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Scientific American comes out in favor of GMOs, and I agree

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Golden Rice (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

In the September 6 issue of Scientific American, the magazine’s editors pen a piece explicitly supporting GMOs and opposing GMO labeling. I applaud the editors for taking an official position on a topic that still sparks intense debate. Both the wording and content of the editorial reflect an adherence to what is called “good scientific practice”; trusting the scientific evidence as far as it takes us, leaving room for uncertainty and making a judgement call based on imperfect but still sound evidence.

The editors start by reminding us that we have been consuming genetically modified foods for 20 years without much trouble, a point worth belaboring only because it keeps getting conveniently ignored in many debates on the topic.

We have been tinkering with our food’s DNA since the dawn of agriculture. By selectively breeding plants and animals with the most desirable traits, our predecessors transformed organisms’ genomes, turning a scraggly grass into plump-kerneled corn, for example. For the past 20 years Americans have been eating plants in which scientists have used modern tools to insert a gene here or tweak a gene there, helping the crops tolerate drought and resist herbicides. Around 70 percent of processed foods in the U.S. contain genetically modified ingredients.

In spite of this extensive consumption – surely constituting a global laboratory involving billions of daily, repeated, controlled experiments – there is no evidence of distinct harm from GMOs. That does not mean that no GMO can ever do any harm, just that the evidence until now is flimsy at best. From a chemical standpoint I have said before that I would rather trust foreign bits of DNA circulating around in my blood than things like dioxin and chlorofluorocarbons which can wreak demonstrated havoc.

An extensively referenced report from the American Medical Association as well as a statement from the Board of Directors of the AAAS (neither of which are corporate organizations) both reinforce SA’s conclusions:

Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature. However, a small potential for adverse events exists, due mainly to horizontal gene transfer, allergenicity, and toxicity. Pre-market safety assessments are designed to identify and prevent risks to human health (AMA)

The European Commission (EU) recently concluded, based on more than 130 studies covering 25 years of research involving at least 500 independent research groups, that genetic modification technologies “are not per se more risky than…conventional plant breeding technologies.” Occasional claims that feeding GM foods to animals can cause health problems have not stood up to rigorous scientific scrutiny. (AAAS).

It’s worth noting that the latter statement comes from the EU which has actually banned GMOs in many of its products. Purported claims about adverse effects of GMOs often center around tumors in rats (anyone who has worked in drug development knows how different rats are from humans) induced by inordinately high amounts of substances administered over unrealistic periods of time. This is also true of many other studies proclaiming the ghastly effects of all kinds of chemical substances, from glyphosate to materials in “toxic couches“. Whenever you come across a study claiming GMOs are toxic, it’s worth asking questions about the nature of the test animals, the dosage and the statistical significance of the results at the very minimum.

Another valuable point made by the SA editors which is often underappreciated is that modern genetic engineering is actually far more precise compared to the centuries-old practice of swapping genes and creating hybrids by more or less trial and error. The cogent logic here is that if you have tolerated the products of indiscriminate gene swapping in all kinds of organisms from sheep to corn for centuries, then GMOs enabled through much more precise and regulated modern recombinant DNA technology whose modifications can be tracked should be considered far safer.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Health Organization and the exceptionally vigilant European Union agree that GMOs are just as safe as other foods. Compared with conventional breeding techniques—which swap giant chunks of DNA between one plant and another—genetic engineering is far more precise and, in most cases, is less likely to produce an unexpected result. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tested all the GMOs on the market to determine whether they are toxic or allergenic. They are not. (The GMO-fearing can seek out “100 Percent Organic” products, indicating that a food contains no genetically modified ingredients, among other requirements.)

Moving on to the other controversial topic of GMO labeling, as the editorial indicates, the problem is not as simple as “freedom of choice”. GMO labeling can create unnecessary fear and confusion in consumers’ minds and amplify risks at the expense of downplaying benefits. Do we list every potential, vaguely suspected but not proven danger from every single material used in a car while selling it to consumers? And since random bits of foreign DNA are introduced into our food supply anyway, should we once again appeal to the Precautionary Principle and have a label on every single product in the grocery store saying that “This product may contain foreign DNA” just because we don’t really know what that DNA can do? In fact while we are at it, why not label the wheat in every single product on the store aisle? After all, even so-called “non-GMO” wheat has undergone countless deliberate genetic modifications over the last few centuries.

Let me ask yet another question: Do any of the products in our grocery stores list the countries of origin for all their ingredients? Do you know if the soy in any number of grocery products comes from the US, or from China, or from Brazil? So if we are ok with consuming these ingredients in spite of not knowing where they exactly come from, trusting the FDA to make sure that they are safe, then why not do the same with GMOs? And all this only adds to the simple truth that opponents of GMOs always have the option of shopping for explicitly non-GMO food products (although they then need to refrain from complaining about its price).

In addition, removing GMOs from all foods risks making food more expensive, not exactly a selling point in a tough economy.

Americans who oppose genetically modified foods would celebrate a similar exclusion. Everyone else would pay a price. Because conventional crops often require more water and pesticides than GMOs do, the former are usually more expensive. Consequently, we would all have to pay a premium on non-GMO foods—and for a questionable return. Private research firm Northbridge Environmental Management Consultants estimated that Prop 37 would have raised an average California family’s yearly food bill by as much as $400. The measure would also have required farmers, manufacturers and retailers to keep a whole new set of detailed records and to prepare for lawsuits challenging the “naturalness” of their products.

Finally, every time you oppose a GMO you are also opposing the very real benefits that GMOs have brought over the last three decades to some of the poorest parts of the world. I always find it depressing to hear citizens of developed countries railing against the supposed evils of GMOs from the luxury of their air-conditioned living rooms while a farmer in the developing world would likely donate an arm for a GMO crop if it’s going to bring him greater yields and put food on his family’s table. Let us spare a thought for those who cannot afford to make the choices that we make when we voice our opinions with so much passion.

Antagonism toward GMO foods also strengthens the stigma against a technology that has delivered enormous benefits to people in developing countries and promises far more. Recently published data from a seven-year study of Indian farmers show that those growing a genetically modified crop increased their yield per acre by 24 percent and boosted profits by 50 percent. These farmers were able to buy more food—and food of greater nutritional value—for their families.

To curb vitamin A deficiency—which blinds as many as 500,000 children worldwide every year and kills half of them—researchers have engineered Golden Rice, which produces beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Approximately three quarters of a cup of Golden Rice provides the recommended daily amount of vitamin A; several tests have concluded that the product is safe. Yet Greenpeace and other anti-GMO organizations have used misinformation and hysteria to delay the introduction of Golden Rice to the Philippines, India and China.

