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Biotech Science

Battle Brewing Over Labeling of Genetically Modified Food 334

Posted by Soulskill
from the foooooood-fiiiiiiight dept.
gollum123 writes with this excerpt from the NY Times: "For more than a decade, almost all processed foods in the United States — cereals, snack foods, salad dressings — have contained ingredients from plants whose DNA was manipulated in a laboratory. Regulators and many scientists say these pose no danger. But as Americans ask more pointed questions about what they are eating, popular suspicions about the health and environmental effects of biotechnology are fueling a movement to require that food from genetically modified crops be labeled, if not eliminated. The most closely watched labeling effort is a proposed ballot initiative in California that cleared a crucial hurdle this month, setting the stage for a probable November vote that could influence not just food packaging but the future of American agriculture. Tens of millions of dollars are expected to be spent on the election showdown. It pits consumer groups and the organic food industry, both of which support mandatory labeling, against more conventional farmers, agricultural biotechnology companies like Monsanto and many of the nation's best-known food brands like Kellogg's and Kraft."
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Battle Brewing Over Labeling of Genetically Modified Food

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  • Monsanto? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:11PM (#40114635) Journal

    I guess we all know how this will go down, considering what happened in France [farmersguardian.com]. The FDA will step in and overrule any vote

  • it's about time (Score:5, Informative)

    by hguorbray (967940) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:12PM (#40114657)
    see Food Inc and other documentaries about the pernicious effects of agribusiness

    -I'm just sayin'
  • by sneakyimp (1161443) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:13PM (#40114663)

    While I applaud the notion, this all overlooks the fact that pollen from Monsanto's GM crops is wind- and insect-borne to even organic farms.

    And what about scientists who say it is harmful [phys.org]?

    • by LifesABeach (234436) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:19PM (#40114753)
      And if your Orange tree is pollinated by one of Monsanto's Frankin Seeds, you get to pay for it. [cbsnews.com] But does Monsanto pay the neighbor if one of Monsanto's Frankin trees is pollinated by a regular seed?
    • by HomoErectusDied4U (1042552) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:32PM (#40114875)
      I agree, it's too late. For example, two out of five different local organic farmers' corn I purchased at the Madison (Wisconsin) Farmers' Market last year came up positive for B. thuringiensis toxin genes. This is not an isolated case; the peer-reviewed literature is replete with examples of transgenic introgression into 'natural' populations. If you want to read more about this, you can start with this nearly-decade old paper that's been cited hundreds of times: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14526376 [nih.gov]
    • don't worry about cross-pollenation with organic farms: monsanto will just sue the farm out of business if they detect Monsanto DNA in the crops, then buy the land and expand their business.

      lol.

      actually.... /cry/

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      And what about scientists who say it is harmful

      Depends on whether they actually publish their results in a peer reviewed journal or not. I looked for that study in NIH [google.com] and darnedest thing, couldn't find it. As far as I know, the Ermakova study was never actually published in a peer reviewed journal. If you want to case doubt on the safety of GE crops, you're going to have to do better than that. even Andrew Wakefield managed to get his study in NIH. And for that one study, here's a couple hundred more [blogspot.com] to look over. Fact is, GE crops have been exte

    • Top Headline:

      "GM Foods Considered Harmful"

      (to rats)

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Which is why GM shouldn't be unregulated. It's possible to modify crops to evade contamination, but then there would be nobody to sue. I think most people would be ok with GM if it was bound by proper regulations.

  • "More conventional"!? Which f*£king joker wrote that line? Nothing is more conventional than organic. Laughable.
  • Labelled = Banned (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cassini2 (956052) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:20PM (#40114757)

    As far as the food industry is concerned, labelling is equivalent to banning genetically modified food.

    As far as I am concerned, if they can't sell it for what it is, then they shouldn't be selling it.

    • by SomeJoel (1061138) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:26PM (#40114809)

      As far as the food industry is concerned, labelling is equivalent to banning genetically modified food.

      As far as I am concerned, if they can't sell it for what it is, then they shouldn't be selling it.

