HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


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.:


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

    16 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.


                  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: 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.

                2. 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.

                              2. GMO's are probably the best breakthrough we can offer the third world in regards to hunger and affordable food sources. So I think they are a good thing.

                                For myself, I am not young, by the time any effects of GMO's would manifest themselves I am sure I would have other more serious health problems.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: NekoNekoFancyPants

                                  that holds no water...the fact that you probably won't see any ill effects doesn't mean no one else will....and I'm guessing that you really don't want to see your children/nieces and nephews/friends' children suffer health problems.

                                  there's also the inherent problems with monoculture to consider, not to mention the business practices of those most avidly engaging in the promotion of GMO.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    I am sorry hunger and affordable food trump all issues you have mentioned.


                                    Watch this please. I would much rather take my life views from a Norman Borlaug then some sensationalists with little to no data backing up claims of harm.

                                    Quote: "You cannot build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery."

                                    1. re: NekoNekoFancyPants

                                      So any health risks are okay, so long as they die with full bellies?

                                      I absolutely agree that feeding those who go to bed hungry is a priority. I do not agree that we should just feed everyone what seems like a good idea at the time, with no concern for the effects of what we might be feeding them.

                                        1. re: sal_acid

                                          I'm more concerned about the effects upon the environment and the food chain....but the fact that health effects haven't yet been irrefutably proven not to exit doesn't mean that they won't show up...this is absolutely unproven technology.

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            When have health effects ever been irrefutably proven not to exist? It's an impossible demand routinely pulled out whenever new technologies are developed.

                                      1. re: NekoNekoFancyPants

                                        With all due respect to Borlaug (and he has a lot of respect due), that video, much like the above article, dodges some of the most problematic aspects of GMOs as they currently exist.

                                        I'd agree that GMO technology shows great promise for dealing with world hunger. Given that world population will almost certainly continue to climb, increasing agricultural yield is not merely a good thing - it's both a necessity and... probably... a foregone conclusion. Genetic modification of crops is one of the most promising ways to increase this yield.

                                        So why am I still worried about GMOs? I'll answer without any reference to negative health effects (any way of increasing yield will likely carry risks, and health risks have not been shown so far in GMOs, despite widespread use) or environmental effects (I don't know enough to comment).

                                        I'm more worried about the economic aspects of GMOs as they currently stand. Monsanto's practice of claiming the rights to all seeds of GMOs and litigating those whose fields are tested positive for GMOs but who haven't bought their seeds has the potential to decimate farming economies in third world nations. We're talking about many people who grow their own seeds not as a matter of preference but as a matter of economic necessity. They can't afford to buy seeds. Hold outs might be faced with litigation, drift from round up spray damaging non-GMO crops, and a dismantling of the local economy based on non-GMO crops under pressure from a huge company that can easily eat losses in order to gain control of a market. Allow GMO crops, and they may soon be the only game in town.

                                        After that, there are some real concerns about whether round-up ready crops as they currently exist are sustainable. For one, the kind of economy I just described tends to lower genetic biodiversity in crops (farmers who don't own their own seeds are unable to breed their own hybrids). Less genetically diverse crops are increasingly vulnerable to diseases. What happens when an area that relies on a very narrow array of crops for their subsistence meets a disease of that crop? Famine. Using economic means to encourage monocultures may well be setting up the next irish potato famine.

                                        Speaking more directly to the issue of sustainability: some evidence shows round-up treated soil becoming less productive over time - even for GMO crops. Lets not forget the lessons we should have learned from DDT.
                                        Admittedly, this is somewhat speculative at this point. But it's at least a bit risky, and Monsanto is quite good at forcing local economies to put all their eggs in one basket.

                                        I get the impression that Borlaug is talking mainly about the promise of GMO technology, and possibly the good work a few agencies are doing to use GMO technology to genuinely help solve problems. He's probably right in this respect. But remember that he's also speculating (as am I - the long term effects of GMOs on third world farming economies or agricultural yields are essentially unknown at this time). Many areas that might benefit from GMO technology in theory are very wary of allowing it because they are rightfully afraid of the business practices of the main source of GMO crops.

