of it, but more than 100 years later we see what we’ve done to the environment and the climate.

            That is a very interesting analogy. Back in those days I don’t think there was an alternative to fossil fuels and the smokestacks to take the effluent away. Without the industrial revolution this conversation would be moot, we wouldn’t be online talking about anything let alone GM crops. I get your point though. Are we running before walking? Is it money driving the haste? We might be running into a pane glass window further down the road. Like so many things in the past that we have run headlong into that have not been fully investigated and which have turned out to be detrimental to our existence. I’m watching these discussions closely, I’m not fully conversant enough with all the arguments enough to get off the fence.

          • In reply to #25 by mr_DNA:

            Sorry. In hindsight, my statement there was based on an impressionistic inference. I don’t really have evidence that people do view it as a solution to overpopulation, though I am concerned that they might, and at the very least I’d issue a pre-emptive warning about expecting too much from GM crops, for reasons I outlined in my previous comment. It’s not any more substantial than that, though.

    • In reply to #11 by prietenul:

      Roedy, I so enjoy many of your comments here at RD.net. You are spot-on on so many topics. BUT… your unscientific diatribes against GM food are getting very tiring. Aren’t you impressed at least a little bit by this study which pulls together 1783 scientific studies that find no deleterious effect…

      Something that should be pointed out whenever possible about this is that a good proportion of them are INDEPENDANT, something that the naysayers say do not exist.

  5. I do not want to eat GM food. I would like a choice. Science is brilliant for making our lives better but it is a lousy Leader as it will go to it’s head the power science can bring. What next….tampering with water supply with flouride or any other chemical and not giving the people a choice. Monsanto make money out of GM food and all I request is a choice.

    • In reply to #19 by ikinmoore:

      I do not want to eat GM food. I would like a choice. Science is brilliant for making our lives better but it is a lousy Leader as it will go to it’s head the power science can bring. What next….tampering with water supply with flouride…

      Paranoid fantasies about science are unjustified. Science lacks the power you imagine. If science had the ability to force people to understand or accept the findings of research, nobody would ever complain again about fluoridation, GM crops or the immediate closure of coal mines worldwide, without the need for UN sanctions.

    • In reply to #19 by ikinmoore:

      I do not want to eat GM food. I would like a choice.

      You are in a position to make the choice…both financially and ethically. There are starving millions that are not.

      Science is brilliant for making our lives better but it is a lousy Leader as it will go to it’s head the power science can bring.

      That’s like saying guns kill people. In any case, it isn’t sciences job to make our lives better or worse, it is how the data is uced by humans that can do that.

      It isn’t even science pretending to be a Leader that is lousy, it is political influence that makes certain decisions lousy. The tobacco analogy given earlier is a good example of just such. One could say the same about alcohol…or any drug for that matter. I learned recently that the head of Bayer choose Heroin as a valid pain reliever while dismissing Aspirin as potential heart risk. Ironically enough, Aspirin is taken by some precisely because it helps avoid heart issues.

      What next….tampering with water supply with flouride or any other chemical and not giving the people a choice.

      That happens all the time. Water fluoridation is common place. Do you know what is in everything you intake…I very much doubt it.

      Monsanto make money out of GM food and all I request is a choice.

      Well, like I say, for those that can afford to eat organically produced foods that is all well and good…budget drives the rest of us. That is why the big supermarket chains dictate most of the market and why they make billions for the shareholders. |The only choice for a lot of the worlds population is to take it or leave it…many of the most poorest don’t even have that option.

  6. Paranoid fantasies about science are unjustified. Science lacks the power you imagine. If science had the ability to force people to understand or accept the findings of research, nobody would ever complain again about fluoridation, GM crops or the immediate closure of coal mines worldwide, without the need for UN sanctions.

