Genetically modified ME!

Being from New Zealand, where clean and green is almost a religion, I had been well and truly indoctrinated against Genetic Modified foods and animals, and well… everything.

But I also had a science teacher in high school who while not pro or con Genetically Modified foods, he was VERY in favor of his students knowing about them, above and beyond the propaganda from both sides. He was, with out a doubt, the biggest influence on my life outside of my immediate family. I think a lot of people have that one teacher that effects them on a deeper level than others, that help shape your view of the world.

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He refused to give his opinion on GE foods, although I always was under the impression he was in favor of them in general. Although his motto for life was everything in moderation.

When we covered this topic here on our show, I said I was fully in favor of them, and we got some interesting feed back. The stance taken by most of the people who dont like them, was that they damage diversity in our food supply, put us at risk of blights and famines, and that we dont know the long term effects, points that were covered by Preston and Aaron in the show, who while pro GE, are not as willing as I am to surrender to the coming GE invasion.

The main point I want to cover now is the idea that a lot of GE crops are designed not to breed naturally, so called terminator genes are put in them so that farmers have to keep on buying them from the supplier rather than propagate them their selves.

Now I think terminator genes are good for two reason, first, it stops cross pollination with non GE crops, which I agree, is a big issue and shouldnt be accepted, just because I support GE doesnt mean everyone should have to put up with it.

The other reason is that it does protect the companies that do the, usually, very expensive research into these new breeds of crops, if they could only sell it over one growing season, they would not get the financial reward for their research.

This must be off set though, by having alternatives to their crops, if they supply the only strains of a certain plant, then it becomes unacceptable, as they would have a monopoly.

So long as we can protect the non GE strains, and so long as the dont pollute the natural plant lines. I think GE crops have done the world a lot of good, increasing crop yield across the board and providing drought and flood resistant strains of crops to areas with less fertile land.

As my old teacher would say, everything in moderation.

Now the case for GE in humans is another topic we covered here and I will respond to the feed back we got latter.

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24 thoughts on “Genetically modified ME!

  1. The public will always be afraid of “Frankenstein foods” because they do not understand them. GE crops may well be the answer to the upcoming crisis of crop failures resulting from human caused climate and environmental changes, which plants do not time to evolve towards.

    • I totally agree, we know for a fact that by not planting GE crops in certain areas we have caused famine that has cost the lives of thousands or millions (depending on who you believe).

      I fully agree on their being checks and oversights over the industry, but the scar mongering is not helping either.

  2. Hmm, this is a very interesting topic that you raise here.
    So, as a backstory, I’m a food scientist. On that note, I’m a food scientist who grew up in California (my physical self in Southern California – the land of the plenty and wasteful, my mental self in Northern California – hippie land). I’ve seen both sides of this story fairly often; but after living in NorCal, I’d thought to myself, “No, I hate GMO’s, etc. etc. etc.” and with this passion, I came to study my graduate degree (now a few years later than everyone else. lol).

    Once here, now across the country, I realized that the way I thought, while it wasn’t unique to California, was actually fairly unique (or the way I was taught back at my college on the liberal west) to other food science doctrines/programs out there (especially on east coast schools). Here they generally put a lot of stalk (hehe) into GMO crops. Not in the sense that you were talking about though. GMO crops have – despite all the badness – actually helped feed a lot of this world. (This is actually what has changed my mind, somewhat…not all, mind you, just a bit). Without the GMO crops, many crops that have a “failure to thrive” or would have otherwise died out in many regions would not have continued.

    But don’t get me wrong, I am still mostly on the side of anti-GMO (anti big Ag). But hey~ those are my weird two cents.

  3. I like organic produce, because I feel it is better for me. I am not completely against GE foods, but prefer to not have them if I can avoid it. Which in the US seems to be a lot harder than you’d think, unless you have a local farmers market you can go to. If we are going to be sending this food to countries that need it, than that’s different.

    • One thing we brought up in the show, was the labeling of GE foods. which we all 100% agree on, and also, having different grade, 0 for none, 1 for selective breeding, 2 for cross breeding, 3 for mild GE to make it grow better in bad conditions, 4 for heavier GE to make it a different type of food, and 5 for extreme GE, making a apple glow pink ect.

      • My concern would be how 0 gets applied, since there’s very little that we haven’t modified over the last 6000 years through selective breeding (game animals are the only thing that come to mind immediately, and even that could be debatable).

        And there’s wondering when the system gets applied: would it apply to, say, tea cup poodles and corgis or just cube watermelons and high yield wheat?

      • Interesting question, I would hope it gets deciding but the appropriate governing body with input from outside groups.

        A 0 either wouldn’t be applied (except for true original strain foods which are only found in limited amounts in the wild, if at all) or from food that exist, as of now, and have no further tampering to them.