      That's not entirely true. Look at High Fructose Corn Syrup. It has been labelled as such (vs. real sugar) for a while, and there are technically alternatives, but all of the big name sodas (and a whole slew of other products) still use it. Even with its richly deserved bad publicity, it is still out there and being sold a lot.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It has been labelled as such (vs. real sugar) for a while

        Except they're not happy [slashdot.org] with that.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        The last time California made a labeling law, the soda vendors changed their formulation [inquisitr.com]. I see no reason why the reaction to this proposal would be any different.

        Besides, knowing California, the law will probably require a prominent label that says, "Warning: This product contains genetically modified food. Some genetically modified food is known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm."

      • Re:Labelled = Banned (Score:5, Informative)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday May 25, 2012 @08:29PM (#40116145) Journal

        That's not entirely true. Look at High Fructose Corn Syrup. It has been labelled as such (vs. real sugar) for a while, and there are technically alternatives, but all of the big name sodas (and a whole slew of other products) still use it.

        The USA structures its agricultural subsidies in favor of corn and its import tariffs against cane sugar.
        That's why everything in the USA has HFCS and it's not pervasive anywhere else in the world (AFAIK).

        If we 'normalized' our corn subsidies and removed our cane sugar tariffs, HFCS would dissappear from the American market.

    • by Zapotek (1032314)
      If the guy who had won that Nobel prize for GM food (don't remember his name, I had seen him on Bullshit!) is right then we won't be able to sustain our population with non GM food. And of course people will ban GM food by voting with their wallets, as you said. That's quite a situation...

      Ok, I doubt that it'll come to that but it makes for a nice topic.
      • Norman Borlaug's work had nothing to do with genetically modified foods, and everything to do with scientific agricultural practices and productive and robust, but conventionally bred, cultivars.
        • by Zapotek (1032314)
          Ah, good to know. Ok then, no harm done. :)
          • IIRC, that episode of Bullshit! conflates direct genetic manipulation with all scientific agriculture.

            The other thing I was going to say, in reply to your comment above, is that the level of productivity required now has more to do with our meat intake than our actual coloric needs, as well as our use of monoculture agriculture (which exacerbates disease and lowers productivity in general).

            • (which exacerbates disease and lowers productivity in general)

              Yes to the first, no to the second. It is pretty easy to understand why monoculture is bad from a disease management standpoint. It creates a great environment for a handful of pests to absolutely thrive. If a potato problem becomes big in an area where it is just nothing but potatoes, and especially if they are generically uniform, then it is like dropping a match in a tinderbox (like the Irish Potato Famine), however, if the potatoes are interspersed with other varieties of potatoes it decreases the ch

    • Which is fine, if that's what people want. I suspect more people will want cheaper food, damn the consequences (if any), but that's fine too.

      I'm not for compelled speech (mandatory labeling) but I've also heard the FDA has rules preventing 'GMO Free' labels as well. I've never been able to verify this, and I do see a few products in the stores with such labels (but not many). I'd applaud civ. dis. on this, but does anybody here know the real story re: FDA rules?

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      As far as I am concerned, if they can't sell it for what it is, then they shouldn't be selling it.

      They are selling it for what it is, food. The problem here is that they are effectively being forced to run a FUD campaign against their own products. The vast majority of the public are ignorant / misinformed on many issues. There are many people who won't buy a product because they see a warning label they don't understand. This product over here is "gluten free, sugar free, GM free" and therefore must be better for you right?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Funny excuses they use to not label the franken-food as GMOed. "We don't want mandatory labeling because nobody can keep track of the ingredients." If you can't keep track of a dozen ingredients in your food products, how are you keeping track of all those genes and the interactions between them?

    If they don't have anything to hide, then why not label it GMO? Hint - because nobody in their right mind would buy it, that's why.

    • many people will buy it without caring. people still eat fast food, right?

    • because nobody in their right mind would buy it

      Smart, non-Luddite people would.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        >> because nobody in their right mind would buy it
        >
        > Smart, non-Luddite people would.

