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Biotech Earth Science Politics

Anti-GMO Activist Recants 758

Posted by Soulskill
from the thought-for-food dept.
Freddybear writes "Former anti-GMO activist Mark Lynas, who opposed genetically modified food in the 1990s, said recently, at the Oxford Farming Conference: 'I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologize for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonizing an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment. As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely. So I guess you'll be wondering — what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.' To vilify GMOs is to be as anti-science as climate-change deniers, he says. To feed a growing world population (with an exploding middle class demanding more and better-quality food), we must take advantage of all the technology available to us, including GMOs. To insist on 'natural' agriculture and livestock is to doom people to starvation, and there’s no logical reason to prefer the old ways, either. Moreover, the reason why big companies dominate the industry is that anti-GMO activists and policymakers have made it too difficult for small startups to enter the field."
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Anti-GMO Activist Recants

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  • by Art Popp (29075) * on Friday January 04, 2013 @04:53PM (#42479915)

    Kepler figured out he had it all wrong after a career spent trying to prove bad theories (Platonic model of the universe? Really?) ... and arguably launched the age of the scientific enlightenment.

    I'm anxious read Mr. Lynas' coming works.

  • Refreshing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SketchOfNight (1010207) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:00PM (#42479993)

    I find this refreshing. If only everyone would take the time to reevaluate their beliefs from time to time we might be so much better off.

  • ringed some bells (Score:4, Insightful)

    by faustoc4 (2766155) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:04PM (#42480053)
    I have not read the article, but a couple of things in this summary ringed some bells: current GMOs use is not to feed the world population, for instance USA corn monopoly is empowered with Monsanto GMO corn to make farmers and countries even more dependent and them. There is a whole vicious circle involving subsidies, monoculture, corn industrial derivatives, corn feedstock, antibiotics that has nothing with "feeding the world population" but with empowering monopolies". Furthermore "'natural' agriculture", is he talking about traditional agriculture? I couldn't agree more that it's doomed. But the UN has studied Agro-ecology and found out that it could double agriculture production http://is.gd/oxtixy [is.gd]
  • by Desler (1608317) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:04PM (#42480079)

    Most likely not. Saying that GMO is not evil is not the same as condoning Monsanto's actions in court. Strawman much?

  • Re:Unfortunately (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Desler (1608317) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:06PM (#42480101)

    So truue. All those papers you cited made for quite the convincing case.

  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:08PM (#42480143)

    Kepler figured out he had it all wrong after a career spent trying to prove bad theories (Platonic model of the universe? Really?) ... and arguably launched the age of the scientific enlightenment.

    I'm anxious read Mr. Lynas' coming works.

    I don't have mod points today, so I'm just going to add to your sentiment. I have a great amount of respect for anyone that can look at the evidence they were wrong about a particular belief, and admit to their mistake. And it only gets harder to do so the longer that belief has been held, and the greater the audience you're admitting that mistake to. This guy is to be commended for a true commitment to the truth, not to ideology.

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:09PM (#42480153) Homepage
    ...Lynas jumped into his gold plated Ferrari and drove back to the country club for another round of golf with his new best friends from the Monsanto Board of Directors.
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:09PM (#42480159)
    Roundup used in commercial agriculture (food crops) only eliminated weeds for a few decades, now there are superweeds that have evolved its own immunity to Roundup.
    what happens in the lab and used in the fields will find its way in to the wild (it is unavoidable)
  • by PortHaven (242123) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:09PM (#42480161) Homepage

    Seriously, there is plenty of science that shows issues related to GMO crops. If not the crops themselves, the fact that a round up ready corn means several times more round up applied to the ground. This is scienfitically documented.

    So I am of the opinion this guy is probably just some bought out loon.

    Science, and advocate of real science, would concede there is far too much we just do not know at this point. And MANY fears that were pointed to, have been proved valid. Like infection of wild specieis.

    That's SCIENCE...

  • by Desler (1608317) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:10PM (#42480169)

    Yes, he is going after other anti-science people. Climate change is happening and has been verified even by studies commisioned by groups seeking to disprove it. Anyone still denying it is either an industry shill or someone with an agenda.

