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Suppressed Report Shows Cancer Link to GM Potatoes 325

Posted by Zonk
from the politics-and-potatoes-and-science-mix-poorly dept.
Doc Ruby writes "After an 8-year-long court battle, Welsh activists have finally been allowed to released a Russian study showing an increased cancer risk linked to eating genetically modified potatoes. While the victory of the Welsh Greenpeace members in the courtroom would seem to vindicate the work of the Russian scientists that did the original research, there are still serious questions to be answered. The trials involved rats being fed several types of potatoes as feed. The rats who were fed GM potatoes suffered much more extensive damage to their organs than with any other type; just the same, serious questions remain about the validity of the findings. The Welsh group wants to use this information to stop the testing of GM crops in the UK, tests currently slated for the spring of this year."
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Suppressed Report Shows Cancer Link to GM Potatoes

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  • by bwd234 (806660) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:43AM (#18057516)
    "Those in the "control groups" that were fed non-GM potatoes suffered ill-effects"

    Maybe pototoes are bad for rats. Doesn't mean they will be harmfull to humans.
    • by DrifterX79 (824302) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:45AM (#18057526)
      Well I guess that most potatoes manufactured by General Motors may contain used motor oil, proven to cause cancer in humans. I say hold off for Honda potatoes...maybe even Lexus Legumes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Doesn't mean they will be harmfull to humans.

      There's a reason why certain species of mice are used for these sorts of laboratory experiments: they're nearly identical to humans. Genetically, mice and humans share a great deal of DNA. Not nearly as much as some primates, but still just over 99.5%. Beyond that, the organs of mice are similarly proportioned to that of humans. That is, the relative sizes of the organs to one another are almost identical to that of humans.

      People such as yourself, who don't have
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:14AM (#18057656)
        People such as yourself, who don't have much of a biology background, have a hard time accepting this.

        What we have a hard time accepting is that 99.5% similarity means jack, when we have something like 90% DNA similarity with sunflowers. If we are only .5% different from rats, that means that .5% represents a hell of a lot of difference, not the other way around. It's relative just like any other amount. Would you want to eat something that was .5% cyanide, just because .5 is a really small number? Without a point of reference the number tells you nothing.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:27AM (#18057716)
          What we have a hard time accepting is that 99.5% similarity means jack, when we have something like 90% DNA similarity with sunflowers.

          Wrong. You can't compare humans/animals and plants in terms of DNA similarity (or lack thereof). The basic structure is too different to make any comparisons worthwhile.

          If we are only .5% different from rats, that means that .5% represents a hell of a lot of difference, not the other way around.

          Wrong. Most of the 0.5% difference between mice and humans involves genes that are currently classified as inactive. Thus they basically have no identifiable effect, even after decades of study. The amount of DNA that actually causes the differences between humans and mice is remarkably small. While 0.5% of the total DNA is different, approximately 98.5% of that 0.5% is considered inactive.

          And like I said in my earlier post, decades of studies have shown that mice are a very accurate representation of humans, when it comes to testing chemicals. The organs are proportioned almost exactly the same, and comparable responses to humans have been observed again and again and again. Doubt it if you wish. The fact remains that if something is harmful to mice, we can be sure that a relative proportion of that chemical is harmful to humans.

        • by Danny Rathjens (8471) <slashdot2NO@SPAMrathjens.org> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @05:00AM (#18058406)
          Uhm, why are you guys pulling these ridiculous percentages out of thin air? They are woefully incorrect. Ever heard of the various gnome projects that have completely sequenced the dna of certain animals and plants? There is still a large margin of error based on the precise definition of "similarity", but based on the genome projects that have sequenced a human and a rat, the number was much closer to 80% for rats. And the estimates were around 40% similarity to humans for chickens(gallus domesticus). Our common ancestor with rodents was around 85 Million years ago, and we've diverged quite a bit more than .5% since then. Heck, just look at the number of chromosomes of rats and humans, humans have 3 more haploid chromosomes, that's around a 13% difference alone, so obviously the 99.5% number is completely bogus. erm, well he said mice, but mice and rats are pretty close, and both used for lab experiments. ah, here is a pretty picture that shows structural differences within the chromosomes as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimpanzee_Genome_Pro ject [wikipedia.org]
        • by fasta (301231) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:32PM (#18060568)
          It's rare to find so much misinformation at Slashdot, and that's saying something.

          Humans and chimpanzee DNA are very similar, there are apparently about 40 million differences (out of about 3 billion positions) between chimp and human DNA; in protein coding regions, the number of differences is much smaller.

