HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

When are they gonna start labelling genetically modified foods

This is just wrong IMO, I would like to know what I'm eating people. What is your option?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Where I am, it would generally be a legal requirement to label GM products.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      If you don't mind me asking, where are you?

    2. California had a ballot initiative last year to require GMO labelling, but the voters narrowly rejected it. Rightly, in my opinion.

      65 Replies
      1. re: GH1618

        Why would you think that providing information to the consumer be a bad thing?

        1. re: Bigjim68

          It's an administrative burden (hence an additional cost) for no good purpose.

          1. re: GH1618

            It seems to me that one of the primary functions of government should be to provide information to the public so that the public can make their own informed decisions.

            1. re: Bigjim68

              There is quite a lot of information provided by the government to the public, on food and everything else. But you can't get everything you want, just because you want it. Before imposing a burden on others, there should be a consensus, and there should be a scientific basis for it, in my opinion.

              1. re: GH1618

                I would think that requiring the label to read "this product contains genetically modified stuff" would not be that big of a burden, and providing information not readily available to the individual consumer should be one of the main functions of government. I'm not normally in favor of government meddling but It is simply impossible for me as an individual to investigate each food factory in which I may have an interest. That does not mean that I am in favor of banning any product. Whether the risk is or is not worth the enjoyment is for me to decide. Just my opinion.

                1. re: Bigjim68

                  <I would think that requiring the label to read "this product contains genetically modified stuff" would not be that big of a burden,>

                  I think that itself is not too bad, but you will be amazed how very simple labeling can cost a lot of extra. The question also related to indirect effect. If a cow ate genetic modified corn, then should the cow also be "flagged"?

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    According to Prof. Chassy, somewhere between 70% and 85% of packaged food in the US contains some ingredient which has been produced by biotechnology, largely because of GM soy and corn. One might as well assume that all packaged food contains some GM food product.

                    Those who insist on eating no GM food had better have a garden sufficient to provide everything they eat.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      And yet food manufacturers change their labels all the time. They're required to list allergens. They can label the GMOs. Not that difficult. And yes - I want to know if a cow ate GMO corn, or if the chicken providing my eggs ate any GMOs, or the pig providing my bacon and pork, etc., etc., etc. Thankfully, I buy most of my meat straight from the farmer, so I actually can know these things.

                      1. re: wapfcat

                        "You can't always get what you want." (from an old Rolling Stones song)

                        1. re: wapfcat

                          <I want to know if a cow ate GMO corn, or if the chicken providing my eggs ate any GMOs, or the pig providing my bacon and pork, etc., etc., etc.>

                          Won't you also want to know the human who consume GMO too? They spend heck a lot more time with you than cows and pigs.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            But hopefully you wouldn't be ingesting those humans...

                            1. re: ursy_ten

                              you never know. maybe there really is something in the "human beans".

                              1. re: ursy_ten

                                <But hopefully you wouldn't be ingesting those humans...>

                                But you surely will interact with huamns a lot more and in a much more intimate ways than you would for animals. Mildly speaking: accidentally kissing these humans. More seriously, getting blood transfusion from them. Yes, getting their blood directly infuse into your circulating system. The vaccines which are generated from human cell lines which the hosts once were eating GMO foods....

                                We will want to know human who ate GMO planets more than a cow who ate GMO.

                                Just ask yourself a simple question. Do you usually worry about getting disease from another human or from a cow?

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Your argument really makes no sense. People aren't worried they'll catch a disease from the animals or the GMO crops, they are worried consumption will CAUSE a disease. Some people believe the body doesn't recognize GMO foods the same as non-GMO and that the GMO can mutate their DNA leading to diseases such as cancer. Kissing someone who eats GMO wouldn't cause one to ingest a GMO food in any real sense that they are worried about -- it's not like a food allergy where even a small amount of contact is an issue. If someone is getting a blood transfusion, what the donator ate is probably low on their list of things to worry about. Even if they were concerned about it, it's such a rare thing for someone to experience in their lifetime it isn't significant compared to daily consumption of food. The same goes for vaccinations. You clearly don't know much about how those are developed anyway. Your examples of why someone would care if other humans eat GMO are rare events in a life while consuming GMO food is an everyday event. It makes sense to be more concerned about food (GMO plants consumed by animals and GMO plants) than the GMO consumption of other humans which minimally effects anyone but the consumer him/herself.

