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Lithodid-Man
Member (Idle past 460 days)
Posts: 504
From: Juneau, Alaska, USA
Joined: 03-22-2004


Message 31 of 47 (666438)
06-27-2012 11:06 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by herebedragons
06-26-2012 10:06 PM


But the promise of increased yields does not appear to be materializing. This 2009 report claims:

quote:
For years the biotechnology industry has trumpeted that it will feed the world, promising that its genetically engineered crops will produce higher yields. Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields.

So, failure to increase yield + increasing prices = the poorest cant afford

This is one of the specific claims that I have seen. Essentially the claim is made that GM crops promised to increase yields, and yet they have not yet been shown to do so in the US. Unfortunately I do not have all of my reference material with me (I am working in the Aleutian Islands!) and the link you provided is blocked here. I will do my best from memory, and I do have a few pdfs on my computer.

The claim by UCS is quite deceptive, imo. A transgenic crop is only supposed to do what it is supposed to do. If it has a gene for herbicide resistance, then it will be (or should be) herbicide resistant. The farmer will be very dissapointed if he expects herbicide resistance and a doubling of the number of beans on the plant. The fact is that none of the approved GM crops in the US are designed to increase yield, outside of the fact that you are not losing crop to insects in some cases. Iirc the report found no yield increases with Roundup Ready crops and a small increase with the insect resistant crops. However, the authors neglect to mention substantial yield increases in crops grown outside of the US, especially in places in the world where insecticides are not as readily available. This Powerpoint summarizes yield data from 49 published papers by Carpenter (2010).

It is true that there is a lot of work to be done. Technologies to produce crops that have increased biomass, drought resistance, etc. exist and I do believe these are positive things. And, like everything, I think that each new product produced with these technologies should be assesed for safety. People like Jefferey Smith make the claim that the FDA greenlights these foods without any testing (or on the word of the biotech companies) but seems to ignore the ~10 year lag between the development of the crop and when it actually appears in the market.

Carpenter JE (2010). Peer-reviewed surveys indicate positive impact of commercialized GM crops. Nature Biotechnology 28 (4): 31921.


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 Message 20 by herebedragons, posted 06-26-2012 10:06 PM herebedragons has responded

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Taq
Member
Posts: 7140
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 32 of 47 (666439)
06-27-2012 11:14 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by herebedragons
06-26-2012 10:06 PM


By poor people I am thinking of mostly third-world people. The continual engineering and re-engineering of food crops will drive the price up and up, out of reach of the worlds poorest.

I really don't understand this point. In the third world, they can continue to grow the same crop strains that they have always grown using the same techniques they have always used.

As to the bottom line, do you really think that farmers would be paying more in general operating costs for GM crops compared to non-GM crops? That would be kind of stupid if that were the case. A farmer would just start growing non-GM crops and profit. At the end of the day, it is cheaper to spray a field than it is to pay a work detail to hoe your field, especially for the massive corporate farms that are becoming the norm. If we didn't have GM crops the price of food might very well be higher.


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 Message 20 by herebedragons, posted 06-26-2012 10:06 PM herebedragons has responded

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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 33 of 47 (666443)
06-27-2012 12:39 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by herebedragons
06-27-2012 8:10 AM


You don't really see random mutations that have occurred over millions of years and have been subject to natural selection as the same thing as human manipulation of genomes do you?

I see it as completely identical. Any change you could cause by genetic manipulation could, in principle, be the result (however unlikely) of random mutation. And if it were, there would simply be no question at all about exploiting that new trait in agriculture. So why should GM be subject to such an extremely different level of scrutiny, when the results are the same?

That is certainly not my view!

No, and I didn't mean to imply that it was. My apologies for the confusion - more than anything I was agreeing with you, that the position of GMO opponents that it's inherently wrong to "monkey" with the genome is blinkered, and reflects an ignorance that the genomes of all species are inherently "self-monkeying."

In fact, with regard to these Roundup resistant weeds, I questioned whether we should be getting into an arms race with nature.

We're always in an arms race with nature - or, better perhaps, a Red Queen's Race. (You know, where one must run as fast as they possibly can merely to stand still.) The field environment is, by definition, one which is highly favorable to the cultivation of plants, and many plants try to take advantage. We call them "weeds" when they're not what we wish to have growing in our fields. Any attempt to keep weeds out is going to promote adaptation to weed control - in Mexico, where maize is still largely hand-cultivated and hand-weeded, teosinte has adapted to the practice by growing as tall as, and naturally in rows like, the corn which it is a weed of.

