Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

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Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby kg » 18 Sep 2011, 17:47

Genetically-modified foods have the potential to solve many of the world's hunger and malnutrition problems, and to help protect and preserve the environment by increasing yield and reducing reliance upon chemical pesticides and herbicides. Yet there are many challenges ahead for governments, especially in the areas of safety testing, regulation, international policy and food labeling. Many people feel that genetic engineering is the inevitable wave of the future and that we cannot afford to ignore a technology that has such enormous potential benefits. However, we must proceed with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health and the environment as a result of our enthusiasm for this powerful technology.

Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?

Such is the conclusion of the article linked to. Indeed, genetically modified food has the potential to solve, or at least mitigate, some of the world's potential nutritional problems and crises.

The world's population increases, arable land decreases, and global warming threatens us with drought and weather disasters. Insect plagues threaten the food supply, and in the attempt to control those insects, we increasingly pollute our soil and water with insecticides and herbicides. Through genetic modification of some of our staple food supplies, we are potentially able to reduce the impact of these events.

Naturally, there are potential dangers mixed among the benefits. I think both are very well covered in the article linked to above.

My feeling is that genetic modification may become not only necessary, but vital, in upcoming years. Global Warming is a fact. Increase of population and the resulting reduction in arable land is a fact. That continuing genetic experimentation will be conducted is also a fact. We can only hope that unintentional production of a "Frankenstein gene" will not happen, and with that thought, I can only wonder if we will survive our survival.

What say you all?
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby Ice.Maiden » 18 Sep 2011, 18:37

Genetically modifed corn is called Bt corn, and the genes in it which're harmless to humans, as far as is known, contains toxins which're lethal to certain insects, so therefore crops aren't marred by pests, and the yield is higher, without using dangerous pesticides. With this in mind, food may be produced in higher quantity and be a bonus for those in third world countries.

However, Natural News and Global research says:

Anxiety has been fueled by reports of taco shells contaminated with genetically engineered corn not approved for human consumption; the potential spread of noxious "superweeds" spawned by genes picked up from engineered crops; and possible harmful effects of biotech corn pollen on monarch butterflies.

For example, female rats fed a diet of GM soy experienced a drastically higher infant death rate, and their surviving infants were smaller and less fertile than the offspring of rats fed on a non-GM soy diet. Male rats fed the GM soy had their testicles change from pink to blue, and the GM soy was also observed to damage the DNA of sperm and embryos. Fertility problems such as abortion, infertility, premature delivery, prolapsed uteri, infant death, and even delivery of unformed infants (bags of water) have been observed in farm animals fed GM cottonseed and corn.

If this stuff damages insect and animal life .... the implications are horrible.
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby kg » 18 Sep 2011, 19:02


I agree that the implications are horrible...almost as horrible as the implications presented in the next terrible drought or insect infestation and the potential shortage of food and mass starvation it creates. And not nearly as horrible as the fact that we're quickly running out of potable water due to contamination with pesticides and other substances.

Yes, there are dangers with any human activity, as well as dangers that human activity does not cause and cannot mitigate. But with the several looming crises humanity faces, I feel we ignore this avenue of endeavor at our peril. We must be careful, but I think we need to be exploring this for our future.
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby Ice.Maiden » 18 Sep 2011, 19:23

Two sides to every coin of course, but once you start messing about with the food chain, it'll only be a matter of time before man is no more, anyway.
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby Silke » 22 Sep 2011, 03:08

think of all one could do if one just got together worldwide? Out in the sea there are no insects... Platforms are already built - some of them not even in use anymore. Transport earth there and we have a garden for growing things anyway we like. Ofcourse some alterations would have to be made, but all in all.

There are tests done with poision fences (most, if not all of the insects which are the problem flies low, or crawl...) so no need to poision our food...

With enough thinking there are other ways of solving things. It is ok that we may be able to grow a whole lot, but that doesn't matter if the way we are growing them removes most of the food in them, which sometimes gene-experiments does.
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby Ice.Maiden » 22 Sep 2011, 09:11

Yes.

Another problem of course, is that genetically modified crops/plants have sterile seeds, which do not flower or grow fruit after the initial planting. This means that they can't germinate, and new supplies of seeds'd have to be continually sought by the farmers or buyers.

If ALL these supplies became GM'd, any price at all could be charged for these seeds, and basically, people'd be held to ransom. If they didn't buy, then the food supplies'd run out. It'd be a case of HAVING to pay whatever price was asked.

The lack of flowers on the plants'd mean that insects couldn't pollinate them and live. In turn, species of birds'd die off .... and you can imagine the awful results as the effects grew up the food chain.

