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Science

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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  • ah, Monsanto (Score:5, Informative)

    by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:22AM (#32823290) Journal

    They're the guys overly fussy about protecting their intellectual property in genetic modification, right?

  • 'Viewpoint' (Score:5, Informative)

    by DCBoland (700327) <slashdot@[ ]oning.co.uk ['spo' in gap]> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:23AM (#32823302)
    I'm sorry but TFA says 'viewpoint' quite clearly. Apparently his points have been 'debunked numerous times' and his facts are 'stale half facts', but where are the links supporting these claims?
  • Genetically Modified (Score:5, Informative)

    by mogness (1697042) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:31AM (#32823344) Homepage
    OH! That's what GM stands for. Good thing the summary mentions that. Oh, wait...
  • by Noam.of.Doom (934040) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:34AM (#32823360)
    Don't forget the fact that they create a monopoly by requiring farmers that plant their seeds to exclusively use certain brands of pesticide and fertilizers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:44AM (#32823408)

    that would be the same naturalnews that have such a firm grasp on the concept of medicine then..

    For example their wonderful views on MMR http://www.naturalnews.com/025596_vaccines_immune_system_doctors.html

  • by nido (102070) <nido56@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:48AM (#32823430) Homepage

    The best way to find the problems is to put it into mass use.

    Health problems are often subtle, and frequently masquerade as something else.

    As a non-obese diet caffeine free soda drinker in his early thirties that has recently found out he is diabetic ... I will eat GM food and use GM and nano products. Please make em available. If other people are to scared of the bogey man then great I'll have benefits they don't.

    Like diabetes, eh?

    It's completely ridiculous that they can't give GM crops to starving people because protestors,

    It's completely ridiculous that there are starving people, with all the food that goes wasted or goes into ethanol/biodiesel. Mechanization -> unlimited abundance. Poverty is now a political problem more than anything else.

    Please figure out a way to make carb free bread that doesn't suck.

    How about this: your body can't handle bread. Stop eating it. That'd be the smart thing to do.

  • by Kijori (897770) <ward.jakeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:18AM (#32823632)

    There's an important difference between genetic modification and selective breeding, though: selective breeding causes gradual change. Genetic modification is like doing selective breeding without the hundreds of years of gradual testing through eating and planting, and as such it carries much more chance of unintended consequences. That's why there needs to be regulation of GM food - in order to create the possibility of new, improved crops you're removing the natural oversight, and it needs to be replaced by something comparable.

  • Re:GM (Score:5, Informative)

    by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:24AM (#32823668)

    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. Now as part of this broader campaign of voter/consumer deception, they just need to convince all the consumers that are not paying attention that their products are all A-Ok for consumption - so they trot out people like this Jonathan Jones so called "professor" to use his credentials to sway public opinion.

    They have to do this campaign to deceive, since consumers tend to avoid GM Food in droves [wikihow.com] - just look at how fast McDonald's had to drop GM potatoes from their fries [organicconsumers.org]. They may be able to buy politicians and hide their GM labels, but consumers are still a force to be reckoned with, and thanks to the internet - more informed than ever.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .ecirpdrahcir.> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:59AM (#32823868)
    How is this different to pesticide use, feed use, treatments, preparations et al? You aren't told about any of those either.
  • by txoof (553270) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:01AM (#32823876) Homepage

    It's a little terrifying how much power Monsanto has in the US and really, the world. They have farmers all over the world under their thumb through royalty payments and the patents they hold on certain traits. There are plenty of cases where farmers have legitimately planted NON-GMO soy and corn only to find that pollen from their neighbors farms has drifted into their field and GMO'ed their crops. These farmers now have to supply the burden of evidence to show their innocence if Monsanto chooses to chase them into court over patent infringement. Monsanto has single-handedly, in a single generation of farmers, cut out seed saving. This is the single most important advancement that allowed us as a species to move from casual, opportunistic farmers to the agrarian based society we enjoy today.

    I don't begrudge Monsanto for trying something new, but I am concerned with their disregard for the wellbeing of farmers and for their consumers. Over the last twenty years there has been mounting evidence to show that pests are developing resistance to BT Toxin [sciencedaily.com] and that many other crops [crop.cri.nz] are inadvertently horizontally transferring BT genes. But wait! There's more!

