The Future of GM Technology...

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by ULTRA, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Mostly illusion.

    For starters, BT is an insecticide.

    For seconds, the numbers are suspect even without considering the looming resistance problem. The people who manufacture insecticide are not suffering for lack of sales - somebody's using the stuff.

    Third, most of the insecticide used was wasted anyway - industrially cheaper to broadcast than treat infestations, once the operations reach a certain size and type of organization - regardless of long term consequences. That kind of operation is abetted by GM technology. So the essential problem - indiscriminate and overkill broadcast of poison, with all the effects of such behavior including economic - remains.

    What the GM did was expedite the current broadcasting of insecticide operationally necessary in the newfangled industrial model agriculture - by deftly inducing the plants themselves to manufacture BT.

    The BT resistance inevitable in such employment will have the advantage of helping to kill off other, competitive models of agriculture, btw. A side benefit, for Monsanto and DeKalb and the like.

    Lots of plants and other sessile organisms manufacture insecticides, vermicides, fungicides, mammalicides, etc - that's why it's fairly hazardous to just eat plants: that stuff tends to be poisonous.

    We have had thousands of years of experience dealing with the normal plant poisons, and put hundreds of generations of effort into breeding them out of plants - which led to the problem of vulnerability in our domesticated crops - but we have little experience with this new kind of plant manufacturing of new kinds of poisons in genetically brand new ways. We'll find out, as always, by trial and error: let's not risk making the error too big, in the early going, eh? Wisdom counsels prudence.
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  3. ULTRA Realistically Surreal Registered Senior Member

    Ice. As I said later in that post, by the time humans realise they're infected it will be too late for them. That's why I urge caution. Rats are born survivors and are highly successful by being very cautious. I recommend that people learn by observing those gulliable enough to eat this stuff, they're doing us a favour by blindly accepting any inherent risk. We should take full advantage of this. As i've said in previous posts, I do not intend to be any less smart than a common rat!
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  5. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    And yet common Rats eat GM corn....
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  7. ULTRA Realistically Surreal Registered Senior Member

    Because they can't detect a modified genome. You have to start thinking realistically. How can a rat be expected to know that? This premise is entirely false.
  8. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Like your equally absurd statement as your reason for not eating GM food:

    I do not intend to be any less smart than a common rat!

    Because when you say "by the time humans realise they're infected " is ABSURD.

    No one is ever going to become INFECTED by eating GM food.

    Sheesh, I believe even the Rats know that.

  9. leopold Valued Senior Member

    the GM industry knows about the uproar in the EU, all the GM industry needs to do is prove the foods are safe by the peer review process.

    does anyone here have any such peer reviewed reports?
  10. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

    iceaura has some weird ideas surrounding the Bt toxin. For a start, the only time it has been used by broadcast spraying indiscriminately was by the organic agriculture industry, before GM products. That is when the diamondback moth became resistant.

    Having plants produce it, means that it can be used effectively in quantities that are a tiny fraction of what was used before. Thus the side effects of Bt are reduced. Before we had GM, it was only those people who ate organic food who consumed lots of Bt. Today, it is those who eat GM food. The result is the same now. Both groups consume Bt without any harm whatever.

    The Bt toxin is totally and completely biodegradable, and highly specific to insects, meaning very little harmful effect compared to other insecticides. The use of GM crops means a major reduction in other insecticides which may be less biodegradable and less specific. A net gain that is substantial.

    I might also add that the biggest harm of insecticides is to those who apply them carelessly. This is very obvious among poor cotton growers who use simple knapsack sprayers to spray very toxic insecticides on their cotton crops in places like India. Every year, some thousands die from insecticide poisoning - a number which has reduced since GM cotton was introduced and fewer sprayings are needed.

    The alternative to Bt cotton is products like endosulfan, which kill everything in sight, including amphibians and owls.
    " ‘On August, 24, 1999, in the village of Maregourou, three boys between the age of 12 to 14 went to weed the cotton field of their father. The cotton crop was cultivated together with maize. The day before, the father had sprayed the field with endosulfan and the boys did not know. After the work, they were hungry and they took a few maize cobs to eat. Fifteen minutes later they started vomiting. They were taken to the hospital of Bembereke where one boy of 12 died. The two others survived.’

    One farmer in the Banikoara region witnessed the break-up of the food chain by endosulfan: ‘Some termites were killed in a cotton farm sprayed by endosulfan. A frog fed on the dead termites, and was immobilized a few minutes later. An owl which flew over saw the immobilized frog, caught it as a prey, and then sat on a tree branch to enjoy its meal. Ten minutes later, the owl fell down and died.’

