November 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm #1205
Here is a place to say whatever is on your mind regarding genetically modified organisms. Post Youtube videos, tell a story, have a debate.November 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm #1207
Let me get the conversation started here.
My take is this: The greatest danger lies in the communicability of the genetic information. The common problem we are seeing is that these new life forms are genetically aggressive, and are quick to take over other varieties.
So lets just pretend everyone says “Coffee will be extinct in 5 years”.
Ok, then we have a choice… would we risk all coffee on
earth becoming GMO to solve the problem? If a harmful vegetable was created we would potentially be stuck with it unless we could modify it back to health? Is that even remotely a possibility?
And what if insects or animals, even fungus or bacteria will suffer, how will that affect us?
So, bottom line, the decision to modify a life form affects all life on the planet. Should a pesticide company be making those kind of decisions?
And how many of the problems that GMO’s are “Solving” were created by the earth-abusive farming techniques endorsed by those creating the GMO’s?
These are my questions and that is my current perspective.November 17, 2012 at 8:43 pm #1233
Safety assessments of GM foods are based on the idea of “substantial equivalence” such that “if a new food is found to be substantially equivalent in composition and nutritional characteristics to an existing food, it can be regarded as safe as the conventional food.”
Source: Society of Toxicology. The safety of genetically modified foods produced through biotechnology. Toxicol. Sci. 2003; 71:2-8.
Ripped from: http://www.aaemonline.org/gmopost.html
The major problem here is that the entities who decide that GMOs are safe base their conclusion on the very narrow basis of estimating, with rather sparse data, that the food is not dangerous to human health. There is evidence that it is dangerous, and this is the argument that those who support Prop37 and are against GMO food generally try to lean on. However, the genetic manipulations themselves, regardless of whether or not the resulting crop is suitable as a food source, is highly concerning. The process by which GMO food is generated involves the random insertion of genetic fragments of DNA from one organism to another. Both the location of the transferred gene sequence in the corn DNA and the consequences of the insertion differ with each insertion, and particular cells that have taken up the inserted gene are selected in the lab on the basis of a selectable set of traits, like hardiness to resist chemical toxin or expression level of the foreign gene as assessed through a “kill” assay. In this manner, the industry selects for market the transgenics that show the best selected outcomes. I think this necessarily provides the new transgenic plant with a selective advantage over the original plant once it is grown in the outdoor environment. It is important to realize that the scientists that create these new improved versions of crops may know how recombinant DNA technology works, but they are infants with regard to understanding how the genome at large of that species operates, and it is only in the past couple of years that an awareness of how the environment alters genomic function (epigenetics) has led to the first understandings of the biological mechanisms which underlie these processes. The other thing that is important to understand is that like all people, scientists work on what is easiest first. The crops that are now GMO are in part selected because their genomes copy themselves in ways that facilitates genetic manipulation. For example, in biomedical research, transgenic mice are used very commonly, in part because mouse genomes use a process called homologous recombination when they copy themselves – a phenomenon that lets scientists easily manipulate the mouse genome. People have genomes that do not use homologous recombination, and so making a transgenic human is much harder. The point here is that the manipulated crops, by nature, have developed through evolution an easy ability to swap genes. That means that the artificial genes that scientists put in may have a facilitated ability to “jump” into the wild, native plants which are most like them, particularly the parent strain. Biomedical researchers quickly recognized that they could study the effects of knocking out a gene of interest in a transgenic mouse, but the effect of knocking the gene out caused unpredictable compensatory effects as well, because the gene was absent all through the mouse’s development. In the same way, EVEN IF the GMO crops are safe to consume, the introduction of the transgene will likely cause unpredictable effects on how other genes operate. EVEN IF the particular clone of a corn plant is tested so that during its season of growth any compensatory changes are tolerable, in terms of causing no unwanted (unprofitable) effects, the escape of the transgenes into the wild will end up being passed on to the next generation. Each generational passage is under selective pressure, meaning that the hardships of the environment will favor particular plants that due to their natural genetic variation are more “fit”. Now, if there is a foreign gene present, that is affecting the function of native genes, then the natural process of evolution is also affected. After several or more generation, the species will have adapted in unpredictable ways, gene sequences change, and there is never any going back. The new hardier plant may overtake some other species which it could never do before, or it may be weakened and eventually no longer be able to thrive. Accordingly, it is possible that “safe” GMO plants could in time destroy the very species they were originated from, or another species.
In this regard, the decision making process of classifying GMOs as safe, based on the idea of “substantial equivalence” such that “if a new food is found to be substantially equivalent in composition and nutritional characteristics to an existing food, it can be regarded as safe as the conventional food”, is problematic and should not be used as the criteria for GMO approval, nor for arguing the safety of GMOs.November 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm #1235
How do we identify what is GMO and what is not? Are there blanket assumptions we can make such as if it’s labeled organic it is not GMO? When I’m at the grocery store what do I look for? Is there a standard mark or statement for non-GMO products that I should look for?November 18, 2012 at 5:16 am #1237
In the state of Washington there is an initiative called I-522 that is calling for labeling of GMO foods. I believe Prop 37 is California’s .November 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm #1250
What we really need is data that shows what the transgene expression profiles are of GMO corn and GMO corn-containing products. Indeed, all GMO-containing products, which I estimate exceeds 80% of what is in my local supermarket. Which transgene constituents are actually in the food supply. There is ample soil sample constituent data with regard to chemtrails, so I find it remarkable how difficult it is to find any hard data on the transgene expression profiles of marketed GMO food. These are relatively easy assays, which I could do in my lab, so I can’t figure out why I cannot find the data. Monsanto has many transgenes and cellular transformants, from which they select what they will market, but what is actually winding up in the commercialized products?
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