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Avoiding GM Foods? Monsanto Says You're Overly Fussy 835

Posted by kdawson
from the eats-like-a-bird dept.
blackbeak writes "The BBC today characterized those who avoid GM foods as overly fussy, the very same day that the Wall Street Journal announced that picky eating may be recognized in the 2013 DSM as a psychiatric disorder. The DSM item refers to something completely different, though I'm sure many will confuse the two. Of course, this was not done without subterfuge; the BBC's author, Professor Jonathan Jones, in no way indicates his close ties to Monsanto. Point by point Jones regurgitates the same pro-GM arguments debunked numerous times all over the net for years, while serving up some stale half facts too."
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Avoiding GM Foods? Monsanto Says You're Overly Fussy

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  • Re:GM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blackest_k (761565) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:30AM (#32823332) Homepage Journal
    I just want to avoid Monsanto's products GM food might be 100% harmless but Monsanto isn't.
  • by mim (535591) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:41AM (#32823396)
    Why Monsanto is Evil... http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm [organicconsumers.org]
  • by cbope (130292) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:49AM (#32823440)

    Fuck. You.

    There is probably no more evil company on the planet. It's got nothing to do with so-called GM foods, but rather their business model based on blackmail and coercion. They are destroying what's left of America's agriculture industry and trying to spread their influence into other countries as well. If they are not stopped they will have a complete and utter monopoly over our food supply from the fields to the table.

    I refuse to buy any product known to have come into contact with anything related to Monsanto.

  • Re:ah, Monsanto (Score:5, Interesting)

    by data2 (1382587) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:53AM (#32823466)

    Yes, and they are the same guy patenting pigs(!) which have eaten their crops.

  • by Moabz (1480009) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:53AM (#32823468)
    Eating those crops _might_ not pose a health risk, you might not die from it. This can be and will be proven again and again, but that's not the issue.
    Allowing a company like Monsanto muscle itself into the world food business by IP protected crops, that's the real illness that we must protect ourselves from.
    There is so much evidence that Monsanto is a dirty company, anyone who eats there GM stuff must be a Microsoft fan boy.

    This Mr. Jones is on the scientific advisory board of Mendel Biotech, which states on their own web page: "Mendel's most important customer and collaborator for our technology business is Monsanto".
  • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:04AM (#32823538)
    You make it sound like choice is good - so why not label GM food clearly? [google.com] . Why does Monsanto and their competitors need to lobby politicians so that they labels are not required? [google.com]
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:09AM (#32823570) Journal

    1. Umm, being no worse than stuff already considered harmful, is hardly making anything good. Especially since it's not as an alternative to, but effectively in addition to. It's like saying that kicking someone in the nuts is OK, because he would have suffered worse in a car accident and he obviously doesn't mind risking that every day. Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

    2. The risks to people are but a small aspect of it. The breeding super-weeds was even on Slashdot recently. Given that agrobacteria which transfer genes between plants exist in the wild -- and in fact that's how the GM gang is doing it in the first place -- it was just a matter of time until weeds started appearing with the exact same genes for producing pesticides or resisting herbicides that the GM crops have. Now they have actually been found. Now what?

    3. In the same vein, some GM crops have already driven some harmful or even beneficial insects and worms nearly exitinct in some places, because frankly the pesticides they produce aren't the most discriminating ones. We're far from figuring out the DNA that encodes a more narrow action pesticides, and basically all that happens is copying some existing genes from bacteria and the like. The spread of those genes even to weeds now, well, you can see where that is going.

    4. I don't remember Monsanto giving any starving people any crops. Would be nice if they were that charitable, but they aren't. On the contrary the crops they sell are sterile, so you have to buy another truckload of seeds next year. So basically you'll have to do better than that if you want to paint the GM guys as the knights in shiny armour and the protesters as some kind of villains.

    5. Carb free bread? How do you think that might happen? To wit, there are two ways the plants store energy for the sprout in the seed. One is starch, which only some grasses do (grain being a grass) and oil which most plants use because it has higher energy density. And even if you converted grain to have an oily seed instead of starchy ones (though you probably wouldn't want to eat that kind of "bread" anyway), there's the issue of the cellulose inherent in plant cell walls. It's a polymer of sugar too, and cooked it ends up absorbed as carbs. So, what, your great hope for GM crops is to produce a BS fantasy bread? You might as well wish for the lembas bread from LOTR or Dwarven war bread from Discworld then.

    Basically, please, while there is a case to be made for GM crops, that kind of uninformed regurgitating talking points and making stuff up simply isn't it.

  • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:11AM (#32823590) Journal

    Just to make it clear what one aspect of those super-weeds is: if you're a farmer that doesn't use GM crops, if those spread to your field, then the weeds are much more resistant to herbicides than the actual crops. Your choice to plant anything else than what at least has the same genes just went down the drain right there. I don't think it's entirely fair to force that kind of a situation upon anyone.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:12AM (#32823594)

    I don't think it's quite that. Even the summary admitted that "the DSM item refers to something completely different".

    I'm not quite sure what the cause of it is, but there is an odd prevalence in mainly white, upper-class, liberal-ish areas of strangely heightened food allergies, with many people being supposedly allergic to two or three things that would otherwise be quite rarely found at all, much less together. Maybe there's a scientific reason that there are so many more food allergies among upper-class white residents of San Francisco than among lower-middle-class black residents of Atlanta, but it's at least possible that the reason is psychosomatic.

  • Re:GM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:17AM (#32823620) Homepage

    Spot on.

    Although I don't agree with John's 'close ties to Monsanto. If you actually follow up on the links provided, Prof. Jones is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Mendel Biotechnologies, which in turn does business with Monsanto.

    This does not qualify him as a shill.

    And I agree with his point that regulation is creating monstrosities like Monsanto, only not with his answer: regulate less.

    It took us decades to fully realize the danger of radioactive materials, it might take decades to fully understand the implications of GM. Until we have a reasonable comprehension of the dangers and risks, we should use other methods for improving crop yields, which, also as the Prof. tells, are to be easily found in better irrigation and fertilisation for third world countries.

    And let's not forget; famine is mostly an economical problem these days, bringing in the likes of monsanto to 'solve' this will not bring relief to the starving and ill nourished people of the world.

  • Bad Public Policy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:21AM (#32823650) Journal

    These problems can nearly all be traced back to one thing: corn subsidies. We pay farmers to grow corn so intensively that it has become cheaper to chemically process corn into whatever food-like product we want than it is to grow real, healthy food. Our entire food chain is dependent on mass produced, cheap corn - but it doesn't have to be that way. Farms do not have to be operated on the factory model, and we don't have to sacrifice output to do things the right way, the sustainable way if good public policy decisions are made. We WOULD however be sacrificing profitability and efficiency and that's why market forces cannot be trusted to fix the problem, as the market will always tend towards higher profits regardless of the long term problems it causes. We need policy that will encourage small scale farming, and discourage the kinds of practices that we know are harmful to our health and the environment: chemically altered corn-derived ingredients like HFCS, use of hormones, over-use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides, feed lots, shipping food hundreds of miles to be sold. I'm thankful I can afford to buy healthy food, millions cannot and this is a tragedy worthy of the greatest of efforts to end.

  • Re:GM (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:40AM (#32823754)

    Very true. Monsanto and friends have bought off the political side [guardian.co.uk] and continue to lobby heavily so that clear labels on GM food are not required [google.com] - preventing consumers from making an informed choice in the free market.

    Too weak. They can't win that one. Knowing the sentiment of the consumer, all producers of non-GM food need to do is label their products with "no GM ingredients inside" label.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:43AM (#32823776)

    And yet, all of a sudden, by pushing vaccines, these same doctors are admitting they have NO faith in the technology of the very human beings they claim are genetically superior thanks to natural selection!

    I'm out of words to describe this article.

  • by J.J. Dane (1562629) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:48AM (#32823794)

    So, basically Monsanto is lobbying to have people declared certifiably insane if they don't eat their products ..?

    This is going to make child rearing so much easier..."Eats your damn peas,Timmy,or it's back in the straightjacket"

  • Biodiversity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:56AM (#32823836) Homepage

    The greatest risk with GM food is possibly not the food itself, but the lack of biodiversity that using such crops exclusively will lead to.

    As an example, the Cavendish banana is practically all the same clone:
    http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2008-06/can-fruit-be-saved [popsci.com]

    GM foods are not far off, since the genome needs to be tightly controlled in order to guarantee the presence of the artificially introduced genes.

  • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:59AM (#32823866)

    The misinformation they spread about GM foods is just as bad, if not worse, than the lack of information about which products are and aren't genetically modified.

    The evidence is currently against pro GM food blind faith supporters - the fact is that Pro GM food really "don't know WTF they're talking about" [wikimedia.org]. Quote from the link:

    As of January 2009 there has only been one human feeding study conducted on the effects of genetically modified foods

    ONE STUDY. So much for peer review. On the other hand, there have been numerous non human studies, and every single one that has found evidence that indicate that things might not be as rosy as Monsanto and friends claim [wikimedia.org] has been contested by the GM industry - in some cases not attacking the science, but resorting to character assassination and smear campaigns.

