GMOs

106


Discussion by: jamesgareth
Hi there all,

A close friend of mine recently said that GMO food is dangerous and cited the following research about this:

GMO research

My question is – what’s the scientific consensus here? – in the US some states (Ca I understand) seem to be about to bring in a law making it compulsory to label all food that is GMO – so it would appear the ‘threat’ is real – or the danger real – or at least the jury is still out on GM food.

Or is it just some GMO food that’s the problem?

Any thoughts?

Thanks.

James.

106 COMMENTS

  1. @OP:disqus  My question is – what’s the scientific consensus here? – in the US some
    states (Ca I understand) seem to be about to bring in a law making it
    compulsory to label all food that is GMO

    Accurate labelling is generally a good idea anyway, so consumers know what they are buying.

    The potential dangers of GM are as much to do with environmental impact and genetic contamination, as with consumer safety. 

    Some of it seems to be beneficial in increasing crop quality and health, but the big companies have proved reckless on other issues (like pesticides and agricultural use of antibiotics) in the past, so people are suspicious – and rightly so in some cases.

  2. The jury is in on GMOs, and they’re safe.  Your friend is starting with a conclusion and trying the best to make the facts fit it.

    This study in particular is flawed in several ways.

    First, the authors of the study set out to create controversy by releasing their results to the sensational press while making them promise they wouldn’t seek opinions from other researchers (as is a big part of the scientific method).  They also coordinate the relase of their ‘study’ with a book, film, and TV documentary. Source : http://arstechnica.com/science

    When the rest of the scientific community did get a chance to review the study they found problems.  Even the stringent EU found problems: http://arstechnica.com/science

    Some of the problems they found included that the study used tumor prone rats and that the experimental and control groups were of insufficient size.  Then there were statistical problems.  To quote “this hypothesis is not sufficiently supported by the data presented.”

    Should GMOs be labeled?  No, not any more than other things need to be labeled like the arsenic in your water or the number of virgins who made your sandwich.  You can’t label things forever, so which one gets put on?  The ones that get put on should be the ones of scientific significance, not pseudo-science superstition.  The Internet exists for these types of conspiracy theories, so if you don’t want to eat GMOs you still don’t have to.

    It is true that companies and the human race in general has messed up science in the past.  But there’s a difference between healthy skepticism and living and breathing the perfect-solution fallacy.

  3.  Killbam, read the first post, by Alan4discussion, who points out the problem with GM crops, which applies before the consumer eats them.

    A GM monoculture is at the mercy of some newly arrived disease, and the only remedy seems to be replacing it with yet another GM crop. Each time this happens, the cost falls on the consumer, not to mention unfortunate Third World farmers.

    I avoid buying food with GM ingredients as I would avoid eggs coming from battery hens. There is more to choosing food than wondering if it will harm you personally.

  4. Killbam, I’m a biochemist and I disagree with you.
    As with so many technologies, GMOs can potentially benefit or harm us.
    The problem today is, that there just is not sufficient (independently verified and peer reviewed) information available to say GMOs (even in current applications) are 100 % safe.
    Most of the info available comes form the industry (e.g. Monsanta) which obviously has the highest stakes in declaring GMOs safe.
    I’m totally in favor to declare GMOs on food labels. The same is done already for a long time with other ingredients, so why not for GMOs ?
    This, at least, would allow the consumer to make his own decision whether or not to buy a product that contains GMOs.

  5.  
    killbam
    The jury is in on GMOs, and they’re safe.  Your friend is starting with a conclusion and trying the best to make the facts fit it.

    Nope!  There is an absence of independent studies on safety, despite what the development companies would like people to believe!

    There are however reports of genetic contamination of wild species and organic crops; – sometimes at a distance from GM crops.

    The problem with bio-contamination, is that it is self replicating, and like invasive species, a rogue form could spread rampantly.

    Some of the problems they found included that the study used tumor prone rats and that the experimental and control groups were of insufficient size.

    That particular study does look flawed, but one piece of flawed research,  in no way alters the other underlying facts, or the wider environmental issues.

  6. The scientific consensus here is that since the beginning of life horizontal and lateral gene transfer, many times by viral vectors, has been doing genetic modification of organisms, one organisms genes transferred into another organism, well before people thought to do the same thing.

    So, the anti-GMO people are so full of horse pucky, as none of them seems to know anything about lateral transfer of genes, that there ” arguments ” and ” studies ” amount to less than a hill of beans.

  7. GMO’s are generally thought to be not only safe, but often an improvement on “natural” food with more vitamins, or better pest resistance.

    On the other hand, the business practises on some of the GMO companies is despicable. suing small farmers who have GMO crops grow by accident, virtually forcing seed washers out of business, ruthless patent enforcement, and other morally questionable actions.

    Some people worry about monoculture crops being wiped out by plague, but that has been a concern with all monocultures.

  8. Yes, gene transfer occurs commonly in nature. However, there is no transfer let’s say from a plant to a cat. So, a photosynthesizing cat is something we still have to find in nature.
    In nature one also has to consider natural selection, so although some weird organism could arise, its survival depends on its feasibility in the environment.
    GMOs created by humans don’t depend on these limitations. We can create pink cats or purple sheep if we want and probably even an animal photosynthesizing. And, since we can produce GMOs easily in the lab, natural selection in nature isn’t of much concern either.
    Another point is speed. We can potentially create GMOs in very short time frames, releasing them into an environment that is totally unprepared for such organisms, hence there is no way to know what the long term implications might be.

  9.   ” However, there is no transfer let’s say from a plant to a cat”

    Sure of that?

    ” In nature one also has to consider natural selection, so although some
    weird organism could arise, its survival depends on its feasibility in
    the environment.
    GMOs created by humans don’t depend on these limitations “

    One considers natural selection regardless and that is one of the anti-GMO peoples concerns; natural selection action on man manipulated genes.

    ” We can create pink cats or purple sheep if we want and probably even an
    animal photosynthesizing. And, since we can produce GMOs easily in the
    lab, natural selection in nature isn’t of much concern either. “

    No we can’t. I have dealt with the natural selection point. Anything living in any environment is subject to natural selection.

    ” Another point is speed. We can potentially create GMOs in very short
    time frames, releasing them into an environment that is totally
    unprepared for such organisms, hence there is no way to know what the
    long term implications might be. “

    Another point is speed. A virus can laterally transfer a gene picked up in one animal into another in no time into an environment totally unprepared for such organisms and no telling what the implications are.

    This scenario happened and happens all the time. So, what’s your point?

  10. <.blockquote>A GM monoculture is at the mercy of some newly arrived disease, and the only remedy seems to be replacing it with yet another GM crop.<./blockquote>
    How are GM crops any more vulnerable to “some newly arrived disease” than non-GM crops? And why should it be necessary to replace a diseased GM crop with, specifically, another GM crop?

    It obviously makes sense not to rely on one particular species of a certain type of crop, in case that species becomes vulnerable to a new disease, but I don’t see what difference it makes whether it is a GM crop or non-GM crop.

    However, one concern I would have about about relying on highly productive and disease resistant crops, GM or non-GM, is that they obviously encourage higher population growth, and if they do fail and there is no immediately available alternative, you can have a very serious situation. High population growth is possibly the biggest problem this planet faces and better solutions need to be found than simply stretching our resources to the limit. We need to be living well within the limits of our resources.

  11. The jury cannot be  “in” on GMOs as most of them don’t exist yet. Even supposing existing GMOs are safe, that’s no guarantee in of itself that future ones will be. The use of poor methodology by activists proves (and disproves) nothing. 

    ” You can’t label things forever, so which one gets put on? “
    Whichever people want to know about. Are you opposed to kosher, halal and fairtrade labelling, too? Why restrict choice in that way?

    “The Internet exists for these types of conspiracy theories, so if you don’t want to eat GMOs you still don’t have to.”
    What on earth does this mean? Why would you oppose labelling unless you want to push GMOs on people who don’t want them?

  12. ‘Another point is speed. We can potentially create GMOs in very short time frames, releasing them into an environment that is totally unprepared for such organisms, hence there is no way to know what the long term implications might be.’

    This is no different that bringing back foreign organisms from other contries. Kew Gardens anyone?

    Has the UK’s ecology collapsed since 1759 when it opened?

  13. Neodarwinian
    The scientific consensus here is that since the beginning of life horizontal and lateral gene transfer, many times by viral vectors, has been doing genetic modification of organisms, one organisms genes transferred into another organism, well before people thought to do the same thing.

     

    A bit like the scientific consensus is that the temperature of the Earth has been going up and down since its formation, so false claims can be made that Global warming should be of no concern!

    So, the anti-GMO people are so full of horse pucky, as none of them seems to know anything about lateral transfer of genes, that there ” arguments ” and ” studies ” amount to less than a hill of beans.

    There may well be some tree-huggers who have made poor arguments which the media have publicised, but as with global warming, there are plenty of concerns from well informed scientists, while there can be no doubt about the aggressive promotion of GM by development companies and commercial interests.

    Another point is speed. A virus can laterally transfer a gene picked up in one animal into another in no time into an environment totally unprepared for such organisms and no telling what the implications are.

    This scenario happened and happens all the time. So, what’s your point?

    The point is that just because plagues and extinctions can occur naturally, that is not a good reason to recklessly or carelessly trigger such events!

    We share 98% of our genes with chimps, and about 40% with cauliflowers. 
    Many effects of gene transfers are unknown and untested,  but there are plenty of examples of information on dangers being suppressed by commercial interests, with disinformation (historically) being actively promoted.

    The evolution of antibiotic resistant pathogens is a classic point. 
    Environmental scientists warned about this resulting from systematic use of antibiotic s in animal feed IN THE 1960s,
    - but animals grew faster and produced more profit with medicated feed so warnings were ignored!! 
    Antibiotics are still illegally misused in this way the third world today, while humans are being killed by MRSA, Cdiff etc.

  14. ‘A GM monoculture is at the mercy of some newly arrived disease, and the only remedy seems to be replacing it with yet another GM crop. Each time this happens, the cost falls on the consumer, not to mention unfortunate Third World farmers.’

    Unfortunate Third World Farmers??????

  15. I would like somebody to provide a scientific explanation of why dead plant material from a GM crop poses a greater risk than normal plants.  By what mechanism can DNA from digested material, plant or animal affect the DNA of the consumer?

    If there are no answers to these questions I will assume that those claiming ‘frankenstein foods’ are unsafe are simply scared of technological change, since all new technologies carry an inherent risk that they might pose an unknown threat to health. Indeed there ‘experts’ who tell us that WIFI is serious threat or paint and plastic. Very little peer reviewed evidence exists to back up these claims and yet GM food remains banned in the UK.
    I notice that nobody objects to eating mutogenically modified wheat, which accounts for all the major wheat strains today. Why is genetically modifying wheat by blasting it with radiation considered more safe than manipulating in the lab? 

