Your slant on GM Crops...

Discussion in 'Community' started by kiwi_the_iwik, Mar 12, 2004.

  1. kiwi_the_iwik macrumors 65816

    kiwi_the_iwik

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    #1
    It's all coming to a head in the UK now that GM crops have been given the green light by the Government.

    What absolutely annoys the crap out of me is that people fail to realise that GM Crops are for animals like Cattle - where it ENHANCES their diet, so they can actually eat pesticide-free rape/maize crops. Try to tell the "Greenies" that - Admittedly, I'm a great advocate for a healthy(ish) lifestyle, and admire what they do. But it was only 15 years ago that CATTLE were being fed OFFAL in the UK, which led to BSE, or Mad Cow Disease. Now THAT'S dabbling with nature - you DON'T make a herbivore eat meat. What did they THINK would happen?!? I didn't see the Greenies up in arms until years later, when the first human cases emerged...

    Not only THAT, but if there's such a public outcry about the use of GM crops, then why don't they clamp down on the steroid useage on Battery Hens? Their eggs end up in restaurants, or even in our own pantries. And there is a HUGE market for poultry which is fed steroids as a growth enhancer. A classic abuser of this is KFC, yet NOBODY batts an eyelid when it comes to pointing the finger. As the consumer, we injest far more pollutants and toxins in our bodies because we take in the end product - meat LACED with steroids, which inevitably affect our OWN bodies.

    What's YOUR views? Sorry about the rant - just tired of the whole POLITICAL CORRECTNESS of the situation...
     
  2. iGav macrumors G3

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    #2
    I generally don't listen to one-sided opinions of extremists or activists... or extreme activists come to that, they have a singular agenda and goal, and thus it's difficult to attain a balanced, intelligent and unbiased discussion on the topic if you just listen to their viewpoints and opinions.

    Unfortunately the media give far to much airtime to these people, rather than actually providing balanced, factual information for the general public to digest so that they can make up there own minds, instead we get force fed information from alarmist extreme activists, generally tailored only to report what they want to report and that backs up their opinions, and conveniently misses out the stuff that doesn't.

    I'm all for grown up, intelligent discussion on the subject, but yeah, I think it's an interesting area that requires more research, pretty much the way the Government are progressing with it at the moment, they just need to make more information available, because you can go and ask Joe on the street, and the chances are, they won't have the foggiest, but will recite some babble about how it'll destroy, ruin, kill, pollute everything etc etc and how that makes it bad.... :rolleyes:
     
  3. kiwi_the_iwik thread starter macrumors 65816

    kiwi_the_iwik

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    #3
    Yeah - I know what you mean about Joe Public. I was astounded that the general population have absolutely NO idea what a GM crop IS, or what positives it can do. Recently, a camera crew went out to do vox pops amongst the great unwashed with the question on what impact it will have on the public. EVERY single reply said that they were against eating a GM crop.

    NOT ONE of them realised that it wasn't THEM who would be eating the crops, but the livestock. In times of drought, failed crops or just plain financial difficulty, these things are a Godsend to the ordinary farmer.

    I'm not saying that they are the answer to all our problems, but - like iGav says - the media are giving far too much time to the activists. We, as the PUBLIC, should be made more well informed, and not pander to media hype.

    I'm just pointing out the double-standards that come out in our society. Why is ONE thing absolutely wrong, yet another of the same vein completely acceptable?
     
  4. kettle macrumors 65816

    kettle

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    #4
    Right or wrong....

    a few things come to mind.

    Lord Sainsbury

    The GM Farms he owns (blind trust)

    Pandora's Box
     
  5. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040

    MongoTheGeek

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    #5
    One thing that worries me is the crops that get the air-time are the crops that are immune to pesticides. The same result (and quite likely the same genes) could be obtained after a decade of selective breeding.

    I would love for more people to hear about the crops that are naturally resistant to fungus and therefore don't need to be sprayed with fungicide. Or things like Golden Rice, which is rice that had the gene for beta-carotene (an A vitamin analog) inserted which gives a nutrient that people in some 3rd world countries lack(leading cause of preventable blindness world wide!) Tastes like normal rice and cooks like it but has a yellowish color. Hence the name or the potato engineered with the 1 amino acid that it was missing.
     
  6. ebow macrumors 6502a

    ebow

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    #6
    I find it interesting that GM foods are barely on the issues radar in the U.S. During the first half of 1999 (only time I was in the UK for an extended period) I don't think a week went by when I didn't hear something about it. I wish they could do some testing already to start to establish a scientific basis for the issue. I know, it's the long-term effects that are the biggest worry, and the hardest to test. But the stuff could be next to harmless for humans, for all we know, right? That's more than can be said about the high fructose corn syrup and partially-hydrogenated oils that we consume every single day.
     
