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The psychology of distrusting GMOs.

Just as it took time for people to accept and even prefer hybrids, it will take time for them to accept GMOs for exactly what they are, and not some grand conspiracy to wipe out humanity.:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs...

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  1. GMOs are a grand conspiracy to make enormous profits for an awful company with a long history of abusing the law, the legislature, and human rights, and which is long overdue for antitrust action.

    I doubt they'll poison me (though it wouldn't be the first time Monsanto poisoned millions of people), and even so I'd rather avoid lining their pockets.

    20 Replies
    1. re: cowboyardee

      lol! (dont forget to wear your aluminum foil hat..)

      1. re: kpaxonite

        Yeah... because not wanting to give business to a monopolistic company that uses litigation to get rid of those who don't adopt their products (look it up) and has essentially perpetrated war crimes (look it up) is tantamount to buying into the 'aliens are among us' conspiracies.

        ...So, I take it you can't actually dispute any of the claims I've made? (they're true, so don't sweat it too hard). Perhaps you don't even understand that GMOs, at this point in time, are only referring to the produce that is roundup resistant - that the promise of genetic modification technology and the reality of the market for GMOs are two very different things? Or am I just confusing you? Is it more comforting to not investigate my claims and just ridicule me instead?

        1. re: cowboyardee

          If I didn't have a headache right now, cowboyardee, I'd have your back with details about the havoc these GM corporations are wreaking on local farming businesses around the world (consider the farmer suicides in India, or Monsanto's hideous practice of suing farmers for saving, reusing, or modifying seeds). GMOs are linked to dreadfully unsustainable practices, Why people here are ready to jump to their defence and mock those who are leery is beyond me.

          It seems to me that this fear of Frankenstein food is used as a smokescreen or tool for discrediting and ignoring some very real and very pressing concerns.

          True, there are those who fetishise a notion of the authentic and the natural (as if somehow always untouched by man) but recognising the fallacy of a pure division should not prevent a critical stance re GMO.

          1. re: Lizard

            I'm with you on this one too. It's really bad.

            And the thought that these new GM plants are the equivalent of hybridized plants or selective cultivation (how most of our current crops have been "created") is so far off the mark as well.

            1. re: Lizard

              and to add to both what Lizard and cowboyardee said:
              there would be no reason to make "roundup ready" gmo seeds unless one intended to cover the plants with roundup (glyphosate) which is a toxic ingredient itself.

              in addition to the glyphosate, commercial glyphosate products also contain even more highly toxic surfactants.

            2. re: cowboyardee

              That is my objection to GMOs too. As for the safety of the modified foods themselves, that is a much lesser concern for me.

            1. re: cowboyardee

              Yep. I fully understand the science behind GMO food. The same science has huge potential in medicine. I'm OK with GMO on face value, though I do believe individual consumers should be able to make that decision on their own. What I do not like is Monsanto's business practices, and the system of monoculture they encourage.

              1. re: mpjmph

                Good point, succintly put. I don't agree with their business practices either, and am suspicious about how much effort is going into preventing labeling. However there is SO much information - good, bad, and hysterical rolling around that I don't know who to trust anymore. There's a post on CH somewhere in which a poster claimed to have many health problems and said s/he was told by a doctor that they were caused by eating products made with GMO wheat - the doctor had seen MANY people with the same problems. S/he started eating only imported wheat products - all health problems resolved! What a story! Then someone else pointed out that there is no GMO wheat grown for commercial use.

                1. re: NonnieMuss

                  Well I had to go look that up, because it's been suggested that increased protein yield in food has caused a lot of our health problems lately, including allergies and celiac disease. Not proven yet, but the increase in wheat protein is apparently due to traditional crossbreeding, which is not the same as GMO.

                  http://www.rodalenews.com/wheat-free-...

                  So the doctor may have been right about the cause but wrong about the cause's cause. If that makes sense.

                  1. re: ennuisans

                    Fair enough, but I wouldn't trust a doctor that misinformed and spreading that misinformation as a miracle cure.

                    And an article that is advertising a book about a wheat-free diet isn't exactly a reputable source. Looking at the other links on that website "How to tell if your dinner could kill you" "Cooking with natural gas is frying your lungs" "Green lightbulbs could harm your skin" - it doesn't inspire much confidence - just hysteria.