                                  1. re: Jmm89

                                    You make assumptions what are acceptable concerns and what are unacceptable simply based on what you decide. Frankly, some of these assumptions make no sense.

                                    <Your examples of why someone would care if other humans eat GMO are rare events in a life while consuming GMO food is an everyday event.>
                                    <Even if they were concerned about it, it's such a rare thing for someone to experience in their lifetime it isn't significant compared to daily consumption of food. >

                                    While IV infusion occurs far less, its effect is significantly higher. If you want to make the argument that "infusion is rare", then one can also make the counterargument that "GMO food consumption leading to cancers is rare."

                                    < what the donator ate is probably low on their list of things to worry about.>

                                    Not if you believe the blood can cause cancers.

                                    If you believe GMO food consumption can lead to cancers, and therefore GMO crops, or meat which the animals were fed on GMO crops should be labeled, then give one good reason why human blood should not be labeled?

                                    Just because something happens rarely, it does not mean the logic get to be thrown out. You don't say: "Oh, it is ok to blood transfer with HIV or HBV or HCV blood because... it happens rarely, and the person should be grateful that at least he/she got some blood/plasma."

                                    Alternatively, how about foods which we regularly consumed get labeled like wheat, rice, eggs, apples.... but foods which we rarely eat get to be exempted like foie gras, safflron, and durians?

                                    I didn't spell out everything, but if you are concern about gene mutation, then there is definitely something to be concern about reproduction activities.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      If you worry about cancer, worry abut good old, unmodified aflatoxin, a pure, natural product from nature.

                                      You waste your time trying to attack the illogic. Fact that we live longer because of better, abundant food, chlorinated water, better sanitation, vaccines, and finally, antibiotics. Life expectancy in USA was 46 in 1900, almost 80 today. Most cancers of diseases of old people, so of course, rates have risen in conjunction with the modern process. But remember the flying spaghetti monster; you cannot win, and you cannot convince.

                                      1. re: law_doc89

                                        To extend your explanation, since medical science and modern public health have conquered many or most of the conditions that used to kill us off, including smallpox, cholera, whooping cough, bad water, industrial accidents, and a myriad of others, that means we die instead of the chronic diseases of old age such as heart disease and cancer. So naturally the rates of those have gone up -- everybody dies of something eventually. It doesn't mean that we are doing anything bad that has caused us to have more cancer and so on; rather, those death rates have unavoidably increased by default.

                                        1. re: law_doc89

                                          <You waste your time trying to attack the illogic>

                                          I think I am just surprised by the inconsistency. The same people who demand to label beef which the cow was fed with GMO crops would also be telling me that it is ridiculous to ask to label human blood which the host ate GMO crops.

                                          The same person who would argue that "Even if we don't know for sure, we have the right to know if the animals were fed with GMO crops, so that we can decide for ourselves. Let's be tolerance of our different view points" would also scold at me the idea for asking more information about the origin of human blood.

                                          Apparently, (some of) these people who preach for consumer rights, individual choice, information transparancy only do so when it fits their specific agenda. Everyone else who ask for other things -- they will just call them heresy.

                                          I am not discrediting their science. The past exchange is more about the moral standing. It has revealed that (part of) this movement is not really about consumer rights, individual choice, information transparency.

                                          P.S.: This is not about the original poster, who I know is very sincere about his request.

                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Someone who has cancer wouldn't be donating blood. The blood is checked for safety prior to being sent out into the supply. They have no idea if GMO food consumption leads to cancer or not. Also, I don't believe all this, I don't care if GMO food is labeled or not. I was just explaining what the others meant because it seemed as though you weren't understanding their concerns.