    ===============================================================================================

    Wow,,,Len Walsh A dicator could come along and use a science such as GM foods to try to force issues to suit his/her own purpose. What is to stop science from dicating which chemicals go into our foods. It is all about personal choice in this matter not for anyone to dicate what goes into our food or water supply

    • In reply to #23 by ikinmoore:

      Paranoid fantasies about science are unjustified. Science lacks the power you imagine.
      Wow,,,Len Walsh… A dicator could come along and use a science such as GM foods to try to force issues to suit his/her own purpose.

      Nonsense. Mere paranoid delusions. GM foods aren’t science and no woman would behave as you have described.

      What is to stop science from dicating which chemicals go into our foods.

      Science can’t dictate anything to anyone. Science is a process which lacks political power and depends on the population to be sufficiently educated to understand summaries of the data.

      It is all about personal choice in this matter not for anyone to dicate what goes into our food or water supply

      No it’s not. Those of us sufficiently educated to defend science can’t afford ignorant, paranoid conspiracy theorists jeopardizing the health of our kids or grandkids.

      Look at it from our point of view. What if you believed our water supplies needed dead cattle to replace fluoride, in order to harden our immune systems? You lack any scientific data to support that idea but insist putrid carcasses will improve our health. If your opinion became popular what recourse would we have against you?

    • In reply to #23 by ikinmoore:

      Paranoid fantasies about science are unjustified.
      What is to stop science from dicating which chemicals go into our foods…

      No guns. Science is unarmed. Science doesn’t even use its fists. I heard a few thousand dissident scientists collaborated to build a secret gun but I don’t believe it. If what they say is true it isn’t even a real gun anyway. More like a big mortar to fire special GM seeds into neighbouring properties.

      • In reply to #27 by Len Walsh:

        No guns. Science is unarmed. Science doesn’t even use its fists. I heard a few thousand dissident scientists collaborated to build a secret gun but I don’t believe it. If what they say is true it isn’t even a real gun anyway. More like a big mortar to fire special GM seeds into neighbouring properties.

        Perhaps you did not hear the real story that the wind blows GM pollen all over the place for miles around, contaminating other strains of non-GM and organic crops – and can also leak genes into related weed species!
        I’m sure the farmers just can’t wait for some genetically invigorated, Round-up-Ready weed grasses, to infest their fields!

        More than half of a WA cereal farmer’s crop has lost its organic certification due to contamination from a neighbouring GM canola crop.
        >

        He said about 63 per cent of his property was affected so far which meant he would have to sell the oats, wheat and rye grown there at conventional prices and lose his [organic] premiums.

        ‘‘Our debate here is all about co-existence, we were told that the GM industry could co-exist with the non-GM industry. Co-existence is not when you have a technology imposed on you, whether you want it or not,’’ Mr Marsh said.

        ‘‘For co-existence to exist, the GM industry must control and contain its technology so we can go on producing a GM-free product and having that choice.‘‘A lot of my clients want to buy a non-GM product.’’

        FP967 (‘Triffid’) flax has been gown illegally in Canada and exported around the globe.

        The initial discovery of unauthorised GM Flax was in Germany of some flax that had been imported from Canada. This was on the 8 September 2009, Since that first discovery GM flax continues to be discovered around Europe and is thought to have been imported to over 30 countries around the world. The table at the bottom of the page shows the confirmed cases the Contamination Register has been able to record.

        Triffid was authorised for commercial use in both Canada and the United States in the late 1990’s. However concerns about the European export market meant Triffid certified seed was never sold for commercial production. By 2001 Triffed was de-registered and it was believed that all known stocks had been identified and destroyed.

        There is no Event-specific test for FP967 and it is currently conceivable that the contamination is caused by another very similar GM flax. The Plant Biotechnology Institute (PBI) in Saskatoon is developing a Triffid specific test, which when developed, will be sent to GM monitoring labs in Europe as designated by the European Governments in consultation with the Canadian Government.

        There will undoubtedly be valuable uses for GM crops and organisms, but that does not mean that the public should accept the glib assurances from some of the cowboys selling them.
        There are a whole load of unaddressed environmental issues, which go way beyond the question of if a product is safe to eat.