    In recent studies [biolsci.org] researchers have found that BT maize (corn) can cause serious health problems in mammals. A diet heavy in GMO corn caused rats to develop liver and kidney problems. Most of the corn raised in the US carries the BT gene, along with a few other, like the RoundUp Ready. I'm sure you're thinking to your self, "gee, I'm glad I don't eat very much corn!" Oh, but you do. Almost everything that isn't a vegetable or a fruit found in American grocery stores has some form of corn in it. From ascorbic acid, citric acid, corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, food colorings and ink, and even some waxes applied to fruit are all derived from corn.

    I'm not a biochemist and I certainly don't have any idea how rat models scale (or don't scale) up to humans, but the study cited above suggests that a diet rich in BT corn (which most of us well-fed americans eat) might be bad for us. Perhaps some diversity and choice in our market would be a good thing. At least some public discussion about this subject, and less media schilling on behalf of giant multi-nationals would definitely be welcome.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:02AM (#32823882)

    I can see that one solution is to make the few farmers these countries have be more efficient in producing grain with GM crops...

    Not really. Every time every one of these so called primitive third world countries gets Western Aid to modernize their agriculture the citizens of these countries always suffer. They often get kicked off of their land (i.e. in historical Britain this was referred to as the enclosure movement), for example, and their food consumption drops precipitously because most of the food grown on these Westernized farms gets exported to the West and the money gets put into the pockets of government politicians and corporate executives.

    I remember once reading (a couple of decades ago) that some (IIRC) Mexican peasants celebrated because their government stopped receiving financial aide because of an economic recession that was happening in the market economies of the industrialized world. Things only got better for them without this corporate government assistance.

  • by will_die (586523) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:02AM (#32823884) Homepage
    The only thing ridiculous is your ignorance of science.
    There is nothing in glyphosate that will stick around beyond a very short period or leech itself into the ground and modify it future non-glyphosate protected seeds will no grow.
    Please show some scientic info that even hints at soil being modified by glyphosate protected seeds so they will not grow other seeds.
    You do more damage to the soil for a longer time by using vinegar based herbicides then you do with round-up and glyphosate
  • by bl8n8r (649187) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:17AM (#32823982)

    They are also into putting family farms out of business[0] and monopolizing future food stocks[1]. Overly fussy? screw you monsanto. frickin crooks.

    [0] - http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/26/eveningnews/main4048288.shtml [cbsnews.com]
    [1] - http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7529 [globalresearch.ca]

  • Re:GM (Score:4, Informative)

    by maxume (22995) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:18AM (#32823992)

    Vitamin A.

    Humans can synthesize vitamin D when they are exposed to sunlight.

  • by BangaIorean (1848966) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:21AM (#32824010)
    In the EU, Japan, etc., you need special labeling on GM food so that the consumer can choose for himself if he wants to buy it (or not). Let's not confuse Monsanto and it's policies with GM food as a whole...
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:33AM (#32824078) Homepage

    Because their governments are far from brilliant, but we're not making it easy for those governments either.

    I'm going to disagree with that point, for a couple of reasons:
    1. The governments of many if not most third world countries are in an impossible position of being in debt well beyond their ability to pay for it. Even worse, that debt is in a foreign currency (usually US dollars), so they can't devalue their currency to pay for it. The usual effect of this is that the International Monetary Fund basically controls any government action that involves the economy.

    2. Governments of third world countries that take too aggressive a stance against first-world multinational corporations tend to get overthrown. In Latin America, the US has historically made sure of that, while in Africa the European colonial powers generally handled it. The unusual thing about Latin America's crop of socialist-leaning leaders (Chavez, Lula, Morales, etc) is not that they exist but that they've been allowed to retain power.

    So it's not that the governments are stupid, it's that the governments are generally speaking subject to the whims of other countries and interests.

  • Re:And I say (Score:5, Informative)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:36AM (#32824096) Homepage Journal

    I've grown GM crops, and I've grown heirloom crops using hydro, soil, organic, chemical, SEA-90, etc.

    Under identical nutrient regimens across multiple crop tests, the heirlooms ALWAYS tasted better than the GM. Sure, they were smaller, but then I had a full bioassay done on a sample from each plant - all the heirlooms had higher nutritional content PER FRUIT, despite being MUCH smaller in mass versus the GM ones. The GM stuff was flavorless, near-malnourished, and like cardboard made wet in texture.

  • by takowl (905807) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:40AM (#32824112)

    In recent studies [biolsci.org] researchers have found that BT maize (corn) can cause serious health problems in mammals.

