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Aug 19, 2011 09:14 AM

Do you trust genetically modified food?

"Engineering Food for All" in today's NY Times advocates limiting the regulations that raise costs and discourage utilization of GMF's. With rising populations, the author claims that GMF's are both desirable and necessary to deal with increasing demand. Further, she claims that despite extensive studies, there is no evidence of harmful effects. Are you comfortable with GMF's? Do you find the author's contention convincing?

Personally, I'd love to enjoy the benefits of this innovation and I have no knowledge of harmful effects, but based on the food industry's propensity to innovate for economic and marketing reasons, rather than healthfulness and quality , I'm still skeptical.

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    1. I'm no expert, but here goes...
      I don't believe eating GMF's will have any negative effects on my health, but I will do everything possible to avoid eating them.

      BUT, my reasoning for NOT eating GMF's is that they aren't part of what I see as sustainable farming practice. Their use encourages the practice of monoculture farming - growing only the same crop on the same soil, year after year, rather than growing a variety of crops and rotating them to keep the right mix of nutrients in the soil.
      I don't think we know enough about the long-term effects of this practice on the environment to fully embrace it at this time.

      I'd be interested to know the percentage of GMO's that are used for animal feed, ethanol and high-fructose corn syrup in North America. If we as a society decided to eat less meat, drive less and cut down on soda/soft drinks and processed/prepared food, the land used to produce these crops could provide more "real food", and that would be a big step toward feeding the growing world population.
      I also have concerns about the ethical practices of some of the producers of GMO's. It is my understanding that farmers are not permitted to use seeds produced by their GMO crops, and must continue to purchase them from the companies. How does that help a third-world farmer out of poverty?

      There is also the issue of GMO seed contaminating the fields of other farmers who have chosen to use conventional or organic methods. Google GMO & lawsuit, or Monsanto & lawsuit, and a bigger picture will present itself.

      I'd be interested to hear how others feel about this.

      1. I choose to stay away from GMF, and eat as much sustainably raised produce as I can. My own garden is from Heirloom seeds, and seeds collected from previous harvests. This is what nature intended and I plan on sticking with that.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JEN10

          No, people. using selective breeding gave you your "heirloom" produce. So many things we eat woudn't exist without human intervention- why stop now?

        2. As others have noted, the most significant negatives of GMO foods aren't the health effects of consuming that food, but their effect on the food system. They reinforce, big time, the growing corporate concentration, industrialization, and genetic uniformity of food production.

          The spread of GMO crops threatens the very possibility of organic, traditionally grown crops nearby, and the companies that control the technology (aided heavily by the US government under the last three administrations) have demonstrated over and over that they're out to crush independent farmers and those working to preserve a food system outside FoodInc.

          Large-scale planting of GMO crops designed to withstand application of herbicides have resulted in weeds resistant to those herbicides, massively speeding up the resistance cycle.

          Nina Fedoroff (author of the op ed linked in the OP) -- like many other top scientists in an increasingly corporatized academia -- is personally invested in the success of biotechnologies. E.g., She was a long-time board member of Sigma-Aldrich before resigning to take the State Dept. advisory job, and will probably return to that board once she steps down from the govt post.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ellabee

            This is even more outrageous.
            "Percy Schmeiser is a farmer from Saskatchewan Canada, whose Canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto’s genetically engineered Round-Up Ready Canola by pollen from a nearby farm. Monsanto says it doesn’t matter how the contamination took place, and is therefore demanding Schmeiser pay their Technology Fee (the fee farmers must pay to grow Monsanto’s genetically engineered products). "


              1. re: Rmis32

                "chemical tresspass" is just as strong an argument,granted most cave when the biggies wave a big stick
                BUT THEY DO NOT HAVE TO
                There are many cases where farmers have won the argument.Spray drift from a conventional farm to certified organic isn't OK.

            1. Slightly lean towards favoring.

              On safety.
              It's a guarantee that all of us have used GM products. GM bacteria and other organisms are used in production of a lot of drugs and supplements. There's really no debating the safety aspect.

              On farming.
              Crop diversity has gone downhill way before GM crops. At the same time, we see new ones being cultivated, either through traditional methods or in the lab.

              On the farmer.
              Last I checked, it's still a choice for them. Use GM seeds and purchase seeds every season or use traditional methods.

              On the ecosystem.
              Just about every time human beings decide to release an animal into a new habitat, things end up going wrong. So, for that (very long history of human stupidity) reason, I really don't like the thought of GM animals that have an edge in reproduction, growth and development.

              On marketing.
              Why the *&%$ don't they spend some time creating a GM crop that just flat out tastes better/stronger than the produce we have now? If they were extra tasty, then there would be more support for the stuff. If GM resulted in quick growing bluefins and being able to cultivate truffles, then it's an easy prediction that support will grow.

              On necessity.
              Spare me. We already produce enough food to feed everyone happily. But, that's a different topic.