    If you claim that GM food skeptical consumers don't know WTF they are talking about - what does that make GM supporters, given the massive void of research into long term effects of GM Food? Personally I would call it blind faith - so I prefer my food to be clearly labeled and my politicians to be unbiased, so I can make an informed choice for me. You can eat whatever you want.

  • Re:GM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:04AM (#32823902) Journal

    There are a lot [slashdot.org] more reasons to boycott GM food than just a concern about its effects on your immediate health. So it's not like autism warnings on vaccines. By lobbying to prevent people being able to find out whether or not a food contains GMOs, companies like Monsanto are preventing people from making informed choices. And regarding the autism / vaccine analogy, presumably people who think an MMR vaccine will trigger autism think that all combined MMR vaccines are similar in this respect. So it's not the same at all: people who take their children for an MMR know that this is what they're doing. Buy some rice and maybe you know it's GM and maybe you don't. You're likening a redundant labelling system with one that would actually convey information.
  • Re:GM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zippthorne (748122) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:13AM (#32823956) Journal

    There are other reasons people might prefer not to buy GM foods, specifically Monsanto's, than just health reasons. For instance, suppose you wanted to boycott monsanto over their aggressive IP enforcement of cross-polinated neighboring farms, how would you go about doing that?

  • Re:Bad Public Policy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yyxx (1812612) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:14AM (#32823966)

    Quite right. Actually, the problem is food subsidies in general. In the US, corn subsidies are the big culprit, in Europe, it's milk and other products. Food subsidies in the US and Europe also keep other nations from developing a reasonable economy; if we stopped subsidizing food production in our countries, dropped import duties, and imported more from South America and Africa, those nations would actually have a chance to get out of poverty and develop decent, functioning economy. Instead, we send them "development aid", which simply gets misused as subsidies to our own corporations and disappears in corrupt governments and aid organizations.

  • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:56AM (#32824218)

    The fact is that "the people" have spoken and the vast majority have decided that they'd rather pay more than eat GM food. The majority of people don't want it, so the shops won't sell it, so the farmers won't grow it.

    Too bad it has not played out that way in Australia. There they have deviously turned the tables: you have to pay to be certified GM Free [wikimedia.org] as apposed to labeling GM food clearly.

    In Australia, multiple surveys have shown that while 45% of the public will accept GM foods, some 93% demand genetically modified foods be labelled as such. Labelling legislation has been introduced and rejected several times since 1996 on the grounds of "restraint of trade" due to the cost of labelling. The controversy erupted again in 2009 when Graincorp, the nations largest grain handler, announced it would mix GM Canola with its unmodified grain. Traditional growers, who largely rely on GM-free markets, have been told they will now need to pay to have their produce certified GM free.

    Woe to be an Aussie wishing to avoid GM food.

  • Re:GM (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:31AM (#32824486)

    Most people in industrialized nations do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight to make up for the lack of vitamin D in the modern diet.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:46AM (#32824662)
    You may decry their legal attacks on seed saving, but Monsanto has been holding back their worst tactic: terminator genes. A few years ago, Monsanto acquired a company that developed plant genes which would prevent the formation of viable seeds.

    Of course, here in the USA, that would not change much. Most of the crops we grow are hybrids, and farmers do not save hybrid seeds because of the unpredictability of future generations (you can see this for yourself if you want -- plant the seeds from some tomatoes you buy at the supermarket). The technology was actually developed to attack third world farmers who frequently save seeds, and whose countries do not respect patents on genes. Luckily, the resistance to the deployment of the technology was so strong that it remains unused, although it is still discussed at industry conventions.
  • Re:debunked? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:51AM (#32824708)

    I don't believe Monsanto could cover up evidence of that if they tried

    Type "Monsanto Cover up" into Google. Seems they have plenty of experience at doing exactly that.

  • by s122604 (1018036) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @08:25AM (#32825106)
    Like diabetes, eh?
    Any reasonable evidence to back that up?, i.e. data that shows that a diet with GM based foods will cause diabetes, where the equivalent diet, with non-GM based food, would not?
    I find that really hard to believe given that something like HFCS is defined at the molecular level, and is not going to be any different sourced from GM or non-GM

    Or is that one of those special Fox News "I can make any kind of unsupported BS assertion I want, as long as I phrase it in the form of a question" type statement.
  • Re:Bad Public Policy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @08:52AM (#32825448) Homepage Journal

    It's not that funny, c6gunner is a long-term troll. Check his posting history if you don't believe me.