  16. mr_DNA
    I would like somebody to provide a scientific explanation of why dead plant material from a GM crop poses a greater risk than normal
    plants.  By what mechanism can DNA from digested material, plant or animal affect the DNA of the consumer?

    The spread is from living material.

    In crops like wheat, the main dangers are in spreading GM genes into other plants in the environment and upsetting ecological balances. 
    In field tests, stray GM DNA has been found all over the place in other non-GM strains or species.

    There is also the possibility of  unforeseen, toxic,  irritant, carcinogenic, or allergic effects ending up in the food chain(s) 
    Toxins which have been bred out of most food crops, are common in plants.

  17.  Not exactly, although invasive species can become a problem as well (talk to Australians about rabbits for exampleor to Hawaiians about strawberry guave….just to name 2 examples) . The potential problem with GMOs is that there are almost no limits as to what organisms we can create.
    The GMO industry is virtually self regulated and that’s an issue.

  18.  ” A bit like the scientific consensus is that the temperature of the Earth
    has been going up and down since its formation, so false claims can be
    made that Global warming should be of no concern! “

    Not even close! Concern? We always take calculated risks, benefits vs risks, and the benefits here far outweigh some putative risks that no one has seen yet. Rather like chicken little, aren’t you?

    ” while there can be no doubt about the aggressive promotion of GM by development companies and commercial interests. “

    Two different issues that really have nothing to do with one another scientifically.

    ” The point is that just because plagues and extinctions can occur
    naturally, that is not a good reason to recklessly or carelessly trigger
    such events! “

    Fallacy of the false comparison.

    ” The evolution of antibiotic resistant pathogens is a classic point.  “

    And again. We know why antibiotics were pumped into cattle food and money talks here. This is not the science though and you know it.

    So, what is your point?

  19.  

    Neodarwinian
    And again. We know why antibiotics were pumped into cattle food and
    money talks here. This is not the science though and you know it.

     

    Actually it was scientific expertise being ignored because of short term political and commercial interests.

    Now who do we know who in politics who denies science  and ignores advice from biologists! 
    They wouldn’t let people like that take scientific decisions in government? –  Would they ?? – http://richarddawkins.net/news

    So, what is your point?

    The point is that the control of GM (though partially regulated in some countries) is in the hands of the sort corporate interests who proved untrustworthy in the past.  Most of your replies are just contradictory denial!

    I am not against GM per se, but there are serious risks which need to be better addressed. 

    Not even close! Concern? We always take calculated risks, benefits vs
    risks, and the benefits here far outweigh some putative risks that no
    one has seen yet.

    Some specialists can already see them and advocate independent research, but the money men use the creationist method of listening!  They have their eyes on a  monopoly of patented seed sales.

    I have no problem with calculated risks – AFTER WE HAVE INDEPENDENTLY COLLECTED THE DATA AND CALCULATED THEM!  {NASA learned this lesson (slowly) on two space shuttles!}

    As I pointed out earlier, bio-hazards are self replicating and can never be put back in the bottle once they are out.  It only takes the odd mistake to cause an escalating calamity. 
    This has been proved time and again with introduced invasive species. 
    (Like those productive  Prickly Pear plantations in Australia, or the “ornamental”   Japanese knotweed!)

  20. “As I pointed out earlier, bio-hazards are self replicating and can never
    be put back in the bottle once they are out.  It only takes the odd
    mistake to cause an escalating calamity. 
    This has been proved time and again with introduced invasive species. 
    (Like those productive  Prickly Pear plantations in Australia, or the “ornamental”   Japanese knotweed!) “:

    Again, the fallacy of the false comparison.

    What are you talking about?

    Invasive species = apples and GMO, which goes on laterally all the time naturally, = oranges.

    Calculated risks are taken all the time and be damned to NASA as the barn door is always shut after the horse escapes, in NASA and life. NASA did not stop the shuttle program and GMO will not stop either, regardless of what you want. We have the data.

    http://pcp.oxfordjournals.org/

    All over the web ( this article represents the head of thousands of the same ). I am reading an article in science from two years ago about horizontal transfer from a plant to it’s parasite, another plant. One of several articles in than weeks journal. The independent work is there and your ignorance of it is not my fault.

    ” As I pointed out earlier, bio-hazards are self replicating and can never be put back in the bottle once they are out. It only takes the odd mistake to cause an escalating calamity “

    http://www.agbioworld.org/biot

    ( more to peruse )

    Then you follow with two examples that I find risible as calamities! Regardless of the false comparison, I think the Japanese and the Australians survived this hyperbole of yours well enough. Using such hyperbole shows one’s ideological commitments instead of any scientific considerations.

    ” Most of your replies are just contradictory denial! “

    I wonder who is really in denial here.

  21. Although I’m usually against the dogma trotted out by green pillocks ; I believe that GM plants should be controlled in the same way that new drug evaluation takes place.
    Unless evidence arises that GM crops are harmful or interbreeding with “natural plants” is also harmful then genetic manipulation should continue apace.
    It is plant breeding husbandry which has prevented mass starvation throughout the world primarily based on the work of some American botanist who died recently.
    Plant husbandry remember gave us the banana !

  22. Jumped up Chimpanzee–When you say that GM foods “obviously encourage higher population growth” you mean fewer people die of starvation, right? You go on to say that if a later crop were to hypothetically fail, these people who would have starved without adequate crop yields… might then starve. 
    I think you must have started out with an anti-GM opinion to come up with that.

  23. It’s been recognised that influential work in nutrition science was seriously flawed. While some established science is discredited, false assumptions that arose from flawed conclusions prevail because of the intractable politics associated with the health and agricultural industries, via the political and economic drivers that affect research funding. This recent GMO study sounds like more of the same, with the same dysfunctional drivers. I don’t think there’s anything like similar problems in any other scientific field, except economics. And it’s an interesting story of how this peculiar situation came to be and the common factors in both areas.

    Here’s an article from last month about a new effort to improve the future scientific rigour in nutrition-related research:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesa

  24. @
    Neodarwinian

    ” Most of your replies are just contradictory denial! ”

    Using such hyperbole shows one’s ideological commitments instead of any scientific considerations.

    I wonder who is really in denial here.

    Mmmmmm!  Project much?

    Psychological projection – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P
    Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others originate those feelings.[1]

    Projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires without letting the conscious mind recognize them.

    BTW:  I am biologist who has studied eco-sytems for decades.

      It only takes the odd mistake to cause an escalating calamity.  This has been proved time and again with introduced invasive species.  (Like those productive  Prickly Pear plantations in Australia, or the “ornamental”   Japanese knotweed!) “:

    Again, the fallacy of the false comparison.

    What are you talking about?

    You really don’t know, do you ? ?

    -  Which is probably why you are citing linked studies of GM Legume root nodules  and quoting bacterial horizontal gene exchange as an irrelevant  counter to the risks of a GM invigorated, attack resistant species, becoming an invasive weed/pest in the wider ecosystem. 

    These are well known, basic, student textbook examples I quoted:

    Prickly pears in Australia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P… –
    Prickly pears (Genus Opuntia) are an invasive plant species in Australia.

    Prickly pears (mostly Opuntia stricta) were imported into Australia in the 19th century for use as a natural agricultural fence and in an attempt to establish a cochineal dye industry.
            ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    They quickly became a widespread invasive species, rendering 40,000 km2 (15,000 sq mi) of farming land unproductive.
            ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    The moth Cactoblastis cactorum from South America, whose larvae eat prickly pear, was introduced in 1925 and almost wiped out the population. This case is sometimes cited[1] as an example of successful biological pest control.

    Fortunately a biological control was eventually found, although there are other examples where biological “pest control” has made matters worse, by the introduced species itself becoming a pest.

    Weeds of National Significance – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W

    List of invasive species in North America – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L… –

    This is a list of invasive species in North America.
    A species is regarded as invasive if it has been introduced by human action to a location, area, or region where it did not previously occur naturally (i.e., is not a native species),
    becomes capable of establishing a breeding population in the new location without further intervention by humans, and becomes a pest in the new location, directly threatening agriculture or the local biodiversity.

  25. There is a diversity of attitudes to GMO in various countries – with USA unsurprisingly, adopting a free market approach to environmental concerns and risks.

     
    The following countries have banned or restricted the import, distribution, sale, utilization, field trials and commercial planting of GMO’s:

    Africa: Algeria, Egypt

    Asia: Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Japan, Phillipines

    Europe: The European Union, Norway, Austria, Germany United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Luxembourg, Portugal 

    Latin America: Brazil, Paraguay Middle East: Saudi Arabia

    North America: Maryland has banned GE (genetically engineered) fish and North Dakota and Montana have filed bans on GE wheat. The Municipalities of Burlington, Vermont (declared a moratorium on GE food), Boulder, Colorado (bans on GE crops) and the City and County of San Francisco (urged the federal government to ban GE food) are the only towns or states to take some sort of stand against plants, animals, foods, crops and body products that are, or contain Genetically Modified Organisms.

    NOTE: The U.S. government, and the FDA do not require anything Genetically Modified to be identified on ingredient lists. Genetically Modified foods and products are in widespread use and distribution throughout the U.S.

    Pacific: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Australia, New Zealand  –
    http://www.purezing.com/living…  

    Dozens of countries have banned the import, sale, use and planting of Genetically Modified Organisms due to lack of testing and long term study of human health and environmental effects.

    The U.S. does not only NOT ban GMO’s, manufacturers
    are not required to identify or label a GMO ingredient in their food or body products. A conservative estimate concludes that 75+ % of American foods and body products contain genetically modified organisms.
    Regardless of dozens of scientific warnings, the FDA has approved widespread use of GMO ingredients in America’s foods and body products.

    Percentage of crops that are Genetically Modified in the U.S.:

    Soy (85%)
    Cotton (Cottonseed) (76%)
    Canola (75%)
    Corn (40%)
    Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%)
    Zucchini and Yellow Squash (small amount)
    Quest brand tobacco (100%)

     

    There is fairly constant change as time goes on, with some restrictions being imposed and others being lifted.

    The world will no doubt, in time, owe the American public guinea-pigs a debt of gratitude, when the problems are identified – provided US unlabelled GM products have not been passed to other places under a cover of anonymity which would obstruct objective comparisons and scientific research on the subject!

  26.  “This is no different that bringing back foreign organisms from other countries.”

    Cane toads and rabbits in Australia.  Possums, rabbits, gorse in New Zealand.  Grey squirrels in England.  Thoughtless introduction of foreign species by past generations has indeed made a difference.  Thoughtless, or for-a-quick-buck introduction of artificially modified organisms is something similar, is it not?