    Government scientists also read these things. See what the Australian & NZ Food Standards agency said about it [foodstandards.gov.au]. To paraphrase: "Oh, those guys again. Still using the suspect statistics that were criticised the last time they used them. This isn't evidence for any harmful effect."

    Please don't confuse some of the evil things Monsanto does with the safety of GM as a whole.

  • Re:GM (Score:3, Informative)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:41AM (#32824122) Journal

    You're right. And thank you. Vitamin A is what I meant.
  • Re:GM (Score:2, Informative)

    by Nadaka (224565) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:01AM (#32824258)

    Fun fact, one of Monsanto's innovations is food that contains its own pesticides. It literally contains POISON. What we don't know is the concentration and effects of long term exposure.

    I am going to have to err on the side of caution and say that GM foods need to be PROVEN SAFE before they are fed to people. If you wait until some specific gm product is proven unsafe to stop selling it, it could be to late.

  • Coounter-labelling (Score:3, Informative)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:09AM (#32824302) Homepage Journal

    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. Now as part of this broader campaign of voter/consumer deception, they just need to convince all the consumers that are not paying attention that their products are all A-Ok for consumption - so they trot out people like this Jonathan Jones so called "professor" to use his credentials to sway public opinion.

    Given this climate, the alternative approach is for companies using non-OGM food sources to label their foods as such.

    I did a bit of searching to see what there was in this way and came up with the following links:
      - http://www.non-gmoreport.com/FDA_disallows_GMO-free_label.php [non-gmoreport.com]
      - http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/europe-says-gmfree-food-labels-need-not-tell-truth-737880.html [independent.co.uk]

    The only thing I couldn't seem to find is some form of accepted label or logo to indicate GM free food.

  • by agnosticnixie (1481609) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:16AM (#32824358)

    Many of the starving african nations are there because food aid completely fucks up local agriculture and leads to their agro industry only being used for exports to fatten up eurasians and americans.

  • by shadowofwind (1209890) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:16AM (#32824360)

    This is right, roundup does not prevent non-resistent plants from growing where it was applied. So yes, Monsanto is evil, but the grandparent AC claim is false, unless AC wants to log in and clarify.

  • by Raging Bool (782050) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:40AM (#32824592)

    If you look at TFA more closely, you will see that this is a contributed piece, not the BBC's view at all. The author is credited at the foot of the article as being an external contributor.

    By all means, let's have a discussion about GM foods, but please let's not confuse the medium and the message in the original post.

  • by freedumb2000 (966222) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:43AM (#32824616)
    You must be referring to terminator seeds. This technology is actually on hold and not being used, which is a bad thing IMHO. This could have effectively prevented cross-pollination with regular plants. They way things are now, it is entirely possibly that all plant life will be GMO contaminated at some point.
  • Re:GM (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:45AM (#32824652) Homepage Journal

    Indeed. Monsanto is filthy. I grew up in Caholia, IL, two miles south of the Monsanto plant in Sauget, before the Clean Air Act was enacted in 1970. They dirtied the air so badly that you literally could not breathe if you drove up highway 3 past the plant with your windows down; what passed for air literally burned your lungs. Since Nixon signed the Clean Air Act, you seldom smell anything driving past.

    Knowing how little Monsanto cares about anyone's health, no way will I knowingly touch any food Monsanto produced until it's heavily regulated, and maybe not even then.

    IIRC while they were filthying up the air their motto was "better living through chemistry", a blatant lie. Why should I listen to anything they say today?

  • Re:GM (Score:3, Informative)

    by Svartalf (2997) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:56AM (#32824758) Homepage

    What they won't tell you is that there's a risk they'll peel part of the proteins, etc. that you might be allergic to from some other unrelated plant or animal matter and apply it to that other food that you thought was safe.

    Sorry, the risks are quite high, really, for GM foods because of that alone- and we won't get into your line of thinking, because I concur with it and it's a whole level of risks above the ones I just alluded to.

  • Re:GM (Score:5, Informative)

    by olderchurch (242469) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:58AM (#32824780) Homepage Journal

    I agree with your comment, but you might want use another introduction next time:

    It reminds me of how the Romans brought in lead piping for their water. They thought it was great - water pumped to your home, the ultimate sign that you'd made it. An entire ruling class slowly poisoning themselves.

    The calcium in the water was deposited on the pipes, which prevented the introduction of lead in the water: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/wine/leadpoisoning.html [uchicago.edu]

  • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @08:23AM (#32825082) Journal

    Again, it's not that simple.