    Elsewhere in the country, the situation was similar. One farmer in the Aklampa area in central Benin reported: ‘This year the product is very effective. It kills everything – even snakes. Earthworms appeared from the soil in large numbers immediately after spraying, and subsequently died. Even the leaves of the cashew nut trees I planted next to my cotton field turned brown due to the new product.’ In Goumori, lots of fish were reported to have died from pesticides running off cotton fields."

    So when you wish the end of Bt products, be aware of what the inevitable alternative will be.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
  11. ULTRA Realistically Surreal Registered Senior Member

    Haaha! I do not actually have to justify why I don't eat GM food at all. It is my right to choose to eat (or not eat) whatever I want!

    I'd just Love you to try and prove that!

    Evidence please. Sources?
  12. Skeptical Registered Senior Member


    No-one cares what you eat. It is what you tell others to do that concerns us.

    Infected by eating GM foods?
    16 years of experience. Hundreds of millions of consumers. Not one infection ever measured. Not proof, sure. But there is no proof in science - just evidence. And this is pretty damn strong evidence!
  13. ULTRA Realistically Surreal Registered Senior Member

    Why are you so concerned Skeptic? That I have an opinion that differs from yours? Since when did you become a food fascist? I also tell people they should be cautious about the saturated fat, salt and mechinacally recovered meat. It's just good sense. Have I ever said that you shouldn't eat GM foods? I actually said that you should carry on eating it so you act as a guinea-pig that others can learn by.
  14. leopold Valued Senior Member

    the only thing i can say to the GM industry when it comes to the EU is "eat shit and die".
    no peer reviewed evidence this stuff is safe so deal with it.

    the EU has every right in the world to demand this evidence, the GM industry refuses to provide it, it's as simple as that.
  15. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

    I do not believe I am a food fascist.
    I am, however, someone who respects good science, and it irks me when someone preaches anything based on scientific fallacies.

    If you urge people to be cautious about saturated fat, salt, or sugar, then I applaud you, since the hazards of too much of these is scientifically demonstrated. When you (actually iceaura is more 'guilty' of this) start telling people GM foods are unsafe, then I find that irritating, because the scientific data we have (remember - 16 years) indicates the opposite.
  16. ULTRA Realistically Surreal Registered Senior Member

    Skeptic, I have said many times I believe there are few risks attributable to GM foods. But the risks that are are not being dealt with seriously and are contributing to the public perception that all GM foods are "unsafe."
    Indeed, I have outlined specific steps the GM industry could take to allay these fears. Further, I have simply pointed out that proper soil management can, in places, negate the need to use GM crops in the first place.
    I think you're overreacting. All I want is best practice as I've already said, and in my opinion best practice is being overridden be pharma companies' greed. My views are not a minority view. All the polls I've ever seen say people don't trust GM products. This does not have to be the case. Biotech companies need to do proper testing, and make their results available or people will continue to think they are trying to hide something. Why is this so hard to understand?
  17. Skeptical Registered Senior Member


    I may be overreacting to your views. However, others, more extreme than you, are also contributing to this debate.

    On risk.
    Everything in the universe carries a degree of risk. GM is no different. However, life includes accepting risk, and we simply try to put it into perspective. I live near the sea, on a hill, and a large (80 metres plus) tsunami would over-ride my house and wipe me out. Such enormous waves occur every few million years. Should I panic, sell my house, and move inland?

    Obviously the answer is no. Such an over-reaction to a trivial risk would be silly. The risk from eating GM food is equally trivial, and we should not feel we have to avoid such foods, or even insist on silly labels. I would much rather see clear-cut labels on food showing how much salt, saturated fat, and sugar it held. Because those risks are not trivial.

    You think excess risks are taken by GM companies. As I have said before, big companies (actually, even small businesses) cannot be trusted. The safeguard, though, is government regulations and government testing (and the fear of being sued!).

    I am not American and I probably should not comment on the FDA. However, I have had a long association with the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, and I know how those guys work. They are dedicated food scientists who evaluate novel foods in some detail. They have approved a number of GM foods, after detailed and very careful evaluation. I trust those guys and their expertise. I know they are not corrupt, or in anyone's back pocket. If there was a significant concern about any GM food, it would not be approved.

    This is the reason I think that worry about the safety of GM foods is pure paranoia. Much smarter people than you or I have already done the safety checks, and passed them.