    There is legitimate cause for concern that the profit motive is strong enough to corrupt common sense precautions.  Remember, every major industry has had its “defining” accident, where a technology is applied with inadequate care  until the (with hindsight) inevitable disaster strikes.  Examples would include Titanic, Hindenburg, Tacoma Narrows, Thalidomide, Tenerife Airport, Chernobyl, Bhopal, Challenger and Columbia, Exxon Valdez, Deepwater Horizon.   

    Occasions where, unintentionally, over-optimistic risk assessments, complacency, hubris or just downright carelessness caused pretty much the worst possible outcome.  I’m sure there are other examples.

    For GMOs,  what’s the worst that can happen?  Remind yourself of Murphy’s Law.

    I’m not against pushing the boundaries of engineering, but I don’t trust the gung-ho (and for profit) GMO enthusiasts, given the potential scale of a worst-case disaster.  

    Tell me how I’m wrong.  Try to be convincing.  Please.

  27. veggiemanuk 

    Harald_Jezek 
    We can potentially create GMOs in very short time frames, releasing them into an environment that is totally unprepared for such organisms, hence there is no way to know what the long term implications might be.’

    This is no different that bringing back foreign organisms from other countries.   Kew Gardens anyone?

    Has the UK’s ecology collapsed since 1759 when it opened?

    Ah! You mean like Japanese knotweed! – Which can even invade and damage buildings! – and that’s only ONE species!

    http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/

    Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) was first introduced to Britain by the Victorians as an ornamental plant – and was actually awarded a gold
    medal at a prestigious flower show. It is referred to under its previous name of Polygonum cuspidatum in The English Flower Garden by John Murray. In the 1907 edition it is cited as “easier to plant than to get rid of in the garden”. 

    This plant is perennial and extremely invasive. It thrives on disturbance. The tiniest piece can re-grow, and has been spread by both natural means and by human activity. It soon overruns riverbanks, railway embankments, road verges, gardens and hedgerows, threatening the survival of other native plant species and in turn insects and other animal species.

    Huge sums are being spent in the UK controlling the weed.
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    In 2004, a DEFRA review of non-native species policy stated that a conservative estimate for the costs involved in eradication would be £1.56bn.
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    The aggressive spread of the plant following its first escapes into the wild in the 19th Century resulted in it occurring in most parts of the UK (except Orkney) and eventually being listed in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as a pest species. 

    All parts of the plant are considered as controlled waste under the Waste Regulations. 

     
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    @rdfrs-87115ae0d309915a4e8d74a706aeae16:disqus

    Then you follow with two examples that I find risible as calamities!
    Regardless of the false comparison, I think the Japanese and the Australians survived this hyperbole of yours well enough.

    Well – What’ s a write off of 15,oo0 square miles of agricultural land in Australia, and  £1.56 billion damage in Britain?  Risible hyperbole – or head in the sand comment?????

    BTW Japanese knotweed is not so much of a problem in JAPAN: –  Wrong country!

    In its native countries of Japan, North China, Korea and Taiwan, the weed presents nowhere near the problem it now poses across Europe, America and New Zealand.

    With its natural habitat being on the slopes of volcanoes, it is no surprise that the less harsh and more fertile environment of Britain has allowed this plant to flourish to extreme proportions.

    Furthermore, outside of Asia, the plant has no natural biological enemies to check its spread. In Japan, for example, at least 30 species of insect and 6 species of fungi live on the plant.

  28. OHooligan
     “This is no different that bringing back foreign organisms from other countries.”

    Not quite!  Foreign organisms from other ecosystems (such as the Opuntia Cactus) have natural predators in habitat which constrain their numbers and could possibly be used as biological control measures. 

    GM created organisms may have none, with no clues offered as to what may be effective controls!

  29.  Miss the point much?

    I find it passing strange that a biologist would use squishy psychological terminology and use it wrongly.

    I have a degree in psychology and I don’t think you are using projection correctly  as denial was the term used and used correctly. Perhaps you should get a tune up in that, justifiably, incoherent discipline physiology. Know what romanticism is? You should.

    By the way, arguments from authority, especially one own authority, are especially sad.

    ” You really don’t know, do you ? ? “

    I don’t care about your red herring either. Stick to the point, GMO and it’s analogue in nature, horizontal gene transfer and stop galloping all over the place in the knotweed!

    Invasive species, GMO and horizontal/lateral gene transfer are the categories and only two of them are under consideration here. I leave it to you to discard your red herring, invasive species and get back to the point.

    You do remember the point, don’t you?

  30.  £1.56 billion

    Oh, crushing!!!!

    15,000 square miles.

    Another terrible calamity!!!

    It think everyone is recovering nicely, just as in your other example, space shuttles, life went on.

    What is it with you ideologues and reality?

    GMO is here and will continue to be here, just as lateral transfer is here and continues to be here. You and Europe can stick your heads in the sands of illusion, but expect to be bulldozed over by this coming thing.

    You ain’t seen nothing yet, Luddite!

  31.   Neodarwinian  -
     I leave it to you to discard your red herring, invasive species and get back to the point.
    You do remember the point, don’t you?

    Yep! –  The risks of accidentally creating invasive species, or health risks, and the gung-ho reckless approach by some people -particularly  in the USA!

    £1.56 billion – Oh, crushing!!!!

    That was damage from ONE SPECIES IN ONE COUNTRY!
    OHooligan mentioned some others here!
    http://richarddawkins.net/disc

  32. Neodarwinian –
      GMO and horizontal/lateral gene transfer are the categories

    Some companies are working on genetically modified cereals which are herbicide resistant, so they can spray crops and kill weeds while the crop remains  unaffected.

      Herbicide resistance – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G

    Some companies, particularly those that have a business interest in agrochemicals introduce herbicide resistance in the non-target crop so as to make their herbicides more
    effective on their targets. Most traditional herbicides work on dicotyledons and do not work on grasses.

    The incorporation of herbicide resistance in cereal crops allows the use of broad-spectrum herbicides that work on all undesirable plants including monocotyledonous weeds.
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    Monsanto conducts research on rice that can tolerate glyphosate (active ingredient in the herbicide with trade name of “Roundup”) to produce “Roundup Ready rice”.[4]
    Monsanto allowed research into roundup ready rice for one year (2000–2001) but has not developed a variety for market.[5] Bayer’s line of herbicide resistant rice is known as LibertyLink.[6] LibertyLink rice is a transgenic variety of rice resistant to glufosinate (the active chemical in Liberty herbicide).[4]

    Bayer crop sciences is currently attempting to get their latest variety (LL62) approved for use in the EU. The strain has already been approved for use in the U.S. but is not in large scale use.

     

    So as with antibiotic resistant pathogens, and insecticide resistant insects,  We could see herbicide resistant GM genes leaking from cereals into related weed grasses to plague future crops. 

    Some might also be concerned about herbicide residues in the food!

    But don’t worry about it!! 
    The gung-ho market-driven USA can’t or won’t see the risk, so it must be OK!! (allegedly!)
    They won’t label the product to let consumers know either!

  33. Hi there! I am a scientist in a field not even remotely related to human biology.  I have tried to have this conversation with my brother who is a molecular biologist but haven’t gotten a very coherent answer.  I put it to you as an honest question: what is the danger, if any, of eating the modified organisms themselves?

    I can imagine (and gather somewhat from my brother) that the genetically modified organisms could have been “programmed” to produce proteins which are either useful for the vegetable or just incidental and turn out to be toxic when ingested – in which case the animal testing makes sense, though I would have thought we would have a good enough understanding of proteins to know which humans can handle… perhaps not?  Regardless, we would be talking about the specific proteins being the problem, not GMOs in general.  It would be equivalent to discovering a new vegetable growing in a jungle and trying to determine if it was safe to eat, but there is nothing inherently dangerous about its origins.

    My brother also mentioned prions as a danger – i.e. just like eating the diseased brain matter of a cow with BSE, you could ingest a dangerous prion which ends up giving you Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.  As I understand it, prions are versions of normal proteins in the brain which have assumed a different (non-functional) geometrical shape and transmit this shape to normal proteins nearby, which in turn do the same creating a viral effect which eventually leaves you without critical proteins in your brain, leaving you more or less dead.  Prion disease afflicts non-genetically modified organisms currently – as a biochemist, would you be thinking GMOs have a higher risk of producing prions (perhaps in ways which are less observable than dying cows) and thus constitute an unacceptable risk?Thanks in advance!

  34. GMO covers quite few things, from increasing the mutation rate to putting animal genes in plants and loosing them on the environment.  Some nitwit invented an variant organism that grew on the roots of nearly all plants, but produced so much alcohol it killed them.  The error was caught by accident at the last minute.  The big thing I am concerned about is you can’t recall an experiment if you later find out it was not such a hot idea.  New genes hop all over the place.  Monsanto is so interested in profit, it is not nearly conservative enough.  I think we should not let loose anything into the environment that could not in theory have spontaneously arisen with 100 years of traditional selective breeding.  The potential risk is way too high. We need be extremely capable of predicting consequences before releasing weird genes.

  35. brighterstill
    I put it to you as an honest question: what is the danger, if any, of eating the modified organisms themselves?

    I think you have identified some dietary risks, but the OP (a video of a poorly conducted piece of research), and much of this discussion, is just a side track from the big issues of environmental contamination and the risk of producing highly resistant weeds and pests.
    As far as diet goes, you will see from my previous post, that GM cereals are being marketed as part of a package including chemical herbicides, which can leave residues in food,  spread on to other land, or wash into rivers and drinking water.
    - Not to mention effects on unbalancing wider ecosystems including other plants and animals.

    While there are risks involved with horizontal gene transfers via viruses etc, the main vector spreading GM genes to non-GM plants in field trials of cereals, is wind pollination. 

    This has potential to breed herbicide resistant weed grasses via cross pollination, and have GM pollen eaten or consumed by a mass of wildlife.
    While polyploid cereals such as wheat, have heavy pollen, which does not usually travel far from its parent – EXCEPT  in hot windy weather, any hay-fever sufferer can tell you that TONS of pollen is in the air at certain times.

    Regarding the “Challenger Shuttle” explosion, it is worth noting that the R&D people advised it was dangerous to launch at those temperatures, but had no evidence to support this. 

    What was not made clear, was that they had no evidence because funding for that research had been refused. 

    This produced a bang big enough for the blinkered to notice, but not big enough to make them re-prioritise safety. – Hence the Colombia disaster. 

    The shuttle programme was then put on hold for quite some time, while serious money was spent on up-grading safety.

    The signs are that these lessons have not been learned, (with past examples quoted here: http://richarddawkins.net/disc… )   
    Scientific warnings are still being  met with corporate denials, side-tracking, and screams of  “Luddite”!