Ultimately this hysteria hurts all of us, rich, middle class and poor. But what it hurts most is the cause of science and reason. Our choices should be based on understanding tradeoffs and trusting the best possible science, and SA’s editors’ words reflect this sound thinking. If choices are instead driven by herd mentality, a pathological adherence to the Precautionary Principle and a reliance on false moral outrage, then we are not only harming the fate of real human beings around the world but are also impinging on open-mindedness and critical thinking, an attitude that can only squelch rational inquiry.

Ashutosh Jogalekar About the Author: Ashutosh (Ash) Jogalekar is a chemist interested in the history and philosophy of science. He considers science to be a seamless and all-encompassing part of the human experience. Follow on Twitter @curiouswavefn.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. ActicBob 12:42 pm 09/6/2013

    While I recognize the benefits of GMO products I still see no reason why labeling is a problem. More information about the food I eat is better than less. If GMO has image problems then fix that and stop trying to stifle the flow of information. On a side note I’m less interested in knowing about selecting for natural occurring traits in a crop and far more concerned about engineering new traits. Adding genetic information from peanuts or squid to my corn while interesting is still a concern for people with allergy or cultural dietary restrictions.

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  2. 2. PassingFancy 2:41 pm 09/6/2013

    ActicBob – Well, if it is such a big deal, go ahead and label them.

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  3. 3. M Tucker 2:43 pm 09/6/2013

    We know that our food contains GMO’s. It has been going on for a generation already to no demonstrable ill effect on humans. Whatever environmental damage GMO’s supposedly do, that has not been demonstrated in any convincing way, pale in comparison to the obvious damage that overuse of chemical fertilizers has been doing to the environment for a very long time now and we do not see a storm of protest over that. Those who are afraid of GM food can purchase organic foods and shop at stores that do not sell GM products. If you want to pay more to protect your health then campaign for a carbon tax. If you are concerned about your health, campaign for the development of new antibiotics that can control the relentless increase in antibiotic resistant organisms. If you are interested in appropriate technology in agriculture then require agriculture to adopt water saving irrigation practices and top soil conservation methods. Require agriculture to stop the overuse of chemical fertilizers. Demand that our government stop funding the wasteful and environmentally damaging practice of growing corn to be burned as fuel. Society faces several issues that threaten our future security but this GMO debate is not one of them.

    The article from the SA editors is excellent and informative and I was very happy to see it. This post by Ash is also outstandingly informative and I am very happy he presented it.

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  4. 4. zstansfi 4:09 pm 09/6/2013

    @ActicBob:

    Really the primary issue here is that the label is itself extraneous – it provides very little useful information. To state that a specific crop has been “genetically modified” isn’t very useful to consumers for determining anything about the properties of that food, how it has been produced or whether or not the organization producing it carries out mostly beneficial or harmful practices. The same case can, in many ways, be made for “free range” and “organic” products, which encompass some pretty diverse practices of which consumers have no knowledge.

    The end result is that these labels become either a marketing tool or a blacklist for products – and not based upon any valid or useful information, but based upon preconceived (and, typically inaccurate) notions about what each label means.

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  5. 5. racer79 6:31 pm 09/6/2013

    I applaud SciAm on deciding to take a stance in support of GMO’s, in certain context they are invaluable assets (as with golden rice in asia). But just because I like what corporations have done by genetically modifying one crop, doesn’t mean that I like what they are doing elsewhere. Labeling produce as GMO’s would allow me the information necessary for me to decide if I need to research into exactly how that particular produce was modified, denying me this information by not requiring this sort of label does nothing but make me not want to buy supermarket produce PERIOD, I would much rather grow my own or go to a farmers market where I know what techniques were used to grow and breed that produce. So although I might have considered buying a GMO crop if I were able to tell that it was genetically modified and therefore able to research it, as it stands not having the labels is hurting them because I refuse to buy produce that may have been genetically modified in a way that I do not approve of.

    Give me labels, so I can research the produce and buy the products that I would actually support.

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  6. 6. Glendon Mellow 7:24 pm 09/6/2013

    Fantastic post.

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  7. 7. Drinker_of_Inorganic_Solvent 10:38 pm 09/6/2013

    “It has been going on for a generation already to no demonstrable ill effect on humans.”
    Only someone blind to the overwhelming number of obese people that have come to become the majority in the past 20 years could say that.

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  8. 8. Shoshin 3:06 am 09/7/2013

    Label everything is the same as labeling nothing. This is just another problem posited my ignorant greenies who woke up one morning and “discovered” something.

    You don’t want GMO’s? We have an app for that, starvation. Go ahead and help yourself, just don’t force it on someone else.

    As to obesity, the issue isn’t food per se, the issue is lack of excercise. Ipods, I phones, TV’s and yes, the internet have made us into the blobs we are today. If GMO foods have anything to do with it is merely that food is now so cheap relative to historic terms that people can afford to sit on their duffs and surf you tube and not starve.

    100 years ago your choices would have been hard physical labor or starvation. If food prices climbed back to historical levels, billions would starve. But in the green mis-topia, that would be a win as the wickedness and sin of obesity would be driven from our corporeal beings.

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  9. 9. Kevbonham 11:36 am 09/7/2013

    “From a chemical standpoint I have said before that I would rather trust foreign bits of DNA circulating around in my blood than things like dioxin and chlorofluorocarbons which can wreak demonstrated havoc”

    The reality is that those foreign bits of DNA won’t even make it as far as your bloodstream. Nucleic acids are efficiently digested and incorporated as individual nucleotides.

    @ Drinker: The obesity epidemic also tracks nicely with internet use and renewable energy. Just because GMOs are food and obesity involves what we eat, that doesn’t mean they’re connected.

    In fact, obesity started its upward trend before GMOs were introduced onto the market. A lot of factors contribute to obesity, and there are a lot of policies that exacerbate the problem, but there’s no evidence, nor indeed a theoretical framework that might suggest a possible link between GMO and obesity.

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  10. 10. ikewinski 1:20 pm 09/7/2013

    “In spite of this extensive consumption – surely constituting a global laboratory involving billions of daily, repeated, controlled experiments – there is no evidence of distinct harm from GMOs.”

    I have to take exception with the adjective “controlled”. In fact, this experiment seems to be exactly the opposite of “controlled”. We don’t know who is eating GMO, how much they are eating of it, when they are eating it, what else they are eating with it, nor do we have a proper control group that is not eating GMO foods.

    I understand why no such controlled human trials are happening, and I’m fine with using non-human animals in properly controlled feeding trials.

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  11. 11. curiouswavefunction 2:16 pm 09/7/2013

    #9, #10: Good points. The fact that phosphodiester bonds get largely chewed up in the digestive system weakens the argument against direct GMO toxicity even further.

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  12. 12. dslovejoy 2:22 pm 09/7/2013

    First, how much money has Monsanto paid to Scientific America?
    Second, there is a huge difference between selective breeding and direct genetic manipulation.
    Third, 20 years of no ill effects? Really? Take a look at the general health and obesity rates of children 20 years ago and today. Food allergies, asthma, high blood pressure, etc. I will bet you find differences that can be directly or indirectly related to GMO’s.
    Many countries have banned GMO’s, and many more have banned American made food products for potential GMO’s and other questionable ingredients.
    It is irresponsible for this magazine to endorse GMO’s, and I feel you have lost credibility as a source of information as a result.