For me, it's a no-no.
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby van » 19 Dec 2011, 05:11

Kia ora Glenn

Science has a tendency to blind us, much as Politics has.
How many, in the Western world "Grow their Own", have any clues about the interaction between Nature and Artificiality? I ask this, because just as the "Green Revolution", born and bred in the West was an unmitigated disaster for the Developing World, so the GMO is a Western idea geared primarily to the financial benefit of the Western Corporate Conglomerate.

Do not think for one moment that anyone on this planet, apart from the Corporate Body, which holds the Patents/Rights will have any chance of benefitting.

As one who has and continues to grow his own allow me to share some wisdom.
"The world's population increases, arable land decreases, and global warming threatens us with drought and weather disasters. Insect plagues threaten the food supply, and in the attempt to control those insects, we increasingly pollute our soil and water with insecticides and herbicides. Through genetic modification of some of our staple food supplies, we are potentially able to reduce the impact of these events."

I would point out the emotive language used ie"Global Warming threatens us", and mono cultures (which maximise returns and invite pest plagues). Couple that with "WE..pollute "etc what do you expect?
Via natural management practices we are able to make land productive. Naturally, flora is diversifeid and it is this diversevication which inhibits wholesale insect plagues. Herbicides, used to control 'weeds' tend to work against the natural balance of Nature. I would recommend reading "Carrots love Tomatoes"
The definition of a weed in chemical terms is "A pest". In Nature, it is merely a plant we have as yet not found found a use for.

Given the penchant of science, in all its various forms to destroy all that which stands in its way, I would suggest that the current trend is counterproductive. When all is said and done, Nature has been around for millions if not billions of yrs, yet mankind has only grasped the rudimentary elements of agriculture for the past 5000 yrs! Modern agriculture evolved a mere 100 or so yrs ago, when left with the chemicals of warfare after WW1, their use was utilised for agriculture.
Currently we piss into the wind and experience shows that it is easier to piss with it!

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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby Ice.Maiden » 21 Dec 2011, 20:50

Hi Bill. I agree with you about companion planting. One plant can naturally help another, but I think the issue's more to do with can GM food be good for us? I seriously doubt it, although it could probably help Third World countries.

However, they still need water to maintain these crops, and if GM seeds are so good, why haven't they been planted in these places abroad already?

Here's just one reason why they're not good -

Looked at from outside of commercial interests, perils of genetically modified foods and organisms are multi-dimensional. They include the creation of new "transgenic" life forms - organisms that cross unnatural gene lines (such as tomato seed genes crossed with fish genes) - and that have unpredictable behavior or replicate themselves out of control in the wild. This can happen, without warning, inside of our bodies creating an unpredictable chain reaction. A four-year study at the University of Jena in Germany conducted by Hans-Hinrich Kaatz revealed that bees ingesting pollen from transgenic rapeseed had bacteria in their gut with modified genes. This is called a "horizontal gene transfer." Commonly found bacteria and microorganisms in the human gut help maintain a healthy intestinal flora. These, however, can be mutated.

And there were 49 other reasons .......
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby van » 23 Dec 2011, 03:44

Kia ora Maiden

I seriously doubt it, although it could probably help Third World countries.

Have you given serious thought to the above? The reason I ask is because of the following:
Here's just one reason why they're not good -

On the one hand you suggest that they might be good for a given section of the World's Population while on the other hand raise serious issues in respect of " 'transgenic' life forms" which may do more harm than good.

While for my part, I believe that I have made a case of opposition 'carte blanche', your comments tend to suggest that treating the 3rd World Population as a guinea pig for experimentation is acceptable.

I have no doubt that this is not your intention, but nevertheless I must point out your comment at opening above. Furthermore you mention the need of an adequate water supply. In many 3 World Countries, an adequate water supply, potable and readily available (for free) is a wet dream. Hence, like so many "Scientific breakthru's" with which we have been inundated over the yrs, the reality remains that the rich get richer at/thru the hard work of the poor.

It maybe that, due to Xmassy vapours I have read your post wrong or mayhap have not been exactly clear with the way I expressed my opposition to messing with the 'natural' course of life. Be that as it may, Science, often expressed and championed as our Saviour as we embrace an evermore complex Lifestyle, falls well short of providing the answers.

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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby Ice.Maiden » 23 Dec 2011, 13:28

You DID take that wrongly, but perhaps that was my fault for not making my comment more clear.

I certainly don't think that Third World countries should be used as guinea pigs! The adverse implications, if valid, would be horrendous, but since so many people in these countries are dying of starvation, and because in general, GM crops are supposedly "safe", then it seems an abuse of new and possibly advantageous research if these foods aren't trialled SOMEWHERE - and where better to start than in areas where food is in desperately short supply?