        Most people have no taste and greatly overestimate their intelligence.

        I dislike the "ownership" aspect of GMO seeds and want to avoid them purely for that reason. It's like everyone's nightmares about software patents in one package. The increased pesticide levels and bee colony destruction are just an added bonus.

        • Rejecting Genetic Engineering because you don't like Monsanto is like rejecting computers because you don't like Microsoft.

    • Because guaranteeing genetic 'purity' is very difficult with organisms that reproduce sexually. Also, how are organic farmers keeping track of all the naturally occurring genes and interactions between them? "All those genes" is the same kind of idiocy as "all those chemicals", and being duped into thinking that dihydrogen monoxide is dangerous.
  • Notme was here. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by muggs (11582) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:27PM (#40114825)

    So, they want to patent the food but not admit it. Sounds like organized crime.

  • If GM food is awesome, then why aren't they proud enough to slap a big 'ol label on it and say so? I mean, I buy "Sugar Free" and "Fat Free" stuff, they're proud of that... "New and Improved" has been the promotional battle cry since marketing began... So, what's so bad about informing the consumers? Consumers should have the choice: Some people might prefer it regardless of any real or perceived benefit or harm. Eg: I buy cage free eggs not because of better living conditions for birds, but because of the taste -- Tastes like Freedom! It's not like all the other eggs say: Unborn Chicken Slaves...

    The point is: without a label, how can I exercise consumer choice? Put it another way: If the corn has DNA pesticide enough such that I don't have to fight off Texas sized mosquito swarms anymore, then I might just ONLY eat Deep Woods OFF(tm) brand Gene Boosted food.

    • The opposite case can be made: If non-GM food is so awesome, why don't the organic folks slap a non-GM label on their stuff? That accomplishes your goal of giving people choice. And they can do it today - no regulations needed - and no one's gonna oppose it. If it were really just about choice, doesn't that accomplish the goal? The fact that "GM free" labels aren't good enough implies it's really not about giving consumers choices.
    • by jo_ham (604554)

      The problem is that the label has been tainted by the anti-GM folks. We don't really know one way or the other whether GM food is ultimately something we want to keep eating, but the problem is that "GM" has already been demonised in the eyes of a large number of consumers.

      Perhaps if the labelling were different but still accurate then it wouldn't be so much of a problem. Something like "directed breeding" or "accelerated breeding" to distinguish it from the many thousands of years of "natural" GM foods and

      • by omfgnosis (963606)

        Who cares whether it's been demonized or not, or whether the demonization is valid or not? GM food producers are not entitled to successful GM food sales, and they certainly don't have a right to obstruct informed consent to secure those sales, and GM food's commercial failure as a result of factual information is not a "problem".

  • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:32PM (#40114885)

    It isn't all that hard to tell if the food you are eating contains genetically engineered ingredients. Corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugarbeet, alfalfa, summer squash, and papaya are the only crops that have been genetically engineered, Due to the way bulk amounts of commodity crops like corn and soy are processed, if something has them one of those ingredients in it and was produced in a country that uses GE crops (like the US, Canada, Argentina, or Brazil), and is not labeled otherwise, then it is a very safe bet that it is GE. This is not very hard to remember.

    The problem with mandatory labeling in many. While it is easy to claim 'right to know' the reality is a bit fuzzier if you take the time to think about it. First, we should not require regulations based on who screams the loudest, or based on simple wants. Millions of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, vegans, ect. have dietary restrictions, but rather than demand that food processors cater to them, they go through the market, create demand for food labeled kosher or halal or vegan, and buy that food, or simply do their homework, for example, calling to find out if the gelatin in a product came from pigs, or if the 'natural flavors' of a product were animal based. There is nothing wrong with them doing their thing, but they do not try to impose their beliefs on others either.

    the second problem I have with it is that it is inconsistent and uninformative. If I say I modified my computer, what does that tell you? Nothing. If I say something is genetically engineered, what does that tell you? Does it tell you how it was changed or what gene was inserted? Nope. Furthermore, there are many ways that we alter the genetics of crops. Selective breeding, hybridization of inbred lines, marker assisted breeding, wide crossing & embryo rescue, somaclonal variation, bud sport selection, mutagenesis, induced polyploidy. There's also ways that modify the plant without affecting the genetics (grafting and tissue culture) and a host inputs that are applied to plants that you could inquire about (including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, fertilizers, and various plant growth regulators). To single out one thing is very inconsistent.