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  13. 13. Crocodile Chuck 6:51 pm 09/7/2013

    The original justification for GMO was that ‘missing’ nutrients could be incorporated into food, reducing the extent of malnutrition.

    What actually happened: the genes inserted into grains were to increase resistance to herbicide exposure.

    Of course, what we are now seeing is resistance to these herbicides (which just happen to be sold by the same companies marketing the GMO strains themselves) as they are used in higher and higher concentrations.

    The ‘advantages’ of GMO have flowed overwhelmingly to the producers, who have changed the laws, from making it illegal to even make explicit the presence of GMO grain in food labels for consumers, to prosecuting farmers who try to reserve seed from one crop for the next one.

    This post is sloppy and replete with straw men, e.g., people don’t eat cars, and ‘foreign bits of DNA’ don’t circulate in your blood (hat tip Kevbonham above). This is so far beneath the usual standards of this blog as to be shocking.

    Finally, per dslovejoy’s comment, how much IS Monsanto paying Scientific American for this blanket endorsement?

    We look forward to the answer to this obvious query in an update.

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  14. 14. m 10:45 pm 09/7/2013

    at crocodile chuck

    I agree with you, the GMO groups have destroyed wild-life, destroyed farmers lives and living, destroyed the entire industry such that they own it.

    So many farmers have been prosecuted for not using monsanto seeds. Because the GMO product spreads on the wind, and if one is found on a farmers property he is sued and they win everytime.

    I am disgusted by the GMO companies and product and its effects which have done nothing to help feed people properly. The third world refuses to use GMO because they cannot reuse seeds and monsanto is slowly changing the laws in every country so only there seeds are legal. They also buy out all the big communities processing facilities so farmers can’t even sell there own produce.

    The labelling is deliberately misleading and weeds HAVE acquired pesticide immunity, ALL GMO should be banned immediately.

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  15. 15. rkipling 11:41 pm 09/7/2013

    curiouswavefunction,

    A comprehensive study of literacy by the US Dept. of Education released in 2002 & 2003 with a follow-up study released in 2006, found only 15% of the population functioned at a university undergraduate entry level. Meaningful discussion of scientific issues requires some minimal scientific literacy. So, it seems likely that pool of adults literate in science is smaller than the 15%.

    Given the above, you will have a difficult job reaching people unfamiliar with the scientific method. Those whose opinions are not informed by science are unlikely to be swayed by scientific argument. I admire your continued attempts to inform them though.

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  16. 16. Neurobio 8:50 am 09/8/2013

    We really have to decouple GMOs and Monsanto in the common mind. You can be supportive of GMOs and indeed the benefits and potential benefits of genetic engineering and also against the evil monopoly controlling our food supply.

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  17. 17. RSchmidt 9:53 am 09/8/2013

    My concern over GMO is not toxicity, it is food security and gene transfer as well as a lack of scientific transparency. While some of the genes certainly confer some nutritional benefit, a great number of genes are added to benefit the manufacturer and create a dependency. There is also a risk that those genes will be transferred to weeds creating a cycle of dependency that only benefits companies like Monsanto. Ultimately the general public knows little about the implications of genetic modification as the scientific results are protected. So while I would agree there is a tremendous benefit possible from GMO, there is a potential threat in the form of a loss of food security and a creation of a dependency on a multinational corporation that has little reason to care about national laws.

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  18. 18. lannit 10:25 am 09/8/2013

    This blog author post sadly repeats pro-GMO talking points from the biotech industry PR types.. Let’s take just one of these oft-repeated myths that is better labeled as a bald face lie…that “there is no evidence of distinct harm from GMOs.”

    Have you forgotten the Tryptophan debacle?:

    A GMO version of the food supplement Tryptophan killed 37 persons and left 1500 others with a chronic, severely painful, and incapacitating disease. This disaster started in the late 1989 and ceased when the cause was discovered.

    A quick web search reveals many similar accounts of this GMO disaster. Here’s one:

    http://www.psrast.org/demsd.htm

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  19. 19. cashmemorz 3:52 pm 09/8/2013

    Genes that have never been in the environment can have effects that are both positive and negative for humans and other living organisms. The complexity of interacting effects for and against the cause of new genes cannot be estimated by the comparatively small number of experiments that have been carried out by the pro GmO group.

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  20. 20. davidbe 4:16 pm 09/8/2013

    Sooo many assumptions.. Sooo many baseless assertions.

    1. We’ve been doing it a while, so its safe.
    2. Companies doing safety checks on their own cash cow is not a conflict of interest and is sufficient for safety.
    3. “So if we are ok with consuming these ingredients in spite of not knowing where they exactly come from, trusting the FDA to make sure that they are safe…” Ok with, or powerless to prevent? There is a giant difference between the two. Beyond that there are many MANY people now on, and taking up a local foods diet. One reason given is frequently a variant of food security and knowing what you are eating. Unfortunately the FDA has turned into more of a business promotional unit then a food safety organization.
    4. There is a HUGE difference between transgenic manipulation and cross breeding for traits. Saying that cross breeding is random and indiscriminate is missing the mark and grossly misleading. You could say the same thing about internet encryption and be equally misleading. Because it has an element of randomness does not make it insecure, because it has variables that we cant control does not make it indiscriminate.

    The fact that we can take genes from insects and virii and place them into other animals and plants on the basis of 20 years knowledge and ‘testing’ is a recipe for bad things to happen. Out breaks, cascade failures, alien species invasion, native species die off, eco system poisoning, etc. Thats not even mentioning the inclusion of untested business principles into our food business like limited generation seed.

    Real question is, how much did S.A. get paid to use their brand as a rubber stamp?

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  21. 21. brewoman 5:17 pm 09/8/2013

    I certainly disagree that there is no evidence of harm from GMO’s. In fact there are many studies including “In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto’s GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats.

    According to the study, which was summarized by Rady Ananda at Food Freedom, “Three varieties of Monsanto’s GM corn – Mon 863, insecticide-producing Mon 810, and Roundup® herbicide-absorbing NK 603 – were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/12/monsantos-gmo-corn-linked_n_420365.html
    there is plenty of evidence in Europe as more than 60 countries have banned gmo’s. Studies are coming out with evidence that more studies need to be done and labeling. WE

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  22. 22. brewoman 5:19 pm 09/8/2013

    Have a right to choose what we eat. And a right to know what is in our foods. It’s curious to me that the very people who produce the GMO crops don’t eat their own food. That alone tells me everything.

