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Genetically Modified (GM) Foods

What is your attitude toward genetically modified foods?
Are you confident ithey are safe?
Is it accepable to alter "Mother Nature"?
Do you even care?
Do you trust the science or do you worry there may there be long term "frankenstein" consequences?

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  1. Where I am in the world, they are not permitted in parts of the country. I hope that continues and extends, although my government is under pressure from the mainly American-owned agri-chem business to alter the law. I hope the government tells the likes of Monsanto to just fuck off. But I suspect they won't.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      In Japan, where I live, quite a number of food processors proudly state "non-GMO" on ingredient lists, and overall most Japanese consumers are very wary of GMO foodstuffs.

      1. re: Tripeler

        They "proudly state" it because they believe consumers will respond to it, not because there are known dangers that they're avoiding. It's not like it means "cancer-free" or "healthy", it's just a marketing tool that they believe will help sell the product.

    2. My main concern about GMO crops is their potentially sterlising effect on nearby wild-pollinated non-GMO crops. That would be actionable harm to farmers of the non-GMO crops, and one potentially effective path to remediation would involved the certification of a class action litigation (particularly if insurers have had to pay those farmers).

      Other than that, there's far too much pseudo-science nattering on the issue.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Karl S

        So far, courts have consistently found in Monsanto's favor when their GMO seed contaminates organic fields.

        1. re: Enigma3

          and even on other issues regarding their products.
          after all, a supreme court justice, Clarence Thomas used to work for them and now doesn't recuse himself from judging cases to which they are a party.

        2. re: Karl S

          i believe that the government has taken steps to protect Monsanto from any sort of responsibility for it's actions.
          there is an unholy alliance of cooperation between the US government and Monsanto so that Monsanto has been granted judicial shields, whereas the farmers that are resisting GMOs are not, in any way, being afforded protection.
          watch the movie, FOOD, INC.
          to get an idea about how this is going down.
          i believe it can be viewed on netflix

          1. re: Karl S

            Here's a link to a document from the USDA/APHIS which illustrates how the concern you raise here is considered by the regulatory body:

            http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdo...

            1. re: Karl S

              Here's a link to a related document which refutes the assertion that courts always rule in favor of Monsanto:

              http://www.aphis.usda.gov/biotechnolo...

            2. Genetic modification can occur by means of natural processes, traditional selective breeding, or engineering. Presumably you mean only the last.

              Genetic Engineering is a process, not the product. Whether the product of GE is safe depends on what proteins are produced by the GE organism. Harmful proteins can also be introduced by selective breeding or by natural processes. The National Academies of Science have determined that the risk of GE organisms being harmful is no different than for new varieties of organisms produced in other ways.

              To answer your questions directly:

              My attitude toward GE foods is positive. GE has enabled food producers to produce more food with less reliance on poisons, which is a great benefit.

              I am confident that any GE food product which has been tested and approved for human consumption is as safe as a food product developed by traditional methods.

              Humans have been altering "Mother Nature" throughout the history of civilization. This is what defines civilization and separates civilized humans from their hunter-gatherer forebears.

              I do not care if an ingredient in food I consumed was developed by GE or not. I do care that food producers are trying to produce more and better food with less reliance on poisonous pesticides and I support it.

              I trust scientists far more than any of the self-anointed watchdog groups of ill-informed laymen who promote fear of genetic engineering.

              There are long term consequences to many human activities, some of which are worth worrying about far more than GE. Frankenstein's monster did not lead to long term consequences, so is not a good analogy. I wonder whether you have read the book.

              18 Replies
              1. re: GH1618

                I must take issue with much of what you say.

                First, your assertion that fewer poisons are used in GE crops is not borne out by the facts. Reference: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpo...

                Second, the safety of GMOs cannot and should not be inferred from two decades of use. The fact that some scientists cannot determine any risks does not confer safety.

                Third, those promoting the production of GMOs are the ones that are most opposed to the labeling of same. In and of itself, that should raise a few red flags.

                Fourth, as a former organic farmer, I really have difficulty in turning over our food supply and means of production to corporate interests. Agriculture has always been local and personal. The never-ending push to bigger and more centralized is a great impediment to the ability of peoples to provide for their own needs, using their own wisdom and inputs. Check the rate of debt suicide in India pursuant to the use of corporate GMO crops.

                Fifth, while the fictional character of Frankenstein's monster did not in the book lead to long term consequences, the existence of the book and of the notion that we can potentially mess with the natural world with impunity, can and has led to many unintended consequences.

                1. re: slacker1

                  slacker: here is another cite that backs up (confirms) your fact:

                  GMO crops have led to an increase in use of pesticides and herbicides. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, February 2014.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Pesticide use has increased because of the great success of glyphosate as a herbicide (herbicides are pesticides). The important fact which you neglect to mention is that the usage of persistent organic pesticides, which are far more harmful, is way down. Some have been banned entirely, the best known being DDT and 2,4,5-T, for example.

                    1. re: GH1618

                      The market report on glyphosate that I linked earlier said that the use of generic glyphosate (it is no longer a sole Monsanto product) is increasing in other countries (like China and India), but that there is a move in the USA (and presumably also Europe) toward 'integrated weed management'.

                      http://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pes...
                      " the combination of multiple management tools to reduce a pest population to an acceptable level while preserving the quality of existing habitat, water, and other natural resources"

                2. re: GH1618

                  I'm sorry, Mother Jones is not a scientifically reviewed publication. GMO opponents usually quote unreliable sources and make unsubstantiated charges. GH has summarized the situation well. If you want to boost organic farming, you must also take into account some of its problems. For instance, see:
                  http://www.examiner.com/article/organ...