                                        Below I'll link an article that's not especially scientific, but does point out the plight of some people facing very real food shortages with a possible GMO solution. The solution was engineered by scientists within their own country, but they're so worried about the business practices of Monsanto that they are wary of allowing any genetically modified crops.

                                        1. re: NekoNekoFancyPants

                                          You keep saying that the health and safety of the world's poor is your concern. That's lovely, indeed, but you do realise that GMO corps like Monsanto are responsible for the debilitating debt hitting many of these farmers in the developing world, right? And that these have been linked to the farmer suicides in India (done so as to free families of the debt brought on through these faustian bargains)?
                                          Your overall wish is noble, but don't let it blind you to the very real violence being done.

                                      2. re: NekoNekoFancyPants

                                        The IAASTD's global reports have demonstrated that in almost 20 years GMOs have done NOTHING to prevent famine or hunger and in over 99% of strains have been beaten to yield markers and drought-resistance markers by conventionally bred strains of crops.

                                        A study last year on biotechnologies employed in the US and Canada (transgenic) vs. traditional in Europe at similar latitudes showed that the conventional plots in Europe were using less chemicals and experiencing higher yields.

                                        The 30 year Farming Systems Trail ongoing at the Rodale Institute in PA has shown that while conventional farming using synthetic pesticides showed initial yield increases during the first couple years, the other two plots which were organic legume and organic animal plots caught up at the five year marker and from that point on exceeded the conventional chemical plot in yields, the disparity of which GREW during years most resembling drought conditions. The FST introduced GMO crops several years ago with similar results.

                                        If our goal is to alleviate hunger with great yields and cheap crops, how can GMO be considered a "breakthrough"? The science simply doesn't support that. GMOs are great for one thing, owning the food chain, Monsanto's #1 goal. People aren't going to stop eating, what better way to make money?

                                      3. I guess I am really naive. I am shocked that anyone can support the widespread use of GMOs.

                                        4 Replies
                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                            Isn't it ridiculous? A woman would need to eat, what, 19 pounds of Golden Rice or something like that to get adequate Vitamin A vs. just a small portion of sweet potato. Money talks, science walks. From the study on Golden Rice by the University of Iowa:

                                            "Even if golden rice is successfully introduced … a woman would need to eat 16 lbs. of cooked rice every day in order to get sufficient Vitamin A, if golden rice were her only source of the nutrient. A child would need 12 lbs.

                                            More realistically, three servings of 1/2 lb. cooked golden rice per day would provide only 10% of her daily Vitamin A requirement, and less than 6% if she were breast-feeding. Yet even these modest contributions are uncertain. In order to absorb beta carotene, the human body requires adequate amounts of zinc, protein and fats, elements often lacking in the diets of poor people.

                                            Those with diarrhea – common in developing countries – are also unable to obtain vitamin A from golden rice."

                                            1. re: dobyblue

                                              How old is your study?
                                              Here's the latest version. 23 times more vitamin A.
                                              Definitely not ridiculous anymore.

                                              Science: it improves things!

                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                Good science improves things, bad science doesn't, there is a HUGE difference.

                                                Unless people in Africa have suddenly changed their diet to include adequate amounts of zinc, protein and fats as well as eliminating diarrhea then I'm not sure how the age of the Iowa study would be relevant.

                                                What people in the developing world need in order to receive ample dietary vitamin A is access to a diverse range of nutritious foods -- including animal products like eggs, cheese and meat and vegetables such as dark leafy greens and sweet potatoes. This is the type of diet that is attained from biodiverse farming -- the opposite of what will occur if GM crops like golden rice get planted on a large scale.

                                        1. The world population could not be fed without modern agriculture. GMOs are just one of many advances in agriculture which have improved productivity. An important benefit of GMOs is that they have enabled the reduced usage of pesticides which harm the environment.