        • In reply to #37 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #27 by Len Walsh:

          No guns. Science is unarmed. Science doesn’t even use its fists. I heard a few thousand dissident scientists collaborated to build a secret gun but I don’t believe it. If what they say is true it isn’t even a real gun anyway. More like a big mortar to fire special GM s…

          Contamination, contamination, contamination… IS THERE ANYTHING WRONG WITH TRIFFID FLAX? Does it cause illness? The answer is obviously no. The Europeans unfortunately are just as hysterically unscientific as you are about GM foods. That is the only reason many GM seeds can’t be sent to Europe. I suspect if Roche or Bayer or some other European company had come up with GM foods, they would be pushing GM foods big time instead of passing ridiculous laws against its importation.

          • In reply to #38 by prietenul:

            Contamination, contamination, contamination… IS THERE ANYTHING WRONG WITH TRIFFID FLAX? Does it cause illness? The answer is obviously no.

            The answer is we don’t know! and as I pointed out earlier ecological factors have to be taken into account rather than tunnel-vision looking at quick profits and simplistic answers! – So we don’t know about those longer term effects either!

            The Europeans unfortunately are just as hysterically unscientific as you are about GM foods.

            There is nothing unscientific about asking why a GM crop which allegedly had had all stocks of it totally destroyed when its license was revoked, is now scattered in food-chains all over the planet! This highlights gross failures in safety and supervisory procedures!

            If they can’ even keep track of where GM plants are, how can there be any credible assurances that they are not causing ecological damage? Existing monocultures already cause huge ecological damage, as does the introduction of invasive species and diseases, resulting from careless international trade in living material!

  7. Sigh!

    Same old back and forth here on GMO’s.

    GMO’s are here and more are coming. We deal with what is, not what we want it to be. And if their is future harm from GNO’s we will deal with that also. It seems that this is a risk most people are willing to take for the benefits given by GMO’s.

    So, argue away if it make you feel better, but Monsanto or not, genetically modified organisms are here ( as they always were ) and more are coming.

  8. This drives me freaking crazy! Why is this even an argument without any evidence showing that GMOs are bad for health why do people still insist that they are so bad? I am in Biotechnology and I confounded that on this of all sites there is argument when the evidence is so heavily on the side that they are safe. Tell what is the problem with introducing genes into our crops so they grow more effectively? Not to mention that not all the genes that are inserted are from other organisms a lot of time they take genes from the wild ancestor that have been lost or have become non-functional due to mutation.

  9. ““The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops,” the scientists concluded.”

    I still remain largely skeptical of the safety of GM foods.
    Why? As someone who lives healthily without consuming animal products, I’m aware of the sheer amount
    of propaganda played on the general public! That is as an example of propaganda,
    I’m aware of the exaggerated importance placed on animal products as being essential to a healthy and strong life,
    by the animal industries. So I remain suspicious of positive claims made on GM foods.

  10. “The reason for the public’s distrust of GMOs lies in psychology, politics and false debates.” ; nut-shelled!

    As always I stand to be corrected, but as I understand it, all organisms are genetically modified either by evolution’s mechanism known as natural selection or by human intervention.

    I have my dunce’s cap at the ready.

  11. Here is an example where GM organisms can be safely contained within the processing plant, rather than being scattered far and wide. It also has the benefit of converting waste products into usable fuel, rather than reducing agricultural land available for food production, or destroying rainforest.

    Genetically modified yeast turns crop wastes into liquid fuel – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24489800

    US researchers have used genetically modified yeast to enhance the production of biofuels from waste materials.

    The new method solves some of the problems in using waste like straw to make bioethanol fuel.

    The scientists involved say the development could help overcome reservations about using land for fuel production.

    The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.

  12. The ease with which plant genes jump around was not expected and is surely unnerving. Much more thought is going to have to go into safer containment practices such as genetic tricks to prevent expression if not in a particular target strain. Also the intentional misuse issues are disturbing. One could write a science fiction story about an eco terrorist group who goes around sprinkling pollen with a gene in it that produces the misshaped protein responsible for spongiform encephalopathy. By the time farm animals started showing symptoms, it would be too late to stop in vast parts of the human population. I don’t mention that as either something that could happen by accident or likely to happen by intent, but just as a thought experiment example of a single gene that would not produce anything that seemed dangerous in any test we currently use, but which we would be very sorry about later.