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:14PM (#42480231)

    I don't know. The way I read it, he was first an anti-GMO crusader, and now he has become a pro-GMO crusader. Neither one I'm too fond of.

    Genetic manipulation is a tool. It's neither good nor bad. There's all kinds of baggage associated with GMO (hi, Monsanto patents!), and some GM techniques I find highly questionable (plants that produce their own insecticide and which we're supposed to eat?). All are things that can make GMOs bad - but they are things that need to be considered in the context of creating GMOs, not as being a fundamental characteristic of GMOs.

    I really wish that people would stop fighting over whether something is genetically modified, and focus on what the modification is, what its impact is on organisms consuming it, its impact on non-GMOs of the same family, and whether there are any patents on it that can escape into the wild (still waiting for someone to sue Gaia because she is copying stuff that someone has a patent on).

    Unfortunately, I don't see too much discussion around this, and just a lot of yelling around GMO bad! GMO good!

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:15PM (#42480245) Homepage
    Some of us don't like the idea of corporations eventually holding patents on all our food. Sorry but if we can't sustain ourselves without giving up something so basic then we need fewer people on the planet.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:16PM (#42480253) Journal

    Cross contamination & subsequent loss of organic certification isn't an issue then? How about Monsanto dragging innocent farmers into court?

    I would personally advocate slicing GMO issues into separate bins. What you're referring to is the Intellectual Property bin which is a problem with (at least the US) most countries and the ownership (whether an instance of or the general use of) genetic material. Put all those lawsuits and patents and copyright crap in one bin.

    Then you have another bin where we analyze the human element of consumption of GMO foods. What is the process to determine when something has undergone enough testing and is ready to push it forward? How many years of human trials must be held before it can be released? We do this with drugs but strangely, I haven't heard of much about this with GMO crops -- why is that?

    Lastly we have a more open problem like environmental issues both surrounding the plant's effect on its environment and also the adjusted actions of the humans cultivating this crop. For example: with Roundup ready plants from Monsanto, have we really analyzed what the increased usage of chemicals like Roundup has on the immediate vicinity of the fields? Do we know that these genetic constructs that are taken from an insect and inserted into a plant do not adversely affect the pollen and have indirect affects on hay fever or honey bees? Again, how do we test this and how long should it be tested before it's pushed nationwide.

    Lynas raises an interesting point I had not considered -- that my above desires for process and bureaucracy will prevent a small company from venturing into this field. On the other hand, we've been using selective breeding to move past a lot of the hurdles Lynas mentioned that GMO crops are supposed to move us even further past. It's unfortunate but this isn't a black and white issue and I'm against the unfettered proliferation of gene constructs that have been taken from other organisms and inserted into plants without sufficient testing.

    The process of DNA -> Amino Acid -> Protein is still a very difficult puzzle for us as humans and I feel we should not openly experiment with inserting stuff at Point A when we don't know the full effects that yields in points B and C. I feel like there is still a lot to be achieved with selective breeding and until we have a better understanding of protein folding, we should shy away from smashing DNA into strands of plants unless it's absolutely critical to humanity. Go ahead and do that stuff in a lab to better understand it but leave it in a lab until there's a process that ensures it is safe.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:16PM (#42480263)
    The logic of this article seems to be one person has changed their mind about something, therefore everyone else with similar beliefs is also wrong, and valid concerns such as the ones you raise can suddenly be ignored.
  • Re:Refreshing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:18PM (#42480281)

    I agree. I rather enjoy listening to a well-formed opposing viewpoint. If someone makes a statement and can answer follow-up questions (particularly, "Why?"), it's usually a statement worth considering. It's unfortunate how many people can't explain why they believe something (especially in politics, but that's wandering off the point), but are still unwilling to listen to other viewpoints.

  • Of course it's only those Chinese and Russians that can influence the weather though, and hell an upstanding US company would never do such a thing would they?

    See, there you go, losing what credibility you may have had. Couldn't just be that they saw an opportunity and took it, could it?