                                          As for the potential harm of GMOs themselves, the risk has been studied by the (US) National Academies of Sciences which have determined that there is no difference in the risks associated with GMOs compared to conventional breeding of new varieties. They may be safer, because GMO varieties must be tested and approved. A GMO is merely a product of a particular process. There is nothing inherent in the process which is harmful. If there is a harmful result, it is due to the particular proteins present in the product, not the process. When GMOs are tested, it is these proteins which are the subject of interest, not the process itself. If a GMO does not contain proteins which are not already in our food, then there is no consequence to the fact that they were produced by genetic engineering.

                                          Fear of GMOs is as irrational as fear of vaccination, another target of the scientifically illiterate.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            100% agree, GH.

                                            I am an "International Food Security Policy" major in university right now, with a second major in "Human Nutrition".
                                            GMOs are not a point of contention anymore within either realm of study. Academia fully supports and encourages the use of GMOs and other hybridization efforts. Though they are not vital to feeding the U.S. population, they bring down food prices (along with the use of subsidies.. which are the real issue here, but that's a discussion for another thread), and could be the saving grace for the developing world.

                                            Younger generations appear to be more accepting of the utilization of genetic modifications in agriculture. We often complete surveys on the first day of class for the professors to "get to know" their selection of students for the semester. One question (in classes for either major) are always on GMOs. When results are posted, nearly 100% of students accept and encourage the use of GMO's.

                                            Of course, they do have some negative effects such as decreasing biodiversity... but selective breeding has been doing that since before Norman Borlaug's time.

                                            Would I choose to live in a world without big agribusiness ventures that participate in monoculture ventures? Sure, but with globalization comes "mcdonaldization" of society in nearly every aspect, including agriculture. It's part of our nation's development.

                                            1. re: OhioHound


                                              Reports of the death of scientific contention have been greatly exaggerated.

                                              Also important to note, Monsanto has used patent law to prevent independent scientists from studying their crops directly. Part of the contract for buying Monsanto's seeds involves agreeing not to subject them to independent research.

                                              1. re: OhioHound

                                                I have to wonder why if so many young people don't care about GMO as suggested, then why is the industry fighting so hard to prevent labeling

                                                  1. re: GH1618


                                                    I have to wonder why if so many young people don't care about GMO as suggested, then why is the industry fighting so hard to prevent labeling

                                                    1. re: thimes

                                                      It was a duplicate of another post of mine, which the mods seem to have removed. So you've been denied the explanation.

                                              2. re: GH1618

                                                Irony: calling those who disagree with you 'illiterate' (scientifically illiterate in this case, but still) without bothering to read their concerns or respond to them in any meaningful way.

                                              3. Our Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are individuals, and there is a word for individuals who are dedicated solely to acquisitiveness and avarice. I agree that there are innumerable cases in which Monsanto's conduct has been appalling: greedy, inhumane and deceptive.

                                                But setting that issue entirely aside for the moment, I have two thoughts about GMOs:

                                                1) It is a recognized fact in the scientific community and generally unknown to the public at large that every case of transgenic engineering has produced unforeseen side effects along with the intended results. Some of these effects have been minor, some have not, and many have not immediately become apparent, being detected only after some time has passed or a second or third generation has been tested. But they have accompanied every attempt, almost without exception. Genes are interactive in ways that are barely beginning to be understood, and I think the attempt to create artificial organisms by treating them like a child's building blocks is not merely simplistic, but somewhat reckless. It ignores the possibility of future consequences, unsuspected by those who think only in the short term and focus narrowly on each product individually, without considering context or the implications of any broader impact.