  36. “Ah! You mean like Japanese knotweed! – Which can even invade and damage buildings! – and that’s only ONE species!”

    So Japanese Knotweed has destroyed the UKs ecology then?

    The question was, since the opening of Kew Gardens, with all of it’s imports, has the UKs ecology collapsed? Failing that, has it even taken a significant hit to worry us?

  37. The question was, since the opening of Kew Gardens, with all of it’s imports, has the UKs ecology collapsed? Failing that, has it even taken a
    significant hit to worry us?

    Ecology does not collapse.  It just becomes more hostile to particular species. (Such as  humans and their crops)

    There are problems all over the world from foreign introduced species becoming weeds and pests.  The specifics dependent on the local climate.

    There are educational courses for those working in horticulture, forestry and agriculture on this subject:-

       
    Pests in Gardens and Landscapes – Invasive Plants
                http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG

    Dirty Dozen Invaders of the Southwest (USA) – http://gardeningfromthegroundu… –

    English holly, English ivy, gorse, and Scotch broom have been planted as ornamentals and have escaped to cover large areas of pasture and cut-over forest lands. –
    http://pnwhandbooks.org/weed/o

    At the present time importing plants without approval is illegal in many countries, because of the risks. US customs usually burn any they discover.

  38. veggiemanuk –   So Japanese Knotweed has destroyed the UKs ecology then?
     Failing that, has it even taken a significant hit to worry us? 

    Perhaps a study of REAL ENVIRONMENTAL  PROBLEMS would clarify some viewpoints!  You would not want this plant in your garden, or anywhere near your house.

    What damage can be caused by Japanese knotweed? –
    http://www.environetuk.com/jap… –

    Does Japanese knotweed damage hard surfaces such as asphalt?

     
    A definite YES, ..

    Does Japanese knotweed damage underground services?

    YES. Underground sewers, drains and land-drains are particularly susceptible to Japanese knotweed.

    Can Japanese knotweed grow through concrete? 
     
     YES and NO! There are many recorded incidents of knotweed growing
    through concrete. However, what actually happens is that the knotweed
    finds a weak spot

    Can Japanese knotweed grow in cavity walls?

    YES, Japanese knotweed can grow within cavity walls. We have experienced stems and healthy leaves emanating through vents and air bricks located 2m above ground level. When knotweed grows in cavity walls it has the capacity to force the two skins of the wall apart.

    http://www.environetuk.com/Rep

    As I commented earlier:

    Huge sums are being spent in the UK controlling the weed.
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    In 2004, a DEFRA review of non-native species policy stated that a conservative estimate for the costs involved in eradication would be £1.56bn.

    All parts of the plant are considered as controlled waste under the Waste Regulations. 
     –
    http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/

    And from a different source:-

    Why is Japanese Knotweed a Problem – http://www.jksl.com/damage-cau

    Specific problems caused by Japanese Knotweed are:
    Damage to paving and tarmac areas
    Damage to retaining wall structures
    Damage to building foundations
    Damage to flood defence structures
    Damage to archaeological sites
    Reduction in land values
    Aesthetic issues
    Reduction in biodiversity through out-shading native vegetation
    Many insects / wildlife that are dependent on our native plants are lost or in danger
    Restriction of access to riverbanks for anglers, bank inspection and amenity use

    http://www.jksl.com/images/ima

    You see that’s the problem with understanding expert scientific advice.  It requires study! Denial gives you no information or valid viewpoint.

  39. “You see that’s the problem with understanding expert scientific advice.  It requires study! Denial gives you no information or valid viewpoint.”

    Hold your horses there, who said anything about denying expert scientific advice? No one is disputing that certain imports cause problems, that was the reason I mentioned Kew with it’s 200+ year history of imports.

    If were are that afraid of GM, then I suggest we halt all cross breeding of any species.

  40. Well, a quick peek on Wikipedia tells me that there haven’t been any actual problems with eating the stuff, though there have been some cases of genes getting into the bodies of cousin species and the occasional consumer.  Most of the concern seems to be about inadequate testing for unforeseen effects, and companies getting too much control over GM food production at the expense both of the consumer and the small farmer. 

    The biggest problems, though, are misconceptions over what GM crops can actually do.  They can’t solve the problem of increasing food demands because this problem is caused by overpopulation straining local resources, and it would at best be a short-term alleviation.  They don’t do anything more dramatic than a normal mutant gene would do, because GMOs are essentially artificial mutants, so it’s mostly fast-forwarded artificial selection.  They don’t tend by themselves to cause deleterious effects — even if you were contaminated by a GM food, that isn’t automatically a problem until results show it causes illness.

    Lastly, as much as concerns over the environmental effects of GM crops are legitimate and need to be met, they pale in comparison to the damage already inflicted and being inflicted by traditional, global monoculture farming methods, old school pesticide and herbicide use, and the sheer scale of current agriculture.  This isn’t to dismiss GM food concerns, but if we really are interested in protecting the environment, it would be more worthwhile to review the economically expensive meat industry, limit urban expansion, legislate birth control and contraception schemes, and encourage women’s emancipation across the globe as part of the population control method. It’s gotta be worth more than getting scared off by new technology.

  41.   No one is disputing that certain imports cause problems, that was the
    reason I mentioned Kew with it’s 200+ year history of imports.

    Importing live material has been regulated for decades now, but we are still suffering from the unrestricted imports of the past.  (The US has very strict restrictions on importing plants & seeds, but apparently is not so bothered when corporate GM profits are involved.)

    Hence 100years+ on, we are still fighting the Knotweed!

    There is a difference of scale and speed of GM compared to other forms of breeding, as I explained here:  http://richarddawkins.net/disc… 

    As I said earlier, I am not against GM per se, any more than I was against space shuttles.  (I was against carelessly exploding space shuttles)
    What I am against is the reckless approach to checking the safety. – Particularly in view of the track record of  many of the companies involved.

    Hold your horses there, who said anything about denying expert scientific advice?

    If you look back over this discussion, you will find numerous examples of unevidenced, gratuitous, contradictions, of accurate information I have provided, when speaking and providing links as an informed biologist. 

    The objectives of  GMO production is the breeding of insect, fungal, and bacteria resistant species which out-compete other plants and grow rapidly and vigorously.

    These are the precise properties of an invasive species in the context of a particular habitat. 
    (If you throw in resistance to controlling herbicides, you could make a real hum-dinger of a weed!)

    As was pointed out earlier by roedygreen, and myself, bio-hazards are self replicating and extremely difficult/ impossible to exterminate once they are out in the environment (As has been proved with antibiotic resistant diseases). There is therefore no scope for cowboy-outfits carelessly muddling along waiting for the crunch to instil concepts of reality into their management!  The checks and shut-down switches have to be in place first.  Unfortunately the US has a considerable tradition of anti-science and anti-regulation, which probably means they are going to muddle their way into (more) disasters.

  42.  

     
    veggiemanuk If were are that afraid of GM, then I suggest we halt all cross breeding of any species.

    We should not be afraid of GM or breeding per se, but we should be very afraid of sloppy commercial science procedures.

    You may recall this one:-

    Science lab suspected in foot and mouth outbreak –  http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2… 

    An accidental leak of an experimental vaccine from a private research
    site was being investigated urgently last night as the likely source of
    Britain’s new foot and mouth disease outbreak. The news came as the
    government attempted to avert a full-scale crisis in farming and the
    tourism industry.

    Movement of all livestock has been banned, exports
    to Europe stopped and country fairs cancelled to minimise the risk of
    the country suffering a disastrous rerun of the 2001 foot and mouth
    epidemic which cost the nation £8.5bn.

    Scientists made a
    breakthrough last night as they identified the strain of the virus as
    one which is not naturally occurring, but is a vaccine strain, and has
    never been seen before in Europe. This enabled investigators to link the
    outbreak to a company which lies less than three miles down the road
    from the source of the outbreak.

    Merial Animal Health, a private
    pharmaceutical firm shares facilities with a government laboratory in
    Pirbright, and is commissioned by the European Union to formulate new
    vaccines for animal diseases. Both companies are expected to meet tight
    regulatory standards for biosecurity.

    If you read the linked article you will gain some idea of the scale of the problems which can be caused!

    It was later confirmed that this lab was the source of the outbreak.

  43. One of the problems with GMOs, is they usually contain terminator genes to ensure farmers have to buy seed afresh each year. This puts farmers at the mercy of Monsanto who then can crank up prices.  It is not such a good idea from a security point of view.  If something happened to Monsanto’s seed crop, there are no alternate sources of seed.

    Monsanto works hard to reduce competition, to destroy genetic diversity or to own it. The net result is monoculture of a very few strains. This makes them more susceptible to insects. This helps Monsanto’s insecticide sales or sales of its most recent insect resistant strains.

    None of these problems are inherent to GMOs, just with the way they are ruthlessly marketed with no concern for the environment.

  44. I read somewhere a story  – (can’t find the source, can anyone help?)  – about a GM fish, modified to grow faster/larger (great for fishfarms), but escaped, had better breeding success in the wild than the natives as the native females were predisposed to think size matters most, edging out the wild males.  Problem was, the offspring of these hybrid matings were infertile. 

    I don’t know if this was a real occurrence or a hypothetical scenario.   Anyone able to enlighten?  Not with opinions, just references.

  45. It’s interesting that one of the methods used to get improved varieties for the last 50 years is to irradiate pollen to get a nice mix of mutations, then select the ones that have the best features according to the breeders. Many genes changed, mostly unknown, yet no bad effects ever reported. To deliberately change 1 gene, however is regarded as insanely dangerous. And the comment below about genetic diversity below also fails to convince, if for example they change the gene for wheat height in order to get a faster growing crop, none of the genes for disease/pest resistance are touched, the new strain has the same resistance as the parent. All commercial crops, GM or not come from limited background and resistance, remember, the potato famine happened before GM.

  46. My personal belief is resistance to GM is based on one major concept. If it happens “naturaly” then it’s God’s Will, and therefore O.K. If people do it, then it’s opposing Gods Will, and therfore bad. I can’t find any more logic to the debate beyond this.

  47. On the issue of GMO and their importance for the future of our planet, I would suggest reading through chapter nine (Feeding Nine Billion) of the brilliant book Abundance by P. Diamandis and S. Kotler. There’s also a website companion to the book, and for instance this page http://www.abundancethebook.co… follows recent developments on GMO research. I am sure you will discover amazing positive things!  

  48. pier72  There’s also a website companion to the book, and for instance this page http://www.abundancethebook.co… follows recent developments on GMO research. I am sure you will discover amazing positive things! 

    Farming these is probably no worse than the existing severe problems of disease in the pens, and disease and parasite contamination of wild stocks, arising from commercial salmon farming.