  4. I’m originally form southern Illinois so I am used to people growing seeds, mostly Sigma Round-up ready corn, from fence post to fence post. However, I am against this big business way of farming. It is bad for the environment, soil, and us the consumers (in my opinion). Also, I have heard numerous accounts of farmers who choose to grow non-GMO products that have been run into the ground with legal fees do to the possibility of GMO seeds making their way into these other fields. I don’t deny that there are definite benefits to growing crops outside of their normal growing regions, but I say be honest about what’s in the food and let an intelligent consumer maker his or her own decisions.

    • I agree that intencive farming is not a good thing in general, it is putting short term profit over long term suitability which will hurt their long term profits in the end, But many people have a hard time looking at the long picture, and are often pushed to get 120% out of their land by banks and profit margins.

      GMO’s dont have a lot to do with that, its the end of the day profit, if anything having crops that give a greater yield would be mostly a good thing, as it would take some pressure off high intensity farming.

      I do agree 100% though that the idea of cross pollination, A) shouldnt happen at all, and B) if it did, its not the farmers fault.

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  6. Wow, you have some really bad information on GMO. This frightening stuff is banned in most countries. There are countries who will not even take US exports because of it. I don’t know if you guys are getting paid to peddle bad information or if you have just been misinformed, but you really need to double down on the research and re-think your positions. In the United States we are at a place where all these Big Ag people are embedded with the govt. and the stockholders own the media companies. That is why so many people are uninformed, because they are silly enough to believe every single thing the govt. says,. and also because they are trained to be afraid to speak against the govt. But more and more people every day are turning off the TV and waking up. I hope you guys keep researching the science and not the theory. Even the bees are dying because of the nicotinoids from GMO crops. If bees die, pollination ends, and that leads to famine. Your points on pollination were some of the worst inaccuracies you made. All the best. Rob

    • Hmmmm, where to respond…

      First, you really, really need to define you points more. GMO’s are banned in many countries, is blatant BS, certain countries, have certain limitations on what types of food stuffs can be imported, yes. Also a lot of the countries that have bans on GMO’s are not ones run by the most educated of people unfortunately, infact several nations in Africa have faced sever famine due directly to their refusal to grow GMO crops that would have survived the droughts that killed “natural” crops and subsequently killed millions of people.

      Also the fact that you use terms like “Big ag” and wondered if we are being paid, well to put it nicely, it paints you as a tin foil hat enthusiast. If you wish to have proper debates, and if you want people to take you seriously, throwing around unfounded accusations, usually said by conspiracy theorists who also believe stuff like 9/11 was a hoax and vaccines give you autism, doesnt hold much ground. YOu get good point for being very well written and polite. But the scar mongering is not the best form of debate.

      Also the “Bees are dying” is very troubling, but please dont claim to know why it is happening, as there is no scientific consensus on it yet, with multiple causes being studied, yes including GMO’s but also pesticides, pollution and pest invasions. It is indeed a very worrying trend, and I hope we can reverse or stop it, but to do that we need to do research, to find out exactly whats happening, and not just jumping on the answer that matches our world view.

      The fact that our show on the matter, and Bens related post, said GMO’s can be good, if regulated, controlled, contained and labeled, leaves me wondering what your issue is?

      You want a 100% ban? That seems premature and naive. We are fully in favor of oversight and control.

      What we dont like is scar tactics and misinformation.

      • nope, more bad info, you are not for real. it is common knowledge that GMO’s are banned in several EU countries, and South American Countries, it’s not a mystery and not a mystery why. It’s also been proven that the nicotinoids in the GMO’s where pesticides are genetically engineered into seeds are killing the bees. You guys are not kidding anyone. It’s too bad but you are in the minority and fortunately on the wrong side of history. You’ve pretty much cast in stone the fact that you are on a business agenda and that money is more important to you than human health. See ya.

      • GMO’s being banned is not evidence that they are bad, its evidence that the non scientific scare tactics that groups and individuals use are sadly effective.

        There are a sad lack of long term, or even redable medium term studies on GMO (logically since they just havent had time to run, there are several in progress though).

        People have said their are links to GMO crops and Bee’s dying ect. But there is no scientific evidence for it as of yet, just anecdotal evidence and assumption.

        You have obviously not read the post, or the comments to follow, as I obviously said, I think GMO’s need to be monitored and controled and contained.

        I will also point out that this post and comments have been in relation to specific GMO crops, and we made a point to differentiate between the different types of GMO< from heavy to natural. You are just screaming "AHHHHHHHHHHHHH GMOS ARE KILLING US!!!" with out specifying ANYTHING, appart from, they've been banned.

        If we take government action as scientific evidence, then we can believe Gay people are not real people (US government refusal to give equal rights), HIV doesnt cause AIDS (South African policy), and witches are real and dangerous (Several african states).