                  I am sympathetic to the plight of small farmers, but the world population may have already exceeded the ability of small farms to feed it.

                  1. re: DonShirer

                    "I am sympathetic to the plight of small farmers, but the world population may have already exceeded the ability of small farms to feed it."

                    That's actually a very misleading statement. One of the "hidden" issues that is rarely discussed is how much food is wasted in this country and around the world, how much overconsumption there is in the developed nations (i.e. eating more food than necessary to maintain a healthy body weight). We don't need GMOs to produce enough food.

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

                    1. re: Pookipichu

                      And don't forget the fact that our benevolent government actually PAYS FARMERS NOT TO FARM!!!

                      1. re: PotatoHouse

                        What's wrong with that? Farming is a risky business. If the farmers plant a lot, and harvest is good, supply exceeds demand, and prices drop. If the harvest is poor, prices are high, but the farmers have little to sell. Either way they could end up in debt. Debt will put the little guy out of business a whole lot sooner than the big well financed corporation.

                        1. re: paulj

                          But are you looking at it as it relates to Pookipichu's statement, "I am sympathetic to the plight of small farmers, but the world population may have already exceeded the ability of small farms to feed it." and the ridiculous absurdity of our government sending literally billions of dollars in foreign aid to starving countries while paying farmers millions NOT to grow crops?

                          1. re: PotatoHouse

                            Direct food aid is great in emergency situations, including refugee camps. But it is not good long term help when hunger is the result of poverty.

                            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03...
                            Article about problems caused by cheap food imports and abundant food aid.

                    2. re: DonShirer

                      You are right; Mother Jones is not a reviewed publication, but the article I cited was based on such a paper. It presented the findings in a form accessible to us common folk, who don't have access to journals behind pay walls.

                      Second, your article is very narrow in scope. It deals with greenhouses in Israel. The author states that the comparison was between conventional and organic methods of production, but I don't see where the organic certification of those operators is cited. There are many that can claim to be organic, but have not fulfilled the necessary certifications to really be so. This is particularly true in the USA where almost anyone can claim to be organic, while not coming anywhere near. Also, the references cited in the article seem to me to be highly one sided in favour of GMOs, which in turn suggests that the publication is a greenwash operation.

                      1. re: slacker1

                        Here's a more recent take on GMOs (re: misplaced alarmism) from Mother Jones:

                        http://www.motherjones.com/environmen...

                      2. re: DonShirer

                        DonShirer: your conjecture on this subject is not borne out by the World Health Organization's study which came out this month.

                        maybe you should take a little time to look at the research. it would be a lot easier for you if you would actually avail yourself of any of the many solid compilations that are around instead of turning up your nose at them. anyway, here is the primary cite:

                        Small-Scale, organic farming needed to feed the world. U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Wake Up Before It Is Too Late, December 2013

                      3. re: GH1618

                        "I trust scientists far more than any of the self-anointed watchdog groups of ill-informed laymen who promote fear of genetic engineering."
                        I believe you must be referring to corporately owned scientists as many many independent scientists are not allowed to do research on monsanto's 'products'. Nor do many scientists buy into the safety of GM foods - Scientists usually like to have lots of independent verifications - there are no independent studies of GM foods.
                        From my point of view, Anti-labeling of any foods is extremely suspicious.

                        1. re: ElsieB

                          If you ask any university trained plant scientist with absolutely no connections to Monsanto or other corporations, the overwhelming majority are pro GMO just as the majority of climate scientists believe in Global warming. People on the right don't believe the climate scientists and people on the left don't believe the plant scientists about GMOs.

                          Forgetting about Monsanto etc., GMO simply is taking a gene from one organism and sticking it into the genome of a different one. Unless the gene you splice is dangerous (and there are dangerous genes, for example the genes that produce ricin in castor) the technology is not inherently dangerous.

                          Look humans have been genetically modifying plants for a long time. It's in our blood. You are not going to find corn or cauliflower in the wild. GMO is just the newest tool people are using.

                          Should it be labeled? I believe so. People should be educated so they understand the technology and then decide for themselves.

                          Should people be questioning the current GMO crops? Yes. But don't lump GMO with Monsanto and turn GMO into a bogie man.

                          1. re: ElsieB

                            Food products are rarely labeled as to variety. There are some exceptions, such as fresh apples. App,esauce is not labeled as to the variety of apples contained therein. A GMO is just a variety. I'm sure the variety of GMO seed is labeled when sold to a farmer. He is the one who needs to know.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              Yes but labeling and educating people would diffuse the controversy.

                              1. re: GH1618

                                GMO is not "just a variety". There are far, far, more issues to the GMO controversy..
                                If you believe this whole issue is over "just another variety", then it is crystal clear why you can't get beyond your own canned assertions on this subject.

                            1. I am not convinced they are safe.
                              I am not convinced going down the GMO path is wise or necessary.
                              I care.
                              I am thoroughly convinced Monsanto wants us to believe otherwise.
                              I am thoroughly convinced Monsanto is dangerous.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sedimental

                                I concur on all points, with the addition that i conscienciously avoid GMO foods as much as possible because i do not want my $ to support them, or the monopoly of Montsano and their ethically questionable business.

                                I also very strongly believe GMO foods should be labeled as such so that the consumer can make their own choice.