      OHooligan –
    I read somewhere a story  – (can’t find the source, can anyone help?)  – about a GM fish,   .. .. .. .. Problem was, the offspring of these hybrid matings were infertile. 

    I don’t know if this was a real occurrence or a hypothetical scenario.   Anyone able to enlighten?  Not with opinions, just references.

    I don’t know if this is the article you are thinking of.  It does not involve GM (in the sense described in the OP), but does involve sterile hybrids being produced and being used to avoid contaminating native fish stocks while providing anglers with stocks of additional (alien) fish without them becoming invasive.

      http://polyploidy.org/index.ph…  – Polyploid trouts occur naturally and can be induced from diploid by heat
    shocking fertilized eggs. Diploid x tetraploid crosses produce sterile triploids that are often used in restocking stream and lakes.

    Image courtesy of Stephen Ausmus, USDA-ARS Photo Library -

    http://polyploidy.org/images/d

    eyore
    My personal belief is resistance to GM is based on one major concept. If it happens “naturaly” then it’s God’s Will, and therefore O.K.

    That is probably true of the “hippy environmentalists”, (who opponents and the media love to feature), rather than the environmental scientists who examine the real issues.

  49.  

    Zeuglodon
      Lastly, as much as concerns over the environmental effects of GM crops
    are legitimate and need to be met, they pale in comparison to the damage
    already inflicted and being inflicted by traditional, global
    monoculture farming methods, old school pesticide and herbicide use, and
    the sheer scale of current agriculture. 

    There are indeed many existing practices which are probably not sustainable in the longer term.  Some GM experiments are integrated to expand these (eg herbicide use / herbicide resistant crops).

    … .. ….  as part of the population control method.

    If harvesting solar energy for increased food production per unit area, was the answer to the world’s problems,  the richest and best fed people, would be found in the tropics. 

    As we know exploding populations simply expand to, and beyond the limits of production, as the limit boundaries are moved, until the natural collapse from overload kicks in to make the adjustment in the balance of population and resources.
    (Using the natural adjustment mechanisms of competitive strife,  habitat destruction, starvation, and disease.)

  50.  Thanks again Alan.  I’ll consider the fishy story to be an Urban Legend, since I can’t find any more about it.  

    For the OP, the wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G… is a good starting point, it leads off in all directions to supporters, opponents, and government sites, and has loads of references to published articles and papers.  

  51. “One of the problems with GMOs, is they usually contain terminator genes to ensure farmers have to buy seed afresh each year. This puts farmers at the mercy of Monsanto who then can crank up prices.  It is not such a good idea from a security point of view.  If something happened to Monsanto’s seed crop, there are no alternate sources of seed.”

    Monsanto cannot win here can they? They either leave the GM crop to polinate or they introduce  the so called ‘terminator gene’. Either way they are considered evil by people who cannot think beyond their prejudice towards large corporations.

    The ‘terminator gene’ is meant to prevent cross contamination, not to tie in farmers to Monsanto seeds, no one twisted the farmers arms to make them buy these seeds and they knew what they were getting themselves into, or atleast they should have done.

  52. >Monsanto cannot win here can they?

    Correct. We live in an economic system where corporations are required by law to ignore “externals” like the health of customers, the environment to single mindedly pursue profit. If the executives don’t do that in the USA at least, the shareholders can sue them.   Monsanto behaves far worse than most companies because it has been  successful at creating a near monopoly.

    You may say then it is unfair to complain about Monsanto’s predatory tactics, but to ignore that behaviour would be like saying it is unfair to note that wolves kill sheep since they can’t help it.

  53. OHooligan –  “For the OP, the wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G… is a good starting point,”

    Objectivity of regulatory bodies

    Groups opposing the release of genetically modified organisms or their use as food have questioned whether regulatory authorities in various countries are too close to companies that seek approval for their products, or have received bribes from such companies.

    Critics in the US have protested in regards to the appointment of pro GM lobbyists to senior positions in the FDA. Michael R. Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist, was appointed as a senior adviser to the FDA on food safety in 1991.

    Following his tenure at the FDA, Taylor became a vice-president of Monsanto.
    On July 7, 2009, Taylor returned to government as Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration for the Obama administration.[34]

    Also in the US, Dennis Wolff is expected to take up the position of Under-Secretary of the newly created Agriculture for Food Safety.
    Wolff is the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture who successfully lobbied to ban organic farmers from labeling their products as being GM free and
    was a proponent of the “ACRE” initiative which gave the Pennsylvania state attorney general’s office the authority to sue municipalities that banned GMOs.
      
    Several anti-GMO organisations have organised petitions opposing Wolff’s appointment and have also conducted letter writing campaigns protesting the conflict of interest.[35]

    The Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee that reviewed Canada’s regulations in 2003 was accused by environmental and citizen groups of
    not representing the full spectrum of public interests and for being too closely aligned to industry groups.[36]

    Most of the Chinese National Biosafety Committee are involved in biotechnology leading to criticisms that they do not represent a wide enough range of public concerns.[37]

    The Welsh advocacy group GM Free Cymru argues that governments should use independent studies rather than industry studies to assess crop safety.[38]

    GM Free Cymru has also stated that independently funded researcher, Professor Bela Darvas of Debrecen University was refused Mon 863 Bt corn to use in his studies[38] after previously publishing that a different variety of Monsanto corn was lethal to two Hungarian protected insect species and an insect classified as a rare[39][40]
    (although this information was investigated by the European Union who concluded that the results were not scientifically valid and contradicted several other scientifically accepted studies).

    So when it comes to effective government policing of dangerous practices, the committees are full of industry stooges with conflicts of interest!

  54. Yes, you’re absolutely right.  Those GM crops that increased productivity per acre of land would just be an invitation for more population expansion, and then we all end up back at square one.

    As we know exploding populations simply expand to, and beyond the limits of production, as the limit boundaries are moved, until the natural collapse from overload kicks in to make the adjustment in the balance of population and resources. (Using the natural adjustment mechanisms of competitive strife,  habitat destruction, starvation, and disease.)

    The problem is how to convince people that this is a serious issue.  Imagine a politician trying to pass a bill for a one child policy like in China.  There’d be uproar.  It doesn’t help that China and India have nearly one third of the global population between them, so they’re not exactly role models.

    If harvesting solar energy for increased food production per unit area, was the answer to the world’s problems,  the richest and best fed people, would be found in the tropics.

     

    Give or take limitations.  Most rich people would import it from the tropics (why go to it when it can come to you, after all?), or make do with subtropical or temperate regions. 

  55. OHooligan

    For the OP, the wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G… is a good starting point, it leads off in all directions

    A very good clear article with plenty of information!

     
    Labeling –
    Outside the U.S., the entire European Union and other countries such as Australia, China, Japan, and Russia require GMO labeling.

    There are other countries that make GMO labeling voluntary and many other countries have plans to introduce GMO labeling[25][26][27]

    As of May 2012, the U.S. state of California is scheduled to vote on the labeling of genetically modified food.

    The argument is that consumers have a right to know the content of their food and to choose to avoid it if they wish,

    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    while advocates such as DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta and the Council for Biotechnology Information, which represents agribusinesses, call this an attempt to scare consumers and make them feel that the food is unsafe.

    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    Biotechnology labeling is not required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but it has been adopted by over 40 countries.

    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    According to public disclosures, the Council for Biotechnology Information and The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which also opposes this initiative, have each made matching donations of $375,000 to fight the initiative.

    So there is a very well funded campaign to keep information from consumers and the public and a lack of funding for independent studies!

    (Why does this remind me of AGW climate denial campaigns by the coal, oil & gas merchants, or the cancer disinformation campaigns of the Tobacco industry?)

  56. How much labeling do you need other than nutrition and ingredients? Maybe we should label all beef products with what farm and field the cow(s) were reared on and what they ate and how they were killed, i’m sure someone somewhere will refuse to buy certain beef from certain farms, certain fields, were fed on certain foods and killed in a certain way.

    How can you expect an uneducated general public to make decisions on GM foods other than what they have read in the media, it will, if anything make people not buy those foods labeled, not because they KNOW of the risks but because they don’t know any better.

  57. Exactly, and for many people “Nature” is a synonym of “God”, “natural” products should not be changed in any way, only what’s “natural” is good and safe, etc. 

    But what is the boundary between natural and artificial?

    Do we really want to “save” natural products from genetic manipulations? Well, we are way too late! 

    The following is from Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist (cited in Abundance, by Diamandis & Kotler):

    “Almost by definition, all crop plants are ‘genetically modified’. They are monstrous mutants capable of yielding unnaturally large, free-threshing seeds or heavy, sweet fruits and dependent on human intervention to survive. Carrots are orange thanks only to the selection of a mutant first discovered perhaps as late as the sixteenth century in Holland. Bananas are sterile and incapable of setting seed. Wheat has three whole diploid (double) genomes in each of its cells, descended from three different wild grasses, and simply cannot survive as a wild plant–you never encounter wild wheat.”     

  58. veggiemanuk
    How much labeling do you need other than nutrition and ingredients? Maybe we should label all beef products with what farm and field the cow(s) were reared on and what they ate and how they were killed, i’m sure someone somewhere will refuse to buy certain beef from certain farms, certain fields, were fed on certain foods and killed in a certain way.

    Halal meats?  – or – Standards of animal welfare??  Consumers and their suppliers have a right to know what they are buying.  There will always be ignoramuses who think food grows on shelves in shops – but they need to be educated, rather than dragging the rest of us down to their level.

    Indeed at the top end of the market producers take a pride in their regionally designated products and their brands:  – like: Scottish Aberdeen Angus Beef, French Champaigne, Craster Kippers, Organic vegetables, etc.  (see link below)
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    In the more consumer AND producer friendly countries, they prosecute people trying to pass off substandard cheap substitutes or  fake products as these.

    As I pointed out here; http://richarddawkins.net/disc… the Agrochemical companies are fighting to withhold the information so customers do not know what they are buying.

    How can you expect an uneducated general public to make decisions on GM foods other than what they have read in the media, it will, if anything make people not buy those foods labeled, not because they KNOW of the
    risks but because they don’t know any better

    Or could it be that risk takers don’t want those at risk to know what is happening.   I for one want to be able (along with my suppliers) to look at labels as see if  I am buying a quality product, or one where there should be a product recall of that specific product at the time of evidence arising. 
    Fortunately I don’t live in one of the backwaters of ignorance where deceptive marketing companies are unregulated.