          Humans and mice, on the other hand are far more evolutionarily distant (80 million years since the last common ancestor, compared with 5 million, or less for chimps). In protein coding regions, mouse and human DNA sequences are about 80% identical, on average, but outside protein coding regions, the level of sequence similarity is no higher than would be expected by chance. (This large difference was one of the reasons the mouse genome was sequenced after the human genome - sequences that were more similar than chance were expected to have a function.)

          While plants and animals (and bacteria) share a large number of proteins that do similar things, their DNA sequences do not share any significant similarity except in protein coding regions for very highly conserved proteins.

          What all of this has to do with unpublished Russian studies on genetically modified plants, I cannot imagine.
      • by aussie_a (778472)
        I have difficulty in accepting test results where normal potatoes harm a mice's internal organs and they're using that study to draw any conclusions on GM-potatoes.
        • by HanzoSpam (713251)
          I have difficulty in accepting test results where normal potatoes harm a mice's internal organs and they're using that study to draw any conclusions on GM-potatoes.

          Actually, you really didn't need to read any farther than this to know you were about to get an eye-full of hysterical bullshit:

          Doc Ruby writes
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Planesdragon (210349)
        There's a reason why certain species of mice are used for these sorts of laboratory experiments: they're nearly identical to humans.

        there are exactly two reasons why we perform tests on certain mice. You're focused on reason #2 -- namely, "a high past correlation of harm in these creatures to harm in Humans." #1 is "the short lifespan and low genetic variety make for a highly economical test pool."

        Mice are significantly different than humans: for example, a 5 ft/lbs blow to the chest isn't much to a human
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mean pun (717227)

          Mice are significantly different than humans: for example, a 5 ft/lbs blow to the chest isn't much to a human, but it's death to a mouse.

          So for research where that kind of difference is important, scientists don't use mice as a model, but use something like a crash-test dummy. They only use mice in cases where they can take advantage of the similarities.

          Duh.

      • Most of the time, sure. But some don't harm humans, or aren't harmful as long as you aren't being forcefed your own body weight of the stuff daily.

        For example, metronidazole causes cancer in rats, but not in humans. Also, here's an article with a lot of information on teratogenicity [pcrm.org]:

        Mean positive and negative predictivities barely exceed 50%; discordance among the species used is substantial; reliable extrapolation from animal data to humans is impossible, and virtually all known human teratogens hav
    • Why all? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd (1658)
      There are something like 1,500 identified types of potato, any of which can contain higher-than-normal levels of chlorophyll. This gives us 3,000 permutations. Of the possible genetic modifications, I'd say there are likely to be dozens by now, if not hundreds. Then, there are probably many hundreds of members of the rodent family that can be classed as rats. At this point, the number of possible permutations of rat and potato are so astronomically high that nothing much can be concluded.

      (eg: Let's say th

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Wilson_6500 (896824)
        Then, there are probably many hundreds of members of the rodent family that can be classed as rats.

        Which is probably one of the reasons why biologists use genetically identical strains of test animals.
        • But this study has been roundly condemned as not following any of the accepted practices or standards for scientific experiments, so we can't assume they would have used standard lab rats. (Besides, The Brain had other plans...) For all we know, they bought them on eBay or sent some students down the sewer tunnels with nets.
    • by picob (1025968) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @06:26AM (#18058646)
      I confirm, potatoes are bad for rats. Potatoes contain glycoalkaloids a toxic compound, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. Cooking degrades this protein in some extent, but a small percentage will remain in the potato. While humans do not suffer effects because of their large body volume - you would have to eat many (green) potatoes - smaller animals often suffer from this. That's also why you shouldn't feed your dog potatoes.
  • Killer potatoes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zouden (232738) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:46AM (#18057532)
    It showed that the potatoes did considerable damage to the rats' organs. Those in the "control groups" that were fed non-GM potatoes suffered ill-effects, but those fed GM potatoes suffered more serious organ and tissue damage.

    Hold on... the non-GM potatoes still caused ill-effects? How much potato were they feeding these rats? Did they even cook them first?
    It seems like the only conclusion one can draw from this study is that "if you're eating so much potato that you get sick, GM potatoes will get you even sicker!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bwd234 (806660)
      It's just like back in, oh whenever...the 70's or 80's... I forget, anyway when they fed 1000 times the normal dosage of saccharin to rats they developed cancer. Trying to extrapolate data by using 1000 times normal dosage isn't the most reliable form of research. Besides, maybe "everything" gives cancer to rats! :)
      Did any human ever come down with cancer from saccharin? My guess is no.
      • If 1000 times the normal dosage of an artificial sweetener produces a significant increase in cancer risk, that's *damn well* worthy of note. Three orders of magnitude isn't quite good enough for me there. Eight orders of magnitude? Sure - but 3 isn't a good enough margin of error.