                                          1. re: Jmm89

                                            <Someone who has cancer wouldn't be donating blood. The blood is checked for safety prior to being sent out into the supply. >

                                            That is not what I mean.

                                            <They have no idea if GMO food consumption leads to cancer or not.>

                                            That is my point. Wapfcat and I were not just talking about GMO crops. It isn't just about direct GMO food consumption, but animal meats which the animal were fed with GMO food, like bacon from a pig which was fed with GMO corn. If we are concern that eating bacon from a pig which ate GMO is potentially dangerous and causing cancer, then I see that getting blood transfusion from a human donor who ate GMO also as dangerous if not more.

                                            You previously wrote <Some people believe the body doesn't recognize GMO foods the same as non-GMO and that the GMO can mutate their DNA leading to diseases such as cancer.> and <If someone is getting a blood transfusion, what the donator ate is probably low on their list of things to worry about.>

                                            I think it is inconsistent to say "It is important to label pork product which the pigs were fed with GMO" and then say "It is nonsesne to try to label the human blood which the human donor ate GMO".

                        2. re: Bigjim68

                          I would fundamentally disagree on that being one of the primary functions of government. I think it's the responsibility of the people who make the product. If they want your business as a person who shirks GMO, they will lable the product non-GMO and if they don't you don't buy their stuff. Vote with your $$.

                          I'm a big fan of lableing too...but some issues are more complex than others. How do you define GMO? How do you define what constitutes and insignificant quantity? How do you verify accuracy? I think the burdens would be large.

                          Personally, I'm not concerned about what GMO will do to my body, I'm concerned about what it will do to bio-diverisity, and I have a bad feeling that ship may have already sailed.

                          1. re: danna

                            I don't think we are disagreeing at all. It should be the responsibility of producers to provide evidence that their product is safe. The problem is that I as a consumer do not have the ability to go to each and every producer and examine the product or check the evidence, Left to themselves, most will skew the results in their favor. The only group that I can think of that has the capability to verify evidence is the government.

                            I would not disagree that the ship may have sailed. You put pollen, wind, and pollinating insects together and they do not recognize borders.

                            1. re: Bigjim68

                              It should be and it is. That is why genetically engineered varieties must be tested and approved by the USDA before they can be marketed.

                              1. re: GH1618

                                I'm not disagreeing with you either. The question is whether or not labellng should be done. I believe that it should.be.

                                1. re: Bigjim68

                                  I think that is a fine idea. My question is that should the government require this label or should the government recommend this label? Also, a practical question is how far back should we label? Obviously, a GMO corn will get labeled, but what about the pork meat from a pig which was fed on GMO corn? What about the cheese from which the cow was fed on GMO corn?....etc. Should there be a % limit when the animals were partially fed with GMO crops. Say the mix meal has some GMO and some non GMO...etc.

                                  In other words, how extensive should we do this?

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    How far should we go will always be a legit question. We have that question now with labeling "organic". That question has nothing to do with clearly identifiable GMO foods and crops now. The debate is about labeling period. The debate should be about the publics right to have information. The minutia will come later as is with everything else and as it should be IMO.

                                    With food supply, food chain issues at stake, error on the side of caution instead of having blind faith in government or corporate science is where I stand on the subject. It is disappointing that some label that as fear mongering.

                                    Honestly, I really would hope we could learn from historical disasters in this area and put the humans well being first ...ya know.....before money and politics....I am a dreamer :)

                                    1. re: sedimental

                                      <The debate should be about the publics right to have information. The minutia will come later as is with everything else and as it should be IMO. >

                                      I think it is one way to look at it. The other way is to look ahead to see if it is executable. If something is not executable not or practical, then all are moot points. I don't disagree with your approach, but it is not a bad idea to think of the practicability as well. In my line of work, it is usually nice to have more data points and more information. However, we often weight that against the difficulty or the practicability of acquiring additional data.

                                      So clearly if all we want is to label GMO crop, then it is a simpler debate because it will focus more on the fundamental of labeling. However, if most people want to go much further, then we should ask if it is practical and if it is meaningful. If it is not practical or meaningful, then we lose the compass of the debate.