    What helped bacteria get so resistant to antibiotics so quickly, was horizontal gene transfer. Bacteria exchange short loops of DNA from one bacterium to another, even across entirely different species. So once one bacterium had that advantage, suddenly a lot more bacteria than its descendants started to have the same resistance. So you don't just have MRSA, but also antibiotic-resistant TBC and a few others by now.

    And it's the _same_ genes that confer resistance to the same antibiotics. Convergent evolution would have produced different combinations in different species, or even in different batches of the same bacterium which developed it independently. But that's largely not the case.

    The biggest pain in the butt isn't evolution, is horizontal gene transfer.

    And in the case of Roundup-resistance, what we're seeing in those super-weeds isn't just some freak other gene that also blocks Roundup, but basically a verbatim copy of Monsanto's gene. What we're seeing is horizontal gene transfer again.

    And if you had read my previous message, we also have a pretty darned good idea about _how_ that kind of thing happens. There's an entire class of bacteria whose very survival depends on transferring genes from one plant to another. It's mostly genes which cause a root tumour in which said bacteria thrive, but essentially it can be loaded with any payload you wish. (That's _how_ the GM companies transfer for example a pesticide producing gene from a non-plant species to grain.) And occasionally it can on its own transfer a bit more, or the wrong segment.

  • by Insightfill (554828) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @08:41AM (#32825290) Homepage

    I'm sure you're thinking to your self, "gee, I'm glad I don't eat very much corn!" Oh, but you do.

    "King Corn" [kingcorn.net] is a fascinating movie that touches on this. Two guys rent an acre of farmland to grow corn for a season, documenting every step, from the government buyback contract prices to fertilizer and meeting with the locals. They also make HFCS in the kitchen and drink it straight.

    But one of the most interesting scenes was where they break down how much food has a corn component, and actually do a chemical analysis of one of the guy's blood to determine how much of his diet is corn-based.

  • by Myopic (18616) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @09:50AM (#32826312)

    If your book defines "free market" as anything other than "unregulated market", then it is not in line with the contemporary understanding of the term. My guess is that the book doesn't actually say that.

  • Re:GM (Score:2, Informative)

    by Faerunner (1077423) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:01PM (#32828946)
    It's not sterile, but it doesn't produce "true". F1 (first generation) hybrids bred together will not produce seeds that have the same high yield or in some cases even the same taste and look as their parent crop. Soybeans are like this. You buy high-yield seed from Monsanto. If you choose to use the seed produced by your crop, it won't grow the same high-yield plants that it came from. I'm pretty sure the reason for this is that the plants won't self-pollinate. They cross-pollinate, and the hybrids that Monsanto sells don't produce good seed after the initial cross.

    You can test genetics with some store-bought produce. Hybrids are all over in the produce department and their seeds often grow a plant entirely different than the parent. I've seen it happen with apples and pears, melons, and squash... I'm sure it happens with many other plants. Monsanto can control quite a few crops by providing plants that won't produce true, and the farmers can't do much about it, short of spending a lot of time and money on trying to breed new high-producers for themselves. Self-pollinating crops might be harder to control, but I'm sure they'll figure out a way to do it...

    I don't trust lab-modified foods. We've been genetically engineering our food supply for higher yield, taste, color, and insect resistance ever since the first seed was planted. Artificial selection of traits is part of why human agriculture was so successful. However, we have only recently started tampering with the genetic code directly. We don't usually eat poisonous caterpillars or pesticide-resistant weeds; why should we blindly accept that the things that we have inserted into our crops are "only poisonous to pests"? I'm not going to accept "The FDA says it's edible", because I don't trust the FDA either.

  • Re:GM (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:12PM (#32829080)

    Agreed. Some may find this interesting:

    http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/lipid-hypothesis/the-vegetarian-myth/ [proteinpower.com]

    He touches on some of those same points.

  • Re:GM (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aqualung812 (959532) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:33PM (#32830260)

    Also, nobody's getting sued for cross-over pollination. That's a myth started by farmers who knowingly propagated seed against their contract, got caught, and lied about it

    Tell that to Mr. Schmeiser. Never bought their product and was sued by Monsanto because THEY contaminated HIS field. http://www.percyschmeiser.com/ [percyschmeiser.com] Sounds like you just don't want to accept that Monsanto really is as evil as they appear.

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