    So, where is the 'right to know' if something was produced with mutagenesis, or to know if rice has the sd-1 gene or a tomato has the Ph3 gene, or to know if something was treated with a synthetic plant growth regulator to thin the fruit? Fact is there are too many things to possible be listed that you could know, so only important thing (like ingredients and allergens) are labeled. You want something else labeled? that's fine, do what the Jews, Muslims, and vegans do and create a free market demand for it (rmember, there is the organic label, and certification from the Non-GMO Project), but if you can't create enough market demand, don't go to the government demanding special treatment. Could you imagine the torches and pitchforks if a Muslim group said that they could not be bothered to read the Quran and find out what was Halal and Haram so they demanded mandaotry labeling?

    What this whole thing really reminds me of is the 'Evolution is only a theory' stickers you see people push for in textbooks. Sure, it is true, evolution is 'only' a theory, just like a 'Contains GMOs' sticker would be true, but you know damn well that the purpose of such stickers is to case doubt on legitimate science by preying on the general public's misunderstandings and ignorance for political or ideological reasons, not to educate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Galestar (1473827)
      If you artificially modify the genetics of corn, you no longer have a right to call it "corn" since it no longer is. It may look and feel and taste like corn, but you've made it something that isn't corn and calling it "corn" is false advertising and fraud.
      • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Friday May 25, 2012 @07:00PM (#40115211)

        Picking corn to use as an example to complain about genetic alterations, now there's an irony. [utah.edu] Do you know how many mutations and genetic alterations are in modern corn varieties (and that's completely ignoring genetic engineering), let alone all the transposons hopping around in there? If I've got, for example, a Country Gentleman sweet corn, a Golden Bantam sweet corn, a Blue Jade sweet corn, and a Ruby Queen sweet corn, just by looking at them you can tell they are obviously genetically different. Is only one corn? By your logic, we shouldn't call anything corn anymore. And why should only changes made by genetic engineering count and not everything else I listed?

        Do you know what you get when you add a gene to corn? Corn. It is still corn. It isn't a new species, just a new variety.

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          Do you know what you get when you add a gene to corn? Corn.

          You get corn + a foreign gene.
          Trying to conflate GMO corn and heirloom/hybrid varieties is either dishonest or ignorant.

      • Ah, yes, it loses the essence of corn-dom.

        Idiot.

      • by jo_ham (604554)

        So that would be every single variety of corn since the Egyptian times then. We have been genetically modifying plants and animals for thousands of years.

        I take it my dairy cow can't be called a cow because that's "false advertising" and "fraud" because it's not a natural animal? Dairy cattle did not evolve naturally.

        Nor did many species of high-yield corn - they were selectively grown to accentuate wanted features.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem with the situation now is that the FDA has banned producers from labeling their food as GMO-free. Even if a consumer wants to buy GMO-free food, they have no way of knowing because producers aren't allowed to tell them their products are GMO-free. You liken this situation to the specific dietary restrictions of muslims or jews or vegans etc. Well all those groups are allowed to identify products in the supermarket that are labelled as kosher, halal or vegan. This is absolutely not the case w

    • by Ichijo (607641) on Friday May 25, 2012 @07:27PM (#40115525) Homepage Journal

      if you can't create enough market demand, don't go to the government demanding special treatment.

      Actually, there's a very good market-based reason to go to the government for labelling: the free market works better when consumers have information [wikipedia.org].

      • No one disagrees that information is good, but the question still remains, why single out one thing and ignore the rest, and furthermore, if the information is freely available, relatively easily accessible, and non-essential, why should it be labeled instead by law of being left to consumers to seek it out or not?