        • by Firethorn (177587)
          To put it another way, 1000 times my 'normal' dosage of H2O would most likely be fatal to me.

          Yet they still say I should drink more water.

          Iron, Calcium, various vitamens are all necessary for healthy life, yet a dose of a 1000 times more than FDA recommended is harmful for a number of them. Salt- A necessary substance, is harmful in greater doses.

          It's quantity that makes the poison.
      • by abes (82351)
        There might be some truth to that .. I know at least some lines of lab rats used, there is a very high rate of tumors. My understanding, is that in order to keep the genes from mutating too much, there isn't a lot of diversity in the breeding pools, which can cause strange genetic diseases to happen.

        On one hand, it's good to know that the rat you use one day is essentially the same as the rat you use the next day. On the other hand, you could be introducing other strange artifacts.
    • Oh, I hope they're not nearly as murderous as their cousin, Killer Tomatoes [imdb.com]
    • by dr.badass (25287)
      Hold on... the non-GM potatoes still caused ill-effects? How much potato were they feeding these rats?

      Not just ill-effects. According to the last paragraph of the article, half of the rats in the study died, and the results were recorded only for the ones that survived. That's such astonishingly bad science that I don't see how anti-GM activists can claim it as a victory.
    • by lixee (863589)

      Hold on... the non-GM potatoes still caused ill-effects?
      Well, duh! Of course you'd expect some rats to get sick in the control group. Don't you ever get sick without blaming it on you diet?

      Also, I highly recommend watching this top-notch documentary by the widow of Jerry Garcia; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427276/ [imdb.com]
  • The good Dr.'s site (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bananatree3 (872975) * on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:47AM (#18057536)
    http://www.freenetpages.co.uk/hp/a.pusztai/ [freenetpages.co.uk] is the site of the paper's author.
  • by Anomolous Cowturd (190524) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:49AM (#18057542)
    Given the suggestion that GM foods might be more harmful than old-school foods, wouldn't the sane thing be to *increase* testing? What's wrong with these idiots?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gentlewhisper (759800)

      Given the suggestion that GM foods might be more harmful than old-school foods, wouldn't the sane thing be to *increase* testing? What's wrong with these idiots?


      $
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by KDR_11k (778916)
        That's Greenpeace we're talking about, they probably meant "stop all genetic modification" with that.
    • by edwdig (47888) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:21AM (#18057688)
      Given the suggestion that GM foods might be more harmful than old-school foods, wouldn't the sane thing be to *increase* testing? What's wrong with these idiots?

      There weren't any details in the story, but it depends on what type of testing is being planned. You don't want to do human testing if the early testing on lab rats doesn't look good.
    • by aussie_a (778472)
      The testing sounds like they're going to be doing it in the wild in select areas. If its dangerous, probably want more controlled tests.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Greyfox (87712)
      Most of the "Old School" foods are ALSO GM. Take corn -- Aztecs bread corn plants for traits they liked until they got the plant we know today. A plant that can't even reproduce without human intervention.

      Pretty much all livestock today are radically different than livestock 500 or 1000 years ago, due to centuries of breeding for the traits that make them the most tasty and delicious for humans.

      The only difference between that and the GM foods of today is we can just go in and tinker with the genes dire

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by weston (16146)
        Most of the "Old School" foods are ALSO GM.

        There's certainly a difference worthy of at least semantic note between selection / breeding by phenotype, and direct manipulation of genotype. GM foods may turn out to pose no risks to consumers, but saying they're produced in the same way new breeds have been produced for thousands of years is deceptive.

  • by caseih (160668) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:51AM (#18057552)
    that research causes cancer in rats.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:53AM (#18057564)
    From the article - "Greenpeace said the Russian trials were also badly flawed. Half of the rats in the trial died, and results were taken from those that survived, in breach of normal scientific practice."

    Go sensationalism. These "findings" were probably "suppressed" because they weren't very valid and obtained under shifty premises.