    It would be great if you provided some actual citations for the studies you referenced.

    All that aside, I too am suspicious of turnarounds in opinion like this - it's very rare that a person can admit that he was wrong on such a scale.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:19PM (#42480315)

    Congratulations, that doesn't mean GMO is always good.

    It is a bad thing to breed pesticides into our food supply without absolute certainty of they are safe.

    It is not a bad thing to have to label GMO foods for what they are.

  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:21PM (#42480331)

    Exactly. To here these Occupy types blather you'd think the middle class is sleeping under a bridge.

    The standard of living for an American poor person is very high for most of the world, and mostly not so far behind socialist paradises in the EU. I'll give you that we need some sort of means-tested max-out-of-pocket universal single payer health care, but other than that it's a bunch of crybabying and class envy.

  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:23PM (#42480363)

    Who cares what he has to say?

    Any blanket assertion of GMOs being bad for you is just as idiotic and pointless as a blanket assertion GMOs are not bad for you.

    Every case must be judged on the merits and it must not stop with the question of the qualities of the product. One must also consider the secondary effects playing god has on the environment and fucked up geopolitics of globalization meets Monsanto.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:26PM (#42480405) Journal
    Every anti-GMO person, including you, ignores science. Usually in the same way.

    How? You ignore every study that shows GMO crops are safe, and focus on one or two (often questionable) studies that suggest there might be a problem in some way, then take that to mean it's all the work of the devil. Even though the study's authors don't say that! Here is a way you can tell if you're being irrational:

    GMO saves lives. If you can't accept that, then you aren't being scientific. GMO might not be a solution in all cases, and certainly not all GMOs are safe (neither are all natural organisms), but being anti-GMO as a blanket rule is dumb.
  • by poetmatt (793785) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:30PM (#42480475) Journal

    The problem is, GMO is not something easily identifiable. For people who are not that interested in the science involved it's fairly intangible. You can't really go out and say non organic apples! these must be monsanto! or Organic apples! These cannot be monsanto! Not to mention that governments dont tend to give a shit, outside of Europe.

    Monsanto, patents aside, does horrible shit with GMO. It's not limited to their patents. So does Cargill, who happens to make all sorts of falsely claimed "healthy products". Unethical companies continue to perpetually do unethical things. That doesn't change.

    So where's the answer? I don't see one. I don't even see a path towards meaningful dialogue given that the gov't is too busy allowing things like corn subsidies to give a shit about whether or not organic food has side effects, etc.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:51PM (#42480807) Journal

    There is no scientific evidence that GMOs save lives.

    Every increase in crop yields due to the use of GM crops saves the lives of some people that would otherwise die from starvation. It's a direct and obvious relation - there's no need to do a scientific study here.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:54PM (#42480827) Homepage

    You can't separate the two so yeah. If you're supporting GMO's then you are supporting a framework that allows for the corporate monopolies in farming.

    Patents are part of the landscape. You can't just pretend they're not there.

  • Re:Refreshing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jamesh (87723) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:57PM (#42480861)

    I find this refreshing. If only everyone would take the time to reevaluate their beliefs from time to time we might be so much better off.

    It cuts both ways though. Ever met someone who has recently "found god"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @06:05PM (#42480979)

    Every increase in crop yields due to the use of GM crops saves the lives of some people that would otherwise die from starvation.

    No it doesn't. That would only be true if increased yields magically found their way into the hands of starving people regardless of geography, politics, economy, or government.

    It's a direct and obvious relation - there's no need to do a scientific study here.

    I think there's a direct and obvious relation between the weight of an object and how quickly it falls. There's no need to do a scientific study to prove that.

    Of course, some may disagree with that ...

  • by robotkid (681905) <.alanc2052. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Friday January 04, 2013 @06:07PM (#42481007)

    Most likely not. Saying that GMO is not evil is not the same as condoning Monsanto's actions in court. Strawman much?

    Agreed the two should not be conflated, although it's hard not to since Monsanto has 90%+ of the market share, so it's their way of the highway. If there were an AMD-like underdog, the first thing they would compete on would be reasonable licensing terms. But instead, we have a company that is acting like MicroSquash in the '90s, and just as with MS they prefer their critics to promote Luddite-ism rather than focusing in on the antitrust aspects of this.