  13. Quine, Alan4discussion: Whenever some religionist says there is a God, we atheists routinely ask, “What’s your evidence?” without even thinking twice. Have you two done this before arriving at your GM skepticism? And when the religionists come at us with Pascal’s Wager, we just start laughing. But when it comes to GM foods, some of us resort to Pascal’s Wager logic: “Well, there might be some deleterious effects of GM foods and there might not. It’s better to err on the side of safety and act as if there were deleterious effects…” I thought we had higher standards here at RD.net.

    • In reply to #45 by prietenul:

      Quine, Alan4discussion: Whenever some religionist says there is a God, we atheists routinely ask, “What’s your evidence?” without even thinking twice. Have you two done this before arriving at your GM skepticism?

      Errr yes! – in considerable detail!
      It seems you have not, but are now cheering reckless commercial activities!
      Have you even read the links I provided about commercial abuses and escaping genes?

      “Well, there might be some deleterious effects of GM foods and there might not. It’s better to err on the side of safety and act as if there were deleterious effects…” I thought we had higher standards here at RD.net.

      If you don’t know the deleterious effects and potential deleterious effects, you had better make a start with your studies to raise your standards in this discussion.

      Perhaps you have not heard of invasive species – that is species without natural predators or evolved restraints, introduced into ecosystems from an external source. It is a major and very costly global problem, just from moving species around geographically, intentionally or accidentally.

      http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/conservation/issues/small-invasive-species.htm

      Economic damage

      Invasive species, according to some estimates, cost the global economy $1.4 trillion a year—$138 billion in the U.S. alone—through losses in agriculture and forestry as well as management costs of invasive species. Those estimates would increase dramatically if we had monetary values for all aspects of nature that are affected, including losses in biodiversity, species extinction, and ecosystem services.

      Some invasive species are intentional introductions gone wrong, such as the cane toad, most famously and perhaps most destructively in Australia.

      Perhaps some safety checks would be appropriate BEFORE inventing and releasing designer new ones – resistant to predators and chemical treatments!

      http://www.actionbioscience.org/biodiversity/simberloff.html -
      Introduced Species: The Threat to Biodiversity & What Can Be Done

    • In reply to #45 by prietenul:

      Quine, Alan4discussion: Whenever some religionist says there is a God, we atheists routinely ask, “What’s your evidence?” without even thinking twice. Have you two done this before arriving at your GM skepticism?

      I have tried to think carefully, over the last 30 years, about the issues involved, It’s complicated because there is so much confusion and lack of public understanding. People confuse bioscience resulting in the development of biotechnology with bioengineering resulting in the development of commercial organisms. People confuse (mercenary) business practices with the advancement of (mad) science. People mistake the category of genetically modified organisms as having some kind of universal characteristic (which sets protesters hair on fire) whereas each organism may or not be beneficial or detrimental (in a specified context) on its own. People don’t often understand where bioengineering is being used just to get a path into patent law.

      I support the advancement of bioscience and the development of biotechnology. Bioengineering is complex and difficult exactly because organisms were evolved, and not originally designed. That means so much of what happens in the chemistry of living things is a hodge-podge knock on effect of something else. When you add the complexity of intrinsically chaotic ecosystems, the ability to reliably predict what is going to happen, is very limited. That does not mean that I take a position that we should not do anything that might change things; we are changing things all the time by just the large numbers of our population. We can’t go back to being hunter-gatherers, we are stuck with large scale farming, and that needs to get more productive as our population continues to increase.

      Just the idea that some product is “GM” does not light my hair on fire. I do accept that some genetically modified organisms have been well studied for safety. I also don’t accept the idea that organisms developed by breeding and hybridization processes are intrinsically safe. This whole subject takes a case by case evaluation. Some companies even use GM technology to quickly find the target organism they are then going to breed into existence; they get the same genes, but labelable as “natural.” Being natural is not necessarily good, and being GM is not necessarily bad; it’s case by case.