     
    Geographical indications and traditional specialities (EU) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G

    Three European Union schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialities known as protected designation of origin (PDO), protected geographical indication (PGI), and traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG) promote and protect names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs.[1] They are based on the legal framework provided by the Council Regulation (EC) No 510/2006 of 20 March 2006.[2]
    This law (enforced within the EU and being gradually expanded internationally via bilateral agreements between the EU and non-EU countries) ensures that only products genuinely originating in that region are allowed to be identified as such in commerce. The legislation first came into force in 1992. The purpose of the law is to protect the
    reputation of the regional foods, promote rural and agricultural activity, help producers obtain a premium price for their authentic products, and eliminate the unfair competition and misleading of consumers by non-genuine products,[3] which may be of inferior quality or of different flavour.

    These laws protect the names of wines, cheeses, hams, sausages, seafood, olives, beers, Balsamic vinegar and even regional breads, fruits, raw meats and vegetables.
    Foods such as Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Asiago cheese, Camembert, Somerset Cider Brandy and Champagne can only be labelled as such if they come from the designated region. To qualify as Roquefort, for example, cheese must be made from milk of a certain breed of sheep, and matured in the natural caves near the town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the Aveyron region of France, where it is infected with the spores of a fungus (Penicillium roqueforti) that grows in these caves.

    This system is similar to appellation systems used throughout the world, such as the appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) used in France, the denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) used in Italy, the denominação de origem controlada (DOC) used in Portugal, and the denominación de origen (DO) system used in Spain.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde

    (

  59. pier72
    Exactly, and for many people “Nature” is a synonym of “God”, “natural” products should not be changed in any way, only what’s “natural” is good and safe, etc.

    There is plenty of ignorance around, but that in no way detracts from informed science or political based criticism!

    But what is the boundary between natural and artificial?

     

    That is a strawman! It is not the issue or the criterion.

    Do we really want to “save” natural products from genetic manipulations? Well, we are way too late!

    No!  That is a red-herring.  We should be managing Earth’s resources in a sustainable and responsible manner.

    The following is from Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist (cited in Abundance, by Diamandis & Kotler):

    I would take anything said by Matt Ridley in relation to free-market company profits with a pinch of salt. 
    He has moved on from being a failed banker, to being a climate change denying apologist for the carbon industry in general and the gas-fracking industry in particular. (But then his daddy does have a very large coal mine on the family’s extensive agricultural estate.)

  60. Of course there is some risk from GMOs, just as there is a certain potential for risk in any action (or inaction) that we take. It is virtually certain, however, that if modern “industrial” agriculture were to stop today there would be immediate, worldwide food shortage.  Of  course we are opposed to overpopulation, but Monsanto did not cause overpopulatio, and prosperity seems to be a better brake on family size than starvation.

    In fact, everything you eat has been genetically modified, and the potential for damage is largely limited to the ag industry itself. Who is at risk if a gene for resistance to Roundup escapes into the wild?

    Based on the evidence, oranic farming is a much greater threat — living in close proximity to farm animals and their “natural” fertilizer has given mankind no end of diseases (swine flu, bird flu, worms, trichinosis, etc.)  The opposition to GMOs is based not on evidence, but ideology (corporations are bad). This is the left-wing equivalent of climate change denial.

    Would you ban the manufacture of antibiotics because there is a chance that antibiotic-resistant bacteria might escape into the environment?

  61. SN
    In fact, everything you eat has been genetically modified, and the potential for damage is largely limited to the ag industry itself. 

     

    There is a great deal of difference between evolutionary modification within an ecosystem and introducing a new organism to one. (See comments on “invasive species”)

    Who is at risk if a gene for resistance to Roundup escapes into the wild?

    Everyone who uses Roundup!  (As with antibiotic resistant organisms escaping).
    There is also the question of systematic use of round-up on crops, (adding to other spray residues)  and run-off onto other land and water courses.

    Based on the evidence, oranic farming is a much greater threat —
    living in close proximity to farm animals and their “natural” fertilizer has given mankind no end of diseases (swine flu, bird flu, worms, trichinosis, etc.) 

    This is rubbish!  All livestock farms handle animal waste regardless of if they are organic or not.  If anything the intensively housed systems concentrate the waste and disease risks more.

    The opposition to GMOs is based not on evidence, but ideology (corporations are bad).

    This is just a nonsensical assertion.  Perhaps you should have read OHooligan’s & my links here:- http://richarddawkins.net/disc

    This is the left-wing equivalent of
    climate change denial.

    Nope! You got it backwards!  Unregulated GM marketing is ecology denial. (Not that that is exclusive to GM)

    Would you ban the manufacture of antibiotics because there is a chance that antibiotic-resistant bacteria might escape into the environment?

    Nope, but I would insist on proper independent testing and closely regulated use. 
    If that had happened, we would not be having to have retrospective discussions like this one about deleterious  consequences: –  http://richarddawkins.net/news

  62. Scientifically and technologically informed criticism is exactly what many of us try to pursue, believe it or not. Strawman, red-herring? Why? Those (the meaning of natural/artificial and the meaning of GMO) are important issues! Let’s try for a second to forget about greedy companies and instead follow and support those people (scientists, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, common individuals with brilliant ideas) who really have the means (intellectual and material) to do something for our species (and also for their own sons, why not?). Optimism does not equal neither greed nor naivety, even if unfortunately too many people still believe the contrary. 

    In particular, it is a fact that today every major technology is based on computers and that computer power is growing exponentially, not linearly. What is flawed and dangerous today may be fixed (in ways that we can not even imagine) and safe tomorrow. And tomorrow is just behind the corner (that is the meaning of ‘exponentially’). 

    Finally, I think that you will certainly agree that, if a certain technological innovation is potentially beneficial to billion, then it does not automatically become a bad thing just because it is also potentially profitable for a few persons (apart form the fact that it can also become indirectly potentially profitable for billion).              

  63. This is a very long discussion in which others and myself have explained many of the real risks and problems associated with new crops and methods in farming.

    pier72
    Scientifically and technologically informed criticism is exactly what many of us try to pursue, believe it or not.

    There is alack of serious replies to the scientific issues I have raised about the biology and the politics of this issue.

    Strawman, red-herring? Why? Those (the meaning of natural/artificial and the meaning of GMO) are important issues!

    There is no biological distinction between natural and artificial.  Humans are part of nature.  The terms are merely convenience labels. All life is descended from a common ancestor (LUCA).

    Let’s try for a second to forget about greedy companies

     

    WHY?  They are the ones trying to proceed without independent testing to evaluate risks and outcomes.  Some of us know their track record on other problem products, the potential risks from introduced new species, and the impacts from increased use of agrochemicals.

    and instead follow and support those people (scientists, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, common individuals with brilliant ideas) who really
    have the means (intellectual and material) to do something for our species (and also for their own sons, why not?). 

     

    Unrestrained enthusiasts with inspired ideas and a casual disregard for risks, have caused most of the major disasters in history.  I have nothing against innovative research – just reckless marketing!

    Optimism does not equal neither greed nor naivety, even if unfortunately too many people still believe the contrary.

     

    It does not have to, but certainly can do.  Optimism is only a starting point.  Objectivity, careful development and testing is what is needed.

    What is flawed and dangerous today may be fixed (in ways that we can not even imagine) and safe tomorrow.

    Or it may just land with a bang and cause massive destruction, because optimists with tunnel vision and cheer-leading for their pet prototype, refused to look at the wider picture and sort out the bugs in the design. (As in this example of a bio-disaster I quoted – http://richarddawkins.net/disc… )

    Finally, I think that you will certainly agree that, if a certain technological innovation is potentially beneficial to billion, then it does not automatically become a bad thing just because it is also potentially profitable for a few persons

     

    This is just speculation!  You talk as if profitability of a specific product was a determining factor in beneficial or deleterious consequence in the wider world, –  without even looking at the wider and long term effects! 
    Some of us have seen untested pet projects rushed into production before.

    As I pointed out in an earlier comment – NASA learned this lesson very slowly needing two shuttle disasters, before  putting the shuttle system on hold and belatedly sorting out the safety issues.
    Those engineers, (like myself), whose warnings were ignored were not against space technology or new technology  – they were against avoidable disasters caused by gung-ho decision makers refusing to carry out tests!

    (apart form the fact that it can also become indirectly potentially profitable for billion)

     
       
    Or alternatively – become a long term bio-hazard costing on-going billions and mass starvation. Proper evaluations are needed.

    As I have said before, am not against innovative developments (Indeed if you look at some of my earlier posts and discussions, you will see I actively promote them) but bio-hazards are self replicating and once they are out, the clock cannot be turned back.

    Many scientists advising many countries in the world recognise the need for caution in testing new products before launch, and for the most part the independent tests on GMO have not been done yet.

  64. “There is a great deal of difference between evolutionary modification within an ecosystem and introducing a new organism to one.”

    What is the difference in Genetically Modifying wheat to be more hardy and breeding it to be more hardy? The ecosystem still has to adapt to both, not just the GM method.

    If Monsanto were to breed roundup resistance into crops rather than Genetically Modify, would we still be having this conversation? The only difference between the two methods is speed to market. There is nothing preventing Monsanto or anyone else in doing just that other than the time involved, but then it would just be deemed as a natural event and not much attention would be paid to it, even if the roundup resistance trait were to pass to other species, we would just see this as a natural process and progress from roundup to something else and the cycle starting anew.

  65. You write, “This is just speculation! You talk as if profitability of a specific product was a determining factor in beneficial or deleterious consequence in the wider world, – without even looking at the wider and long term effects!” 

    Alan4discussion you are reversing and twisting what I say and adding your OWN speculations to it.

    Why don’t you stop this annoying “quoting game” you are playing? Thank you!       

    Also, you talk as if, with your posts, you had established a “canon” with respect to which we should take position, either agreeing or opposing. Man, this is not the way it works! :)

  66. pier72

    Alan4discussion you are reversing and twisting what I say and adding your OWN speculations to it.

    Nope!  I have quote basic science (particularly from ecology, environmental management  and agriculture) and provided numerous links and quotes to support my statements.

    Why don’t you stop this annoying “quoting game” you are playing? Thank you!    

    When others who are poorly informed,  stop contradicting scientific evidence with their uninformed made up opinions, I will be able to stop challenging them!

    Also, you talk as if, with your posts, you had established a “canon” with respect to which we should take position, either agreeing or opposing. Man, this is not the way it works! :)

    I know it is not working like that, – but I had hoped for some evidence based reasoning on the the subject, – and on the evidence I have provided: – as has happened with SOME posters in this discussion. 
    This is a science and education site, not a chat room.

  67. SN:
    Would you ban the manufacture of antibiotics because there is a chance
    that antibiotic-resistant bacteria might escape into the environment?

    I’d support government regulation to ban using antibiotics unsafely by feeding them to healthy lifestock to improve yield, and hence profits – as, clearly, left to themselves, individual agribusinesses would be failing to maximise profits if they didn’t, and so can’t regulate themselves.   And keep the wonderful benefits of antibiotics for their best purpose – the treatment of infection.