                                      <error on the side of caution instead of having blind faith in government or corporate science>

                                      Well, I see it differently. I don't think it is a matter of having blind faith in government or corporate science. It is more about if some information will be distractive. It is also about right to know (customer right). I will high-light the first one. When you and I go to do a typical blood work, the blood work will report like numbers like fasting glucose and HA1C...etc. The truth is that the report did not show you everything. It only shows you that concluded and extrapolated results. It is believed that showing you all the raw data is unhelpful and distractive.

                                      I can actually see people use this as the opportunity for exploiting. I have seen this before. Like telling people that stainless steel cookware, cast iron cookware, aluminum cookware are dangerous and try to sell people the certain cookware:

                                      http://cookware.mercola.com/ceramic-c...

                                      Or Kevin Trudea for promoting his books on un-tested cure for various diseases...etc.

                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_...

                                      <Honestly, I really would hope we could learn from historical disasters in this area>

                                      I agree, except that disasters happen in both directions -- people who overly trust the establishment like tobacco and people who overly mistrust the establishment and flocked to other side like Kevin Trudea and others.

                                      <before money and politics....I am a dreamer :)>

                                      Money and politics on both sides, and frankly we are all skeptics except we are skeptical of different things.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        <Money and politics on both sides, and frankly we are all skeptics except we are skeptical of different things.>

                                        True enough! Food supply is a big issue for me, enough to pull out my skeptic card and show it to everyone. I vote with my dollars right now with my food choices and I read all sides of an issue from all different sources. I realize that not everyone is interested in being an "informed consumer" but I think we all have the *right* to be an informed consumer if we *choose* to be. That is why labeling is important to me. Give me more information rather than less...and that is a philosophy issue as much as a health issue.

                                      2. re: sedimental

                                        "... error on the side of caution instead of having blind faith ..."

                                        This is a false dichotomy between two extremes. Those advocating erring on the side of caution, also known as the "precautionary principle," try to appear reasonable and objective, but often (and certainly in the case of anti-GMO groups) have a firmly established conclusion and seek only to support it rather to arrive at a solution by objective science-based reasoning.

                                        There is a lot of room between the extremes for objective analysis of the questions raised by genetic engineering. We need not rely on "blind faith" in any group. We rely on the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine to apply science to the problem objectively and to report to the Congress in good faith. These groups have an obligation to be objective, and because they report to a political body they depend for their existence on being objective. There is nothing blind about it — as public bodies, their work is subject to public review. The Congress receives their advice, but also receives advice from any number of private individuals and advocacy groups on both sides of any question. The reason that Congress has not required GMO labelling is not because they have blindly accepted the position of agribusiness, directly or through the USDA, but simply because the anti-GMO advocates have failed so far to make a case which outweighs the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences.

                                        1. re: GH1618

                                          That is a round robin argument. There has not been enough independent research to make that determination.... the fox guards the hen house and tells you that everything is fine.If you can't "prove" it is not fine, because you can't get in the hen house to check......do you trust it *is* fine? I don't. So we have to just disagree on that point.

                                          1. re: sedimental

                                            You must mean "circular" argument, but I don't get where you think that is.

                                            The National Academy of Sciences is not a "fox." They are a nonpartison group of experts who are charged with giving objective scientific advice to the government. The NAS is publicly funded, they are not associated with agribusiness. Same for the IOM.

                                            Clarification: The NAS and IOM are private. They receive government money through grants and contracts, but not regular appropriations. They also receive private donations.

                                            1. re: GH1618

                                              Okay, I think I have already said this, but maybe I was misunderstood. This is a fact: there have been no (or very few and terribly inadequate) long term, aka lifetime, feeding studies done with rats. I believe there has been *none* save for the recent controversial lifetime French study.

