Genetically modified organisms: GMOs, too dangerous to use, or too much benefit, not to use? Whose nonsense?

Concluding comments.

I have a hypothesis that any thread that reaches above 100 comments will deteriorate into off-topic arguments and unrelated stream-of-consciousness comments. I sometimes do the stream of consciousness myself.

I also think that the original poster has an obligation to monitor their own post and subsequent threads, to keep it on topic or let it drift as they see fit. Whether the original poster intervenes with nudges back to topic, efforts to make people step back and have a beer, or closes the thread, is entirely up to the original poster. If the original poster does not intend to follow their topic, then it's time to close it.

This thread, while not intended as a test of my hypothesis, turned out to be an example of same. Interest in the actual original topic waned early on, with divergent evolution of the topic into something else that I didn't care to follow. That process then repeated itself. At 145 comments, and divergence again, I have personally lost interest in following it. If someone else wants to start a "next generation" thread on this topic, please feel free.

With that, this topic is now closed.


This discussion begins as branch of the "Natural" discussion tree, that's now ready for grafting onto its own rootstock and see what grows. Some initial words here. I agreed to present this topc for Sacha, not because I know more about it, but I'm too easily convinced to get myself into these things.

Of course, there is a lot of controversy about genetically engineered crops, that then become "GMOs" (genetically modified organisms) or "Frankenfoods", depending on your nonsense orientation. One could also spin them as "Miracle foods" or "Designer foods" but "GMOs" takes fewer key strokes. For a guy with a case of carpal tunnel going, fewer key strokes is good.

The controversies depend on your biases, what information you collect, and how you weigh it.

Wikipedia article

The controversy:
1. "It's not natural" - well, it isn't. So? I would argue that the "we've always bred plants and animals" argument stretches it - in fact, this is new, we've never put fish genes into potatoes before, or human genes into plants, or whatever weird sounding combination. We've never before bred plants to have toxic pollen, and there is some evidence that insect populations may be effected. But as in the discussion before, the word "natural" is almost meaningless, and does not designate risk or benefit.

2. "It will lead to monopolization of staple food crops by a few compaines, mainly Monsanto" - maybe so. The "Roundup Ready" crops may well create a monopoly for Monsanto. Ultimately, this is a political / social issue, not a biological issue.

3. "Who knows what diseases it will cause" - The argument has been made for allergies. I agree, supervision is needed. An allergen from peanuts could wind upm in corn, and who knows, you might go into anaphylaxis while eating a taco. Other proteins may be allergens. So far.... doesn't seem to be an issue.

4. "It will cause gene pollution" - good point. Genes from GMOs have been found in surrounding plants. This then causes the neighboring farmer to be subjected to patent violation, even though there was no intent to do so, and even if they didn't want those genes in their crops. This principle has been upheld in the US and Canada. In the wrong places, such as the parts of Mexico where corn originates, the genetic pool of corn varieties may become polluted with these new genes. No one knows what effect that will have. Again, this is an issue of regulation, where these crops are grown.

5. "It's not needed" - depends on how you define "needed". A gene to prevent vitamin A deficiency in rice-dependent peoples could prevent 250,000 to 500,000 cases of blindness annually. The key word is "could". "Golden rice"

The dangers of monoculture (Thanks Felch). Past experience with monoculture indicates increased liklihood of disease and disaster. Monocuilture corn cave us corn blight, monoculture bananas resulted in destruction of banana-based economies once and threatens to again. Although, genetic engineering might steer us out of the banana disaster. In forests, tree diversity reduces herbivory by insects (as described in the article titled, "tree diversity reduces herbivory by insects") google search, forest monoculture.

Arguments FOR GMO crops here. Most of these benefits are "potential" although "Roundup ready" is reality.

1. Better resistance to stress: Better pest resistance. Better resistance to severe weather, such as frost, extreme heat or drought.
2. More productive farm animals: Genes might be inserted into cattle to raise their milk yield, for example.
3. More food from less land.
4. Reduce the environmental and human impact of food production and industrial processes.
5. Recovery of damaged or less-fertile land for crops and forests, through creation of salt- and pollutant- tolerant varieties.
6. Bioremediation: Rehabilitation of damaged(polluted) land.
7. Longer shelf lives.easier transport. Reduce spoilage waste, improve dietary diversity.
8. Plant or animal manufacture of vaccines and medicines. Think, insulin.
9. Potential removal of allergenic genes - improve food safety. think, peanuts.

I have mixed feelings about GMO technology and its application. There is potential for nonsense from both sides. My own conclusion is that it's not the technology, it's the application, the regulation, and the weighing of pros/cons in each situation, that matter most. In some cases, the pros seem significant and worth some risk. In other cases, we need to keep out thinking caps on and ask ourselfs if the balance is in the other direction.

Feel free to disagree!

(Note: I removed images that I initially included in this post. Even though I tried to attirbute them to their originalm source, on reading this source, I became concerned that leaving those images in the post could violate fair use. So now they are gone.)

(12/25, title edited to better reflect content of post)

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Replies to This Discussion

GCDT donors DO have a say in the management, and Bill Gates is THE largest donor to the tune of 17.3%, nearly double any other funder.

Bill Gates has declared himself publicly in complete agreement that GMOs will save the world from hunger.

In Bill Gates world view, 'low yields' are the problem whereas most people that matter know full increased yield will be an oversupply problem, surplus creates dumping into third world economies, crashing their economies. Reuters

So you're saying I should not bitch about Bill Gates, because he is an easy and popular mark, as the richest man in the world HE put himself in that position not us, HE put himself there certainly not by being Mr Nice Guy. So because he's THE richest man in the world we should NOT criticize him???????? Strange logic.
Gates is certainly fair game for criticism, as is any other public figure. That doesn't mean the criticism should be based on unwarranted suspicion.
TNT666: So because he's THE richest man in the world we should NOT criticize him???????? Strange logic.