                                                A literate and perceptive essay by Craig Holdrege on the subject, including rigorous scientific documentation, can be read here:

                                                2) Feeding a hungry world is often used as a persuasive and emotionally resonant argument for justifying further expansion of the GMO juggernaut. And it completely ignores the reality that more food already is produced in the world than needed to feed everybody. This is more an economic issue than an agricultural one. People are starving not because there isn't enough food but because they are poor. Hunger is not uncommon even here in the USA, in the midst of plenty. And widespread conversion to GMO crops is in fact enriching corporate powers and their shareholders at the expense of the very people they claim to be helping.

                                                I know I am echoing the comments of others somewhat. Also it irritates me to sound so strident; some will doubtless dismiss my opinions as the ideological rantings of a political protester.

                                                Still, can any reasonable person deny that world hunger has far more to do with poverty than it does with seeds?

                                                The Nature Institute has a more wide-ranging exploration of this topic than I ever could have managed: http://www.natureinstitute.org/txt/ch...

                                                And they have a section devoted entirely to the unintended effects of gene manipulation, with many pages on the subject that are insightfully written and scientifically grounded, with copious references.

                                                As in other areas of research, highly publicized studies funded with vast sums of money by industry and government often seem to be at odds with little-known independently financed science. And it has also sometimes happened that big budget studies which failed to support the desired conclusions were discontinued, with their results unpublished and essentially suppressed. Go figure.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                  Could not agree more. So much food is wasted every day in restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, etc. In this world, there is enough food produced already to give every person a nutritious meal, without GMOs. It is human greed that makes others go hungry. You have government manipulation of inflation numbers so that policies that create further inflation are supportable. You have military tyrants or other corrupt individuals that seize food aid then sell it to the very people it was donated to. You have GMO propaganda offering a magic bullet, but there is no magic bullet. They simply prey on human compassion and kindness to further their own goals of maximizing profit at the expense of environmental health and unforeseen human consequences. The issue is not producing more food, it's about addressing corruption and the desire of people to make profit off food with no regard for human suffering.

                                                2. To this point it is not the increased yield that is the problem, it is Monsanto's sick, sordid agenda to implant Roundup (Glyphosate) in the seed. It does not break down, as Monsanto states, it travels through the seed, into the plant, and then into whomever eats said plant. Monsanto has been ruthless in preventing scientific studies on Roundup in the US. But now, finally, rigid testing is being carried out in Europe and the results are not pretty. See the attached article. And don't be ignorant and dismiss these studies just because they originate in Europe

                                                  Roundup, implanted into the seed, is a killer. It produces massive tumors in lab rats and seriously messes up a woman's reproductive system. It has been banned in all European countries except two, Great Britain and Spain. Roundup (read Monsanto seed) is banned in almost all Asian countries. If you want to get a good handle on how bad it is, it is even banned in China. Also banned in Russia.

                                                  So think about it. We have a very real disaster in the making and a huge dilemma now. If you buy any soybean, wheat or corn product made from USA grown Monsanto seed, you will injest Roundup. Any bread or pasta. Any tortilla shells, any rice. Now try to avoid it.

                                                  I source all our pasta from Italy. All our rice from southeast Asia. I buy Italian sourced flour and try to avoid bread made from USA grown wheat, but that's near impossible. And I ask "is this grown from GMO seed?" all the time now.

                                                  Monsanto has many, many friends in Congress so it will be a long, hard fight to get Roundup removed from USA seed. Last summer there was a worldwide march against Monsanto with over 2 million people participating in many capitol cities around the world. Did you hear ANYTHING about that? No, you heard nothing. That is Monsanto's friends, the lamestream media, censoring the news for their friends. I could go on and on about Monsanto, but this is enough for now. As another poster said, this is the most disturbing topic ever brought up on Chowhound.

                                                  There are three parts to the cited article. each part is equally disturbing.


                                                  17 Replies
                                                  1. re: Enigma3

                                                    "... It is even banned in China."

                                                    Not true. China is a big producer and user of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.


                                                    There have been bans of particular formulations of glyphosate, which is probably the basis of this myth.