                    1. re: NonnieMuss

                      You had me at "I wouldn't trust a doctor" haha.

                      The website is Rodale, their the publishing house for that book, so it makes sense that there is an article on there.

                      Rodale does a lot of scientific research, you may be interested to check out their "Farming Systems Trial" which has been underway for over three decades now. It compares organic legume and organic animal farming with conventional chemical farming and over the last 10 years has been using transgenic crops too. They found that while conventional farming took an early lead, by the 5 year mark both types of organic farming took over in yields and never looked back, and the yield disparity was even greater during drought conditions.

                      The 30 Year Farming Systems Trial Report is here - http://rodaleinstitute.org/our-work/f...

                      1. re: dobyblue

                        I first came across the idea from a TED talk by Robyn O'Brien, and when I Googled, the Rodale article came up so I used that as an example. Rodale has always been pretty legit in my book so I didn't dig any deeper, but of course Nonnie is right to be skeptical.

                  2. re: NonnieMuss

                    There isn't, however wheat samples are STILL testing positive in the US for contamination from test field plots that were supposedly stopped 10 years ago! See the story here from May 2013 - http://www.cban.ca/Press/Press-Releas...

                    It took them over $20 million to defeat I-522 in Washington this month, with just under 6,000 ballots remaining to be counted it's clear that Monsanto won again the right to keep consumers in the dark, once again using a campaign of lies to fool consumers into thinking the bill was either poorly written or would increase costs. The same lies they spent almost $50 million perpetrating on Californian consumers last November when Proposition 37 was killed. The final vote looks to be 51~49, it was close! (http://vote.wa.gov/results/current/St...

                    )

                    However you have to wonder how much longer the junk food companies like PepsiCo and Kellogg's want to keep throwing away millions of dollars each year propping up the pesticide industry's transgenic crop business.

                    1. re: dobyblue

                      Monsanto just threw a ton of money at our most recent election. The only item they were opposed to was a vote for or against GMO usage on the island of Maui. They tried to make it sound like prohibiting GMOs would put all family farmers out of business! For all the money they threw at voters, they still lost.
                      All that Roundup goes into the streams and aquifier, poisoning the water that we all use for everything. It also runs off into the ocean and can kill coral and fish.
                      Having said that, the University of Hawai'i College of Tropical Agriculture has bred some wonderful sweet corn, among other things, that are as good as any you can find anywhere. These are traditional hybrids, though, not Monsanto GMOs.

                      1. re: KailuaGirl

                        Congrats to you and all of Maui for winning that vote despite being outspent almost 100 to 1!!!!

                        That's right folks, Monsanto and Dow amongst others poured in 8 million to defeat the ballot in Maui country, while local supporters raised only $80,000. The ballot still passed!

                        I hope the ban holds up in court, the people have spoken. 8 million no doubt bought a lot of votes from people who have no idea what to think until the media tells them so it's quite telling that they still voted the bill through. Good luck!

                        1. re: KailuaGirl

                          What exactly did they ban? Growing any kind of GMO crop? The use Roundup? What GMO crops are affected by the ban? Maui isn't known for its corn, soybean or rape seed production.

                          http://www.co.maui.hi.us/documents/50...
                          is a study done by the state of pesticide samplings. Samplings on Maui were limited due to lack of suitable streams. But like other parts of the state, atrazine was the herbicide most commonly detected. Roundup and its breakdown products was most commonly found downstream from urban sources.

                          For Maui it mentions sugarcane and seed corn as crops that currently use herbicides.

                          Among insecticides the report highlights 2 - one that used to be used to combat termites, and one currently in use to treat fleas on pets. 'We' are big polluters.

                          1. re: paulj

                            Hawaii is known for allowing lots of test plantings of GE crops, the full text of the ballot is here - http://ballotpedia.org/Maui_County_Ge...

                      2. re: NonnieMuss

                        Considering that the US and Canada are major exporters of wheat, I don't see how buying imported wheat products would be a reliable way of avoiding North American wheat. Wheat grown in other parts of the world may come from North American varieties. Agriculture is international.

                        As for individual testimonials, they have no evidentiary value. Every quack remedy has testimonial support, because it's easier to get even when there is no scientific basis for it.