  7. bryanc macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Like so many technologies, the problem is *how* to use it

    Speaking as a molecular biologist and environmentalist, I'm not opposed to the technology, but I'm very worried about how it is/will be used.

    The problem here is that, as a culture, we've ceded responsibility for technological development from the public sector (e.g., universities) and transferred it to the private sector (corporations). Corporations have several characteristics that make them poor stewards of the public interest: they're profit-driven (nothing wrong with that, in principle, but when the interests of society conflict with the interests of the share-holders, guess who's gonna win), secretive (again, perfectly reasonable from their POV), and not accountable to anyone but their stock holders.

    So, while I can envision thousands of very desirable uses of transgenic crops, the most common uses are to increase resistance to pesticides sold by the same companies that are modifying the plants (e.g., 'Round-up Ready Canola' by Monsanto), requiring the farmers to use *more* rather than *less* herbicide.

    My point is that the problem (if you agree that there is one) is not with the technology, but with the application of the technology. And that this problem with the applications are the result of decisions made by profit-driven corporations, rather than public-interest driven bodies (which is what governments are supposed to be, but governments have, over the past decades, become the lap-dogs of corporations and are increasingly failing to fill this role).

    In order to effectively deal with this, we, as a society, need to recognize that the myriad individual examples of corporate misconduct are just symptoms, and that the problem is that we've allowed corporations too much freedom. It is therefore the responsibility of the citizen to insist that their elected representatives protect the public interest, rather than the private interests of corporations, and it is the responsibility of the consumer to refuse to support corporations that behave in irresponsible ways.

    Cheers
     
  8. tpjunkie macrumors 65816

    tpjunkie

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    #8
    Speaking as a Bio major who knows the processes by which GM crops are produced (and even spent 2 weeks transforming colonies of e. coli with a jellyfish gene to make it glow under a uv light last year, which is basically the same concept but much simpler), the only downside I envision for GM products would be the almost certainty of these products "escaping" into the wild, and cross breeding with the wild type organism, or possibly directly competing with and eliminating it. Other that that, I'm all for it, and the benefits it can bring.
     
  9. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040

    MongoTheGeek

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    #9
    I would love some of the glowing green e coli to escape and cross breed...

    Imagine the fun of leaving a load like that in the toilet :)
     
  10. tpjunkie macrumors 65816

    tpjunkie

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    #10
    Yeah, but you'd have to mount a black light over the stall for the full effect... :p Also, the ampicillin resistance gene we had to insert to select for transformed cells would make them a little nastier than regular e. coli
     
  11. Counterfit macrumors G3

    Counterfit

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    #11
    But it would be worth it to see glowing ****!
     
  12. frescies macrumors regular

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    Los Angeles, CA
    #12
    no

    As mentioned by BryanC, several of the most pressing issues in regards to GM crops have little or nothing to do with actual ingestion of the crop. I'd hope that people have a concern for the environmental consequences at hand, but sadly (as Kiwi stated) people probably only feel selfish concern for themselves. Perhaps they are not objective enough or to self centered to choose to fathom any impact beyond themselves.

    GM crops are scary. They bother me in an indirect manner. It bothers me that WILD corn feilds hidden in "sanctuaries" in South American mountain ranges contain GM genetic material... The same material from crops that were promised to be sterile. Though projections range on the virulence of the spread of (accidentally) fertile GM strains... hopeful estimates show that natural strains may eventually be doomed. Not to mention wildlife.

    Here is an excellent RECENT article on GM crop's effect on wildlife:
    http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/gm/gm.jsp?id=ns99994283



    The "potential benefits" only reflect the same selfish mentality aforementioned. Who's "potential benefits" are they anyway? Yours? Mine? Or the humble farmer whos forced to pay his entire living to the corporations for the license to the Strain he has to buy in order to be REMOTELY competitive in crop production against corporate crops. Are they farmer Bob's potential benefits, when Monstanto slaps a $50,000 fine on farmer Bob for having an "Unlicensed" Maize plant on his property, which he "failed" to uproot because he never noticed that a supposedly sterile strain of GM corn from a nearby, upwind, farm had cross-polinated with a few of his pure-bred plants?

    I may sound like a greenpeace fanatic... But I'm not.