                                              Big Ag "allows" only short term studies that show "no harm" within a very limited scope. These studies might indeed be very good ones! Given up to the public and government to give a stamp of approval on. Who cares? It won"t prove that GMO's are safe for a lifetime -or for generations of rats or humans. Many things are safe in small quantities or for short duration. Allowing Monsanto to direct the research has been like the fox guarding the hen house. The National Academy of Sciences putting it's stamp of approval on 90 day studies means nothing. They have never had a lifetime study to examine. IMO lifetime and generational studies should be done before possibly changing the worlds food supply.

                                              There has been plenty of opportunity to do multi-year studies, while expensive, it would be hard to believe that lack of funding for research is a reasonable barrier...hmmm... what else might be the reason they will not allow it?

                                              Given that good science is built (not only) from studies that can be duplicated with the same results, we advance from research building upon others good research... 90 day studies should have been followed up with multi-year studies. That is just good science.

                                              Independent studies from many different institutions,and other countries should have been followed up on. As well as anecdotal information from ranchers and farmers in regard to alarming problems with GMO crops should have been followed up with formal studies.... they were never even picked up for funding.

                                              I guess I am not as trusting as you are.

                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                Are there GMOs in normal lab rat feed?

                                                I suspect there are, at least in the USA, and that many generations of lab rats have been eating them.

                                                http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworsta...
                                                The company that supplied the rats used in a recent notorious French study of GMO corn is quoted as “We do not exclude GM materials from rodent diets”.

                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  Good thing he is a Business blogger and not in the science field. He doesn't have a clue.

                                                  The comments are worth reading, however. Some appear to be written my folks with some intelligence and even with a science background!

                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                    Here is a good summary of the problems with the paper in plain English:

                                                    http://www.newscientist.com/article/d...

                                                    You have to understand that no finding of any paper means anything unless certain criteria of science are met. MOST research published is problematic due to several factors, so findings are always to be viewed with a critical eye, and subject to independent re-evaluation. Science works , in part, on disprovability more than provability (falsifiability).

                                                    Luddites and the scientific illiterate do not understand that.

                                                    1. re: law_doc89

                                                      That's a good point, but I would add that even when the science is good one should not assume that the study is definitive. Good researchers are generally cautious in drawing conclusions from a single study. Scientific consensus typically is built up from the results of many independent studies.

                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                        In reality, no study is valid beyond its own test population. All else is extrapolation. Consensus aggregation is also not the point, rather it is that consensus fails to disprove. Note that some very important research has been retracted and repudiated as others fail to replicate it, or worse show that the research cannot have even been honest.

                                                    2. re: sedimental

                                                      What does his being a business blogger have to do with his credibility on this matter? He's the one who contacted the lab rat company. I found his blog because I was reading a couple of science blogs.

                                                      http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/201...

                                                      http://theness.com/neurologicablog/in...

                                                      http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/0...

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        The "Orac" posting is by Dr. David Gorski, a cancer surgeon with research credentials. Here is a link to his review of the study published under his actual name:

                                                        http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/i...

                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                          There is a tendency to rely on authoritative "ipse dixit" instead of doing the work of reasoning. So attacking the credentials of the journalist becomes more important than the quality of his reporting. It is the essence of non-scientific analysis.

                        3. re: GH1618

                          I guess we all know this but my understanding of at least one aspect of genetic modification is for pest control...so when the pest eats the plant its stomach explodes, thereby killing the pest. Please let me know if this is inaccurate. I doubt it, therefore:

                          How can we possibly be certain this is not harmful to humans in the long term. I would prefer not to consume these plants, personally, and I don't want friends or loved ones to be exposed to them either.

                          We are not provided with information on which plants were modified in this way. So we're on our own to protect ourselves, and must assume then that corn and soy are GMO unless otherwise labelled. However soy is used as filler in many products such as canned tuna. Corn feeds livestock, in addition to its general ubiquity in foods we eat. It feels like a losing battle.

                          The only way to reverse course is for consumers to demand change, or for it to be proven that people are dying from this experiment in which we're all unwittingly taking part.

                          That's why I don't understand not voting in favor of that ballot.

                          For what it's worth, I grew up pro-business and economically I tend to vote conservative. But I find these trends incredibly disturbing.