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  23. 23. skeptikal 10:13 pm 09/8/2013

    @brewoman: The rat study has been throughly discredited. I would hope you could find better analysis than the Huffington Post. There are a lot of articles on this, here is one I recommend: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/10/french-gm-corn-study-not-scientifically-valid/#.Ui0t3jasiSo

    Also, the notion that Monsanto doesn’t eat their own food is a lie. http://monsantoblog.com/2012/02/10/whats-served-in-monsantos-cafeterias/

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  24. 24. kryptical 4:49 am 09/9/2013

    Brewoman… You state “It’s curious to me that the very people who produce the GMO crops don’t eat their own food. That alone tells me everything.” You do realize were talking about 10′s. if 100′s, of thousands of people. That’s everybody from the company (Monsanto) the middle-men who market sell, transport, etc. the product to the farmers and all those who work for them.

    I hope you understand this is why I must ask: I am very curious as to how you know this, or, is it an assumption? Please provide a valid link to a study or document that substantiates your comment. A link to yet another editorial will not due, it must be something that can clearly support your comment.

    I would also like to make a point that has seemingly escaped the majority of those who have commented here. The author of this areticle, Ashutosh (Ash) Jogalekar, is stating his personal perspective regarding certain aspects contained in the article. Scientific American is the publisher; yes there is a difference. If you were to go to the end of the article you’ll see, “The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

    Scientific American placed this there for a reason; that being that they may not agree 100% with the editoralizing of what they may have published representing their perspective.

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  25. 25. stimoceiver 5:45 am 09/9/2013

    To state that we have been eating genetically modified food due to breeding is to conflate the effects of selective breeding with the results of tinkering directly with DNA. Everyone who has ever taken the most rudimentary biology classes knows the degree of changes produced by selective breeding are orders of magnitude less than the potential degree of change in an organism produced by tinkering directly with DNA.

    To oppose GMO labeling is to commit one of the most evil “sins of omission” possible – particularly because genetic modifying by direct tinkering with DNA is still in its infancy. People have a right to know if what they consume has had its genetics tampered with not only to be able to make informed choices as consumers but also to enable those who do choose to ingest GMO food to know what they have been ingesting when the inevitable health problems wanton tampering with genetics eventually come to pass.

    You might ask why I say they are “inevitable”. Even if such problems never occur intentionally they certainly will eventually occur by accident. Besides the more nefarious possibilities such as profit motive (to name just one example) there is no denying that it is just adding one more esoteric area where even humans with the best of intentions can still make mistakes or, especially given the youth of the practice of direct tinkering with DNA of food, accidentally create something that causes problems down the line for people.

    One thing that specifically comes to mind are prion disorders. TSE’s are well known to cause problems in brain tissue. But what happens when such degenerate proteins start being assembled into the tissues of other organs? This could produce unprecedented weakening of organ structures in a relatively short span of time on the order of months to years. When you consider profit motive, its foolish to think this wont happen for that reason as well, but thats another discussion.

    Also regarding one of the earlier comments that stated GMOS are a way to offset the astronomical cost of food. Please stop to consider: as recently as 100 years ago 90+% of the population was directly involved in food production, nearly all of which was local to the consumer. Today that number is 3%. By taking what was once a huge segment of society and turning it into a very narrow specialization we have subverted the built in oversight of cost and availability that came with such ubiquity.

    Finally, regardless of whether or not Scientific American 100% supports the views expressed in this blog piece, their editors clearly support GMO’s and oppose their labeling.

    Its sad to know that a once respected science magazine has stooped to the level of becoming purely a mouthpiece for industry propaganda.

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  26. 26. rlefebvre 1:35 pm 09/10/2013

    The art of disinformation is to maximise the time for truth to emerge.
    Decades of debates were needed to finally label of warning on cigarettes packs.
    No shorter scenario is expected to label GMO food.
    Manipulators of the information of the genetic code do not hesitate to manipulate information of any kind.
    Here is an example of their obscure influence out of the laboratory. Twenty years ago, a Canadian organic producer and miller was refused to sell its product in a big grocery chain if he did not remove a label on its flour pack. The label was written :” WITHOUT GMO ”.
    Another example is the question posed by the editors of Scientific American in August 2009 : ” Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research? “ The response comes in the agenda of September 2013. But it generates another question expressed by many readers : ” Do Seed Companies Control Scientific American Editors? ”

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  27. 27. curiouswavefunction 3:41 pm 09/10/2013

    “Real question is, how much did S.A. get paid to use their brand as a rubber stamp?”

    Here’s a formula for calculating how much Monsanto paid me to write this post.

    It’s 325x+723.89y; where x and y are the number of horses in Catalonia and the number of bees in private New Hampshire residences respectively. Multiply all this by the cube root of 31 and divide by the fine structure constant. Square the resulting number and express in binary.

    And don’t forget to multiply by zero at the end.

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  28. 28. marclevesque 5:37 pm 09/10/2013

    I don’t see why Scientific American would be helping the GMO industry spin their products. It certainly isn’t because the negative spin is a significant problem when compared to the mountain of positive spin from the GMO industry and media.

    Can’t we just stop the exagerations of real and potential benefits of GMOs, and stop the minimization of real and potential harms of GMOs.

    “GMO labeling can create unnecessary fear and confusion in consumers’ minds and amplify risks at the expense of downplaying benefits”

    I’ve seen that patronizing, convoluted and condencending argument so often it makes me sad. It’s the kind of argument used for centuries to manipulate the public, as in the past, today it is still an unscientific and disrespectful attempt at manipulation and misdirection.

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  29. 29. Crocodile Chuck 7:17 pm 09/10/2013

    GMO Washup: More

    http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/09/08/the-endless-debate-over-genetic-engineering/

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  30. 30. rlefebvre 7:19 pm 09/10/2013

    The result of our equation, in octal, gave me your passwords. Checking your accounts, no increase is suspicious that you received money from GMOrg. But an emotional benefit is detected. You are becoming a hero because you are supporting a cause to stop starvation on earth ! Here, your scientific quest oblicates a bit naively. It is not so bad, but better to keep control of your mind, off skilled manipulators of informations. Cheap is not an evident index of healthy food for the brain.

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  31. 31. balmung 4:26 am 09/11/2013

    How much is the anti-GMO movement and legal machine paying some of these commenters?

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  32. 32. Crocodile Chuck 5:32 pm 09/11/2013

    As noted upthread, GMO pest resistance marches on:

    http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/morning_call/2013/08/pests-plague-gmo-corn—and-monsanto.html

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  33. 33. ars-chemia 7:02 pm 09/11/2013

    I think it’s kind of interesting that because SA or Ash or whomever publishes an article that disagrees with what a comments feels/believes (it’s apparently not rationally derived), that SA, etc. must have been paid handsomely by Monsanto or some other bogeyman (Big Pharma, etc.).

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  34. 34. marclevesque 7:28 pm 09/11/2013

    Curiouswavefunction,

    “anyone who has worked in drug development knows how different rats are from humans”
    Are you saying better testing protocols are needed? If, yes, a lot of scientists in the field agree (each new GMO needs to be tested from scratch, so far industry has caught all problems, some very serious, before the product reaches the market, labeling would at least give us some help in catching problems industry might miss with present protocols).