                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                      Glyphosate 10% SL is banned in China. Diluted glyphosate is still legal in China but the prognosis for further use in China is, fortunately, not good. Did you read any of the article I referenced?

                                                    2. re: Enigma3

                                                      If you're sourcing all your rice from Southeast Asia, I pity you.
                                                      I refuse to buy muddy rice, most all of it is contaminated.

                                                      I'm no friend to monsanto, but please beware of NATURAL pollutants.

                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                        I'll take "dirty" rice from Thailand over USA sourced rice with glyphosate ANY day. I have cooked many, many pounds of Jasmine rice with no dirt seen. Go ahead. Poison yourself. But include me out.

                                                      2. re: Enigma3

                                                        You might want to checkout Lundberg rice, all their rice products are certified by the Non-GMO Project and they offer many eco-farmed and organic options too.


                                                        Stance on GMO - http://www.lundberg.com/Commitment/Gm...

                                                        We proudly use non-GMO ingredients in our food. Just as the use of non-GMO ingredients has not raised the price of our foods, the addition of non-GMO labeling to our packaging has not, and will not, increase the cost of our products.

                                                        (Note that this directly flies in the face of the lies the pro-GMO groups tell you when they spend millions and millions of dollars to defeat labeling bills)

                                                        1. re: dobyblue

                                                          Thanks for this info. I will check it out. It would be great to find a grower in the USA that grows non-GMO rice.

                                                        2. re: Enigma3

                                                          Glyphosate is not implanted into the seed. It is simply a gene...forget whether it codes for an enzyme, or blocks production of an enzyme. But the end result is that the glyphosate taken up by the plant will not interfere with amino acid metabolism, allowing the plant to live. I may not be right on all the details, but these GMO plants do not produce their own glyphosate.

                                                          1. re: EricMM

                                                            The plants do not produce their own glyphosate and you are right, it is implanted in the plant genetics. and it is then injested by the person who eats the plant.

                                                            There are many studies out there now that confirm the worst - glyphosate is nothing but BAD for the body.

                                                            1. re: Enigma3

                                                              I'm not aware of any crop that produces it's own glyphosate, perhaps you're thinking of BT toxin?

                                                              1. re: Enigma3

                                                                Glyphosate is not in the plant, it is in the herbicide applied to the plant. This is basic.

                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                  Yes, the implanted gene allows the plants to survive even after absorbing glyphosate.

                                                                  The relevant issue is how much of the stuff remains in the final product. The question of what harmful effects glyphosate can have on human beings- and what levels of exposure will cause them- remains unanswered for now.

                                                                  I expect we'll end up with official determinations which tell us authoritatively, as they have concerning countless other unhealthy substances, that small amounts are safe and only quantities sufficient to cause immediate and drastic harm are worth addressing. A certain incidence of disease and even death is to be considered acceptable. Nothing to be concerned about, folks; it's just unfortunate collateral damage in the noble cause of feeding our great nation. (Insert stirring patriotic music here.) In Washington this would be seen as perfectly legitimate- a viable compromise instead of an outright ban which could be expensive and politically difficult.

                                                              2. re: EricMM

                                                                I should say this too. Monsanto, take out the glyphosate gene from the GMO seed and I would support you more. Higher yield - fine. Drought resistance - great. Implanting a pesticide or herbicide - shame on you. No donut for you.

                                                                1. re: Enigma3

                                                                  They don't have higher yields or better drought resistance though, very little promises about GMO have come to fruition. Read "Failure to Yield" or any of the IAASTD's global reports.

                                                                  1. re: Enigma3

                                                                    Your argument would be stronger if you weren't spouting blatant mistruths throughout this thread

                                                                  2. re: EricMM

                                                                    Correct. These plants have a gene introduced that makes them glyphosate tolerant. The whole idea behind this is so a farmer can use this product without damaging their crop.

                                                                    Unfortunately, this comes with a price. Because weeds/pests become more tolerant due to next generation survival after exposure, more glyphosate needs to be used in time. It also makes for much less discriminate herbicide treatment, which means more runoff into vulnerable areas, such as watersheds.