    Nothing is 100% safe, but trivial risks are accepted by humans all the time. To reject a risk of such miniscule proportions as GM foods is just plain silly.
  18. leopold Valued Senior Member

    then it should be no problem to provide the peer reviewed evidence.
  19. leopold Valued Senior Member

    well what have we here.
    from the new zealand food safety website:
    what about that skeptical?
  20. tantalus Registered Senior Member

    the EU has carried out research for 10 years and have already published
    I havnt read it to be honest but the conclusions drawn are that there was no proof to suppose that GM was unsafe, as in no evidence from what was studied, its impossible to be exhaustive. The decision not to make it universally legal across the union is political, Iam not passing jusgement on if the decision was correct, only saying they didnt want to take on a political bomb and preferred to leave to the individual countries to decide, which is probably the correct thing to do. Although recently I talked to university lecture and researcher in plant science who felt that the science had been settled and that it was a lttle strange to carry out the reseach and then not follow up on it.. make what you will of it....

    I asked you about if you felt risks existed as it wasnt clear to me from the thread if you thought there was.

    there needs to be a theoretical basis for a threat to exist before you search for empirical proof. Skeptical states that such risks exist but are minimal, but it needs to be stated in what ways such risks exist and in what ways they dont. For example the superweed theory and serious allergens from a specific inserted gene are credible theoretically (I think), but as far as I know the incoporation of genes into the body of a consumer isnt. I think its better to state the specifically where threats could exist and where the threats dont exist. Rather than saying GM is dangerous or not, a blanket statement isnt very constructive...Ofcourse Iam not saying the whole thread has been blanket statements

    Independent of that I would have to agree with Skeptical that the risks, even if they exist are far from serious enough to condemn GM , but ofcourse prudent testing needs to be done and it seems that current testing and monitoring needs to be improved on. The absence of negative effects on biological or environmental grounds, repeated, from peer reviewed research of current GM crops and procedures cannot be easily ignored imo


    although I am surprised and disappointed that so little has been published atleast according to this paper
    However I would say that there needs to be a basis to do such testing and that some forms of testing are done on GM, where the risks are also present in conventionally bred varities, which have very little regulation. I am referring to the chance of escape into the wild which has happened alot over the years with conventional varities. The testing is done on GM to an extent, relating to breeding with wild plants, with still some failures and unrealistic promises/guarantees from companies saying otherwise, but not on conventional, which is an uneven approach...
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
  21. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

    Not all GM foods and crops have been passed.
    Some have been turned down by the regulatory authorities because they have been determined to carry potential risk. That is fine, and the way it should be. If the authorities passed everything, we would no need for those experts.

    My assertion, backed by 16 years with no harm, is that the products that have been passed by those authorities and are part of our crops and foods, carry too low a level of risk to be anything but trivial.

    To tantalus, re superweeds.
    They already exist. The main concern of superweeds expressed by the anti-GM enthusiasts is that a gene for glyphosate resistance might transfer by hybridisation to a weed, which would then be uncontrollable by glyphosate.

    Sure. Big deal. There are already over 100 instances of such superweeds evolving due to glyphosate spraying. You don't need GM plants/weeds hybridising to create a superweed. Mutation and natural selection manages to achieve the same thing with monotonous regularity.

    When a new glyphosate resistant weed appears, the approach is to switch to another herbicide it is not resistant to and wipe out the problem strain. Why should it be different in the world of GM?
  22. leopold Valued Senior Member

    bookmarked for future reference.
    that also seems to be the consensus of WHO, let the individual countries do the independent testing.
    as far as i can tell these tests are not being done until a problem arises.
    this, in my opinion, is a very risky venture, especially when it can take decades to fix what is broken if it could be fixed at all.
    frankly this is my major concern.
    the threats HAVE been made known.
    sceptical relies on someone else to wave them away and then jumps on the wagon too.
    for example, again from the NZFSA
    it has been found that traces of GM wheat was being found in kernel batches and the milled flour even though no GM wheat was being grown

    doesn't it strike you as odd that the scientific debate on this subject that was funded by NZFSA is NOT available?
    doesn't it strike you as odd that the submissions from the royal society to this debate is also not available?
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
  23. leopold Valued Senior Member

    NCBI has said essentially the same thing.
    one in 2000 and again in 2006.
    the data is simply not there.
    and it is not because it is being discussed as my previous post about the scientific debate shows, rather it is being suppressed.
    even NCBI has stated the GM industry is keeping data secret.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011

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