        • by ukemike (956477) on Friday May 25, 2012 @09:34PM (#40116699) Homepage
          Tell me then, where can I freely, and relatively easily find food products that do not contain genetically UNmodified corn or soy? Have you ever called up General Mills to ask them about the corn that was used in a particular box of cereal? Seriously?

          Your statement that this information is "non-essential" is strange. Why would knowing if our food has been soaked in Roundup be non-essential? Roundup ready crops have been modified to be resistant to the broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup. They were created basically for the purpose of selling more of Monsanto's best selling herbicide. Roundup is toxic, it is an endocrine disruptor, and it damages DNA. In addition is has a profound negative ecological impact. You also ask "why single out one thing and ignore the rest?" Well because direct manipulation of genetic code is very new, very radical, only sparsely tested, and has become unavoidably widespread in very short time. Each of those criteria is worthy of making an exception and forcing monoplistic predatory corporations to disclose what they are feeding to the public. Oh and this is not an individual issue, it is societal. When some of these crops turn out to be really bad, all of society will have to bear the medical costs.
    • by nbauman (624611)

      I've talked to a lot of scientists on both sides, and read a lot of the literature, and I'm convinced enough that GM food is harmless to eat it myself. But I think people have the right to make their own choices.

      You say that people who want non-GM food should go through the market. That's the problem. The FDA forbid food processors from labeling their food as GM or non-GM. So people who don't want GM food don't have a choice in the marketplace. They may be wrong, they may be naive, but they have a right to

    • by ukemike (956477) on Friday May 25, 2012 @09:20PM (#40116593) Homepage

      The problem with mandatory labeling in many. While it is easy to claim 'right to know' the reality is a bit fuzzier if you take the time to think about it. First, we should not require regulations based on who screams the loudest, or based on simple wants. Millions of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, vegans, ect. have dietary restrictions, but rather than demand that food processors cater to them, they go through the market, create demand for food labeled kosher or halal or vegan, and buy that food, or simply do their homework, for example, calling to find out if the gelatin in a product came from pigs, or if the 'natural flavors' of a product were animal based. There is nothing wrong with them doing their thing, but they do not try to impose their beliefs on others either.

      Actually people who care about the purity of their food did just this. "Organic" was the term used to describe foods that were grown under certain rather strict conditions. This was going quite well and a thriving and growing market segment was catering to people who wanted "organic" food. Then at the behest of major agribusiness the US Government stepped in with legislation that redefined "organic" to be something that was substantially less strict and then made it illegal for associations to use different definitions of "organic."

      Now in the case of GM foods, it is illegal for a food to be labeled as non-GMO food. So your exhortations to copy the Kosher/Halal approach is a bit ironic considering that we have been banned from doing so! This free market nonsense is absurd. The free market is supposed to depend on an informed buying public. We want to be informed.

      Could you imagine the torches and pitchforks if a Muslim group said that they could not be bothered to read the Quran and find out what was Halal and Haram so they demanded mandaotry labeling?

      Could you imagine the outrage that would be generated if the government banned the labeling of food as kosher or halal? You argue that there are way too many types of genetic manipulation for us commoners to be able to know the difference. On one hand this makes the case for labeling and strict regulation even MORE OBVIOUS. There should not be a presumption of safety, genetic tinkerers should bear the burden of proof before their crops are sold to the public or released into the ecosystem. Also your argument is a bit misleading, the GMO crops that are most available on the market today fall basically into two categories. Roundup-resistant crops and crops which produce their own pesticides. Roundup-resistant means that astonishing quantities of Roundup were used on the crop to kill weeds. Roundup which was touted as safe by your agribusiness "scientists" is turning out to be pretty bad for us. Roundup is teratogenic, and endocrine disruptor, and causes genetic damage. The second common type is even scarier since we know that you can't wash the pesticides off of these, they are inside!