These things aren't being grown for fun. They're already in circulation, but the tins have to be labelled as such. I steer clear of such things, because I personally don't see genetically modified food as being good for us.

John B. Fagan, a professor of molecular biology says: "Genetically engineered foods containing genes derived from bacteria and viruses are now starting to appear in the shops, and foods with insect, fish, and animal genes will soon follow. These genetic changes are radically different from those resulting from traditional methods of breeding. Yet, the sale of these foods is being permitted without proper assessment of the risks and without adequately informing the public, even though many scientists say that genetically modified foods could cause serious damage to health and the environment. "

I don't agree with anything that upsets the natural balance and order of anything growing in nature, whether for harvesting for our own use, or otherwise, but what do we do when so many people are starving to death in places such as India and Africa? Do we let them die - or do we suggest an alternative, that, whllst being abhorrent to me personally, could save the lives of tens of thousands of people?

As for potable water in these places, millions of pounds've been sent from countries all over the world - enough to sink wells which'd provide water for many people, but much of these donations've been stolen by corrupt officials and've never reached their intended purposes. This needs to be addressed, but in countries where the people have little say, they're grateful to receive ANY help.

In central Kenya for example, diesel generators, large electric pumps, piping, storage tanks and housing for it all can drive the cost up to $30,000 or more. But, since these very large systems serve so many people, they are still quite cost effective. In fact, some of these large systems can serve over 3,000 people! These are sealed wells, and the water needs no extra treatment, but much smaller ones can be sunk for a very small investment, and these can supply several villages.

That aside, my comment was made from an entirely personal view. I don't agree with GM food, but it could help to save the lives of others. Whether that'd prove to be wrong in years to come - who knows, but you might as well say that we shouldn't offer flu vaccines. They save a lot of people, yet many contain mercury. I don't need to say any more...
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby van » 24 Dec 2011, 16:36

Kia ora Maiden

While I agree with your comments and train of thought, much which we currently have by way of food plants, has at sometime or other been modified by us.
While there is talk about food shortages, it is nevertheless a fact that while there is ample food about, much is wasted or simply dumped due to commercial practices in price manipulation.
Regarding this, GM food will not be of any benefit to the hungry of the World. The only ones to benefit is the Corporate Conglomerate which has a stranglehold on the patents and source of seed/genetic stock.

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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby Ice.Maiden » 24 Dec 2011, 18:25

But this so with NON GM food supplies as well, and since the topic was in favour of GM food, as the link to Glenn's article shows, I was merely putting forward my own point of view. No one has to agree with it, or otherwise, but since it's with us, it could help to solve what's a huge problem. The food COULD be of benefit to the hungry of the world, but if so, I wonder why something hasn't been done before now? I'd sooner say that WE'RE going to be lumbered with it, as arable land disappears beneath yet more buildings and we have to feed our rising populations.

I agree that food wastage is obscene, but that's a slightly different matter to the one in hand. There's only ample food around for those who can afford it, but whether through pricing or bad management, the EU for example, stockpiles food which's either sold off cheaply or has to be got rid of. It's like the "butter mountains" which piled up during the 80's I believe. They were GIVING it away, which to my mind, shows that something went very wrong somewhere, but that alone wouldn't feed the starving.

My own take on it, is that the governments of each country should ensure that their people are looked after, but it doesn't work like that where corruption and poverty exist in huge swathes.

In the UK, hardly a week goes by without schools aren't collecting for various charities abroad, as well as everything else that gets sent in by way of donations. This amounts to a terrific amount of money, and since this's been going on for years, the recipients should now be seeing the benefits and more able to be self-sufficient, but this doesn't appear to be the case.

Therefore, unpleasant as I feel it is to ME, GM food COULD be of use to the starving, by means of exporting bags of maize, flour and other things which'd help with a staple diet, but as you say, it boils down to who holds the sources of stock - and the purse strings.
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby van » 24 Dec 2011, 21:38

Kia ora Maiden

Sorry. It appears that I may have lost the plot at some stage, so I'll start again.

We are asked to accept that meddling with the Natural Events of Life is an essential need. I would question that given that time and again, despite promises seeking to assure us that we will benefit, it has not been so. I couch this observation in terms of reference by those who would advocate change.
Invariably proponents will argue that benefits will outweigh any negatives even tho the eventual outcomes may take decades to assert themselves. Nature, admittedly a slow process, is still way ahead of us in striking a Balance.