    Ok, yes I am, but there are plenty of other reasons to cite other than just environmental ones (even though the environmental issues alone have enough weight to sway the argument)
     
  13. AhmedFaisal Guest

    #13
    Here is my take, and I am getting a PhD in molecular biology at the moment

    There is a couple of things you are not realizing. First, why is it that NONE, and I mean NONE of of crops have resistance genes, nor do the ancestor plants they were bred out of (if they still exist, like Theosinte for Corn). There is a good reason for that. What do they clone into those plants? Resistance genes, these are genes coding for proteins that will for example kill any bug that is trying to eat that plant. Now, who knows if those proteins do not have detrimental effects on mammals either? There is no testing whatsoever about that. A very good example of that almost becoming a major catastrophy is 00-Raps, one of the very first experiments with genetically manipulated organisms. It was almost on the market when they found dead deer near one of the fields they were planting test-populations of that plant. Turns out the gene they cloned in did have some really horrible effects on the deer that ate them and ultimately led to their death. The biggest problem is that people are being told that using genetically manipulated plants avoids the use of pesticides. That is bull****, the difference is that now the plants produce the pesticides themselves instead. That IMHO is NOT the right way. Another big problem is the way these genes are cloned. Mainly they use plant viruses for that, which increases the risk that the genetic information is transported into other plants, weed-plants creating so called superweeds, which are very hard to get rid of and due to their increased durability can overgrow and kill the natural Flora.
    Yet another problem is cross-pollination, so if you have a farmer that grows genetically manipulated corn on a field close to one of a farmer that does not pollen from that corn will not just stop at the border of that field. It will cross with the corn on the other farmers field which in turn will make that guy a criminal because he didn't pay royalties for using that corn, besides the fact that it will get him into even more trouble if he was selling his corn as non-genetically manipulated, which will get him sued for labelling fraud. Companies like Monsanto are already ****ing farmers by the dozen with that ****, not even thinking about natural plants getting extinct so if it turns out that this **** is unhealthy we have no way to go back because once its out in the environment, it stays there forever.
    These are all issues to be considered. On the health issue, from my knowledge in the field (and I am getting my PhD in Mol. Biol. so I know what I am talking about) we know too little about these things to start deploying them into the environment just like that. And if we still have to do it we should employ measures like we have employed for medication, meaning, long, and extensive testing before it is brought into the market. Its a sick joke to know that with stuff we might take once in our lifetime for a couple of days we make such a big fuss about (meaning medication) while with stuff that we eat every ****ing day, nobody gives a ****.
    Besides what you mentioned above with BSE and all, let me tell you this, THAT is the consumer's fault all the way. People spend more money on their pets and their holidays then what they spend for the food they eat every day. They want it cheap, and that is what they get. There is ecological farming out there, without pesticides, and meat and eggs without any hormones, but well, the tomatoes don't look so nice and round and red and well its all so ****ing expensive, right? Well, I spend about 3 times as much as my peers on food, because I go to an eco-farmer near my town who also raises his own cattle, pigs and chicken. Its the best steaks and eggs I have eaten in my life and when I go to a steakhouse now, the meat there tastes like **** because of all the hormones they use and the stress hormones the animals produce during the long transport to the meat production plants.
    Besides all that, its not like we couldn't go back to that type of farming (unlike what the food industry is telling us). The western countries produce about 10 times (in some areas even a 100 times) more agricultural products then what we consume. We could easily go back to ecological farming without running into shortages, but we don't because the industry and its lobbyists don't want us to. And people don't want it either because then they would have less money to spend on other ****.
    That is my take on the whole issue, I have more to say, but I wrote a lot anyways.
    Cheers,

    Ahmed
     
  14. kiwi_the_iwik thread starter macrumors 65816

    kiwi_the_iwik

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    #14
    Ahmed - you brought up some really good points. I especially like the one about INTENSIVE testing, before released onto the (unknowing) population.

    It sort of makes me think a lot about the use of genetic manipulation in humans - cloning, and the like. I'm NOT an advocate of human cloning, but I AM an advocate of the study in the use of Stem Cells to cure many genetic diseases, or even some cancers.

    I find it sad that there are so many people whose backs suddenly rise at the mere MENTION of Stem Cell investigation. It's a classic case of shooting from the hip.

    An example of the intolerance and ignorance that surrounds us:

    I recently revisited "Bowling for Columbine" - an amazing documentary regarding the absurdity of gun laws and their associated crimes. In it, there was a scene of rabid protestors, vociferously attacking one Marilyn Manson, outside one of his gigs. Inside, Michael Moore was interviewing the man himself - who turned out to be an eloquent and thoughtful speaker (quite contrary to the role that was being flaunted onstage, and the one crucified by the crowd outside). His final question to Manson really put things into perspective -

    "What would YOU have said to those boys, given the opportunity?"
    There was a slight pause - but not much.
    "Nothing," came the reply. "I would listen to what THEY had to say."

    A profound answer - so surely the tarnishing of his character is unfounded?

    My point? Well - apart from asking people to give Manson the benefit of the doubt...