    I do disagree with TFA, however. It's not anti-GMO activism that kills small GMO startups, Monsanto does that very well on their own. If they don't buy out a promising startup outright they just deny it access to the market and it dies a slow death. For all the waving and shouting, anti-GMO activists can't even get labelling laws passed.

  • by mellon (7048) on Friday January 04, 2013 @06:12PM (#42481087) Homepage

    The path to win is radical transparency. GMO-producing companies want to prevent their products from being labeled as GMO products, because people won't buy them. This is a legitimate concern, but may be motivated by a legitimate concern as well: the product may have been genetically engineered to be harmful. Instead of making GMO labeling illegal, which it is in many cases now, make it more detailed, so that I can see the difference between GMO that I'm fine with, and GMO that I'm not fine with.

    E.g., I never want to buy a GMO product with built-in insecticides or herbicide resistance (I don't care about the herbicide resistance per se, just the fact that any such product was no doubt heavily sprayed with herbicides). I also never want to buy a GMO product that contains suicide genes. And I never want to buy a GMO product that is patented by any company that is willing to sue a farmer for patent infringement, even if the product is otherwise winning.

    If you have a GMO vegetable that doesn't fall into any of these categories, I have NO PROBLEM buying it. But that's tough, because right now I pretty much have to avoid anything that isn't labeled organic if I want to avoid the types of GMO I object to, and even that isn't a guarantee. So if someone comes out with a GMO product that I would in principle buy, I won't in practice buy it.

  • by cavreader (1903280) on Friday January 04, 2013 @06:18PM (#42481191)

    Exactly what type of "horrible shit" are you talking about? Has there been massive sickness and death due to people consuming GMO products? Patents are sometimes a necessity in areas that require a huge upfront investment in new product R&D. Pharmaceutical patents ensure the creator of the product can recoup it's expenses but these patents possess time limits that do allow generics to eventually be produced and GMO related patents could incorporate similar limits. The ability to create heartier strains of the major staple crops will allow the world to feed itself as the population continues to increase. It's a shame that the one thing that causes the majority of problems facing the world today is population control. Continued and uncontrolled population growth will destroy the planet with a 100% surety. We can not simply rely on some new technological breakthrough in the future that will nullify the results of our actions today. If things continue as they are the competition for access to resources such as oil, natural gas, water, and arable land will lead to a war that will most definitely reduce the population. One way or another population control will be enacted. It can be done peacefully using sensible rules and regulations or violently using weapons capable of destroying the entire planet.

  • by dpidcoe (2606549) on Friday January 04, 2013 @06:30PM (#42481381)

    If you're referring to the california proposition from last election, I don't think many people objected to the labeling so much as the fact that the law was written by a trial lawyer to be intentionally confusing and open to abuse. It basically paves the way for ADA style shakedown lawsuits against mom and pop food producers

  • by Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) on Friday January 04, 2013 @06:30PM (#42481387)
    And I'm going to call bullshit on that:

    To feed a growing world population (with an exploding middle class demanding more and better-quality food), we must take advantage of all the technology available to us, including GMOs.

    There is OVERPRODUCTION of food, but the capitalists do not allow for redistribution of goods (they prefer destroying food) so the USA is fat and Africa is dying of starvation. Also the GM crops don't have significantly higher yields for this "argument" to hold water or even grain. The sole purpose of GMO now on the market is to control food production (see India's "success" with GMO) or we would see abundance of drought and frost resistant, nitrogen fixing crops.

  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Friday January 04, 2013 @06:35PM (#42481471)

    Hmm. I must have missed something. Wasn't this thread about food labeling?

  • by mikael (484) on Friday January 04, 2013 @06:46PM (#42481657)

    Usually, if something hasn't been in their family diet for several generations, people find they are allergic too it, or it gives them digestion problems.

    Peanuts, gluten based products are a couple of examples.