Any effort to control pests is going to result in pests adapting to the control. Modern agronomists try to manage the evolution of resistance as much as possible, but frequently that requires farmers to farm in ways that depress their yields and therefore their profit. For instance, the planting of "refuge crop", non-resistance-trait crop that allows insect pests to take refuge and reduces the selection pressure that promotes insect resistance to the trait. And what many are not aware of is that the restrictive licensing regimes that people often criticize agrobusinesses like Monsanto for are a very important tool in making sure farmers don't screw the pooch for everybody by assuming that their neighbor will plant refuge, so they don't have to. It's a collective action problem, and restrictive licensing is one of the only tools Monsanto and other seed breeders have to make sure that farmers are doing their part to manage pest resistances.

If you know of evidence that specific GMOs have been fully and thoroughly tested and proved to be safe for human and animal consumption, then please present it.

Well, they've been in the food stream for 20 years. They've been subject to countless feeding studies for twice as long with no discernable difference from conventional hybrids. And again, there's no proposed mechanism by which they cause harm. The claims of "harm" are all based on the precautionary principle - "we don't know that they don't cause harm" - but we have as much evidence of their safety as we do for anything else in the food stream Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS), so I see no reason to conclude that they're not GRAS.

In fact, the burden of proof should be on the genetic engineers to prove their products are safe, not on the opponents to prove there is a problem.

At this point, genetic engineers have met the burden of proof to have the current marketed GMO technologies be GRAS. Maybe 30 years ago, that was not the case, but it is now. It was the case before GMO products came to market, and that to me seems proper. At this point, I think the burden of evidence lies with those who want to overturn their GRAS status, and I've not seen anything that even moves the needle in that direction.


This message is a reply to:
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Taq
Member
Posts: 7140
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 34 of 47 (666444)
06-27-2012 12:49 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by crashfrog
06-27-2012 12:39 PM


I see it as completely identical. Any change you could cause by genetic manipulation could, in principle, be the result (however unlikely) of random mutation. And if it were, there would simply be no question at all about exploiting that new trait in agriculture. So why should GM be subject to such an extremely different level of scrutiny, when the results are the same?

Should an arson be let off the hook because a lightning bolt could have come from the sky and lit the house on fire?

With GM foods, we are the cause for the change, so we should at least try to make sure that the changes we make are safe and for the good of humanity. Changes that occur in the wild are largely beyond our control, so we accept a certain amount of risk.

My apologies for the confusion - more than anything I was agreeing with you, that the position of GMO opponents that it's inherently wrong to "monkey" with the genome is blinkered, and reflects an ignorance that the genomes of all species are inherently "self-monkeying."

I will second that. Humans have been trying to change the genotype through selection of phenotype for 10,000 years or so. We can now directly change the genotype. I see this as a step in the right direction.


This message is a reply to:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 35 of 47 (666446)
06-27-2012 12:54 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by herebedragons
06-27-2012 8:51 AM


Re: The Alternatives
They are genetically modifying these crops SO they can shower them with pesticides.

No, look, that's exactly the reverse. Pesticides are one of the farmer's most expensive inputs, so why would farmers pay a premium for GMO seeds that they then have to pay more in pesticides to cultivate? If you think about it for a second - and remember that farmers farm to make money - you'll see that makes no sense.

GMO technologies are meant to reduce pesticide use. Even the pesticide resistance traits are meant for that, because they allow you you knock out all weeds during their vulnerable emergence period in one fell swoop, instead of having to keep applying throughout the season because you can only use a little bit at a time without burning down your crop.

Right now, the GMO technology everybody is concerned about is the 15-year-old YieldGuard trait, which expresses a protein from Bacillus thuringiensis that is toxic to caterpillars and beetle larvae. It's meant to be expressed mostly in root tissue, because feeding by soil-dwelling larvae is a major problem in pest control - how do you spray the roots of a plant?

Maybe we should all go back to growing our own food for our own families in our own backyards ... Naw.

Well, shit, buddy, you live in Michigan. For that matter, I'm from Minnesota. How do you expect it to work where either of us is able to grow 6-9 months' worth of food over the summer and spring in a 20 by 20 plot? Hell, how do you expect that to work if you rent an apartment with no backyard at all?

