Monsanto and GMOs

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by koukouvagia, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Last edited: Apr 5, 2013
  2. tomago

    tomago

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    This right here is concern enough. Monsanto is pure evil in my mind and our government helps them along.

      "Section 735 -- branded the “Monsanto Protection Act” by its opponents -- strips federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and propagation of genetically modified seeds and crops if concerns about health risks arise during safety tests."

    So when things go bad, or very bad.......tough tootsies.
     
     
  3. genemachine

    genemachine

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    Ok, I guess as your friendly neighbourhood biochemist, I gotta chime in on this. I have not seen any good study seriously raising safety concerns on GMOs. I do not think that at the moment we should be really concerned about this. Testing has been extensive and all studies to the contrary are of rather low scientific quality.

    But....

    I haven't seen any commercially utilized GM plant that would give me, as someone who likes his food and cookery, any advantage at all. Now why should I, on the consumer side, be interested in a technology that is, at the moment, only used to boost profits without giving me or the environment any benefit? Please, by all means, someone go ahead and develop some nitrogen-fixing corn. That would be useful. But for now, a technology that is only used to increase monocultures, to pressure heirloom seed vendors out of the market, to reduce diversity and to favour industrial operations, even further reducing diversity and family farming, is really not of interest to me. Monsanto can keep their crap. 

    It doesn't look like it is medically toxic on any level so far - but it sure is culturally toxic. We have enough industrialized "food", thank you very much.
     
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  4. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    The GMO foods meet the strictest standards of all.

    I'm not aware of any traditionally bred crops that could pass the same standards for known food safety.

    All foods contain toxins, carcinogens and other dangers, many at levels that wouldn't pass current standards. But they're just grandfathered in under tradition. Same for alcohol. If alcohol were introduced as a food for the first time today, it wouldn't have a chance of approval.

    Sure, there are risks with the limits of testing and other unknowns. There's a theory that the neonicotinoids are driving bee collapse because while safe individually as tested, the collective total broad exposure has some indications of dangers to the bees.

    Proceed with caution IMHO, not uninformed blanket hate and bans.  "Monsanto is pure evil" is not constructive speech I think. The pharmaceutical contributions of Monsanto are large and significant, such as in regards to enantiomers.  On the other hand, I think a good chunk of Monsanto's economic behaviors with regards to seed are bullying, unethical and destructive and should be illegal.

    I don't think that one should be able to patent existing genes. They exist naturally and independently of being isolated. I'm fine with patenting of methods for extraction, synthesis, inclusion and such. A fully synthetic gene, I think is patentable. But considering the noise and breadth of differentiation in the genome of all life, I am skeptical that there is a fully synthetic functioning gene that doesn't already exist naturally somewhere.
     
  5. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    Gene,

    Thanks for chiming in this is really interesting. After watching Food Inc. and other related food documentaries it really gives you a sense that the GMO's are really bad. It also gives you the idea that there has been some detailed scientific research into what Monsanto is doing is bad. So are you saying that these documentaries really did not do any serious scientific testing to base their claims about GMOs? I am really curious to understand what is accurate from them.

    Thanks!
     
  6. maryb

    maryb

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    We have no clue if the genes inserted into our foods will be damaging to our health. In 20-30 years we will know as new cancers start popping up related to the GMO foods.

    My biggest concern with the GMO crops is the monoculture mentality that goes with it. A pest pops up that wipes out GMO crops and in 2 years we are facing a worldwide food shortage worse than we already have. GMO is killing off heritage varieties that could be the crops we need in the future.
     
  7. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Genes are 4 basic proteins and are broken down and used as such in the body. We eat all the same genetic components in our food all of the time. 

    Rather, it's what the genes are keyed to produce in the plant/animal that needs to be tested.  Or if it operates as an infection vector as in eating biologically contaminated food.
     
  8. french fries

    french fries

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    You may need to watch Food Inc. again then Nicko!! And to be honest, so do I - I don't remember it perfectly - but as far as I remember it, the movie is not so much about how GMOs are bad for your health. It's more about how the entire Monsanto-government is making decisions that kill the small farmers, how Monsanto declared that all seeds belong to them by "patenting" them (a first in U.S. law, no one had thought of patenting a seed before). How they manufactured seeds that are sterile and cannot reproduce to force farmers to buy new seeds every year. How even a farmer that never wanted GMOs or Monsanto seeds still ends up being bullied by the big corporation because inevitably if there's a GMO field in the vicinity then that farmer's will have some of the GMO genes in their crop whether they want it or not (and most likely the don't). Etc etc...

    Koukouvagia, that new GMO law is just another example of the way the U.S. government tries to please and serve not big, but HUGE corporations to make it easier for them to function, unfortunately at the expense of smaller farmers. Personally I am shocked, especially by what Tomago posted. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
  9. genemachine

    genemachine

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    @phatch: Small correction - genes are DNA, made up from four different nucleotides, the famous ACTG. Genes are a code that basically provide the organism with a blueprint on how to build  proteins. With everything we eat, we incorporate lots of DNA and simply digest it. Now, there is no question that a genetically modified organism could be harmful - e.g, if I build a corn variety that encodes for a bacterial enterotoxing that causes diarrhoea, then the corn will cause the runs. Also, if I encode the cherry allergen into an apple, people who only know about their cherry allergy will react to that apple. That is obviously a problem and needs to be labelled as such.