    There are options to bt corn if the point is to reduce pesticide use.

    Problems with many “industrial” farming techniques are not solved with GMOs.

    Version 0.1 Orange rice was not any good, version 0.2 ? will it help ? research seems to say probably not with what we know so far with similar interventions. So just let the product come to market and survive on its own merits.

    Problems with horizontal gene transfer.

    Overall pesticide use is up
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/02/us-usa-study-pesticides-idUSBRE89100X20121002
    Not surprising since, amoung other things, there are GMO crops that are made to withstand higher herbicide use without dying.

    “But if genetic engineering has not lived up to its own hype, it has accomplished what it set out to do: created virtually indestructible crops designed to withstand the insults of industrial agriculture, and last forever on supermarket shelves. The technology has been a wildly lucrative profit center for biotech companies like Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta — and their shareholders. Whether it can profit the rest of us with more abundant, safe and nutritious food remains to be demonstrated.”
    http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/09/08/the-endless-debate-over-genetic-engineering/

    So overall the article is not a balanced and scientific view of the state of GMO food production, their productivity and health concerns. Except for the innocuousness of GMOs meant for human consumption on the market today, there is good research putting into question all GMO advantages presented in the article, and good counter arguments to all other points.

    If the article is meant as a positive promotion piece for GMOs — well done. But the acceptance of science and respect of scientists by the general public suffers.

    Link to this
  35. 35. Crocodile Chuck 11:16 pm 09/11/2013

    @ ars chemia: born yesterday?

    More on GMO corn failing to protect crops from pests:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/28/usa-gmo-corn-rootworm-idUSL2N0GT1NV20130828

    Link to this
  36. 36. marclevesque 10:16 am 09/12/2013

    Curiouswavefunction,

    “The most detailed regulatory tests on the GMOs are three-month long feeding trials of laboratory rats, which are biochemically assessed. The tests are not compulsory, and are not independently conducted.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20941377 [Debate on GMOs health risks after statistical findings in regulatory tests]

    “The American Medical Association called for mandatory pre-market safety testing of genetically engineered foods as part of a revised policy voted on at the AMA’s meeting in Chicago Tuesday. Currently biotech companies are simply encouraged to engage in a voluntary safety consultation with the Food and Drug Administration before releasing a product onto the market.” http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-19/features/chi-gmos-should-be-safety-tested-before-they-hit-the-market-says-ama-20120619_1_bioengineered-foods-ama-drug-cosmetic-act [GMOs should be safety tested before they hit the market says AMA]

    Safety tests are not compulsory ? The more reason to label ? The following are some studies and commentary that propose improvements and possible problems with current GMO testing:

    “Safety assessment of genetically modified crops” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300483X02004857

    “Substantial equivalence—an appropriate paradigm for the safety assessment of genetically modified foods?” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300483X02004882

    “A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412011000055

    “Animal feeding studies for nutritional and safety assessments of feeds from genetically modified plants: a review” http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00003-012-0777-9

    “Genetically modified crops safety assessments: present limits and possible improvements” Genetically modified crops safety assessments: present limits and possible improvements” http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/2190-4715-23-10

    More serious allegations but I don’t have the background needed to evaluate them:

    “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512005637

    “Answers to critics: Why there is a long term toxicity due to a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize and to a Roundup herbicide” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23146697

    Link to this
  37. 37. marclevesque 6:14 pm 09/12/2013

    Curiouswavefunction,

    I think it’s kind of obvious I’m out of my depth here, too much emotionality in my first comment is a sign too, and there is only so much that can be said in a comment section.

    I guess it is pretty obvious your piece was not a critical review, but I’d be happier if there were less promotion pieces of this kind in Scientific American, or at least there were also critical reviews of these articles. Though it appears there are not many people with enough time or credentials to weed out both the hype of GMOs, and the demonetization of GMOs, and help stop the unproductive escalation of both.

    I’m glad people with more knowledge, at least indirectly and in a general sense, are supporting what I’m saying, and some are commenting here too: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/food-matters/2013/09/10/update-to-boston-review-forum-on-gmos/ Thought it would be nice if the author of the original article engaged more with commenter’s criticisms rather than avoid them by going off on a tangent misdirecting the reader.

    Link to this
  38. 38. marclevesque 10:10 am 09/13/2013

    @marclevesque 6:14 pm 09/12/2013

    “I’m glad people with more knowledge, at least indirectly and in a general sense, are supporting what I’m saying, and some are commenting here too”

    Should read: “I’m glad people with more knowledge are supporting, at least indirectly and in a general sense, what I’m saying, and some are commenting here too”

    “Most Bt toxins are selective for specific caterpillars and closely related species. There are no known effects to mammals, fish, or birds, and they appear safe for consumers. Nevertheless, future varieties that entail changes in plant metabolism could possibly be associated with toxicity.”
    http://www.fas.org/biosecurity/education/dualuse-agriculture/2.-agricultural-biotechnology/bt-corn.html

    “Critics have raised questions about whether this voluntary consultation process provides adequate assurance that GM crops are safe”
    http://www.fas.org/biosecurity/education/dualuse-agriculture/2.-agricultural-biotechnology/us-regulation-of-genetically-engineered-crops.html

    Not unrelated to the subjet of food crops, Pharma GMOs:

    “Gene-containment measures, such as male sterility and chloroplast transformation, are not foolproof and have been known to “leak” genetic material. For example, a supposedly male-sterile variety of biopharm corn that was used to grow the pharmaceutical Avidin turned out to have partially or fully fertile pollen in 18 percent of tested plants. Containment of pharma crops in sealed greenhouses is also not practical when they are grown on a commercial scale. Even with biosafety precautions, the risk remains that pollen containing a transgene for a biologically active protein could cross with a nearby corn crop being grown for human consumption, causing it to produce harmful substances.”
    ["If a food crop is used for biopharming, there must be several redundant levels of confinement, even for field trials. Strategies for reducing the risk of inadvertent gene flow include ensuring “isolation distances” between GM and non-GM crops, imposing geographical restrictions (such as not growing pharma corn in parts of the country where commodity corn is grown), physical barriers to cross-fertilization (such as fences or greenhouses), and biological confinement (such as rendering male plants sterile)"]
    http://www.fas.org/biosecurity/education/dualuse-agriculture/2.-agricultural-biotechnology/potential-risks-of-biopharming-in-plants.html

    “StarLink Corn: A Cautionary Tale”
    http://www.fas.org/biosecurity/education/dualuse-agriculture/2.-agricultural-biotechnology/starlink-corn.html

    “The Prodigene Incident”
    http://www.fas.org/biosecurity/education/dualuse-agriculture/2.-agricultural-biotechnology/prodigene-incident.html

    Curiouswavefunction and others have talked about benefits and potential benefits of GMO food crops. Because I’ve been used to the idea Scientific American was a balanced and fairly neutral publication I’ve been attempting to fill in what they have left out.