                        There is a scientific basis for knowing that modern wheat varieties can contain proteins not found in heritage wheat, and that some of these may have adverse effects. Some people do have adverse health effects from wheat, but the problem is not due to GM technology, it's due to particular proteins, whether produced by GM technology or conventional means.

                        1. re: GH1618

                          The European Union routinely tests imports for contamination and sets a 0.9% threshold, if one supplier was exceeding this they would lose their export business.

                          Science is corrupt, it has been for a long time, particularly in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. When one starts throwing around terms like quackery and pseudoscience, one should understand that there exists a large body of science that is deemed evidence based and trustworthy by regulatory institutions like the CDC, Health Canada, FDA, etc., and/or groups like the AAP, WHO, etc., that is much the same.

                          It sometimes takes courageous whistle blowers like Shiv Chopra (see Monsanto's attempts to get rBGH into Canada), or ex-researchers coming clean like Linda Lodgberg (see "Ghost in the Machine" on PLOSone), to remind us of this.

                  3. I have no fear of eating GMOs.

                    I worry about ecological mischief(eg killing butterflies that eat BT corn pollen that falls on milkweed). But as with many contentious issues, it is hard to know what is truly true because partisans have no qualms about exaggeration, hyperbole and deception. They know damn right well and will not consider new data. When an issue becomes political rational discourse is impossible.

                    I despise the work of Monsanto lawyers who are said to hound innocent farmers who are unlucky enough to have a crop partially pollinated by a neighbor's GMO.

                    GMOs are in the same boat as vaccines/autism. Minimal evidence but many "true believers" whose minds are made up , evidence be damned.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: sal_acid

                      I can appreciate this kind of approach. Though I don't think rational discourse is necessarily impossible even with partisans.

                      The problem with discounting anything that sounds hyperbolic and political is that sometimes the hyperbolic and politicized statements are nonetheless true. It depends on what part of the issue we're looking at though.

                      To my knowledge, claims about dangerous health consequences from eating GMOs are largely speculative and not based in evidence. There are probably legitimate concerns over the testing process for introducing modified organisms into mass food production, but those concerns are by no means limited to GMOs.

                      I'm not fully up to date on the ecological effects of GMOs and widespread use of round up. It seems plausible to me that this could cause problems, but I don't claim to know enough to really comment intelligently on the issue.

                      Hyperbolic-sounding claims about Monsanto as a corporation? Many of these are unfortunately true. And well documented. It's by nature a politicized discussion, since we're talking about corporate ethics. But you don't have to have particularly extreme political views to conclude that Monsanto has done some pretty messed up s****.

                      1. re: sal_acid

                        For all intents and purposes, discussions about GMO are discussions about Monsanto, specifically, about engineered glyphosate tolerance for the purposes of proliferating Roundup.

                        In this discussion, there is an essential truth. Monsanto is a corporation. Corporations are created, by definition to maximize profit. It is not a person, it is an amoral construct. A corporation will engage in tenuously legal actions that may be completely immoral, in the pursuit of profit.

                        In the present instance, we have a company selling a product for environmental dispersal, that is a known toxin. We have a company that has spent millions to squelch and obfuscate studies on the environmental effects of that product. Roundup is a formulation with known toxicity. The surfactant used in Roundup is a toxin. Roundup's environmental persistence and effect on macro/micro flora and fauna are well documented. Birth defects of pregnant migrant workers exposed to Roundup are well documented.

                        To reduce the concerns of environmentalists to that of zealotry and idolatry would be both specious and ignorant. For those who are old enough to remember, it is reminiscent of the tobacco industry and their repudiation of causation between tobacco usage and cancer. There are always those who will attack the message bearer and attack the message as preposterous. Especially when a powerful industry is at stake. Millions of dollars were spent to discredit science linking tobacco use to cancer.

                        The problem is that when people are presented with cause and effect that are not temporally linked, when years or decades pass before ill effects are realized, ignorance abounds. What will be the long term effects of Mon 810 corn or the use of neonicotinoids? What will be the long term effects of arsenic in poultry feed and commercial fertilizers? Perhaps it will take decades to see the effects of actions taken for short term gain and profit.

                        1. re: Pookipichu

                          Pookiepichu: yours is the most elegantly written, accurate synopsis of the current situation i have ever read.