      I usually fall on the science side of arguments (evolution, climate change, etc.) but there are currently two areas of science that have been totally corrupted by money and corporate influence: Pharmacology, and agricultural biology. Anyone who follows this story knows that new GMO crops are invented all the time and the FDA rubberstamps them because the FDA is a captured agency. It's staffed with a revolving door of Monsanto and ADM employees. There is no way that the kind of large scale long-term studies have been done to validate the safety of GMO crops. So I call a hearty BS on your vilifying concerned people as being anti-science. Shame on you for resulting to name-calling.

  • The People of California demanded tighter automotive emissions standards, and the federal government said we couldn't have them.

    Dairy foods which tout their lack of rBGH are required to carry a message stating that the FDA has found no substantive difference between milk from cows with or without rBGH, which is a lie. The opposite has been proven in court. Will California even be permitted to require labeling of GM foods? And when can we get the lies removed from the packaging?

    • To preempt the citation-craving masses:
      Encyclopedia [wikipedia.org]
      News [npr.org]
      Ruling [leagle.com]

    • The opposite has been proven in court.

      Just because some judge let something into a trial doesn't make it correct. You could state that some study has been peer reviewed and published. But making it into court means nothing scientifically.

  • The problem with labeling things genetically modified especially with processed foods like pretty much anything that comes in a box or can... is that it tends to be mixed up from lots of sources. So some of it is modified and maybe some of it isn't.

    So here's the solution. Write on the side of the can "may contain genetically modified goods"... that would have to put on the side pretty much everything. And that's fine. We can put that next to the nutrition chart.

    Then there will be a couple companies that don

    • This would be great. It would create a niche market for items without the "may include.." label which would eventually cause the big guys to come up with the gmo free products that people want.
      • that you want... to pay 30 percent more for... I don't care. I'm very happy with my GMO food. I want more of it.

        The irony of people whining for genetic vaccines to cure cancer or heart disease or extend human life on the one hand then bitching about GMO in crops is really pretty absurd.

        The Luddites should go back to their caves. That said, putting the "may contain" on the label doesn't cost anything and it's an easy compromise. If that settles this nonsense then I'm cool with it.

  • by subreality (157447) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:37PM (#40114925)

    ... So please stop lending credence to it. The real concern is creating a crop monoculture engineered to meet Monsanto's short term needs (eg to sell roundup-ready seeds every year, then selling the roundup, etc), and not the long-term needs of society or even just farmers.

    • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Friday May 25, 2012 @07:39PM (#40115673)

      First, genetic engineering is a way of improving a plant. A monoculture is growing all the same thing. these are entirely different concepts. Trying to link the two only makes it look like you don't know the definition of either.

      Second, how are Monsanto's seeds wrong? sure, the make Monsanto a profit, but there's nothing wrong with that. The insect resistant ones have feared pretty well, reducing pesticides [pnas.org] and even benefiting farms that don't grow them. [sciencemag.org] The herbicide tolerant ones have, for all their ill will, been environmentally positive [agbioforum.org], having reduced the need for tillage to control weeds (tillage [usda.gov] degrades the soil quality and promotes fertilizer runoff into water systems), reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and replaced harsher herbicides.

      Monsanto? Is that why anti-GE groups are protesting the publicly funded Rothamsted GE wheat trial in the UK? Is that why they complain about the Rainbow papaya, Arctic apples, Golden Rice, and BioCassava, or why groups destroyed the GE grapes in French [redgreenandblue.org], GE wheat in Australia [cosmosmagazine.com], GE potatoes in the Netherlands [expatica.com], and GE wheat in the UK [telegraph.co.uk]? It might be true for you, but that is minority thought. You can not play that card while the vast majority of the protest against GE crops is also applied to those that have nothing to do with Monsanto.

      • The GE seeds themselves aren't the problem. Monoculture is, and Monsanto's business model encourages it: Sell Farmer-A roundup-ready seeds that perform 20% better than generic seeds when used with copious amounts of roundup; now Farmer-B is being competed out of business, so HE has to buy the special seeds; repeat until everyone everywhere is hooked and anyone who tries to quit goes out of business.