    Interestingly, I’m not seeing much media on the current very positive uses and in my opinion very potentially positive research going on with genetically modified bacteria.

    “Genetically modified bacteria were the first organisms to be modified in the laboratory, due to their simple genetics. These organisms are now used for several purposes, and are particularly important in producing large amounts of pure human proteins for use in medicine [...] The drug industry has made good use of this discovery in its quest to produce medication for diabetes. Similar bacteria have been used to produce clotting factors to treat haemophilia, and human growth hormone to treat various forms of dwarfism. These recombinant proteins are safer than the products they replaced, since the older products were purified from cadavers and could transmit diseases. Indeed the human-derived proteins caused many cases of AIDS and hepatitis C in haemophilliacs and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from human growth hormone.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_bacteria

    Some current research:

    “Making fuel from bacteria: Genetically-modified cyanobacteria could be more efficient than ethanol”
    http://phys.org/news/2013-03-fuel-bacteria-genetically-modified-cyanobacteria-efficient.html

    “Researchers modify harmless bacteria to kill harmful bacteria”
    http://phys.org/news/2011-08-harmless-bacteria.html

    “Genetically Engineered Bacteria Prevent Mosquitoes from Transmitting Malaria”
    http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2012/jacobs-lorena-bacteria.html

    Link to this
  39. 39. johncleophas 9:41 am 09/15/2013

    Another propaganda article .. and more political than scientific. .. the article assumes that the consumers are unable to do their research and come to rational informed opinions about what they eat. … Firstly no independent study has ever been done to prove the safety of GMO’s consumed. There is just to many variables involved. U would have to lock up a representative population group for for 10 or more years and only feed them GMOs and do the same with a control group. Something like the Belmont study where doctors were locked up in a hospital for a year. So that study will never be done. Until then consuming GMO’s is experimental.

    Consumers should have the right to information. What they do with that information is their business. If their really is no danger then GMO’s will become accepted in time. So why the need to force GMO consumption on the public. Surely GMO’s needs to earn our trust. When a government or corporate is actively advocating restricting access to information then the alarm should start to ring.

    Link to this
  40. 40. vmaldia 2:52 am 09/17/2013

    you want labeling? fine, but EVERYTHING must be labeled and the ENTIRE truth must be told. Copied this from Madeline’s comments on facebook

    “This product may contain ingredients from hybrid, selectively bred, mutation-bred, or transgenic sources. While it is possible that any of these breeding methods may produce toxicity or allergenicity, the transgenic method is currently more intensively studied, tested, and evaluated for safety than the other two methods.”

    Link to this
  41. 41. Farmbrough 5:45 am 09/17/2013

    This all seems like common sense to me. Unfortunately there is a hysteria against modern genetically modified crops which comes from people who tend to be anti-science and anti-capitalist. It would be nice if such people were FOR something for a change, rather than against everything.

    Link to this
  42. 42. iamlesher 10:06 am 09/17/2013

    HEADLINE: Science magazine OK with chemistry in food production.

    Not really surprising, since the author is a chemist and while I fully agree that we have been modifying food since the dawn of time, he has a few points that are largely based on assumption.

    Specifically, I see no harm in labeling, whereas he finds labeling food to be inherently negative. The counter point to his supposition about labeling “create[ing] unnecessary fear and confusion in consumers’ minds”, is that not labeling has precisely the same effect. It is a subjective metric that is based on individual comfort levels with the organizations who oversee food production.

    Similarly, the underlying theory that he is promoting is that if you are concerned about GMOs, you are following the “herd mentality”, which I do not think is accurate. I believe that the herd (here in America), doesn’t care and/or is largely oblivious.

    On principle, I don’t disagree with GMOs blindly. I do have a large degree of caution with GMOs, however, since in the U.S. we have built an agribusiness model that puts profits in front of health, while having the government policy dictated by the industry. So, seeing as there does not seem to be a watchdog group involved, as a consumer, I would like to have insight into products that were produced using GMOs.

    Link to this
  43. 43. One+One=Four 12:37 pm 09/17/2013

    Arguing that it is “hysteria” that “hurts” science, reason and the poor to question the safety or advocate for labeling of GMOs is bad writing, reasoning and, most significantly, bad science. It does not lend to a healthy scientific discussion about the issue and fails to appreciate the primary function of scientific testing.

    To declare that GMOs are safe because no testing to date has proved otherwise is to say that it was true that the world was flat until testing and observation suggested otherwise or that it was healthy to smoke until testing and observation suggested otherwise. Do we really know the long-term effects of human consumption of large quantities of GMOs? If 10 GMO products are “safe”, does that mean that all GMO products are safe? What are the long term effects on the environment arising from introducing GMO crops? It is good science to ask such questions, not the rantings of some anti-science hysteric.

    Also, why does pro-labeling mean anti-GMO? Skulls and crossbones do not stop the consumption of cigarettes, nutritional data does not stop the consumption of fast food, “high fructose corn syrup” does not stop the consumption of soda, and “brominated vegetable oil” has not stopped to consumption of sports drinks. (Side note – brominated vegetable oil was deemed safe (GRAS) by the USDA before that was withdrawn.) Such labeling simply provides people the ability to make an informed decision about what it is they choose to purchase and consume. The resistance to GMO labeling couldn’t have anything to do with money and big business (as opposed to good science), could it?

    Link to this
  44. 44. d-kitcat 3:11 pm 09/17/2013

    Mattresses and clothing are labeled. Jewelry stores must disclose treatments to gems and must label metal for gold content. Gasoline octane must be labeled. The list goes on but mysteriously, food treatments and complete genetic alteration to food is not required to be labeled. In what Superman-comic-strip-Bizzaro world is this tolerated? In what land is this supported by the law? It is the one in which corporations can dictate the rules to governments that protect their profits – their quest to extract money from the thousand year old practice of farming. To dictate forever to farmers the un-Godly practice of pirating nature and selling it back to us and claiming that they own seeds.

    So food corporations are the only business entity that can by law completely fool the consumer and not disclose product treatments.

    This isn’t even good business practice. Most businesses are required to prove themselves in the marketplace. GMO food producers have hijacked the process with placement of their own executives, like Michael R. Taylor, in the position of director of Food Safety in the FDA – the organization began 100 years ago precisely to stop this kind of thing from happening.

    We are in a ridiculous state in the world today. I wish some sanity and regular old fashioned sense was injected into this discussion.

    It is ridiculous for the consumer not to be informed. It doesn’t happen in other industries or consumer goods and God Knows it should not be happening with food.

