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drhat77's avatar

GMO (Genetically Modified) Foods? What's the deal?

Asked by drhat77 (6195points) September 22nd, 2013
27 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

What does the collective think about this? Good, bad, or ugly? I’ve really never understood why everyone’s panties are in a wad over this. Is there some genuine thing to be concerned about? Or is just fear mongering?
I find it somewhat ironic that opponents call it Frankenfoods, when the monster was in fact the protagonist, and the ignorant villagers who wanted to snuff out its life the antagonists.

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Answers

chyna's avatar

Obviously I don’t get out much. What is GMO foods?

drhat77's avatar

@chyna thanks I’ve edited the question.

Coloma's avatar

@chyna Genetically modified food crops.
Well….nature has hybridized and crossbred many species all by itself, but when we’re talkin’ Monsanto…well….evil rides in on a dark soybean. lol

drhat77's avatar

@Coloma is that facetious or are you being serious? I really don’t know. I know pharmaceutical companies ave been known to fudge facts when in their benefit but also make drugs which are the staple of disease management in the developed world. Is Monsanto worse than them?

Coloma's avatar

@drhat77 Yes, Monsanto has the monopoly. They think they can control and claim the wind as their own, as far as cross pollinating goes. They have effectively and not so covertly overtaken the farming industry.
They are an evil, corrupt, and sociopathic corporation.

drhat77's avatar

[citation needed]?

Coloma's avatar

@Rarebear Excellent article!

Rarebear's avatar

@Coloma It’s one of my favorite podcasts. He also does a video podcast called “In Fact”. It’s not as good as Skeptoid, though.

snowberry's avatar

I don’t eat ‘em. Won’t either if I can help it.

drhat77's avatar

Thanks all. The article seems to have a fairly anti green peace slant, although I’m not a fan of their publicity stunts. Are their any genuine scientific concerns about GMOs?

mattbrowne's avatar

Ugly with Monsanto screwing farmers.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t see it as a ”fairly anti green peace slant@drhat77.
If it was attacking GreenPeace as an entity it would segue off into other topics. GreenPeace is the loudest, most influential anti-GMO movement out there. It addressed (not “attacked” IMO) each of Green Peace’s arguments, logically and convincingly.

Silence04's avatar

GMOs are a huge step forward in bioscience. This path will eventually allow us to grow crop in areas where we once couldn’t due to harsh alttitudes or climates.

Cross-breeding is a natural process, GMOs are simply the lab version of cross-breeding. Much like how hydrogen gas is naturally occurring, it can also be made in a lab.

Often, people will associate GMOs directly with Monsanto because they are the big player in the game. While I don’t like some of their business practices, all they have really done is capitalize the farming market. It’s not like they are spreding lies about GMOs or actually doing anything any more harmful than traditional or organic farming practices. They’ve simply made their crop more resilient to their pesticide, allowing for a healthier crop cycle.

I think peoples main fear with Monsanto is that their seeds are also modified to prevent reproduction of their “patented” modified genes. In other words, after the first harvest of their crop, the new seeds produced in that harvest revert back to the original, non-modified, gene. Forcing farmers to rebuy their seeds from Monsanto in order to continue with their easy “plant it, and forget it” farming lifestyle. The fear is that these modified seeds would inadvertently cross breed with normal crop and somehow create this mutated seed that doesn’t reproduce at all, destroying all plant life. Which is a pretty far fetched concern.

Most of the anti-gmo propaganda is flowing out from big players in the $26 billion/year organic foods industry. They tend to make some pretty radical claims, but if you follow all of their information to the source articles, you’ll find a lot of bogus tests that don’t even hold up in the global scientific community.

drhat77's avatar

I was looking for any science that has legitimate concerns about GMOs. I was certain a search would be awash in biased rubbish, but there should be some reasonable downside, right?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why should there automatically be a downside?

drhat77's avatar

There’s usually a downside to most things. I just doubt its the doom and gloom which is all I can find on the net.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Some people have a need to be outraged everyday.

wildpotato's avatar

The concern for most environmentalists is not with the modified plants themselves so much as with the reasons they are modified. The overarching rationale is to grow plants in ways that they are not naturally suited to grow, such as being drenched in pesticides and herbicides, growing on fallow soil injected year after year with chemical fertilizers, and in a monoculture. These practices have an extremely destructive environmental impact.

drhat77's avatar

But wild type phenotype usually overtake monocultures as soon as fastidious conditions are removed.

wildpotato's avatar

Sure, granted. But that’s kind of a moot point in the debate because rewilding or organic reclaimation is not allowed to happen very often. Farming is dominated by the GMO/inorganic method, largely because of the subsidy program for corn and soybeans – which Monsanto lobbies for heavily. It’s a horrible cycle of corporate and political profit at the expense of public health, agricultural sustainability, ethical treatment of animals (mostly the poor corn-fed cattle), and the environment, and GMOs are an increasingly important link in that profit chain.

drhat77's avatar

Yes Monsanto’s business practices are super shady, but I want to try to remove that from the equation. Would Vulcans use GMO crops at our level of technical sophistication? Or are there inherent downsides that even the best business practices cannot overcome?

wildpotato's avatar

Well, I think that’s a matter of personal disgust level about “mutants,” at least until we get some really long-term studies done of how each change affects the plant, the environment, and the consumer. For my own part I don’t feel put off by genetic modification in and of itself, any more than I feel put off by a tomato being bred to be edible from their original poisonous state or my dog not looking like a wolf. Divorced from the terrible things GMOs foster, I tend to think that they are merely a speeded-up and more precisely controlled form of utilitarian (rather than natural) selection, and I find nothing inherently wrong with this as a concept.

drhat77's avatar

I made some against Monsanto say that GMO foods (maybe) ok?
I WIN AT FLUTHER!

wildpotato's avatar

Haha, well done. To clarify my position a bit: GMOs do not (theoretically – obviously we need the aforementioned testing before such a statement can be made without qualification) have to be used for evil. Like in the Simpsons when Lisa makes the big tomato for the science fair and imagines a family in a developing country cutting slices off and giving thanks to her picture over the dinner table. However, GMOs as they are currently used are very damaging.

wildpotato's avatar

Just finished your article, @Rarebear. Thanks for posting that – I googled earlier for information about non-evil uses for GMOs but could not find any. So it looks like they do, in fact, already use some GMOs primarily for the purpose of feeding the hungry, and others for medicine. Very cool.

It’s interesting to note, however, that the article seems to go downhill about halfway through when he starts bashing Greenpeace. None of the links he provides to back up his quotes of them work. And he glosses over the point Greenpeace made about pesticides reframing the argument as one about synthetic v. organic pesticides rather than what it is really about, which is whether the best practice is to include toxins at all or not in the agricultural process. He also doesn’t address the need for more extensive testing and observation of the effects of GMOs, nor the fact that the hybridization we are talking about is sometimes way weirder than attaching a rice gene to wheat, such as attaching a fish gene to strawberries (not to say that weird = bad, just pointing out that the example he used was cherry picked as one of the non-weird ones).

Dutchess_III's avatar

I posted @Rarebear‘s article to fb. Got not one single response. If I had prefaced it with “OMG! Look what Monsanto is doing now!!” there would have been a boat load of responses, all along the line of, “That article PROVES how bad it is!”

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