                                                                    It's interesting that glyphosate is found to be an endocrine disruptor. It could very well be one of the greater reasons that obesity is such an epidemic.

                                                                    1. re: jammy

                                                                      And with new superbugs and superweeds being the gift to farmers of the biotech industry their solution is now to create crops tolerant to even more powerful, environmentally catastrophic poisons...cue 2,4-D resistant crops! The active ingredient in Agent Orange.

                                                                      Where will we be by 2050? Monsanto has been a scourge on this planet for 100 years, changing from a poison company to an "agricultural" company hasn't changed them one bit.

                                                                      1. re: dobyblue

                                                                        Fast forward to a world where only "super-plants" are hardy enough to survive and provide food. Super-plants that are resistant to advanced Monsanto pesticides and the pesticide resistant insects and microbes that have eradicated non-Monsanto plants. Super-plants that are the intellectual property of Monsanto and require a fee to be grown and distributed. All food is the intellectual property of Monsanto and the ground is too toxic to grow non-Monsanto plants. This is the sweet, sweet dream of Monsanto executives.

                                                                2. I am always curious as to the background, employment, and associations of those that want to promote GMOs and not allow labeling - motives motives motives.

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ElsieB

                                                                    When people resort to impugning the motives of those who disagree with them, I assume it is because they lack substantive arguments on the merits of a question.  It is unreasonable to expect that in a large, pluralistic society, everyone will agree with you unless paid to do otherwise.

                                                                    Opposing mandatory labeling of food products containing GMOs is not the same as promoting GMOs.  I don't promote anything except a rational, science-based approach to solving problems.  I oppose foolishness and coercion, both of which I believe characterize attempts to force GMO labeling on food producers through state or local initiatives.  I support the various (US) federal agencies which, in the half-century since Silent Spring, have done a good, if imperfect, job in regulating food production to protect the health of consumers and the environment.

                                                                    Although not a "promoter" of GMOs, I don't mind giving my background, as I have nothing to hide.  I am a retired engineer on no payroll at all.  In my entire life I have never worked in any part of the food production industry, nor for any government agency regulating any part of the food production industry.  I do not know and have never known anyone connected with the production or regulation of food apart from my grandmother's vegetable garden.  I do admit to having been a consumer of food all my life, a practice I hope to continue for some time to come.

                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                      It just amazes me that when it comes to unadulterated food, which we label "organic", it involves expensive licensing and producer-funded inspections, but corporations can jam whatever genes and proteins and antibiotics and whatall into our food with no labeling required whatsoever.

                                                                      "Organic" food is the conventional food. Industrial foodstuffs need to be labeled so we as consumers can understand how they are different from the real thing.

                                                                      1. re: ennuisans

                                                                        Labeling destroys tropical forests.
                                                                        I often buy unlabeled, organic coffee.
                                                                        (Nobody in Ethiopia's heard of doing it any other way!)

                                                                      2. re: GH1618

                                                                        "When people resort to impugning the motives of those who disagree with them, I assume it is because they lack substantive arguments on the merits of a question. It is unreasonable to expect that in a large, pluralistic society, everyone will agree with you unless paid to do otherwise"
                                                                        Dude, you've been throwing everyone who disagrees with you in a boat with Jenny Mccarthy and the anti-vaccine people since your first posts on this thread. If you want substantive, non-rhetorical posts, you know where to start.

                                                                        Beyond that, ElsieB made a perfectly valid point anyway - are you going to pretend that corporate interests don't hold enormous sway in the government (especially), as well as in the media, funding for research, etc? Monsanto, particularly, holds huge lobbying sway and has former associates in the supreme court (Thomas), former secretary of Agriculture and former Secretary of the USDA (Veneman), former Secretary of Defense (Rumsfeld), just to name a few.

                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                          Here's a great illustration of government/Monsanto employees - http://occupymonsanto.files.wordpress...