                          1. re: Niblet

                            We are not "on our own to protect ourselves." The USDA must approve genetically modified crops, and there are many scientists studying the safety of these crops.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              The horse has already left the stable.

                              1. re: GH1618

                                I understand that, but I see no harm in alerting me as to which products are modified, and I think the studies should be publicly available. Then I can make my own risk - reward assessment.

                                1. re: Bigjim68

                                  My opinion is that companies will not see the financial incentive to label products simply because it's FYI, good to know for the consumer. Whereas if government/consumers force the issue as a health imperative, companies will be forced to and we may actually have a chance at success.

                                  If you're speaking of government making scientific reports available for all to view and considering that sufficient, I think that plays in favor of the companies; who will actually have time to read them, understand the scientific findings, or even trust that the results aren't skewed in some way.

                                  1. re: Niblet

                                    I'm not sure I am following you, but if you are speaking of forcing the informative labeling of products, I am for it, and I am not often in favor of more government intervention.
                                    The studies funded by the public should be made available to the public. Those studies produced by the applicant for approval should also be made available and the rationalization for approval or disapproval of the new product. I am not saying I would read each and every scientific study, and summations of studies would be a big help. I would like to have the information available. Whether or not I use it is up to me.

                                    The way I see the present situation is that much of the info is coming from big ag, and they have an interest in keeping the data from the public.

                                    1. re: Bigjim68

                                      Research reports are generally published and available to the public. There have been thousands of studies on the subject of safety of GM food. This article will tell you where to find some of the research:

                                      http://www.jacn.org/content/21/suppl_...

                                      You might also get a copy of Prof. Chassy's recent lecture, "Regulating the Safety of Foods and Feeds Derived From Genetically Modified Crops":

                                      http://phys.org/news/2013-02-food-sci...

                                2. re: GH1618

                                  "there are many scientists studying the safety of these crops."

                                  studies that are funded by the interested parties. even at public universities, these studies are funded by corporations that provide grants and other subsidies to these universities and those corporations have the final say in whether a study is published, or not. so, if the study disputes the corporation's agenda, the study gets quashed. also, researchers' associations with these corporations do not have to be disclosed. let me clarify that this is for agricultural research and not for human pharmaceuticals.

                                  and... the USDA is infailable? what about the infamous FD&C Red (dye) 3 which was approved by the FDA for food, drugs and cosmetics and was later banned as it was found to cause tumors?

                                  1. re: Vidute

                                    Civilization advances by steps. We do not expect humans to be infallible, with the exception of the pope, and then only in certain circumstances and only by observant Catholics.

                                    1. re: GH1618

                                      I'll add that the examples of red dyes #2 and #3 being withdrawn are not "infamous," they are merely examples of the system working properly to protect the public. The rules for excluding suspected carcinogens are extremely conservative. No human cancers or deaths have been attributed to the consumption of these red dyes, yet they have been prohibited in foodstuffs. That's how it should work — potentially harmful substances should be prohibited before they cause actual harm.

                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        "That's how it should work — potentially harmful substances should be prohibited before they cause actual harm."

                                        agreed.... therefore, labeling should appear on packaging identifying GMOs and other potentially harmful substances. when you have the foxes guarding the hen houses (agricultural scientists research being subsidized by the concerned party and research results being quashed by the corporation paying for the study if it disproves what they want proven) well, then, the veracity of the study is tainted.

                                      2. re: GH1618

                                        so, we should rely on the FDA to protect us from knowledge and from deciding for ourselves. big brother knows best, eh?

                                        1. re: Vidute

                                          Vidute, I wanted to thank you for the good wishes you expressed for me and my partner in that other thread that got closed before I could reply.

                                          (Don't worry, I didn't stalk you to this thread or anything weird, I just saw your name and it reminded me to thank you. I just hope you get to see this before the mods remove it, because it's totally off topic)

                                          1. re: ursy_ten

                                            You're welcome ursy. I hope things are getting better.