    SN, do you think that the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is caused by (a) existence of antibiotics or (b) misuse of antibiotics?

  68. roedygreen,
    The first animal feeding trial studying the lifetime effects of exposure to Monsanto Roundup weedkiller and Monsanto’s NK603 Roundup-resistant genetically modified corn found that exposure levels currently considered safe can cause tumors, multiple organ damage and premature
    death in rats.
    ~ http://www.businessinsider.com… 

    The FIRST independent test!!!!!

    The first animal feeding trial studying the lifetime effects of
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    exposure to Monsanto Roundup weedkiller and Monsanto’s NK603 Roundup-resistant genetically modified corn found that exposure levels currently considered safe can cause tumors, multiple organ damage and premature
    death in rats. 
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    The study, published Sept 19 in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicity, raises serious concerns not just about the pesticide Roundup, but about the Roundup-ready corn, which comprises 70 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. 

    “The rat has long been used as a surrogate for human toxicity.
    All new pharmaceutical, agricultural and household substances are, prior to their approval, tested on rats. This is as good an indicator as we can expect that the consumption of [NK603] GM maize and the herbicide Roundup, impacts seriously on human health,” Dr. Antoniou, molecular biologist at King’s College in London, said in a press release.
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    Monsanto maintains that its Roundup-resistant corn “is as safe as conventional (non-GM-derived) food” and that its 90-day trial prove that, but other studies have challenged the 90-day feeding trials.
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    Three months is the equivalent of late adolescence in rats, which can live for about two years.
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    The new research fed 10 groups of 10 rats a diet containing either NK603 Roundup-resistant GM corn or water containing Roundup at levels permitted in drinking water over a two-year period.

    The researchers found that the treated rats died significantly earlier than rats fed on a standard diet.
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    Specifically, up to 50 percent of males and 70 percent of females died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group, and treated rats developed 2 to 3 times more large cancers than the control group.

    This type of rat is cancer-prone, so all of the animals developed tumors. This is one of the reasons that the study has been controversial. But it is being taken seriously.

     

    This is a FIRST independent test and Monsanto has criticised its limited scope – despite, ironically, –  THEIR OWN TEST BEING EVEN MORE LIMITED and not even covering the whole life span of a single generation of lab rats!

    How many times do I have to point out –  inadequate pre-marketing testing and a lack of tests on wider and long term environmental consequences,  – before the penny drops with some people.

    An inadequately tested prototype, is  NOT  a safe or reliable production model!
    Some longer and more wide-ranging tests are needed!

  69.  

    Zeuglodon
    Give or take limitations.  Most rich people would import it from the
    tropics (why go to it when it can come to you, after all?), or make do
    with subtropical or temperate regions.

    That was one of my points.  –
    The export of food from corrupt and incompetently governed tropical countries, while the locals live in poverty or starve, and the corporations take over their land.

    Those GM crops that increased productivity per acre of land would just
    be an invitation for more population expansion, and then we all end up
    back at square one.

    There is still a lack of constructive action to deal with the population explosion. 
    There are plenty of ecological and historical examples of where this leads, if humans fail to self regulate, and nature is left to deal with it!

  70. Even allowing that Monsanto’s tests are worse, no one should run away with this particular test just yet.  While it’s the kind of test that we need, this particular study seems to be flawed in a number of ways, as these sites explain:

    http://genome.fieldofscience.c

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/ti

    http://understandinguncertaint

    One of the criticisms, for instance, was that the control group was disproportionately small — about 10% of the total sample — and therefore impossible to compare directly.  Another was that the rats used were a lab strain known to be susceptible to tumours in any case, and a third was that the study did not show its primary statistical analysis such that it could be replicated.  Add in the observation that one of the researchers has a degree in pseudoscientific subjects, the fact that another was involved in a similar controversy for a previous test (see http://www.efsa.europa.eu/de/e… ), and the possibility that the study coincided with a campaign to get GM foods labelled in California, and it only hurts the case. I’m assuming you weren’t aware of these criticisms of the original study.

    I don’t want companies to sell potentially dangerous foods any more than the next person, but we’re not going to expose it with faulty science.  I suggest we find a better study or wait until one is published.

  71. That was one of my points.  – 

    The export of food from corrupt and incompetently governed tropical countries, while the locals live in poverty or starve, and the corporations take over their land.

    We get those anyway with conventional foods, never mind GM foods.  Do GM foods make these situations worse, or are they neutral?

    There is still a lack of constructive action to deal with the population explosion.  
    There are plenty of ecological and historical examples of where this leads, if humans fail to self regulate, and nature is left to deal with it!

    This is true.  Any ecologist could see it.  So what you’re saying is that GM crops will only exacerbate this problem by giving a false sense of confidence?  In which case, I am in complete agreement.

  72. OHooligan, I think you have misunderstood the point I was trying to make.  I agree that antibiotics should be regulated and I think antibacterial soap should be banned.  My point is that everythng exists in a context.  I would say that even considering the medical and agricultural misuse of antibiotics the overall benefit has been overwhelmingly positive.

    The same cost/benefit calculation applies to this issue. I have already agreed that there are risks involved, but there are also benefits to GMOs — less chemical use, less mechanical cultivation, etc.  Likewise, there  are costs associated with NOT using GMOs — more chemicals, more frequent cultivation, lower yields, more land under cultivation, more manual weeding (not likely) etc.  The same calculation applies to glyphosate.  At this point, we are stuck with modern farming, like it or not.  Giving everybody a piece of land to grow their own food is not an option.

    Some advocates have constructed a doomsday scenario involving the release of a Roundup-ready gene into the wild, and I just don’t find them convincing.  

  73. First. Nope, in that case you reversed and twisted my words. Read again what I said and you will understand. 
    Second. Are you kidding me? I did not mean to stop with citing reference texts from websites or books or whatever. I meant stop quoting posters’ sentences and “inline” replying. It’s annoying, a bit childish and makes your posts too long and boring. Try to answer a post globally if you can: it’s much more fair.    

  74. I don’t want companies to sell potentially dangerous foods any more than
    the next person, but we’re not going to expose it with faulty science.
     I suggest we find a better study or wait until one is published.

    I agree.  I said this looked  like a poor study in earlier posts, (  http://richarddawkins.net/disc… ) but Monsanto’s study is even more limited.  If so that leaves us with NO studies on the safety of this crop, but serious unanswered questions!
    Meanwhile the company is fighting labelling and trying to go ahead anyway.

    I have repeatedly said I am not against GMO per se but proper testing needs to be done – and on environmental issues, as well as human health from eating the stuff.

    However GM + soaking a crop in Roundup herbicide is  quite a different issue to simple GM breeding on its own.

    (from your link debunking the OP study) –
    On the other hand, GM technology can be used, as Monsanto has done, simply to allow farmers to use more pesticides, which doesn’t seem to benefit anyone other than the pesticide producers. It’s unfortunate that Monsanto’s behavior has been used as an excuse to give all GMOs a bad name.

    I quoted Roundup-Ready Rice earlier.  Rice grows in water which  usually contains fish to keep down insect larvae etc (such as malarial mosquitoes). 
    Fish are very susceptible to chemical run off pollution, so if rats are affected by eating the stuff after harvesting, fish are likely to be absorbing it fresh through their gills when it is sprayed, or from residues in the soil & water.

    While companies give bland assurances, as far as I can see the necessary independent studies on a whole load of issues have just not been carried out.

    Zeuglodon
    We get those anyway with conventional foods, never mind GM foods.  Do GM foods make these situations worse, or are they neutral?

    I am uncertain.  The point I was making (re. population) was that the potential productivity of the tropics is not benefiting the locals for various reasons other than agricultural productivity per unit area. (ie. corruption, banditry, wars, mismanagement generated famine, foreign exploitation & mischief-making etc.)

  75. pier72 –
    I meant stop quoting posters’ sentences and “inline” replying. It’s annoying, a bit childish and makes your posts too long and boring. Try to answer a post globally if you can: it’s much more fair. 

    Nope! It’s the proper way to conduct a clear rational analysis and evaluation, item by item.  You could learn a lot from reading my clearly presented posts carefully.
    You are fairly new here so perhaps you are not familiar with rational analysis in discussions.

    Perhaps if you click on your avatar profile (or anyone else’s) you can see how many people you are convincing!

  76. “The FIRST independent test!!!!!”
    ‘The authors, including anti-GMO activist/scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini, executed statistical analyses that took an almost global hammering on the Web. The special irony here is this paper by Seralini et al., complaining about statistics in toxicology trials Monsanto conducted, particularly related to power analyses and estimations of effect size. They wrote the paper in response to a 2007 expert panel decision rejecting their own analyses of a GM corn as having any effects related to “treatment” with the corn.
     
    In their current paper, the authors conclude that their data demonstrate an effect of a diet containing GM corn, specifically a corn known as NK603, with or without the addition of Roundup, on tumor outcomes and some other endpoints in their two-year rat study. But they may have overlooked some other factors that influenced their results.’ – http://www.emilywillinghamphd….

  77. veggiemanuk
    “The FIRST independent test!!!!!”
    ‘The authors, including anti-GMO activist/scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini, executed statistical analyses that took an almost global hammering on the Web.

    I was was referring to it being independent of  Monsanto.  

    I know it is not a good study and said so earlier – and even recently put on this link to my earlier comment.

    http://richarddawkins.net/disc

    I will repeat again : – There is a need for some objective independent studies into a whole list of potential problems which are being swept under the carpet.


  78. veggiemanuk
    “The FIRST independent test!!!!!”
    ‘The authors, including anti-GMO activist/scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini, executed statistical analyses that took an almost global hammering on the Web. I was was referring to it being independent of  Monsanto.”The point is that this study is not independent of bias and as such should be disregarded automaticaly, just like all those ‘indipendent’ studies conducted by the anti-vax lot.I find it dissapointing that you quoted anything at all from the study.”I will repeat again : – There is a need for some objective independent studies into a whole list of potential problems which are being swept under the carpet.”So long as those studies are free from any bias what so ever, even if their outcomes don’t go your way, as for “Swept under the carpet”, your starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist.

  79. veggiemanuk
    You don’t seem to be reading my links, and continue to miss the point!

    @rdfrs-ac813758aaddac228f677a9a36b5573e:disqus
    “I will repeat again : – There is a need for some objective independent studies into a whole list of potential problems which are being swept under the carpet.”

    - Which is the ABSENCE OF ANY RELIABLE UNBIASED STUDIES on this serious OP issue, and wider related issues  (from Montalbo or its critics) – as I have repeatedly stated from VERY  early in this discussion.

    your starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist.