                                                                          (It's very large)

                                                                          1. re: dobyblue

                                                                            Add former U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln, former chair of the Senate agriculture committee. The web of influence that money has bought is stunning.

                                                                    2. In Kauai, this is a huge issue with the Monsanto company and they have armed guards at some of their facilities.

                                                                      Kauai is the perfect setting to plant since there is no chance of cross pollination of other plants for over 3,000 miles of open ocean.

                                                                      There are GMO Free Kauai signs everywhere.
                                                                      Natives are very connected to their land and are very apprised on the situation.

                                                                      1. An outstanding New Yorker article, whose points are also obligingly illustrated in this here CH discussion.

                                                                        "As early as 1979, the psychologist Paul Slovic, who has been studying our perceptions of risk since the nineteen-fifties, pointed out that, when it comes to new, unknown technologies, data always loses out to emotion... Once an initial opinion is formed, Slovic continues, it is very difficult to shift it with new evidence: the exact same piece of information—say, additional data on the effects of G.M.O.s on a natural ecosystem—can be interpreted in opposing ways, depending on your starting point."

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: eatzalot

                                                                          Is that a fancy way of saying "preaching to the choir"? :-)

                                                                        2. http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/grocer...

                                                                          It is likely that your hard cheese is made with an enzyme made by GMO organisms - unless the cheese is made with natural rennin, extracted from the stomachs of suckling calves.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                            Opposition to GMO technologies almost always refers to transgenic crops. That science is totally different than what happens with cheese.

                                                                            If you wish to avoid this though you can stick to certified organic cheese.

                                                                          2. Connecticut just passed a law mandating the labeling of GMO's. This is obviously a polarizing topic. There's a lot of misinformation, bad, speculative science. here's an article from an iconic magazine, Scientific American, that I found informative.What I took from it was GMO's are a risk/reward issue.Do we want to feed more of the world's people, cheaper, with the risk of finding out down the road that GMO's are truly dangerous? Personally, I don't have an issue with eating GMO altered produce but maybe I have my head in the sand.

                                                                            16 Replies
                                                                            1. re: zackly

                                                                              Except that in the long run conventional and organic farming have demonstrated better yields with less harmful effects on the environment. Did you know that the Rodale Institute in PA has been growing two types of organic farm plots (legume and animal) and a conventional plot for the last 30+ years, GMO crops in the conventional one for the last almost 10 years, and their results can be found here - http://rodaleinstitute.org/our-work/f...

                                                                              The IAASTD's global reports demonstrate that in 20 years transgenic crops have done nothing to alleviate world famine and nothing to stand alone in terms of yields from conventional crops.

                                                                              Yes, we want to feed more of the world's people, but long-term studies have shown that GMO crops are not the way to do it. This is completely ignoring the science showing how detrimental this type of chemical farming is to the mycorrhyzial funghi in the soil.

                                                                              1. re: zackly

                                                                                Not sure what's informative about that piece, it sounds like it was written by Michael Taylor.

                                                                                1. re: dobyblue

                                                                                  Don't know Mr.Taylor but let me guess, he works for Monsanto?

                                                                                  I defer your your knowledge of the subject but if your getting your facts from Rodale Press they have a well earned reputation as environmental/social "kooks" and by no means objective on any subject.

                                                                                  1. re: zackly

                                                                                    M Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine

                                                                                    1. re: zackly

                                                                                      They have that reputation only amongst those with huge financial conflicts of interest within the industry that stands to lose the most by Rodale's very scientific methods.

                                                                                      As for Michael Taylor, "paulj" is telling you his most recent position, he has actually held several positions within the FDA and several positions within Monsanto over the last 20+ years, including being the VP of Monsanto's Washington office. When he first went from Monsanto to the federal government he wrote the guidelines which have been used for some 20 years now on how to approve GMO crops, which is to treat them as though they were regular crops! He's definitely a big asset for Monsanto. His most recent appointments have been made by Barack Obama, Monsanto's current #1 lobbyist, but would have been no different had the corporate fascist puppet in the red tie beaten the corporatist fascist puppet in the blue tie.