    You need a good case study for GM crops? GM crops have been in American markets for years now starting with the Flavr-savr tomato. It's not like the FDA hadn't done independent testing on their own before approving them. But a sample size like the entire US, a pattern would probably emerge.
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:09AM (#18057634) Homepage
      I wouldn't necessarily make any statements about the general safety of Genetically Modified crops from this (or any other) single study or even experience with a single product. According to TFA, the potatoes in question were modified to produce (I assume additional) lectins [wikipedia.org]. This is a broad class of potentially biologically active molecules that could be helpful or harmful at either "usual" dosages or the typically higher dosages found in these sorts of experiments.

      I haven't poured through the literature to see how good or bad this particular study is, but it's concerning that 1) someone's making GM crops with this molecule amplified (can't figure out why) 2) even a poorly done preliminary study seems to have suppressed instead of repeated and expanded.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shma (863063)
      Regardless of the validity of the claims made in the paper, the results WERE suppressed and it took an eight year court battle to get them to release it.

      At the very least, the paper deserves to be judged on its scientific merits before being dismissed.
    • So GM products make you fat, violent and reactionary?

      I kid, I kid. But realistically, there are far more variables at play in the U.S. population than can realistically be controlled for when analyzing the impact of GM crops on our ENTIRE population.
    • Uhhh.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd (1658)
      America is probably not a good example to use. Estimates of autism have shot up in recent years, it is now classed as the second-worst contry in the Western world for children, education standards have fallen, creationists have become a major political force, obesity is sky-high and rising, something caused Britney Spears' hair to fall out, and 90% of all recent US news stories on legal and/or political issues can be best explained by some form of brain damage.
      • Uh, no. Just like attention deficit, autism is diagnosed more because there's money. Used to be, autism was debilitating, now, it's just a trait and many times hard to find unless you're looking (or want to).

        Anyone ranking the US as second worst has apparently never been to Asia, Africa or SA.
    • by cliffski (65094)
      *probably emerge*. I don't like the 'probably' bit. Besides how long is long enough to know it's safe? remember thalidomide (no idea of the spelling!).
      Granted, the chances of GM potatoes seriously screwing me up are maybe one in a million, but guess what... food is the ONLY product that I purchase which actually gets absorbed into my body. I don't care so much about the safety or purity of the rubber on my shoes, or the safety of metals in my car or the glass in my windows, because I don't stick these thing
  • by STDOUBT (913577) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:54AM (#18057570)
    I'm all in favor of scientific progress. In fact, I'm a big fan.

    But until the science of genetic manipulation is (close to)perfected, all they are doing is 'fooling' with it. Coupled with todays climate of unbridled corporate power, this stuff is very dangerous IMO. Please bear in mind, it's not the scientists who get to push 'products' to market. And, corporations will *always* be able to buy a scientist who supports claims of safety.

    I file GM under "not worth the risks". (And _do not_ give me that old "it'll help starving people" crap. No. What will help starving people are governments that aren't run by evil shits).

    • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:18AM (#18057666)
      "And _do not_ give me that old "it'll help starving people" crap."

      Most of the GM foods being pushed have nothing to do with starving people - it's all about increasing corporate profits, as usual. The "terminator gene" was being pushed to prevent poor third-world farmers from saving their own seed after buying grain crops once. Roundup-ready crops are developed to allow farmers to use increasing amounts of Glyphosate to control weeds, because of the inherent problems with how large-scale agriculture is "managed". Flavr-Savr tomatoes were designed to be picked at an even less ripe state so they survive shipping better. All of that runs counter to helping starving people - heck, even for the "first world" it means crops that are less nutritious than before.

      The only GM crop I know of that was developed in an attempt to actually help the third world is golden rice - a rice that provides beta carotine. That was developed at a university, and while given lip service by the agro-giants it's not high on their agenda.
      • The "terminator gene" was being pushed to prevent poor third-world farmers from saving their own seed
        Yeah, that is just plain evil... Luckily for us, there was apparently enough of an outcry to put a stop to Monsanto's idea: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/465222.stm [bbc.co.uk]
      • by Lars512 (957723) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @05:23AM (#18058468)

        Most of the GM foods being pushed have nothing to do with starving people - it's all about increasing corporate profits, as usual. The "terminator gene" was being pushed to prevent poor third-world farmers from saving their own seed after buying grain crops once.

        There's two sides to the terminator gene, as I understand it, one of which you're overlooking. Suppose you engineer a crop which grows extremely well, much better than in its original form. This crop might spread wildly, and become a form of a weed, overcoming native plants and even other useful crops. The terminator gene is useful here because it prevents the crop from spreading into the wild. In this way it's a safeguard.