                          with your permission i would like to save it to my hard drive to use myself. of course i would attribute it to you when i share it.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            History repeats itself again and again because of lack of information and misinformation. Information and discussion is vital to democracy. Please do share, because we have a largely complicit media that foments misinformation and dissent such that it is even more important to spread awareness.

                            What is most unfortunate about corporate malfeasance is the following: if a corporation has a product, such as Diethylstilbestrol, which is released (despite controversy), achieves peak sales within a few years of release, and generates millions of dollars of profit for the directors, shareholders and managers of the company. 1-2 decades later, it's realized that said product has epigenetic properties that cause a range of physical and mental illnesses. By the time the product has been withdrawn, by the time litigation has ensued, the directors, shareholders and managers of the company have made their profit. Salary has been paid, bonuses have been disbursed. Stocks have been converted to liquid assets. That profit, is virtually irretrievable.

                            Corporations are created to shield the assets of its shareholders against personal liability. Millions of people are harmed, and there is no recourse when the corporation files for bankruptcy. The lead paint industries, asbestos industries are examples of this.

                            What is most unfortunate about Roundup, tobacco, Diethylstilbestrol, asbestos, lead, BPA or any number of products, is that they disproportionately harm the poor and disproportionately benefit the wealthy.

                            The lesson learned is, it is better to harm millions rather than individuals and it is is better for that harm to manifest in years rather than months. That confluence brings great profit and minimized responsibility.

                            1. re: Pookipichu

                              this is probably one of the most deeply-disturbing posts I've ever read.

                              Very well written, and scares the living hell out of me.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Speaking of corporate America. No, no reason to be skeptical at all... I especially like the "doctor recommended" cigarettes....

                                 
                                 
                                 
                                 
                                 
                                 
                              2. re: Pookipichu

                                you guys are so smart! I love it. thanks for the info.

                          2. re: sal_acid

                            I think they're in the same boat due to the huge influence of the companies behind them and what happens to anyone that speaks out about them...just look at what happened to Dr. Tom Jefferson, lead researcher of vaccines at Cochrane, when he dared to suggest there was no good evidence to support seasonal flu vaccine campaigns and zero evidence that flu vaccines have any effect on complications or transmission, this after Cochrane analyzed hundreds of studies, all of a sudden the usual suspects refer to him as an antivaccine loon.

                            Don't F with industry, we'll ruin your livelihood.

                          3. GMOs are simply another step in the mechanized green revolution that arguably started with the Haber process to produce artificial fertilizer. The genie is out of the bottle.

                            Nestle', Boeing, Toyota, Cargill, ad nauseum have all had unforeseen direct and indirect effects around the world. Ask local hardware stores about Home Depot, or down town businesses about Walmart. And let us not forget the economic fallout of those 100 lb. bales of clothing sold by Goodwill throughout the world. It has destroyed a cash crop, cotton, and local industry. Cotton mills and clothing factories, to be specific.

                            We have so adapted some foods that they cannot even survive without human intervention. Bananas and some breeds of cattle immediately spring to mind. So for those who want to throw their sabots into the machinery of the food industry, please ensure that it only impacts yourself, and not me.

                              1. In principle, I have nothing against GMO's. That is in principle, in regard to the technology. Bacteria and viruses have been transferring genes between species for a long time...plenty of viral genes in your own DNA. I'm OK with using GMO technology for adding ability to produce extra nutrients, like "golden rice". My objection to GMO's, in practice, is that it is used primarily for glyphosate resistance and BT production. I really don't want to eat produce that was bathed in Round-Up. While I'm not afraid of consuming BT, I do not like the contribution that BT producing plants have made to creating BT resistance, and killing non-target species.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: EricMM

                                  Roundup is much safer than the herbicides which preceded it, even though it may not be entirely risk-free. The Environmental Protection Agency is aware of the potential hazards of some ingredients of Roundup and similar herbicides and studies them. Some people don't trust the EPA to do an adequate job of protecting the environment and the public, but the fact is that we are a lot better off than we were before its creation.

                                  1. re: GH1618

                                    I'll be the first to defend Round-up. Without it, my yard would be covered with invasive bittersweet and porcelainberry. But I don't want it on my food. I won't use it in my vegetable garden, and do not like the thought that my soy products came from plants literally bathed in it.