                                                                                      Science was corrupted many years ago, that's the sad truth. This is how Vioxx killed over 50,000 people after being "fast tracked" for approval by the FDA. Michael Taylor is just one example of the "revolving door" between government and industry, there are many in every sector. Just look at Meredith Atwell-Baker, convinced everyone in her position at the FCC to approve the merger between NBC/Comcast/Universal then took a cushty job with the new merged company as senior government liason or some rubbish title like that. Dr. Julie Gerberding, screamed about how safe the MMR was in her position as director of the CDC, speaking predominantly at Merck-funded events, now her position is "Head of Vaccines" at Merck Pharmaceuticals.

                                                                                      There's no conspiracy here, it's just BUSINESS/MONEY.

                                                                                    2. re: dobyblue

                                                                                      Anti-GMO and GMO labeling is one of the liberal causes that does not have strong support among scientists.


                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                        It does have support across the entire European Union. They have their own scientists to justify their position.

                                                                                        1. re: calumin



                                                                                          Why has EFSA only issued favourable opinions on GMOs?
                                                                                          EFSA’s GMO Panel scrutinises each application according to extensive criteria laid down in EFSA’s GMO guidance documents. To date, GMO applications received by EFSA have been of a generally high scientific standard. Nevertheless, in 95 % of the cases, the GMO Panel has asked the applicant to supply more information in order to be able to carry out a full risk assessment ....

                                                                                          I do not see on the EFSA website a blanket rejection of GMOs. The approval process appear to be more rigorous than in the USA.

                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                            There is no blanket rejection of GMOs but GMOs have generally not been incorporated into the human food chain in most European countries and EFSA has approved very few GMOs, relatively speaking.

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              They do not represent the scientific consensus in Europe.
                                                                                              Perhaps you missed the 100-strong body of scientists that just recently issued a press release to state that there is definitely NOT scientific consensus on GMO foods being safe for human consumption?


                                                                                              1. re: dobyblue

                                                                                                It would seem to me that GMO's should be looked at on an individual basis regarding safety, based on the genes being transferred, rather than as a blanket whole. As I have posted before, I cannot imagine glyphosate resistant soybeans bathed in herbicide to be safe, nor would I trust plants carrying the Bt gene. On the other hand, I find it hard to believe that "golden rice" could pose any harm.

                                                                                                1. re: dobyblue

                                                                                                  ENSSER appears to be an advocacy group which supported the discredited Séralini study. Something akin to the Union of Concerned Scientists in the US, I suspect.

                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                    The Seralini study hasn't been discredited, unless of course you support discrediting all the studies the biotech industry did using the same strain of rat in short term studies to show safety?

                                                                                                    Here is a list of several hundred researchers, academics and scientists who signed on in support of the Seralini study and several other issues mostly surrounding the atmosphere of fear companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, etc., and not forgetting the pharmaceutical industry of course have instilled in the scientific community during their massive corruption of science as a whole - http://independentsciencenews.org/hea...

                                                                                                    Just because the groups most lobbied/corrupted by said industries and the mainstream rags they control (repeaters, not reporters) say something is discredited, doesn't mean it is.

                                                                                        2. re: zackly

                                                                                          GMO food is strictly regulated in the European Union, so I have to wonder why the editors state that the EU thinks it's super safe. Not to mention the paragraph that cites European consumers choosing not to eat GMO as evidence that labeling reduces choice in the market.

                                                                                          But it's an opinion piece, not news, so they can say what they want how they want.

                                                                                          1. re: zackly

                                                                                            People have pointed out it would be far easier, more healthful and safer to waste less food and move people toward a more vegan and alternative protein diet than to increase use of toxic pesticides and the GMO pesticide resistant plants that they require.