    We are surrounded by people who refuse to look at the full picture, and who make decisions based on flimsy - and usually incorrect - information. I'm not saying that they're ENTIRELY at fault - but I am saying that society in general should be more tolerant and informed. Much of that has to do with the media - for those who control it OBVIOUSLY control the population, and much of it sits SQUARELY on the shoulders of the Government.

    It IS, however, ultimately up to the GENERAL PUBLIC to make well thought out decisions based on more investigative means, before they rampantly impart their ill-conceived judgements on other folk.

    Ever think that this thread may have touched on more than GM crops??

    ;)
     
  15. AhmedFaisal Guest

    #15
    My take on Stem Cell research is similar though somewhat different. Personally I do believe that it should be evaluated what research needs to be done in human cells and what can be achieved with stem cells from other organisms such as mice. It should be assured that the rule is applied, as much as necessary, as little as possible. Third, given the technical hurdles that are present to clone so called superhumans, or perfect soldiers etc. which are price, time it takes for that human to mature etc. I doubt that this will ever happen nor that people will be able to afford it. So we should focus on the opportunities at hand.

    In vitro or in mammal growth of replacment organs such as livers, hearts etc.. This will produce organs that are 100% identical to your own so you will be able to live without any medication to screw with your immune-system so it doesn't reject the organ after transplanting it. Also it will destroy the black organ market where people get murdered to get to their organs (stuff like that has happened in India and South America). It will also help to fight diseases like cancer or alzheimer since it allows you to grow brain tissue in vitro that you can inject, or specific immune cells you can use to combat cancer.

    These are the pros. Lets look at the arguments that remain against it besides the far fetched one I ruled out above. Embryos have to be destroyed to get these cell lines. Well, ultimately where do we get those embryos? The are leftovers in vitro fertilization, meaning embryos that were not implanted, and which ultimately will get thrown away either way, at a stage where it is just a big blotch of cells. I find it much more morally disturbing that it is allowed to have an abortion late in the second trimester if the child is disabled because at that stage these embryos are alive and practically fully formed! They get taken out and are left to die in a trashbag, THAT is disturbing but totally legal. While that is legal, they want to prevent PID (pre implantation diagnostics) which would prevent that fertilized eggs with known genetic defects get implanted in the first place so it doesn't even get to that point. I fail to see the logic behind that. PID would enable parents who know they have severe genetic defects running in the family, such as mucoviscidosis, Huntington's disease and others to have healthy children who don't carry the disease and will not give it to their children either. This doesn't mean I don't think that people with disabilities don't have a right to life, I am not talking about Euthanasia here. What I am saying though is that I as a parent also have a right to use what means are available to ensure that my children are healthy. To get back to the moral debate, I find it ridiculous because it comes to late and uses the wrong arguments. We already allow abortion and in vitro fertilization, we allow birth control etc. So either we get rid of all of that or we calm down and look at the whole issue in a more rational way.

    It sure did. My thoughts about the Columbine incident as well as the one here in Erfurt last year are that it is always easier to find a scapegoat that everybody can agree on then to ask if we ourselves are at fault. We blame TV, videogames, schools etc.. It escapes me how a kid can have an entire arsenal of weaponry in his room and the parents don't notice. Sorry, but that is ****ed up! It makes me sick to see photographs of 5 year olds holding rifles and then everybody makes such a big fuss about 2 seconds of nipple on TV. It also escapes me how parents can let their kids watch TV when at 5PM you can see people getting their brains blown out graphically but start screaming when they see just an inch too much skin. Tell you this, I don't care for Manson's "music" either, simply because I fail to see how him screaming at the top of his lungs to some chainsawing guitars without any rythm or melody or anything can be entertaining but if others find that cool, so be it, its a free country. Ultimately its our decision what we want to do and watch and its the parents' job to make sure their kids don't get ****ed up in the brain like the Columbine kids. I had agressions too when I was in High School, I played Doom and Counterstrike, and I listened to some music that was pretty screwed up, but I had parents that would take time listen to me and take my issues seriously and help me find solutions. Parents that would care about what I do and not just give me money so I don't bother them. It starts at home, and nowhere else.
    Cheers,

    Ahmed
     
  16. carbonmotion macrumors 6502a

    carbonmotion

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    #16
    Postponing Providence

    One day, for the better or worse (I think for the better), we will live in a society of guided evolution. There will be problems with this form of society like all forms of society, but there is nothing we can do at this point to turn away from it. One day our grandkids will be genetically screened to ensure the best traits survive ...it will not only be food that is designed, but also men. This is were our society is headed, make not mistake, it is not the perfect solution to everything -however, it is where we are headed, for better or worese.
     

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