    The simple truth is that factory farming is inherently harmful. Literally everything about "Green Revolution" agriculture is inferior to what we were doing before, with simple crop rotation. And that in turn is inherently inferior to no-till forms of agriculture like permaculture where plants are grown in guilds which support one another. Of course, there is one superior aspect to growing food in monocultural fields: machine cultivation. Unfortunately, that is also a down side; nutrition suffers because the varieties grown must be conducive to machine processing, and that means breeding (or altering) them for shelf life, firm flesh, et cetera, as opposed to being driven by nutrition or flavor.

    We need more distributed food production in this country. Having the majority of the food grown in one state just doesn't work. It's inefficient at best.

  • Re:GM (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @09:06AM (#32825654)

    Nuclear power being safe?

    1) Where are the raw materials for the power plants obtained?
    2) How many accidents have there been transporting radioactive material from/to the plants?
    3) How many such power plants had accidents already (and I'm not only referring to Tchernobyl big style accidents)?
    4) How old are the existing power plants, and for what running time were they projected/build initially?
    5) Where is the used radioactive material (aka "radioactive waste") stored and how safe are these deposits?
    6) How long have these deposits be taken care of (aka cost money to keep them safe)?
    7) How much costs all this in total and how much of this is actually paid by taxes instead of the companies running the power plants?

    Nuclear power would be rendered obsolete if the companies had to pay for all this themselves, because no one would buy for their then overpriced electrons. Add to this all the accidents and mishaps resulting in smaller and larger leaks of radioactivity, which are only mentioned by media if they come close to bigger style disasters, and you get your oh so safe and cheap nuclear power. Remember: It's run by companies who want to make $$$.

  • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @10:26AM (#32826882)

    We have been running a long-term study of the effects of GM food on the human population for the last ten thousand years, since GM food was introduced with agriculture. So far, we're doing okay.

    10K years were of selective breeding crops in small isolated pockets, which then spread into other suitable areas at a very slow rate. Not mass worldwide introduced on never before experienced timespans like they are now. Further, the last 10k years were not dominated by monocultures, with all the problems they bring. [google.com] whether we are talking about GM crops or not.

    Show me one scape of evidence that our ancestors successfully crossed and then selectively cultured any type of crop with any type of non-plant based life (or even non-related species of plant) - e.g. with caterpillars, to produce poison protected crops. It has never happened before in human history. Claiming that GM food is safe based on "everything we understand about the natural world" sounds awfully like blind faith, at worst intellectual dishonesty [wikimedia.org].

  • Re:GM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Carnivore (103106) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @11:16AM (#32827592)

    But they did add lead salts (Lead (II) Acetate [wikipedia.org]) to their wine to sweeten and preserve it.

  • Re:GM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nadaka (224565) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @11:29AM (#32827784)

    I hope you enjoy the immanent extinction of the Cavendish banana monoculture due to its complete inability to resist a parasitic fungus epidemic.

    Breeding brings variation. Variation means that a single specific pathogen or environmental condition is far less likely to wipe out or significantly affect an entire population.

    It is bad for this biological reason, but also from the standpoint that a single company like Monsanto can effectively corner the market and hold the entire worlds food supply hostage if it is the sole source of viable seeds for major food crops.

  • Re:GM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by severoon (536737) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @11:47AM (#32828058) Journal

    I think it's worth distinguishing between GM food and companies that use GM to prop up the agri-industrial complex by making ever more robust monocultures. The problem isn't genetic modification--we've been doing that since Mendel, the only difference is the techniques.

    The problem is, instead of using this newfound genetic knowledge to do something worthwhile, companies like Monsanto use it to create corn that can thrive in giant swaths of land that grow nothing but corn. All of the fear levied at GM food in this thread and everywhere is misplaced. It should be aimed at the practice of growing monocultures that deplete soil and wreck the land.

    I'm surprised that there's so much FUD in this thread aimed at GM, though. I thought /. was supposed to be mostly pro-science nerds that don't confuse evil corporations with anti-science hippie propaganda. :-)

  • by Joey Vegetables (686525) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:10PM (#32828376) Journal
    I stopped eating HFCS (but not corn in general) about half a year ago and while I did not lose the weight I had hoped to, I definitely notice fewer problems with hemorrhoids, as well as reduced cravings of varying types, less back pain, and less trouble sleeping.

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