Do you know what's a lot worse for the environment than having high-density cities fed by specialized industrial agriculture? The kind of suburban living where people have backyards and gardens. I'm not saying you're doing this, but I urge you caution - don't mistake picturesque, bucolic gardens for an ethos of environmentalism. There are substantial negative externalities associated with the kind of lifestyle that enables "growing food for your own family in your backyard." And none of that even begins to reckon with the likelihood of a localized crop failure causing a famine - something that doesn't really happen in places where you can get a tomato from Chile.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by herebedragons, posted 06-27-2012 8:51 AM herebedragons has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 36 by New Cat's Eye, posted 06-27-2012 2:37 PM crashfrog has not yet responded
 Message 46 by herebedragons, posted 06-30-2012 11:35 PM crashfrog has acknowledged this reply

  
New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11701
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 36 of 47 (666465)
06-27-2012 2:37 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by crashfrog
06-27-2012 12:54 PM


Re: The Alternatives
They are genetically modifying these crops SO they can shower them with pesticides.

No, look, that's exactly the reverse.

So you're saying that the Enlist Corn is intended to never be sprayed with pesticide? That is exactly the reverse. The genetic modification provides a resistance to 2,4-D so that you can use the pesticide without hurting the corn.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 35 by crashfrog, posted 06-27-2012 12:54 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by fearandloathing, posted 06-27-2012 2:47 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
fearandloathing
Member (Idle past 1674 days)
Posts: 990
From: Burlington, NC, USA
Joined: 02-24-2011


Message 37 of 47 (666468)
06-27-2012 2:47 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by New Cat's Eye
06-27-2012 2:37 PM


Re: The Alternatives
The idea is to only have to spay one herbicide that is stronger once, instead of using multiple applications of several different ones.

See Message 30


A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.
― Edward R. Murrow

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them" - Ray Bradbury


This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by New Cat's Eye, posted 06-27-2012 2:37 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
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New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11701
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 38 of 47 (666470)
06-27-2012 2:52 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by fearandloathing
06-27-2012 2:47 PM


Re: The Alternatives
Oh, I know what the idea it. And actually, they still use the glyphosphate along with the 2,4-D. Crash was saying that they're not going to use any pesticides at all.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by fearandloathing, posted 06-27-2012 2:47 PM fearandloathing has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 39 by crashfrog, posted 06-27-2012 2:58 PM New Cat's Eye has responded
 Message 41 by fearandloathing, posted 06-27-2012 3:23 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 39 of 47 (666471)
06-27-2012 2:58 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by New Cat's Eye
06-27-2012 2:52 PM


Re: The Alternatives
Crash was saying that they're not going to use any pesticides at all.

Please allow me to correct your misunderstanding (see, this is what it looks like): I did not at any point say that they're "not going to use any pesticides at all." If you got that impression then I apologize for not being clear.

The point of most of these GMO traits is either to reduce pesticide use, or introduce pest resistance in areas where pesticides can't really be applied, like the root system. Not to completely eliminate pesticide use.

The opposite of using more is using less, not using none.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 38 by New Cat's Eye, posted 06-27-2012 2:52 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 40 by New Cat's Eye, posted 06-27-2012 3:02 PM crashfrog has responded

  
New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11701
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 2.4


(1)
Message 40 of 47 (666472)
06-27-2012 3:02 PM
Reply to: Message 39 by crashfrog
06-27-2012 2:58 PM


Re: The Alternatives
Well no, you see, here is what you said:

They are genetically modifying these crops SO they can shower them with pesticides.

No, look, that's exactly the reverse.

The opposite of showing them with pesticides is not showering them with pesticides at all.

Since it took you more than 20 minutes to correct me, that proves that I am right and you are lying now to save face over saying such an incredible stupid thing.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by crashfrog, posted 06-27-2012 2:58 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
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fearandloathing
Member (Idle past 1674 days)
Posts: 990
From: Burlington, NC, USA
Joined: 02-24-2011


Message 41 of 47 (666473)
06-27-2012 3:23 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by New Cat's Eye
06-27-2012 2:52 PM


Re: The Alternatives
I think there may also be some confusion over pesticide resistant crops, I have not read anything about crops that are resistant to pesticides, just herbicides. Crops that produce their own pesticides are pest resistant, not pesticide resistant.

quote:
Insect resistance is achieved by incorporating into the food plant the gene for toxin production from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). This toxin is currently used as a conventional insecticide in agriculture and is safe for human consumption. GM crops that permanently produce this toxin have been shown to require lower quantities of insecticides in specific situations, e.g. where pest pressure is high.