    Link to this
  45. 45. d-kitcat 3:17 pm 09/17/2013

    “It turns out that in the public realm, a lack of information isn’t the real problem. The hurdle is how our minds work, no matter how smart we think we are. We want to believe we’re rational, but reason turns out to be the ex post facto way we rationalize what our emotions already want to believe.”

    http://www.alternet.org/media/most-depressing-discovery-about-brain-ever

    As a so-called SCIENTIFIC publication anyone with their name publicly associated with you and agreeing with a stance to support genetic manipulation of food and also claiming that it’s “so safe” it doesn’t need to be labeled is really one day, going to look up and be very embarrassed they were ever once associated with Scientific American.

    If you really believe they are good for the world and safe to eat, then you should demand that they be labeled. The next step would be to market these genetic creations as the superior product you say they are instead of poisoning the environment and destroying organic foods.

    Link to this
  46. 46. d-kitcat 3:25 pm 09/17/2013

    HYBRID – If a Mexican and an Italian hetero couple of the right age and in good health have a baby – that is HYBRID….

    If a person falls in love with a coconut tree, it would take scientists in a lab to cross the DNA to make a coconut/human baby. That is GMO.

    GMO has NOT been done for thousands of years. Hybrids yes… that has been. Two completely different things.

    Link to this
  47. 47. seedkpr 2:37 pm 09/18/2013

    Many indigenous foods have exceptionally high amounts of Vit A, like cilantro, carrots, mangoes, squash, sweet potatoes, eggs, butter, and all have origins in nearly every targeted nation for GE Golden Rice. Also, producing non-GE, high Vit A rice seed is a simple process that can be done on the farm vs. in a lab by a qualified scientist, thousands of miles away, so why would we create a system, through patents, that undermine this ability?

    Link to this
  48. 48. Crocodile Chuck 4:59 am 09/19/2013

    a v interesting global survey of pesticide use and its various side effects. Note the resistance problem noted upthread, in planting pesticide tolerant crops:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/18/the-world-uses-billions-of-pounds-of-pesticides-each-year-is-that-a-problem/

    Irony stands mute.

    Link to this
  49. 49. samsmall 8:33 pm 09/20/2013

    Holy Crap! SA’s editorial is filled with lies. Total lack of credibility.

    Not the least is their claim that “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tested all the GMOs on the market to determine whether they are toxic or allergenic. They are not”

    In a word: Bullshit!

    In fact, the FDA relies on testing by the manufacturers themselves. While they may ask questions (so it’s not entirely just a rubber stamp), there is no government testing in the United States. Particularly in the case of Monsanto, which must give permission to outside organizations that wish to do testing, there is no, or little, private US testing that is not under Monsanto’s thumb. Moreover, most of the testing in the US is short-term, rather than lifetime and multigenerational testing on lab animals.

    Link to this
  50. 50. erielhonan 8:57 pm 10/24/2013

    Claiming that GM is equivalent to selective breeding is either ridiculously misinformed or disingenuous.

    Selective breeding does NOT introduce genes from far-flung species to a food crop genome.

    Selective breeding does NOT make food crops immune to one specific sort of herbicide.

    Selective breeding DOES give us a great diversity of food crops from a single species or genus. Take Brassica – broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, mustard, rapeseed oil, kohlrabi – just to name a few examples from two species in one genus.

    GM is meant to serve monocropping and corporate agribusiness. These are not human agricultural traditions.

    OK, you have golden rice. But you also have high-fructose yielding corn which serves Iowa farmers but harms the health of America.

    GM should be subject to the same level of scrutiny that novel drugs are subjected to, not only for human health but in comparison to similar non-GM products.

    GM is leading to corporate ownership of seedstock, which flies in the face of millennia of human activity.

    GM can be good. In current practice it is generally bad for health, bad for economy, and bad for farmers.

    It shouldn’t be illegal, but it should be stood up to far more rigorous testing than it is.

    And I should have the right to avoid it or not as I choose, through food labeling. It is a social, political, and health controversy that cannot be ignored.

    Label it. And be ethical beyond reproach in using it.

    Link to this
  51. 51. skinnymim 4:21 pm 10/29/2013

    This article sounds very reasonable and soothing, and of course ‘well-informed’ and scientific. However, while suggesting that poor people would only benefit from GM foods, and by implication anyone who cared about them would therefore support all GM, fails to look at history eg. the profound damage done by the so-called Green Revolution for just one example. It also fails to talk about what I understand GM to be : the addition of genetic material from one species to another. Hybridization and cross pollination are not GMs from a scientific standpoint.

    Link to this
  52. 52. Kellynn 4:04 pm 10/30/2013

    I don’t have an issue with most GMO products, but some should be labeled, ones with known common allergenic dna.

    if the tomatoes my hubby goes to buy at the store have fish/seafood dna, I want to know, they would be on my “do not buy” list. simply because I am allergic to shellfish and seafood, i’d rather not take the chance. those who are allergic to things like peanuts would probably feel the same.

    Link to this
  53. 53. michael0156 3:19 pm 01/28/2014

    The author is one in a long list of sellouts. He can deny a connection to Monsanto money, but in the end he is either a very poorly educated person and complete (but very literate) dupe… or he is simply knowingly taking the anti-science position of the industry, willing embracing every fabrication of the industry and the heinously influenced actions of the bureaucrats in charge of the scientists at the regulatory agencies.

    FDA scientists joined a lawsuit to require the FDA commissioner to follow the advice of FDA scientific advisors rather than blindly follow “industry guidance”.

    The Federal judge who heard the case sadly and regettably decided there was no basis in law to curb the biased non-evidence-based decisions of the commissioner.

    Industry tampering is what led to the approval of aspartame after more than a decade of disapprovals based on the adverse health effects (brain tumors) aspartame was causing in animal studies.

    GMO have not merely been rubber stamped by the FDA. There is no need for any biotech firm to go to the FDA for approval of genetically modified food crops because they have been deemed “substantially equivalent” to conventional and organic food crops.

    Under this irrational illogical general guidance a chimpanzee is substanially equivalent to a human being, just looking at 95% of their DNA.

    The author KNOWS he is misleading and lying concerning GMO food crops and animals. Why would someone do that unless they were being paid to do it?

    The author states “…trusting the scientific evidence as far as it takes us, leaving room for uncertainty and making a judgement call based on imperfect but still sound evidence…”.
    Really? In a matter as important as the food our kids are eating this author talks about uncertainty, judgement calls and imperfect but sound evidence? What are the imperfections? Are they related to Arpad Pusztai’s revelations of the gross health effects GM potatoes had on animals? What about the heinous way in which his employer, the British govt and industry shills attack Pusztai? What about his ultimate vindication?

    Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian farmer, ultimately won his court battle against Monsanto. The souless greedy “people” who run Monsanto were exposed during Percy’s long legal battle where Monsanto was ultimately found guilty of contaminating Percy’s crop, then suing Percy for the damage Monsanto had done… that’s not a typo or thoughtless post. Monsanto’s GE canola contaminated Percy’s 40-years-to-development canola strain. Monsanto then sued Percy for illegally growing their patented canola.
    US farmers like Rodney Nelson, are not faring so well. The US Supreme Court recently upheld the right of Monsanto to sue farmer’s whose crop contains more than 1% of any of their patented crops, no matter how the crop came to be growing on their land.