      There are things each side of this are wrong about, and some terrible business practices have poisoned the public debate. Lack of public understanding of biological science is a big part of the problem, but that does not justify ignoring the precautionary principle. If some individual GMO is sufficiently tested for safety and not being used as simply a wedge to get the sharp end of patent law into farming, then I am not against it just because it came from genetic technology. Unfortunately, so many mistakes have been made by businesses in this industry that it will still take some time to get straightened out.

    • In reply to #45 by prietenul:

      Quine, Alan4discussion: Whenever some religionist says there is a God, we atheists routinely ask, “What’s your evidence?” without even thinking twice. Have you two done this before arriving at your GM skepticism?

      Actually, the burden of proof would be on the side of those saying (particular) GMOs are safe.

  14. I’ve feel off the fence on the side of what I see is the most convincing argument.

    That’ll be A4D, Quine and dandelionfluff…but I will continue to look at the subject, it is fascinating and important.

  15. In reply to #4 by Skeptic:

    We’ve been changing the genome of every crop and livestock for thousands of years. No amount of evidence will prove the safety to the environuts. NOTHING we eat is natural! Yeah I’m sure this is all one big scientific conspiracy by scientists beholdened to big-ag. Sound familiar?

    Invoking the “Naturalistic fallacy” does nothing to sort out the real issues from wild claims and salesmen’s false assurances.

    Humans have used introduced (invasive) species to dominate other species and dominate habitats since farming began, but we mess up from time to time (see 37 and 46) and cause disastrous introductions.

    As Roedy points out @1, only a fool accepts assurances from those salesmen who claim safety is nothing to do with them, and is someone else’s responsibility.

    With 2000+ global studies confirming safety,

    Those of us looking at the big picture are not blinded by claims of thousands of short focus tests. We are concerned with the gaps in the testing, and the numerous longer term aspects which have been denied – or not tested at all!

    @OP – “The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops,” the scientists concluded.

    This is simply a big lie! There are whole lists of hazards from genetic contamination by leaking genes, quite apart from ecological impacts those crops genetically designed to resist feeding insects.
    The whole OP argument is to polarise the focus on to limited aspects of food safety, and ignore all other effects.
    It is precisely the sort of one-dimensional thinking which introduced Cane Toads to Australia and elsewhere!

  16. In reply to 50 by Alan4discussion.

    I’m glad you mentioned cane toads. As I recall, that was a particularly silly mistake. Wasn’t one of the contestants (beetles and toads) nocturnal and the other diurnal? The toads were never going to eat the beetles even if they’d have liked to.

    As you say, the long term aspects are a concern. I never liked the argument that we’ve been altering crops for thousands of years. The important words are “thousands of years”; genetic engineering has been operating for a very short time, and there is no ancient history we can study, as we can with climate.

    Someone said GM crops would avoid sudden famines, but would they? Thousands of poor Third World farmers will plant these new crops, creating a monoculture. As we always remind the creationists, pests evolve very fast, and if some particular nasty acquires the ability to eat this monoculture – bingo! Famine. Then the scientists will come up with ANOTHER monoculture immune to the pest. The farmer, if he hasn’t already starved, has to buy the new seed (it won’t be a gift) and start again.

    It will be an arms race like the attempts to control drug use in sport. So, GM crops do raise health concerns, though it’s their health that’s involved, not ours.

    Remember what a wonderful new weapon penicillin was for the medical world, yet only a few decades later its efficacy has declined. For the present, I’m avoiding GM products – as far as I can when they appear to be spreading without human help.