    @MaryB: There is no credible scientific study linking any GMOs with cancer. And this has been tested over and over again. There is never 100% safety, in no human endeavour. But I see no reason for concern along that lines at the moment. I do fully agree on the monoculture aspect, though.

    @Nicko: It's been a while since I watched Food Inc., and as a scientist, I found it convincing. I can't remember that they went on much about potential toxicity or detrimental health effects of GMOs as such - to me it seemed focussed on the social and economical aspects of industrializing agriculture even further. And in that regard, I fully agree with their conclusion. Monsanto's influence is socially and politically toxic. Not so much biochemically.
     
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  10. genemachine

    genemachine

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    Addition - French Fries summed up the point about Food Inc. way better than I did. That's where the problems are.
     
  11. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Interesting points.
    Excellent post.
     
  12. eastshores

    eastshores

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    I hate to just post a link in this discussion but I found the following blog post pretty damned interesting considering last night I bought a Keurig for the first time because I felt the price of the brewer had dropped, then today I found myself spending close to 60.00 for 70 servings of "iced tea" on amazon. That got me thinking.. what have I done?

    Here is a perspective from a brewer, that touches on Monsanto but more importantly the issues that drive supply and demand, and the fact that diversity in our food stuffs has been suffering for a long time due to the simple motivations of the market. I feel like this is an important element of this discussion, if you have time, don't stop at just the post but go into the comments, some really interesting dialogue there.

    Why the Keurig K-Cup is the beginning of the end for great coffee
     
  13. jake t bud

    jake t bud

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    A few thoughts.

    First of all, corporations should not have special protections. This country is being overrun by corporate interests, and the government is for sale. Has been for a while now. I also think that all GMO's and irradiated foods should be labeled as such so that the consumer has the choice. It's not currently required, because it would affect sales and the bottom line.

    The problem I have with GMO's, as it is my understanding, is that dna is being combined in ways it that would never, and I mean never ever, come in contact with one another in natural life. You can argue humans are natural, therefore the combination of animal dna with vegetable is ok. I don't. Monsanto likes to protect its revenue stream under the guise of feeding the planet, and we won't be able to provide enough food for future populations. It's a lie. Farmers have been getting subsidies for years, and if humans really wanted to feed one another without massive profits, it can be done. It is a well known fact that the production of food in this country has many, many problems with already measured bad consequences for public health - in more ways than just GMO's.

    Lastly, there is such a thing called the precautionary principle. From wiki :

    The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an act.

    We simply do not know what the long term consequences of GMO's are. Regardless of current studies. Further, I think it's just plainly unnecessary, and sacrificing one species for the sake convenience or profits is not conscionable(i.e. bees). We don't need to grow more corn, or create seed that cannot replicate, or are resistant to insecticides that are produced by the very same company producing the insecticide. I'm all for advancement and research and think that there are many ways to accommodate the same goals, but a monopoly or patents on food is just...Wrong. Don't even get me started on BigPharma. Easy for me to say when I'm not a chemist or scientist, right?

    I think is was Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, who developed a strain of seaweed intended for aquariums that require little maintenance, and is hearty enough to be put in many different kinds of environments. Large aquariums and small. Unfortunately, it was somehow released into the Mediterranean sea, and now it has superseded and over run natural indigenous seaweed.

    Humans are adaptable, smart, with wonderful imaginations and creativity.  And also very stupid.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
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  14. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
  15. duckfat

    duckfat

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    The plain and simple truth once we set aside the fluffing about GMO foods meeting some strict standards (in an alter universe that's not government controlled/financed/manipulated) or Monsanto doing great and wonderful things .... (GMO foods don't even require labels let alone testing so lets get real) We have no idea what the impact of GMO's will be on our health.

     Monsanto has changed the face of agriculture with genetically modified crops...possibly forever and is eradicating many species in the process including the independent American farmer. I don't think there's any question our government has funded and protected this research based on a fear of agricultural terrorism.  In the end we may be our own worst enemy.

    There was a recent study on GMO's and there's a little article about the study on the Mother Earth News that is interesting.

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/gmo-safety-zmgz13amzsto.aspx#axzz2PUydY7Rm
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
  16. jake t bud

    jake t bud

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    Wait. I just heard how this provision was passed.

    Go look it up.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
  17. burntsugar

    burntsugar

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    The point is not to say necessarily its bad which it probably is but we want to know if its there so we have the choice of purchasing or not. Other ingredients are listed so why hide it? If its so great proudly display then!! If you found out 10-20 years later after you had been consuming it was carcinogenic or worse then what? You can't un-ring the bell!!!
     
  18. burntsugar

    burntsugar

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    Yo, you are a cook make your own mayo!! It's better anyway and you'll not buy it again. You control the ingredients too!
     
  19. trissynashville

    trissynashville

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    I've heard GMO's related with a lot of issues, including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, etc. Of course I've also heard there's a severe lack of any real evidence, but I tend to steer clear, just in case. There was a time when the idea that cigarettes were bad for you was simply hearsay yet to be proven by hard science.

    We can cook, though, so we can more easily avoid a lot of these brands by making things ourselves.
     
  20. recky

    recky

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    GM crops are modified such that they are more resistant to pesticides, a development which has led to a significant increase in the use of chemicals that are linked to cancer and birth defects.

    For these reasons and others, GMOs are completely banned in Germany, Greece, Austria, Luxembourg, Hungary, and the UK!