    To this author, does that seem a decision rooted in science, facts, logic or reason?

    Of course it isn’t, but it reflects the degree to which regulatory and court decisions are influenced by Monsanto… and what form does that influence take? How does Monsanto influence judges to make decisions so obviously biased and twisted and illogical and NOT based on science? What could be the control they wield over Supreme court judges and regulatory officials to support such a tragedy as well as the unregulated release of most GMOs into our food supply?

    This “author” knows full well… the same reason he illogically, unscientifically and bald-facedly supports GMO despite admitting “…the scientific evidence [has] room for uncertainty and mak[es] a judgement call based on imperfect… evidence…”

    A shill or a dupe. I believe this author is a shill. He knows the truth, but will never speak it.

    Link to this
  54. 54. TBoned 2:43 pm 02/18/2014

    http://www.nmsociety.org/obesity-statistics.html
    Look at this website and tell me that GMO’s don’t have a direct influnce on health. They may not directly cause health issues but they do lead to obesity!

    Link to this
  55. 55. mranjan 12:46 am 03/17/2014

    This doesn’t necessarily pertain to GMO. I generally wanted to draw the attention of the scientific community towards the dynamics between the seed company and the poor farmers of the developing countries whom you insist so much upon saving.

    I’m a farmer. I represent 150 farmer families where I come from, a small village in a developing country. Farmers who practice ‘organic farming’ by default. Farmers, who have for generations cultivated native species as well as natural hybrids that they identified within their own crop.

    A lot of argument revolves around the notion that [sic] “citizens of developed countries rail against the supposed evils of GMOs from the luxury of their air-conditioned living rooms while a farmer in the developing world would likely donate an arm for a GMO crop if it’s going to bring him greater yields and put food on his family’s table.”

    Let me tell you my version of reality. Here is how that works: a representative from the seed company approaches the village head or the most influential family in the village. You can imagine things they would tell a poor farmer to convince them that the new seeds are god sent; that the farmer would be doing his community a great service by involving more people in his village.

    There may or may not be a need to ‘gratify’ the ‘point of contact’ in the village in cash or kind depending on how shrewd or gullible he is. The ‘point of contact’ then calls for a village meeting and ‘cooperative’ families are selected. From that point onwards, the participating ‘farms’ kind of just follow the instructions. The specialist from the company observe the growth and development of the crop. ‘Buyers’ are invited to buy the produce by the company representative. By this time, they have everyone by the gills. To have a buyer buy at farm!!???? At market rates?? That is the proof of existence of god for farmers like us. A success story is written and the farmers are taught phrases to repeat to the cameramen and news reporters.

    Once this step is complete, the state’s agricultural minister is approached with the ‘success stories’ and the participating farmers. The poor farmers have no money to buy the seeds so the companies want the state government to buy the seeds and sell them to the farmers at a subsidized rate or just give them away for free under any applicable federal or state scheme. Do not assume that the minister would now not expect a kickback. He’ll be paid too.

    Once a contract is signed between the state and the seed company. That’s the last you’ll see of the company representatives, their specialists, the farm equipment they brought to help. The farmers will grow the crop and will surely have an outrageously successful crop. He will however not have a buyer standing at his door this time. He and his family will wake up at 3AM to harvest the produce, by 6AM they would have loaded it on a modified jeep which will carry some 40 people to the central vegetable market in the city where the traders buy farm produce. There, the farmer realizes that every other farmer is bringing the exact same produce. The traders by now are offering 1/100th price of what the farmers expected. Hundreds of farmers DUMP their produce and take back empty baskets because they can’t afford to pay for taking it back home. (This dumped produce is however collected by the traders at the end of the day and sold as cattle fodder)

    A 9th grader in my ‘developing country’ knows the difference between Mendelian Genetics and Genetic Engineering. Any reasonable scientist would tell you that just because you’re not seeing side effects of ‘Genetically Engineered’ food which has crept into our diet could very well be because you don’t know ‘yet’ what to look for.

    I don’t believe in fear mongering. We have Thalidomide and Tryptophan but we also have polio vaccine and MMR. It has so much potential, I almost want to work in this industry. Hell, no one is going to let me splice cross kingdom gene in humans to make better humans but don’t let them fool you that GMO will protect farmers. In most developing countries, individual farm land are in acres, not in hectares. I am considered a big farmer and I have just 50 acres. There’s very limited scope of mechanized farming. There’s no lack of traditional knowledge to cultivate crop round the year under ‘uninsured irrigation’ conditions. Farmers who managed to develop a system where their Farm to Table logistics was unencumbered, sent their children to study in Kellogg’s and Cornell.

    I don’t know about the rest of the world; but we don’t need GMO for our farmers. We need capacity building. Cold Chains. Irrigation. Logistics. Food Processing. I have seen a man, a woman, a girl and a boy, hanging from a rotting wooden beam of their hut with a land full of standing crop. God bless farmers whose lives have bettered but do not belittle the pain of millions of farmers hamstrung by the seed companies. Do not tell me to my face that this is for the good of the farmers. No, in its current structure, it’s not.

    Link to this
  56. 56. FOUNDUP 2:16 am 04/12/2014

    “we have been consuming genetically modified foods for 20 years without much trouble.” — Is this so… Look at all the statistics on US health in the last 20 years and they are all negative. Autism rates, allergy to food, Leaky gut syndrome etc are significantly increased. But the lost alarming kenary is the honey bees that since the introduction of systemic pesticides and GMOs have been collapsing. 99% of GMOs are toxic to the environment and to the insects that contribute to making 70% of our food. We plant about the size of France in toxic Roundup Ready corn and the size of Italy in BT pesticide. Both products are poisoning the water vital for life. The warnings are all around up. The evidence of the harm of GMOs is surmountable and growing.

    Link to this
  57. 57. FOUNDUP 12:41 pm 04/12/2014

    lol is it me or does n1 else reading these comments see Monsanto PR firms with paid cronies posting BS in support of toxic GMOs that are directly poisoning the water vital for life and making our food sub par. Do you know that new growth and fruit absorb up to 80% of the roundup and sprayed on it? This is why it is ILLEGAL under the Monsanto terms for Roundup alfalfa sprouts to be sold as an edible food to the public. Monsanto scientist know eating alfalfa Roundup ready sprouts would be like eating Roundup out of the can. Why does Monsanto do whatever it can to control studies on its products if they are so safe?! Simple fact is anyone with a brain and simple looks at the data knows we have a real issue at hand. I wonder how much Monsanto and their bumchum cronies advertise in SA or donate to ngos under their influence or board leadership… I be it’s significiant.

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