    Gazoooinggggg! !!

    “The point is that this study is not independent of bias and as such should be disregarded automaticaly,

    It is the OP topic we are discussing. 
    I look at evidence before discarding it, and along with roedygreen,  have given others the opportunity to do so.

  80. nick keighley
     japanese knot weed

     

    For those who take real environmental problems seriously, there are specialist services available. – Which would not be required if problems were anticipated, and proper evaluations carried out!

    Japanese knotweed eradication • guaranteed – http://www.environetuk.com/jap

    Japanese knotweed is usually fairly distinctive as it is a tall (2-3m high) plant. However, being perennial it appearance changes with the seasons, starting with new shoots in spring, growing to its full height by July. It flowers in August or September before dying back in November leaving brittle leafless canes in winter, making it more difficult to identify.

    The appearance of the plant can be substantially altered by application of certain herbicides, making the identification of Japanese knotweed more difficult to the untrained eye. Where these have not been completely effective the knotweed re-growth returns with stunted plants, not exceeding waist height, with small leaves and spindly stems.

  81. Very eloquent, Alan! Fortunately, I don’t need to measure the rationality of my analysis (even less my ability to convince anybody) by counting Likes on my RDF profile. I’d be totally happy if just one person here reads the book I have suggested (‘Abundance’ by Diamandis & Kotler).        

  82. pier72
    Very eloquent, Alan! Fortunately, I don’t need to measure the rationality of my analysis (even less my ability to convince anybody) by counting Likes on my RDF profile. 

    There are plenty of rational people on this site who can give you a second opinion on that!

    I’d be totally happy if just one person here reads the book I have suggested

    There are plenty of good publications on innovative developments, but we should be wary of “bought” promoters of particular vested interests, who like creationists and AGW deniers have a biased agenda they are promoting.
     Matt Ridley has a degree in zoology and has written some good material on biology, but as I pointed out he is also an apologist &  salesman for reckless polluting commercial enterprises.

    (‘Abundance’ by Diamandis & Kotler).
      

    You may have noticed that I commented on the link to salmon farming in that  book, and in the same comment
    ( http://richarddawkins.net/disc… ) put a link and comment on trout production. 
    That same link I gave, also included the information on the polyploid wheat and bananas which you mentioned,   (at http://richarddawkins.net/disc… ),  so while it may be of interest to others, it is not news to me.

  83.  

    Neodarwinian

    The mark of an ideologue.

    Some of us think that devastating entire landscapes by unregulated, mining, logging,  agricultural malpractice, pollution, health risks,  over-population and global warming, along with leaving a legacy of difficult  and costly problems for future generations, as anti social.

     Others promote the ideology that the provision of large corporate  executive bonuses in monopolistic corporations, is the prime objective of human development: –  and sod the rest of the the human race and other species. 
    (Social darwinism?)

  84.  “
    Neodarwinian

    The mark of an ideologue. Some of us think that devastating entire landscapes by unregulated, mining, logging,  agricultural malpractice, pollution, health risks,  over-population and global warming, along with leaving a legacy of difficult  and costly problems for future generations, as anti social. Others promote the ideology that the provision of large corporate  executive bonuses in monopolistic corporations, is the prime objective of human development: –  and sod the rest of the the human race and other species. 
    (Social darwinism?)”And some of us do not automatically think that every action by large corporations must be corrupt some how.Take the so called terminator gene for instance, first the accusation is that Monsanto does not care about the ecology, then they introduce this gene to prevent cross contamination and now the accusation is that they are trying to force farmers to buy their seeds anew. Which is it?

  85. veggiemanuk – Take the so called terminator gene for instance, first the accusation is that Monsanto does not care about the ecology, then they introduce this gene to prevent cross contamination and now the accusation is that they are trying to force farmers to buy their seeds anew.

    Which is it?

    Looking at the evidence, – Probably both.

  86. I’ve jusr re-read the OP and noticed something I missed earlier,

    “My question is – what’s the scientific consensus here? – in the US some states (Ca I understand) seem to be about to bring in a law making it compulsory to label all food that is GMO – so it would appear the ‘threat’ is real – or the danger real – or at least the jury is still out on GM food.Or is it just some GMO food that’s the problem?”

    The OP suggests that because some states in the US are ‘about’ to bring in legislation that would require GM produce to be labeled as such that this AUTOMATICALY makes said produce dangerous, since when has the mere act of labeling produce rendered it dangerous?

    Alan, this is exactly why the industry is so against labeling anything as being GM, the automatic assumption (without any scientific evedence) that said produce MUST be dangerous. I’t rediculous, unless there is proven risk or dietry need or even a religious need then food need not be labeled, to do so is a waste of those resources that we are trying to preserve.

  87. veggiemanuk
    I’ve just re-read the OP and noticed something I missed earlier,

    “My question is – what’s the scientific consensus here? – in the US some states (Ca I understand) seem to be about to bring in a law making it compulsory to label all food that is GMO – so it would appear the ‘threat’ is real – or the danger real – or at least the jury is still out on GM food.  Or is it just some GMO food that’s the problem?”

    I think the danger would only be from some GM products: – particularly where these are combined with the increased use of chemicals, where there are known toxic relative species, or where there is an environmental risk of say producing herbicide resistant weeds or where they could breed invasive species.

    You will note that some species related to cereals and grasses are noted for their invasive habits and costly removal.  Genes from these could easily cause problems if included in crops to increase vigour and growth rates.

    http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advices

      http://www.ecosystemgardening…. -
    The Most Hated Plants
    series is devoted to the worst of the worst invasive plants. These plants are causing great ecological harm and habitat devastation for wildlife, plus the cost of managing these plants is billions of dollars of taxpayer money every year.

    Knowing these plants will help you make much healthier decisions for your wildlife garden because you won’t plant them.
    You won’t purchase them from your local nursery, no matter how persuasive they are about the wonderful qualities of these noxious invaders.

    Europe is WAY ahead of the US on labelling.  – As I pointed out back here:- http://richarddawkins.net/disc… -and not only on GM, but on food quality in general.   There are all sorts of health and dietary problems because many people do not know or do not care, what they are eating.

    Alan, this is exactly why the industry is so against labeling anything as being GM, the automatic assumption (without any scientific evedence) that said produce MUST be dangerous.

    I think this is partly a US problem, where the media (eg. Faux News and UK tabloids) is full of ignorant opinions, disinformation,  and a lack of informed debate.  Once the labels are on the products, the public and trade, can have an informed debate as in parts of Europe.  

    The US and UK manufacturers’ attitude was historically the same on car safety and efficiency.   They fought against legislation to make design improvements, while the Japanese embraced everybody’s  best practice and dominated profitable sections of the market.

    I have used horticultural chemical products in the past which were labelled as safe by manufacturers, but which  have since been withdrawn as dangerous or damaging.  Some are still being used in the third world despite known immediate and residual effects.

    These companies will get away with whatever they can.

  88. “You will note that some species related to cereals and grasses are noted for their invasive habits and costly removal.  Genes from these could easily cause problems if included in crops to increase vigour and growth rates.”

    If these crops also included the ‘terminator gene’. just how do they pose such a problem? But of course, if they do, they just get accused of fleesing the farmers, DOH!

  89. “I read somewhere a story  – (can’t find the source, can anyone help?)  – about a GM fish, modified to grow faster/larger (great for fishfarms), but escaped, had better breeding success in the wild than the natives as the native females were predisposed to think size matters most, edging out the wild males.  Problem was, the offspring of these hybrid matings were infertile.  I don’t know if this was a real occurrence or a hypothetical scenario.   Anyone able to enlighten?  Not with opinions, just references.”

    As with the ‘terminator gene’, if the offspring are infertile, how does this pose a problem, the ones that were release will just die out.

  90. veggiemanuk

    ( OHooligan – “I read somewhere a story  – (can’t find the source, can anyone help?)  – about a GM fish)

    I dealt with that question here: – http://richarddawkins.net/disc… – making your very same point about infertility.

    OHooligan thanked me for the reply here: – http://richarddawkins.net/disc

    As with the ‘terminator gene’, if the offspring are infertile, how does this pose a problem, the ones that were release will just die out.

    The problem with the terminator gene, is that it may not work in a hybrid weed if it is recessive to another gene, but it will still give a monopoly of seed production for the crop.

  91.  if the offspring are infertile, how does this pose a problem 

    Please bear in mind this may be hypothetical, but in any case:  suppose the females prefer to mate with the “modified” fish, so the wild fish get very few offspring.  So the next generation is largely infertile.  The infertile fish still compete for food and mates with the wild fish, who continue to be disadvantaged as the infertile offspring are still bigger, and more attractive for the females.  Population collapse.  Yes, the modified version doesn’t propagate very far, and is guaranteed to die out, but meantime the wild population also dies back.

    That’s how it poses a problem.  As well as the ways described by Alan4discussion.

    All I’m raising here is the matter of unintended consequences from release into the wild. Even with the terminator, it can still pose a risk.  It’s not trivial.

  92. “All I’m raising here is the matter of unintended consequences from release into the wild. Even with the terminator, it can still pose a risk.  It’s not trivial.”

    But with the terminator, wouldn’t the prognosis be better? 

    Some of the leading anti-GMO people seem to actually be against the terminator gene, something I cannot understand, and it seems to be linked with the surrogate fact that poor farmers are generally against it…. the terminator gene is surely what we want! Some of the individuals involved seem to want to use irrelevant arguments such as how the biotech industry is a failure and suicides in India to try to get GMOs banned… these are completely irrelevant things to the point in hand. 
      
    Alan4discussion I really admire what you’re doing here, but it’s not just safety, there’ll never come a time when any GMOs are “okay” to let loose into the planet, because they just won’t fit with the planet we’re already in. They might not kill or cause cancer, but they won’t be OPTIMAL, they’ll be a deviation from the norm in ways that would never occur in nature, and the deviations in DNA could take on extraordinary pathologies. Even if they make small changes at first they will grow bolder as the years go by. I mean unless there was some type of catastrophe from them where millions of people died – that’s what I would hope for. That’s the only chance we have of anything like us surviving into the future. Otherwise it’s hopeless, absolutely hopeless. At least forces like you may help mitigate the damage.    

    We somehow managed to get our act together with atomic weapons before it was too late, this is not going to be the case with GMOs. Because these people don’t see the danger, they think it’s all “a-okay”, and their methods are improving all the time. It could get to a point where just anyone could do it.

    Also, the Daily Mail and people who comment there are vociferously against GMOs. I have never seen Fox News promoting GMOs – not that I would trust them not to. Many conservatives are horrified at the idea of allowing government and corperations to tamper irreversibly with their food… as any sane person would be.

Leave a Reply