  17. Interesting comments, However people seem to forget, Yes its true we have been engineering crops and live stock for eons, however not like this…. There is a huge difference between selective breading, and Genetic splicing. In Regards to environment if you think that this has no effect on the environment then your only looking at the surface. YES THIS IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND TO YOU . you need to look at this logically. Monsanto’s uses a gene that from a mutant plant that was not effected by roundup, they isolated the gene, and put it into the food crop with the marketing label “Roundup Ready”. This means you can spray your fields, heavily without worrying about your crops being wiped out. = More herbicides into the environment. not good for you. Second the economical devastation to small farmers has been well documented, the corn seed “roundup ready” is property of Monsanto’s, the engineered gene does cross pollinate with the standard corn seed. This is a nightmare, Farmer “A” plant non Monsantos seeds, that they harvested. the farmer down the road Farmer “B” plants Monsantos corn seed. they cross bread, at the end of the season, farmer “A” collects part of his crop for seeding next season. farmer “B” does not, He is forbidden to do that, since the seed is patented, so all of his crop gos to market. Next year Farmer A plants the seeds he has sown, Normal thing been done for eons. and no big deal right? WRONG, His stock contains the patented genes, farmer must pay rights to use that crop or destroy it, per Monsanto’s!!! This is a real fact, it has been happening in the USA for years now. So yes there is a impact on the economy and the Environment. In fact, happens all over the world. Except Mexico, Mexico seems to have major pride in its corn, when this seed cross contaminated with a traditional seed. Vary bazaar case, Monsanto’s sues the Mexican farmer, judge sides with the farmer, and makes Monsanto’s Compensate the farmer, and are told to clean up the site. as if it was a environmental disaster. sorry went a little overboard. Is it safe to consume Probably, is it good thing? Probably not.

    • In reply to #53 by gtemer:

      There is a huge difference between selective breading, and Genetic splicing.

      This is a non sequitur and has not been demonstrated to be relevant. Please try to prove the relevance of this comment using science and reason without mentioning Monsanto more than 5 times.

      Let’s see, there’s load of scientific experiments on one side of this debate and ranting hysteria on the other. For everyone clamoring for more research for you to be convinced, in all honestly would any amount of research change your mind?

      In reply to Alan4discussion

      Those of us looking at the big picture are not blinded by claims of thousands of short focus tests. We are concerned with the gaps in the testing, and the numerous longer term aspects which have been denied – or not tested at all!

      Aren’t climate change deniers making the same arguments? More tests, more tests, more tests…..

  18. I start with an admission: I am skeptical – skeptical about claims by the GMO lobby that there is nothing to worry about with GM crops, that no adverse affects on the environment have ever been proven by growing them, or on human health through the consumption of food derived from them, all of it backed up by a high pile of favorable scientific studies.

    Lest you think mine is all unscientific babble by yet another ‘food romantic’, let me quote none other than Richard Dawkins himself from his 2009 book ‘The Greatest Show on Earth – Evidence for Evolution’ (Free Press, Simon & Schuster hard cover, pages 304/305): “I am undecided about the politics of GM food, torn between the potential benefits to agriculture on the one hand and precautionary instincts on the other”. He goes on to say “Today we curse the way our predecessors introduced species of animals into alien lands for the fun of it” and then wonders “whether taxonomists of the future may regret the way our generation messes around with genomes”. Following several weird examples of gene transfers, he closes with an appeal to the precautionary principle, which, he says “after all is to avoid future repercussions of choices and actions that may not be obviously dangerous now”.

    I doubt very much that Mr. Dawkins has changed his mind since the publication of his book. His comments sound to me more like the voice of a searching and rightly skeptical scientist. The point he seems to be making is not about adequacy or inadequacy of any testing for potential adverse effect we presently are aware of, but its inadequacy in generating data about what the future repercussions of GMO might be.

  19. Oh…and another thing re my previous post: For those who would want to accuse me of ‘quote-mining’ Richard Dawkins, take your itchy fingers off your keyboard please! His comments are so tightly and logically packaged on pages 304/305 of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ that it would almost be worthwhile to recite the whole passage here.

    I am, however, genuinely interested to know from someone whether, and if so how, that book passage can be interpreted in another way, perhaps even from the author himself. Until then, I stay on the fence of caution, just like Prof. Dawkins.

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