        Suppose there is some series of studies confirming that a particular crop is statistically more correlated with the occurrence of some medical problem in humans who eat it. If that crop has already spread in the wild, and perhaps merged with non GM crops, then we'll still be eating it whether we like it or not. We need safeguards like the terminator gene.

        Also, using it doesn't mean choosing the new business models it allows. They could sell seed to the same farmers at close to cost price for repeat customers, making it closer to the existing business models.

        • by Fred_A (10934)

          Suppose you engineer a crop which grows extremely well, much better than in its original form. This crop might spread wildly, and become a form of a weed, overcoming native plants and even other useful crops. The terminator gene is useful here because it prevents the crop from spreading into the wild. In this way it's a safeguard.

          And suppose cross fertilisation occurs and you have interesting hybrids in the wild ? And suppose ingesting the modified pollen has weird effects on the insects (this has been d

          • "this has been documented already"

            Give a link, chum. Try to provide a link to them being harmed by normally occurring levels of pollen instead of the super-saturated studies the UK did. You can kill someone by force-feeding them water too.
    • But until the science of genetic manipulation is (close to)perfected, all they are doing is 'fooling' with it.

      Science doesn't get perfected until quite a bit of "fooling" gets done... even after that, "perfected" is rarely the right word.

      Sure... if I were world dictator I'd probably shoot for more lab time and slower market penetration for some of these GM products, but given the choice between nessisary research getting funded by agribusiness and public phobia of science holding it back, I'll chose the r

  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:59AM (#18057584) Homepage

    Isn't it a little forward to assume that all "GM potatoes" are harmful, just because some genetic modifications result in plants that are mildly poisonous? Wouldn't it depend on the specific modifications?

    Not that a little caution isn't in order. We shouldn't necessarily just blindly assume that every modification to some edible plant will also be perfectly safe to eat, and I'm aware that there are also potential problems with reducing genetic diversity in our food supply on a large scale, but a study showing that particular genetic modifications are harmful is not reason to abandon all genetic engineering in food; It's a reason to find out why those particular modifications create harmful substances.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by edwdig (47888)
      The real issue is that the people trying to push genetically modified foods onto the market are also trying to avoid labeling them as such. And in this particular case, they're also trying to hide research that shows potential problems with the food. The research may be bogus, or it may not. But there's no way of knowing unless they release it.

      In general, people just don't feel comfortable when others try to change things that are important while trying to prevent you from knowing about it.
    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:50AM (#18057848) Homepage Journal
      That's the right question, left neglected and alone by the story.

      Poking around a bit, it turns out that the genetic engineers and the researchers were both looking at one particular lectin, introduced to make the potatoes resist insects and nematodes better. Which is important because "lectin" is a whole family of chemicals with different biological effects.

      Now, the natural chemical defenses in plants are bad enough. Wild potatoes may need elaborate preparation to be safe to eat. Farmed ones are screened for solanine [wikipedia.org]. Potatoes, in case you didn't know, are in the nightshade family.

      So the real question here is what other research was done and what results it had. Does other work confirm or contradict the Russian study?

      Then there's the systems question, which is whether we're better off with the risks of the engineered potatoes or the risks of the pesticides needed to keep "natural" ones alive. The word "natural" is in quotes because they're quite different from their wild relatives.
  • by quokkapox (847798) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:59AM (#18057586)
    Potatoes Modify YOU!
  • Garbage Science... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RexRhino (769423) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:07AM (#18057628)
    Genetic modification is the artificial changing of DNA... you can say that a specific DNA change is harmful, so that a specific type of engineered potato is bad... but that doesn't say anything about GM foods. The safety or danger of the foods would have to be evaluated on the specific genetic changes made. Even then, the GM products don't carry any more risk than plants created by mutation breeding (in fact, GM was concieved as a less risky version of mutation breeding).

    That, of course, is totally ignoring the fact that the guy conducting the research was a hardcore anti-GM activist before the research. It is like asking activist creationists to do an impartial study on evolution.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      That, of course, is totally ignoring the fact that the guy conducting the research was a hardcore anti-GM activist before the research. It is like asking activist creationists to do an impartial study on evolution.

      Pretty much every scientist has a side on GM. If you're going to ignore research by people with biases, you're going to ignore all research.