    So what's wrong with labelling food as GMO if it contains custom proteins? In any case, all food packaging contains a list of ingredients including items like sodium chloride (salt), preservatives, anti-oxidisers, food stabilizers, flavorants, artificial colors. People have become used to those.

  • by kiddygrinder (605598) on Friday January 04, 2013 @06:47PM (#42481667)
    If you don't know monsanto is evil then you should probably do your own research. GMO doesn't actually fix any of the problems you list, especially the way monsanto does it.
  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Friday January 04, 2013 @06:49PM (#42481707)

    The way I see it, is that if Monsanto or whoever is so proud of their invention, they should properly label the product so that people can make a choice. Whether or not they're informed is not really the issue since they have no way of knowing without the labeling.

    From my perspective, mankind isn't even remotely smart enough to control a mistake through genetic engineering of food. Let's put a leash on this now and make them do the tests just like any other product. Let consumers decide with a label, just like any other product.

    Encouraging wider adoption of GMOs through deceit is wrong.

  • by t4ng* (1092951) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:01PM (#42481905)
    I would also add that the mindless gasbag has presented a fallacy of false choice; use GMO or starve. We are told to believe that despite Monsanto's business plan of enslaving the world's farmers, that they are just doing this out of the kindness of their hearts to feed an overpopulated world. Here's a thought, reduce population growth instead. Statistics show that free access to education and contraception reduces population growth without imposing martial law. But no one gets rich off of giving something necessary away for free. So we are doomed.
  • by EdZ (755139) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:09PM (#42481999)
    The same reason the 'n' was dropped from 'nMRI': anything with 'nuclear' associated with it is automatically doubleplusungood. Similarly, anything that is 'genetically modified' must be packed full of 'chemicals' and therefore bad for you.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:10PM (#42482015) Journal

    I don't know. The way I read it, he was first an anti-GMO crusader, and now he has become a pro-GMO crusader. Neither one I'm too fond of.

    Did you read his speech? Because I did, and I don't agree with you at all.

    Lynas was a knee-jerk environmentalist who was an anti-GMO crusader. Then he got into climate change... and became wise in the ways of science (though, mercifully, he has not yet shared his theory on the prevention of earthquakes using sheep bladders).

    In his speech, he dug into some of the specifics you bring up... and emphasized the importance of the science.

    If you don't see a lot of discussion about the specifics, you're probably not looking very hard.

  • by EdZ (755139) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:14PM (#42482097)
    You're using a computer, so I can assume you support software patents? You can't separate the two.

    Software patents are part of the landscape. You can't just pretend they're not there.
  • by DRJlaw (946416) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:19PM (#42482171)

    If GMOs are really so safe, why the tremendous resistance to putting a simple label on the food?

    Because consumers who remain far more similar to the old Mark Lynas than to the new Mark Lynas will misuse the information, and those hoping to impose the labeling requirement haven't offered a rational, rather than fear-mongering, basis for imposing the labeling requirement?

    People, whether they are indvidials or groups acting as a corporation, hate being told what to do without good reason. "Because we want to know in order to support our irrational prejudices" is not a good reason.

  • by Kingofearth (845396) * on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:21PM (#42482189)
    Did you really just argue that food products deserve the same rights against discrimination as humans?
  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:22PM (#42482205)

    There is a rational argument for labeling: honesty.

  • by Teppy (105859) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:28PM (#42482291) Homepage
    I would like any food prepared in a plant that is reputed to be haunted (built on a burial ground, or had any particularly gristly deaths on premises,) to be labeled as such. There's no harm in doing so, and that way I can at least make an informed decision whether to put that into my body.
  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:46PM (#42482543)

    Thanks for the red herring.

  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:56PM (#42482747)

    Food in general isn't patented. Food in general, doesn't have genes shot through the seeds with silver particles, nor does it use viruses as a vector to intentionally insert "beneficial" genes into the host genome. So in the context of this debate, yes, the omission of a label on the food is deceit.

    With regard to nuclear magnetic resonance machines, I understand what you're getting at. Magnetic Resonance Imaging is not something most people would understand. However, they are relying upon a doctor to provide them with the information required to make an informed decision about undergoing a scan for MRI.