                                            And, stalking never crossed my mind. :)

                                          2. re: Vidute

                                            The fact is, our food supply is far safer than it once was. It wasn't until 1962, with the publication of Silent Spring, that an awareness of the problem of toxins in the environment began to become generally known. The Environmental Protection Agency was founded in 1970. Toxins in food are much more carefully tracked today than they were 50 years ago, and much has been done to end the use of hazardous substances which can contaminate the food supply, and to control the usage of other potentially hazardous substances so they can be used safely. As a result, most people today take for granted, with justification, that our food supply is safe. There are occasional lapses, but they are rare.

                                            Ironically, there are quite a few people who are not particularly concerned about the real dangers. You can see this in the threads on arsenic in rice, or e-coli in ground beef. Some people complain about the inability to order a rare hamburger in a restaurant, even though contaminated ground beef is something which can actually kill you. It seems to me that the people who are opposed to GM foods, which have no demonstrated toxic effects, are far more vocal than those who complain about the dangers of contaminated ground beef, or undercooked chicken, and such. It's a peculiar phenomenon.

                                            1. re: GH1618

                                              it is indeed better, but still far less than ideal.

                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                The perspective that e.coli will "actually kill you" while other FDA-approved questionable substances (margarine, formerly the red dyes, etc) will not is precisely the reason that so many people are distrustful of the FDA's approval standards, and of much of nutrition science in general. Essentially, they are quite effective at identifying the causes of acute infections or deficiencies (e.coli, scurvy) and remarkably bad at identifying the long term effects of dietary habits. The public is very aware of this due to their ever-changing recommendations. We have a whole generation raised on margarine who have now found out that trans fats are deadly in the long term. Who trusts the FDA's assessment of long-term ramifications now?

                                                  1. re: yellowstone

                                                    I expect a lot of people think we are better off trusting the FDA than doing without them. I do anyway. That does not mean they are perfect, and we should not expect them to be.

                                                    Your point is correct that it is much more difficult to determine the long-term harmful effects of ingredients in food. That is why the FDA is conservative in banning substances which can cause cancer in rats in very large doses, even though no harm has been observed in humans ingesting normal amounts. That's what they should do, even when a substance has been in use for a lengthy time without incident.

                                                    As far as I know, no human death has been attributed to consumption of margarine. Do you know of one?

                                        2. re: Niblet

                                          IIUC, the main Monsanto initiative has nothing to do with making any pests' stomachs "explode." It has to do with using gene-splicing to make crops "Roundup ready," i.e. it gives the crops immunity to Roundup (glyphosate), which is an herbicide marketed by Monsanto, not a pesticide. By planting such GM crops, the farmer can use Roundup in place of more expensive tilling to control weeds in his fields. Glyphosate is of very low toxicity to members of the animal kingdom, including humans. Further, there remains little-to-no credible scientific evidence that GMO foods are harmful to those who eat them.

                                          Everyone can believe what he wants and opine as he wants, but I'm satisfied that the "frankenfood" scare has been greatly overblown.

                                          1. re: Niblet

                                            Niblet,

                                            The toxins to which you refer, the Bacillus thuringiensis endotoxins (Bt toxin) specifically target the digestive tract of Lepidoptera (caterpillars). Numerous studies have demonstrated that their target range doesn't even extend to other groups of insects (e.g. honeybees, ladybugs, beetles, etc.). Further, they don't cause the stomach to "explode". The cause pores to develop in the lining of the digestive tract, permitting enteric bacteria (e.g. E. coli) to enter the tissue of the pest resulting in sepsis which is the ultimate cause of death. I understand that "exploding stomach" is certainly more evocative than, you know, the truth when trying to sway an audience.

                                            Lepidopteran pests are a major cause of crop loss. Moths and butterflies lay eggs on the leaves of the plant; when those eggs hatch the larva and subsequent caterpillars proceed to eat the leaves causing extensive damage to the plant. The use of Bt toxin to fight these pests has long been known and used either by applying the toxin proteins or the bacteria themselves by surface spraying. In fact the use of Bt toxin spraying is approved for crops grown under the USDA Organic certification program.

