Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Genetically Modified Organisms.  Typically this discussion is debated in relation to foodstuffs.  I personally have no objection to GMO foods in general.  I have a hard time imagining how humanity is going to feed the growing population of humans on earth without GMO foods.  If studies have shown a food to be safe, then I do not oppose eating it.

But there is a lot of concern on this topic.  People are very scared of genetic modifications.  For myself, even as a child I loved the idea of genetics and genetic manipulation.  I fell in love with Punnett Squares when I was 12.  The science of genetic selection is fun and exciting to me.  I tend to assume that opposition to GMO foods just boils down to fear of science.

But I know a lot of intelligent people who are very concerned about GMO foods.  I would like people who are against GMO foods to comment here and tell me why.  If you can provide data against GMO's I would appreciate it.

I am biased to support GMO's until proven otherwise.  I think there should be discussion of them.  We need to make sure that GMO's are not doing things like killing bees.  We need to protect against genetic patents penalizing inadvertent cross pollination.  In fact I think there needs to be a serious discussion about the wisdom of allowing genetic patents.

I don't want to go on too long.  I want a discussion here, because I would like your help in forming a better more informed opinion.  What's your take?


  1. The issue with GMO's is not the fact things are being genetically modified, or HOW they're being genetically modified.

    It's WHO is genetically modifying them, WHAT they are being genetically modified for, and WHY.

    There's a couple ways we genetically modify things. The more we learn about how, the cleaner, faster, and more efficiently we do it. We're starting to be able to modify human genetics. Thank goodness we got the Nazi crazy out before our science grew to this point. Because forced selection + actual modification will lead to some scary creatures formerly human. But it's a good thing we're modifying human genetics. And the ability to modify is really important.

    Who is genetically modifying things is a problem. It's mega corporations with no loyalty to any one country or location. Correction; It's mega corporations with no loyalty to anyone, country or location. Monsanto is the worst, but a dozen groups are doing this. The most concerning, after MONSANTO, is the oil interest that owns the creatures that can eat crude. What? We have organisms that can help clean up oil spills?!? Why doesn't the public know about this?!? ::makes the money gesture with a hand:: It hurts the bottom line, and opens up a whole new field of terrorism. More problematic than who is modifying organisms is why these organizations are modifying organisms. Who would be no problem, if not for why. To be honest, only massive corporations with millions to sink into RnD, or Governments, have the capitol necessary to do research into Genetic Modification. But because of the Exxon 1984 rulling, it is possible to own genetic code, to own an entire species. Talk about fucking slavery (but they're just plants and we eat them anyway . . . . Don't care, I'm looking into the future, I'm stopping this now so you can call me a tinfoil hat man and never know the horror I see). And they're doing this for profit, at the expense of everyone around them. ESPECIALLY FARMERS.

    ::takes a deep breath, steps away from the Vdarba explanation, puts down the hammer, takes a drink, takes another, walks away for some more time, then returns, still highly agitated::

  2. Corporations are copyrighting entire genetic sequences and bankrupting the world for petty profits. That's the why. And the WHY is the reason for making WHO an important issue. Lastly, it's the WHAT. 10 years ago, golden rice was invented. It was a high yield, conventional farming friendly form of rice which requried less water, was less susceptable to the weather, and had more nutrients than regular rice. There was an entire TIME Magazine about it. Where is Gold Rice Now? Locked up in some dungeon somewhere, possibly owned by Monsanto (who also controls the FDA), making sure it does no good for anyone because there's no profit in that rice. If WHO was modifying these organisms to have better yields, or be more resistant to the weather, or need less water, that'd be one thing. But no. They're being modified to withstand more chemicals, more polutants, some are even being modified to grow poison in them. And we're eating this shit because WE. DON'T. KNOW. In short, WHAT organisms are being modified against is not in the best interest of the public.

    In closing. I'm right there with all the rabble rousing ANTI GMO people. But I dont' hate GMO's. I don't even hate the idea of GMO's. I love the idea. I love the science. I love we have the ability. i HATE who is doing it. i HATE why they are doing it. but worst of all, i HATE what they are modifying against. We need laws to protect the public. And the sooner we can get people to figure out 'round up' is one of the worst persistant organic pollutants available on the market to day (seriously, it's like Agent Orange on a time release, only it never goes away), and that there are plants that grow poisons to kill birds and mice IN THEM, the sooner we can get governments to step in and tell these corporations to fuck off. Because it's not okay, and it really needs to be marked for OUR PROTECTION.

    I understand I feel strongly about this, and it clouds my ability to make a coherent statement. I apologize. If you want to know more, I ask you help me by keeping your questions to a very small area of the discussion so I can focus on that aspect at the exclusion of the others. Because, perfect world, most of the policy makers at Monsanto would be lining street lights around the planet. I'm fairly certain the farmers of Vdarba specifically, and India in general, would agree.

    1. Regarding Golden Rice:

      Far from being mothballed in dungeon somewhere, golden rice has yet to approved for commercialization. There are field trials going on in different locations. They are hoping to have it cleared by 2016. The TIME Magazine article you mentioned spoke of golden rice as a potential crop not a currently viable one.

  3. I have withheld commenting for a few days simply because I really needed to take time to separate my emotions regarding GMO from my rational regarding GMO. In order to be completely open about my position I should state from the beginning that I wanted GMO to be revealed as a big evil. Not because I am inherently predisposed to distrust science or technology but rather I am inherently predisposed to distrust mutli-national corporations that are willing to spend millions of dollars to prevent product transparency. Seeing them caught with their hand in the cookie jar would please me to no end. That is the emotional side of my conflict.

    But there is also the rational side of the conflict. It is this side that tells me I have need to look just at the science of the issue and make an informed decision. Does the science support the claim that GMO crops present a reasonable risk to public health? It almost hurts me to say this but, no, the science does not support the claim at this time. I add the term "at this time" because I do believe it is a technology that will need to be continually monitored and tested. For a quick summary and further investigative links I would suggest this page: http://rameznaam.com/2013/04/28/the-evidence-on-gmo-safety/

    There is of course, the human side of the GMO debate as well. For me this side is best summed up in the controversy surrounding farmer suicide rates in India. To be honest, I never knew this was even an issue until I started researching GMO in earnest at which point I started hearing all about the famers in India (particularly the Vidarbha region) committing suicide in record breaking numbers because they were driven into debt by Monsanto. However, further research into the claim tells me that it just isn't truthful. Farmer's in India have consistently had a high suicide rate compared to the rest of the nation. They have also had an extremely high debt rate. Further more, there seem to be no significant difference between suicide rates before the introduction on Bt cotton and after the the introduction of Bt cotton neither is there a significant debt difference. There are, however, a multitude of other factors involved that contribute to the indebtedness and suicide rates, none of which have anything to do with Bt cotton or Monsanto. For one of the studies I used in reaching this decision please read the following: http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/ifpridp00808.pdf

    I still believe that patenting of life, even if it is a strain of life created in lab, is wrong. I believe that not permitting farmers to save seeds is wrong. In fact there are many business practices of Monsanto et al. that I find disturbing so I cannot bring myself to defend them. But I also cannot bring myself to convict them where they are not guilty.

    I have a long way to go before I ever fully understand GMO, if I ever do. I was so ready and willing to convict them but instead found myself realizing just how much I have yet to learn on the topic.

    I would like to recommend the following article from The New York Times. It doesn't directly answer and questions regarding GMO but it does illustrate one man's journey to understand GMO that I can now personally relate to and appreciate. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/us/on-hawaii-a-lonely-quest-for-facts-about-gmos.html?hpw&rref=us&_r=2