Schopie number 1: 1 Carry your opponent's proposition beyond its natural limits; exaggerate it.

Won't even itemise the others. If you are not prepared to discuss rationally, move along somewhere else. I am not going to respond to your gibberish if it only begets more gibberish.
This is a beautiful example of why the "liberal left" is a farce that derails itself. It is total autopilot Pavlovian response. Bill Gates is -

a) white
b) male
c) rich

Therefore, he is evil and everything is his fault. QED. It is idiot non-thinking at it's worst. It is also in it's own way bigotry.

The most repugnant irony is that those that identify as "liberal left" are unaware that they are anything but liberal - quite the antithesis in fact. They are authoritarian ideologues peddling their own dogmas and persecuting heresies against them. There is nothing liberal about them whatsoever.

I have very many reasons to hate Bill Gates. This is not one of them. My irony is that 10 years ago I would never have imagined that I would ever defend him.
Hmm. "Liberal left" is too broad a term for those you're referring to. I would go with something like "reactionary Marxist post-modernists". I'd say Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is "liberal left". I doubt he's got a problem with Gates's philanthropic endeavors. "Liberal left" includes a lot of soccer moms and engineers that don't fit the authoritarian ideologue description. They just want universal health care, comprehensive sex education, gay rights, etc, etc, without putting rich white males in the dungeon.
jason: Hmm. "Liberal left" is too broad a term for those you're referring to.

Point taken. I stated those that identify as "liberal left". Liberalism is independent of the largely irrelevant left-right spectrum, and a genuine liberal left does exist - however it's been villified and debased out of existance. Most people identify PETA and our own Jacq Homan as "liberal left" - when they are nothing of the sort. These folks do more damage to left liberalism than the combined might of Fox and GOP.
Wonderful too the 'philantropy' of cigarette companies, alcohol, Shell, and all other corporations which need to flatter the public's ego by selling all their 'nice side'.

I just refuse to fall for the good guy intention there. Unless we want to redefine philantropy as when people who've had absolute atrocious behaviour (in BG's case by illegal business practices) then going on to buying back their soul to 'appease god' or gain their children's respect.

I don't believe in buying respect.
Well, not that it has anything to do with GMOs, but yeah, bundling was an idiotic reason to go after Microsoft for antitrust. A better reason would be their "per-processor licensing" contracts with computer manufacturers. Ostensibly to thwart pirating, Microsoft required OEMs to purchase a copy of DOS for every processor they bought from Intel, even if they put some other OS on the built-out system. Now that's an anti-competitive business practice.

The other thing Microsoft does that I find disturbing is buying up little companies and then killing their products. I actually don't think they buy the companies with this end in mind, but they usually don't manage the integration very well, and the company and its products just sort of disappear into the maw. Of course, that's not illegal. Hell, most of the time it doesn't even benefit Microsoft.

The real problem is that antitrust laws are so poorly written that it's impossible to know if you are in violation of them until a judge tells you you are. They should just make it illegal to merge with or acquire other companies once a firm's market cap is over $10B. Or use some other metric that people can actually determine independently. As it is, if you charge too much, you're gouging, if you charge too little, you're dumping, and if you charge just right, you're colluding. Microsoft has been accused of all three for the same product at the same time. Doesn't leave a whole lotta price points available.
TNT666: Wonderful too the 'philantropy' of cigarette companies, alcohol, Shell, and all other corporations which need to flatter the public's ego by selling all their 'nice side'.

What the fuck has any of this got to do with anything discussed ? You are a derailing manual.

Let's analyse your position -

* Blind faith, Argument from Personal Incredulity and denialism: The rich are incapable of philanthropy without an ulterior motive. The just aren't. You don't know why, but you believe, therefore it's true.

* Ad hominem, Straw man and guilt by association: What exactly does Gates have to do with the 'philantropy' of cigarette companies, alcohol, Shell, and all other corporations which need to flatter the public's ego by selling all their 'nice side'. ?

* Confusing association with causation: Predatory 'assimilate or destroy' practices by Microsoft are behind this seed bank idea. Huh ?

* Non-sequiturs and inconsistencies: you're drowning in them.

I don't believe in buying respect.

That's fair, because you don't deserve any yourself. You have yet to present a single coherent statement. You are babbling hearsay, rumour, fallacy and nonsense and are just expecting everyone here to eat it up without question. Sorry, no. It doesn't work like that.

You raving is indestinguishable from that of a theist, conspiracy loon or a shaman to me. Stop spewing garbage, stop insulting our intelligence.
Actually - it has been worked out that Bill Gate's money can no longer NOT make more money. Think about it - take just 10 billion of it and put it in a low yield checking account. every 1% of $10,000,000,000 = $100,000,000.

Now - it's possible you can't take the profit motive out of the boy ...
And at any time with an inflation rate greater than 1%, even that $100,000,000 would represent "a loss".
OK guys, now we've analyzed Bill Gate's evil intentions.

I got my seeds in the mail last weekend. Tomatoes, beans, peppers. Not a goddam GMO in the bunch. Unless there was some gene pollution in the Burpee seed plots. Well, if there was, I could spray Roundup around the yard and still get tomatoes! Cool!

Hey - "GMO"! "gene pollution". "Roundup Ready". This might be a discussion about GMOs!

Cant transfer genes between species without genetic technology? How about these sea slugs - they photosynthesize. Apparently they incorporated algea chlorophyl organelles and DNA into their cells. Cool! Now we can make ROundup Ready Sea Slugs!



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