Virus resistance is achieved through the introduction of a gene from certain viruses which cause disease in plants. Virus resistance makes plants less susceptible to diseases caused by such viruses, resulting in higher crop yields.

Herbicide tolerance is achieved through the introduction of a gene from a bacterium conveying resistance to some herbicides. In situations where weed pressure is high, the use of such crops has resulted in a reduction in the quantity of the herbicides used.


Source


A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.
― Edward R. Murrow

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them" - Ray Bradbury


This message is a reply to:
 Message 38 by New Cat's Eye, posted 06-27-2012 2:52 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 42 by New Cat's Eye, posted 06-27-2012 3:27 PM fearandloathing has responded

    
New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11701
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 2.4


(1)
Message 42 of 47 (666474)
06-27-2012 3:27 PM
Reply to: Message 41 by fearandloathing
06-27-2012 3:23 PM


Re: The Alternatives
Herbicides are a subset of pesticides. Its the case were the pest is a plant. Pesticides are not limited to killing insects, its a very broad term for anything that goes after any kind of pest. Even disinfectants and sanitizers are considered pesticides.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 41 by fearandloathing, posted 06-27-2012 3:23 PM fearandloathing has responded

Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 43 of 47 (666475)
06-27-2012 3:27 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by New Cat's Eye
06-27-2012 3:02 PM


Re: The Alternatives
The opposite of showing them with pesticides is not showering them with pesticides at all.

The opposite of using a lot is using a little, and using only a little is not "a shower."

I didn't say "no pesticides at all" at any point. Again, sorry you misunderstood, but I've made myself clear twice, now. Could you explain your confusion?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 40 by New Cat's Eye, posted 06-27-2012 3:02 PM New Cat's Eye has acknowledged this reply

  
fearandloathing
Member (Idle past 1674 days)
Posts: 990
From: Burlington, NC, USA
Joined: 02-24-2011


(1)
Message 44 of 47 (666476)
06-27-2012 3:30 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by New Cat's Eye
06-27-2012 3:27 PM


Re: The Alternatives
Your right, I didn't realize this til I looked up the definition of pesticide, I was confusing it with insecticide.

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.
― Edward R. Murrow

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them" - Ray Bradbury


This message is a reply to:
 Message 42 by New Cat's Eye, posted 06-27-2012 3:27 PM New Cat's Eye has acknowledged this reply

    
herebedragons
Member
Posts: 1413
From: Michigan
Joined: 11-22-2009
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 45 of 47 (666887)
06-30-2012 10:17 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by Lithodid-Man
06-27-2012 11:06 AM


The claim by UCS is quite deceptive, imo. A transgenic crop is only supposed to do what it is supposed to do. If it has a gene for herbicide resistance, then it will be (or should be) herbicide resistant.

Good point. I tried to find something that referenced Monsanto's actual claims when they first released RR crops, but very little luck. Best I could find is this pic...

I am not sure when this ad is from, but it depicts an idyllic image of what farming would be like using ther RR system. While there is no explicit claims of increased yields, the implication is there and it is easy to see why farmers may be a bit disenchanted by the failure of these idyllic conditions to materialize. However, certainly a disjunction between Monsanto scientists and Monsanto marketeers . But I agree with your assessment that GM crops can only be expected to do what they have been engineered to do.

The fact is that none of the approved GM crops in the US are designed to increase yield,

The new line of RR soybeans, Roundup Ready 2 Yield are on the market and definitely claim to increase yield - time will tell.

People like Jefferey Smith make the claim that the FDA greenlights these foods without any testing (or on the word of the biotech companies) but seems to ignore the ~10 year lag between the development of the crop and when it actually appears in the market.

The 10 year lag is not necessarily indicative of thorough investigation but rather the speed of government .

But I have done quite a bit of research on the current GM crops and I am convinced they are safe at least in their current forms. I guess my main concern is and has been, have we opened up a can of worms here, a big fat GM can of worms!

HBD


This message is a reply to:
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