                                            1. re: kmcarr

                                              kmcarr - you are correct that Bt can be used by organic farmers. However, when more Bt crops are being grown by conventional farmers, just as with over using antibiotics, the pests are building up a resistance to Bt. This means there will be one less pesticide that organic farmers can use.

                                            2. re: Niblet

                                              <one aspect of genetic modification is for pest control...so when the pest eats the plant its stomach explodes, thereby killing the pest.>

                                              Niblet, I think you're referring to Bt modified corn. Bacillus thuringiensis is a bacterium that is fatal to many insects if ingested but is not harmful to vertebrates and has been used as a pesticide for ~90 years. I recall studying it in college, where local (Southern California) farmers were reluctant to use it because unlike petro-chemical pesticides, it doesn't immediately kill on contact, so there is some crop loss, and some blemished fruit. If that's the GMO food you're writing about, it should be safe for us to eat.

                                          2. <I would like to know what I'm eating people.>

                                            Usually I don't encourage eating people -- no matter what kind of people. :)

                                            I don't know much about genetically modified foods, and I don't see any major problems. However, if enough of people are concerned about this, then we should provide this information to them. Thus far, I do see these descriptions on my food labels. I don't know if they are required, but I see them.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              I should proof read first, before posting lol

                                              1. re: ukjason

                                                You didn't type anything wrong, but I intentionally read it in a wrong way, which I like to think I am funny. :)

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  "... I'm eating people."
                                                  ... I'm eating, people.
                                                  Like this:
                                                  Let's eat Grandma.
                                                  Let's eat, Grandma.

                                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                the issue isn't so much the GMO product, but occasional (perhaps apocryphal) lawsuits when neighboring tracts cross-pollinate with the patent-protected seed stock. the regular farmer is slapped with a suit from a multi-national for spores drifting across a fence...

                                                1. re: hill food

                                                  Im guessing this is one of the big problems, people not knowing without doing genetic testing what is and what is not gmo at this point because of unintentional cross pollination.

                                                  I'm of a mixed mind on GMO and a lot of other modern food manufacturing techniques, but I don't see why it is unreasonable to require producers to label what they believe to be the truth.

                                                  There was a time it was considered ridiculous to have to put ingredient lists on food labels as well.

                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                    it's like when you're looking for an apartment and they don't post even a general location - are you serious? I'm going to find out the address at SOME point before signing the lease.

                                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  "And I don't see any major problems"

                                                  I've got to say this much, I'm a BIG steak eater. I love steak and I'm sure the cows I'm eating are being pumped full of hormones to make them bigger, fattier and more tasty for me to consume.

                                                  I do however find the autism rates, the obesity epidemic and raising rates in Alzheimer etc. to be alarming. In my completely uneducated opinion I don't think their have been enough long term studies to see what the affects are over decades of eating modified foods. Again, in my uneducated opinion, I can easily draw a line between all the hormones we are ingesting and many of the illness's listed above. I have no evidence but it makes sense to me.

                                                  I'm not ready to give up my beefy steaks.......but I am certainly ready to step back and look at the entire system and re-think what we are doing to our food supply.

                                                  Just my $.02

                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                    you're correct about cattle being pumped up with drugs to make them bigger, however, these drugs make the cattle more muscular/less fatty and less flavorful. the makers of one of these drugs, Zilmax, admitted just that in their FDA application.

                                                    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_...

                                                    http://chronicle.com/article/As-Beef-...

                                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Soylent Green is genetically modified people!!!!! :)

                                                  3. At this point, I assume anything with corn/wheat/soy is GM unless otherwise labeled.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: mpjmph

                                                      I assume EVERYTHING is GMO unless otherwise noted.

                                                      1. re: Njchicaa

                                                        You can look up which crops have GM seed approved -- for example, there is no genetically modified sunflower at this point, so you can buy conventional sunflower oil and know that it is GMO free, even without specific labeling.

                                                    2. Whole Foods has committed to label all GMO's by 2018 - http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/missi...

                                                      Their 365 line is formulated to avoid genetically engineered ingredients or you could always just buy organic.