        So I find your lack of real evidence, your lack of specificity, your lack of common sense, and your lack of reading comprehension to make you another irrelevant scare monger.

        Also read the blurb for the blog, 3 guys, a retail specialist in jewwelery and watches, a ex army guy retired and a self employed writer/inventor. Yeah we're totally in the pocket of "Big ag" what with our podcast and blog with a following of a few thousand that has done one show out of 22 on GMO's.

  7. There is a gal here in the Sierra Foothills who sells “heirloom” plants every year. These plants are in a garden where the heirlooms are mixed. The plants are sold as the variety for which were planted. The thing that bothers me is that they are all in a shared bed, and bees travel from one plant to another, never mindful of which variety of heirloom they are. At the end of each growing season, she takes the seeds off of tomatoes grown in this garden, which are planted the following year. How does one stop someone from selling an “heirloom” when it cannot be as there has been cross pollination? I am curious. So, a bit off the track of your post, but what does one do in this situation?

    Oh, and you put a smile on my face by signing up to follow my blog! I sincerely hope that you will enjoy all of my posts! – B

    • I agree about the importance of keeping heirloom lines pure, although I think small scale mixing in a private garden with other heirloom lines is not much to worry about, since it is essentially what happens in nature anyway.

  8. It is true how badly the public is misinformed. The practices of modern agriculture and large scale farming are leaving the soils depleted of nutrients. Growing more in less space causes plants to grow weaker and susceptible to pests. To control these pests we need more pesticides. In order to dump more pesticides we need crops that will survive the use of the pesticides. This is what crops that are genetically modified are designed to do. The same companies that are pushing GMO crops on us are making the pesticides.
    Meanwhile we are ingesting these pesticides. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Autism on the rise with no apparent cause. There is a reason GMO’s are banned in many European countries and if not banned – labeling is required in 64 countries. Meanwhile members of the Supreme Court and the FDA are also employed or have been employed by these same companies…wake up, get informed spread the word. Here is a good place to start. http://www.saynotogmos.org/

  9. We cannot control or contain GMO crops. The government is not going to protect us.
    Spores from GMO crops pollinate neighboring crops. Wasn’t there just an incidence of GMO wheat mysteriously appeared in a field in Oregon? http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jun/22/agriculture-oregon-monsanto-gm-wheat?INTCMP=SRCH. The owners of these farms who have had their crops spoiled are sued for not paying for the GMO technology by (Monsanto). http://www.celsias.com/article/ex-monsanto-lawyer-clarence-thomas-hear-major-mons/
    The suits have been held up in the supreme court. Is it a coincidence that a supreme court justice is an ex lawyer for Monsanto? He may be one man – but an influential one for sure.
    It is true that not enough research has been done on GMO crops but there is also the long term effects to consider of Round up. Most of the GMO crops that are grown in the united states are grown to increase the yields by preventing weeds. The crops are engineered to withstand the spraying of Round Up Weed Killer – Glyphosate, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundup_(herbicide)
    The FDA is not going to protect us from Glyphosate either, The FDA requires the safety studies to be done by the companies pushing the chemicals. Of course they are going to say they are safe. The member of the FDA that got GMOs declared safe was also employed by Monsanto.
    Doesn’t it seem as though we should prove that GMO crops and Glyphosate are absolutely safe before we let them into our food supply instead of allowing them and then waiting to see what happens? There are plenty that are have already said that they are unsafe. http://www.saynotogmos.org/scientists_speak.htm

    • Thanks for the information and thoughtful reply! It took me a few days to look over it all so I could reply.

      First, I dislike how everything gets painted with “GMO” and thus all of it is evil, there are many different levels of GMO, from natural cross breeding to gene slicing, and unfortunatly with a lot of the scar tactics going on by organic and green organisations, a lot of good simple, traditon engineering, is being tarred with the same brush as the more worrying type done by monsanto and other firms.

      People think it is a zero sum game, all or nothing, they are not educated enough to see the differnt types of engineering or are to scared of the evil corporations to believe any of it can be good.

      I think the issue with cross pollination is a huge one, maybe the biggest, which is why I am a huge supporter of terminator genes, making GMOP crops genetically unable to breed. Funnily even though this cures the issue of law suits and cross pollination with natural crops, farmers dont like it because they have to buy new seed every year and the greens think it is unnatural.

      I have to admit most of my research was into the crops themselves, yields, growing conditions ect, I didnt look into fertilizer and pesticides a lot yet.

      But on the link to autism and Alzheimer. I think that is largely speculation, I have done a bit of work fighting agains the people who think human vaccines think they cause autism (They dont) and a flaw in their logic is that they say the rates of it have gone up in the last decades, but that is in largr part just due to us diagnosing kids with it more often and widening its range, kinds of our generation who just would of been though of as weird and now labeled as autistic.

      Thanks for the feed back!

      -ben

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