        End result: everyone is dependent on Monsanto; roundup contaminates everything; we get roundup-ready weeds;

  • by hsmith (818216) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:41PM (#40114969)
    If you selectively breed crops or animals for food - breeding to extend specific traits you find desirable, how is it not the same?

    Granted, it takes longer to produce the outcome you want through breeding traditionally - but you still get the same outcome in the end.

    Why is "natural" GMO acceptable and this not?
    • by Galestar (1473827) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:59PM (#40115189)

      Why is "natural" GMO acceptable and this not?

      1. There are many things they are doing that is not even close to possible via selective breeding.
      2. Selective breeding occurs over time, any negative effects (health, environmental) appear gradually (over generations) and can be tracked, studied and mitigated.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        "1. There are many things they are doing that is not even close to possible via selective breeding."
        Name one. You are aware the DNA parts from animal get inserted into flowers in nature, don't you? whats that? you didn't know that? STFU

        "and can be tracked, studied and mitigated."
        same with GMOs.

      • The controls on laboratory genetic modification are far, far tougher than the traditional genetic modification done in someone's backyard garden. The fact that it's done in a laboratory makes the kind of tracking and study you want possible. Nobody publishes a peer-reviewed study when your grandma hybridizes a dozen different plant varieties.

    • The issue is that they take traits that certain plants would never be able to acquire and splice them in with no idea about the long term effects on the environment or ecosystem. Selectively picking the reddest roses is not what they are doing. It is more like bolting frog legs on watermelons.
      • by jo_ham (604554)

        Does that mean that I can buy watermelons that will walk out to my car without having to carry them? Where can I buy these amazing delicacies?!

      • by geekoid (135745)

        wrong
        It's more like Selectively picking the reddest roses with surgical precision.
        Bolting on frog legs.

    • There is a difference between breeding pigs until they grow an extra rib and splicing genes from an entirely different species into the gene pool. No matter how often and successfully you breed pigs, they'll never acquire traits of corn or jellyfish.

  • unsupported suspicions

  • by IonOtter (629215) on Friday May 25, 2012 @07:49PM (#40115795) Homepage

    I'm seeing people in here saying that tomatoes are GMO because they're in the same family as Nightshade.

    Not correct. Here's how it works...

    Hybrid: Pollen from plant A is daubed on the stamen of plant B, yielding a hybrid. Both the parents and the offspring are the same Genus and species, such as Snap peas, or Pisum sativum. You can hybridize them into many varieties, with different characteristics, such as time to maturity, mildew resistance or sugar content.

    Genetically Modified Organism: Genetic material is extracted from organism A and artificially implanted/replaced into the genetic material of organism B. Neither organism are even close to each other, such as adding the genes for luciferase in jellyfish to tobacco plants to track calcium uptake. [accessexcellence.org]

    The name for corn is Zea mays. The name for StarLink(TM) is StarLink(TM), because it is an entirely new species that has not been classified under the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants [wikipedia.org], by the International Botanical Congress [wikipedia.org].

    So.

    Daubing pollen on plants is good. Daubing jellyfish on plants doesn't work. Splicing jellyfish into plants is a Bad Thing.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 25, 2012 @08:33PM (#40116181)

    So you cannot force labels on the manipulated foods? Ok, then why not invent a "gene-manipulation free food" label and only grant it to "clean" food? Along with promotion, this can prove to be even more effective since you get to set the standards and make sure that nobody slips past.

    • by ukemike (956477) on Friday May 25, 2012 @09:39PM (#40116749) Homepage

      So you cannot force labels on the manipulated foods? Ok, then why not invent a "gene-manipulation free food" label and only grant it to "clean" food? Along with promotion, this can prove to be even more effective since you get to set the standards and make sure that nobody slips past.

      Great idea, but that is currently illegal, thanks to the fact that Monsanto basically owns the FDA.

  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @04:41AM (#40119179)
    Monsanto citing biologically contaminated farms adjacent to GMO farms, as "infringers", is akin to Tokyo Electric calling nucleotide contaminated houses, receivers of stolen property, and extorting payments from the victims !

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