      If you're capable (I'm not), take a look at his methods, rip them apart, or if they're sound, repeat them and see if the result is the same. Good science sh
    • Yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KKlaus (1012919)
      Someone needs to explain to the general populace that GM food is still just food. If the genetic changes are bad, and cause the food to produce something dangerous, or more of something dangerous, that's one thing (and we should be weary of that of course). But there's nothing inherently dangerous about genetic alterations. I'm tired of the belief that the GM somehow gets into the food and makes it evil, explanation unneccassary. It's like people being convinced that irradiated food is radioactive or so
  • Suppressed Report Shows Cancer Link to GM Potatoes

    If you think their potatoes are bad, you should hear what people are saying about their cars!
  • by giorgosts (920092) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:26AM (#18057712)
    The reason for GM crops is only one: profit. Profit may come from improved appearance, from increased shelf-life, or from increased yields due to lower pest numbers. The agrochemical companies make two birds with one stone. They sell the GM seeds which usually are modified as to be pesticide-tolerant, and then they sell the pesticide to be used in excessive amounts to kill off everything else. Using vast amounts of chemicals is bad for the foodstuff as it leaves toxic residue inside, as well as for the environment that the toxic waste is released into. There is also increased risk of cross-pollination with other non-GM crops, which is the main reason of banning GM agriculture in Europe.
  • Its been a very long time, but im really tired of hearing people gripe about how GM food industry is just an innocent victim of bad pr.

    I remember hearing from a reliable source that GM foods alter you (presumably by hormones or retroviruses used in the modification process).

    Additionally, I can't ignore the strong correlation between the exponential decline in US population health with the ever increasing adoption of GM foods (compared to europe where they have stringent standards for GM foods).

    The pushing o
    • by geekoid (135745)
      "I remember hearing from a reliable source ..."
      The smelly guy on the corner isn't a reliable source.

      I type of GM food or strain isn't like another. Yes, they should be tested but remember, one strain of potatoes causes cancer, doesn't mean a different strain isn't perfectly good.

      I don't think fen-phen needed to pas any regulation because it wasn't used as 'medicine'.

  • Film at Eleven! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by n6kuy (172098)
    In other news, it has been found that nearly 100% of Heroin Addicts started out drinking milk.
  • I don't think I can remember fruits and vegetables ever tasting so horrible as they do now. Strawberries and Tomato's that split before fully-ripe, have almost no flavour what-so-ever (if anything they both taste like the white-tasteless-heart of a strawberry) -- and generally don't cost any damned less than they would have with inflation from the 1980's. Organic foods just cost _more_ than they ever have, and now have a fancy name. Surprise! They were always organic! You shouldn't have to search for it.
  • by khchung (462899) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @12:09PM (#18059984) Journal
    If you want to know more about GM food, go ahead and read this book, seriously. It is an eye-opener to me, as someone who knows next to nothing about farming and thinks there might be some good reasons for NGOs to oppose GM food so vehemently.

    A few juicy points from the book (not in the order as they appear in the book, just the order it came out from my memory), though I knows too little to judge if their validity:
    • In the book it mentioned one similar experiment with potatoes and mice (not sure if this is the same one), however, the experiment is so poorly controlled (e.g. the GM potato contains less vital nutrients compared to the "normal" potatoes) that the mice are more likely damaged through malnutrition than any effect of GM food. Other experiments that accounts for all the intake value of different nutrients showed no harmful effects for GM food.
    • Agriculture in its current form (with pesticides, fertilizers, etc) is already the most destruction thing human does routinely to nature. Any additional "damage" to the environment due to planting GM crops won't make much a difference anyway.
    • Corn farmers already have to buy seed every year from dealers, no terminator gene needed! Why? Because modern corn are usually hybrid breeds that give great yield but do not generate viable seeds. But you don't see NGOs screaming at seed dealers. This shows that farmer don't mind buying seed constantly as long as the yield difference is worth the price.
    • People has been making genetically new variants of plants for centuries already (i.e. through selective breeding). Needless to say, none of these new variants are subjected to as much scrutiny as GM foods has gone through (yet some still think them "unsafe").
    • Before GM, there were already other means (e.g. soaking in chemicals, radiation, etc) to cause genetic mutation in plants, which can also result in new variants of plants. These crops, however, are not called "GM" and can be sold with as much testing as variants obtained through breeding (i.e. no testing at all).
    • In some cases, the use of GM crops can and do reduce the use of pesticides, so it is not all bad.
    • Furthermore, one of the famous GM linked pesticide (Roundup), has the advantage of naturally decaying in matter of weeks. Thus using Roundup linked crop with Roundup do leave less harmful chemicals around in the environment.

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