I think that particularly in that regard we have been outmanouvred from the start. Man, in h/is/er, ambition to dominate has fought a losing battle, having to rely on ever more devastating/indiscriminate practices to enforce h/i/er will. Looking back at such progress, can it honestly be argued that 2Legs has succeeded? Given the record, can we have confidence that GMO, be it confined to the vegetable kingdom or that of the animal kingdom, is without risk?

Were we to even accept that the risk is minimal/acceptable, will the benefits accrue in the way by which the proponents of GMO argue? Cast your mind back to the time of the 'Green Revolution' and the promises contained with its implementation. Memory serving me right "An End to World Hunger" being the catchcry! It didn't eventuate did it? The 3rd World is still the 3rd World isn't it? Financial rewards have not been realised except by those peddling the Mantra and the Goods required to implement the strategy!.

Over the yrs many 'Gains' have been credited with extending our Lifespan, improving our existence etc yet despite these seeming advantages it would appear that the majority of us fail to realise or are too blinkered in their outlook to appreciate that these gains have not by any stretch of the imagination benefitted Manking in general! I repeat:"The 3rd World is still the 3rd World isn't it?"! In other words, the emotive claims/proposition made 'For' the necessity of GMO are questionable given that past claims have never delivered the Goods!

My opposition to GMO, apart from the foregoing is also based on a lifetime experience working with the land instead of fighting it. Early in the piece/peace I acknowledged the need for Balance and an appreciating of what the Land offered and had to tell me.
I relate the story of an old,blind Scots farmer. His son about to purchase a farm took the old man 'to walk the land'. After having traversed Hill and Dale, the old man asked:"Wee Jock, how tall are the thistles?". The son replied:"Da, there be no thistles!" . The old man said:" If it won't gro' thistles it be no guid son!"

Prior to WW1, the land was primarily cultivated by animal, using animal waste, duly composted to feed the soil, I repeat, To Feed the Soil! As anyone, having experienced the breaking in of virgin soil can testify, the produce derived therefrom is magnificent! Alas over a period of time, taking and not returning destroys both the texture of the soil and its ability to give a bounteous harvest with minimal pest control being required. At the end of WW1, having invested heavily in chemical plants for the manufacture of munitions, an alternative was sought for those chemicals. Experiments showed that plants could utilise those substances to promote growth and thus the Artificial Fertiliser Trade was started. Over time, the tradeoff became apparent. In return for rapid growth, the soil structure was destroyed as humus was depleted and pest problems multiplied rapidly. A latterday GMO if you will.

Over time this has led to our current situation. The land can tell us much. "A weed is a plant growing out of place.....A plant we as yet not found a use for .....A plant telling us what ails/lacks the Soil". There are numerous books dating back a century or more, which relate to us the methods used to adequately sustain both men and beast within a Natural way, beneficial to the Land,Soil, Flora and Fauna. It has been the reading of those books which gave insight and the will to practice growing that which I need to sustain myself naturally. Alas GMO like other practices mentioned poses a threat rather than salvation to our future existence. The benefits proposed and suggested by its adherents are basically B/S and could pose a hazard to our very existence. In many respects I am somewhat puzzled by their insistence that there is a need for such crude draconian methods to be employed.

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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby Ice.Maiden » 25 Dec 2011, 13:51

I hear you Bill, and actually agree with you.

Merry Christmas to you and yous.
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby Wonderbunny » 25 Dec 2011, 17:49

What Icy said about mutant bacteria in the guts of bees is precisely what I feared when I first heard about genetic engineering - mutant bacteria and viruses, which mutate so easily anyway. I don't think we understand enough about what we're doing to meddle in these things. Ecologies are a delicate balance evolved over millions of years (most likely).

There are other ways of feeding the world's population. Vegetarian diets feed more people per acre for a start. Growing the right crops in the right places would help; so would growing less tobacco, opium and cocaine; so would paying farmers a reasonable price for their crops instead of paying them to leave land unproductive; so would not using fruit to make beauty products such as shampoos and moisturisers;
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby Wonderbunny » 25 Dec 2011, 17:52

- unfamiliar laptop, pressed submit too soon - so would not wasting food by buying too much; so would using up leftovers.
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby pilvikki » 30 Dec 2011, 11:12


that bit about wasting food, bunny, it truly boggles the mind - we throw away enough to feed the rest of the world!

why?
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Re: Genetically Modified Food - Vital, Or Too Dangerous?

Postby Ice.Maiden » 30 Dec 2011, 13:30

I think ALL people tend to buy too much in, thinking it'll get eaten, but it often doesn't. I hate wasting food, but it happens sometimes.
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