    The difference is this: at the doctors office, if I ask about it, he'll tell me what it is. At the grocery store, they have no idea what I'm talking about with respect to GMOs. If they do know, even management isn't very friendly to a discussion on the topic. I've sent emails to managers at markets and get no response on the subject. I've asked them at the market and they're ignorant on the subject, so they can't offer an opinion.

    To me, it's still deceit without a label and I have a right to know so that I choose a different product if I want. But that's not fair to you because "it's great technology that deserves a chance". As far as I can tell, you don't think I can make an informed decision about it, so you want to protect me from that decision through deceit. How thoughtful.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:56PM (#42482765)

    Um Not Correct. People seem to misunderstand the origins of GMO technology. The technology that allows transplanting of genes was developed by copying natural processes that do exactly the same thing.

    Transposons, retrotransposons, proviruses and other mobile genetic elements naturally translocate to new sites in a genome, and over long time scales will move genetic material across species. It happens all the time, in all forms of life. The speed at which it can happen is sometimes frightening - the rapidity at which resistance to antibiotics spread is due directly to natural genetic transfer.

    Plant tissue culture and introduction of foreign germ plasm across species lines is a technology that is hundreds of years old. Almost all of our grain is produced by trans-species crops developed long before modern GMO came into existence.

    The lack of basic understanding of what is going on here after so many years of debates on this topic is shocking.

  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:58PM (#42482787)

    Still a red herring. Stick to the subject of GMOs. Do I have to right to know if the crops used to make the food is GMO or not? If no, then you favor deceit. If so, then we have a basis for discussion of how and when to label the food,

    They manage in Europe, why not here?

  • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:06PM (#42482905) Homepage

    Nobody's saying that. The argument is that allowing people to force (over 7x less efficient for plants) themselves on a "natural" diet leads to starvation of people who are priced out of the market by this. It also leads to more land use, pollution, chemical contamination, energy expenditure, etc, to compensate for the lesser efficiency.

    And of course, natural foods are less safe when it comes to food diseases that can harm humans.

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:12PM (#42482973) Homepage

    No, however the fact is, labeling implies warning, and it applies in both cases.

  • by meta-monkey (321000) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:33PM (#42483247) Journal

    No, there is also open source, publicly funded GMO research being opposed or deliberately sabotaged by anti-science activists. Monsanto =/= GMO. Saying GMO is bad because Monsanto is bad is like saying operating systems are bad because Microsoft.

  • by DRJlaw (946416) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:40PM (#42483363)

    To me, it's still deceit without a label and I have a right to know so that I choose a different product if I want. But that's not fair to you because "it's great technology that deserves a chance". As far as I can tell, you don't think I can make an informed decision about it, so you want to protect me from that decision through deceit. How thoughtful.

    You do not have that right, in the same manner that you do not have the right to know if the food was grown by a 20,000 acre corporate farm or a 500 acre family farm. Your political position is not a basis for mandatory labeling, and others refusal to play to your prejudice is not deceit.

    It doesn't matter whether you're capable of making an informed decision, and he's not interested in protecting you from your prejudice or unreasonableness. He and others simply refuse to expend their time and energy to support scientifically unsupported, irrational prejudices such as yours.

  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:47PM (#42483433)

    You miss the point entirely. Consumers want to make a choice regardless of whether they cause harm or not. Even if their fears are unfounded, it is still a modification of the food.

    Let them have it.

  • by SolitaryMan (538416) on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:24PM (#42483835) Homepage Journal
    Exactly! They should describe the modifications in detail the same way they list all ingredients and not just say "contains taste enhancers" or something.
  • by perceptual.cyclotron (2561509) on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:40PM (#42483965)
    A hundred times this. I distrust GMO, but not because I distrust the technology – I think it's vital, incredible, and we've barely scratched the surface of its potentials. The race and the planet could both benefit tremendously from increased adoption of GMO tech across the board (from food to medicine to materials engineering, etc.). However, companies like Monsanto are demonstrably not trustworthy. And, indeed, the entire capitalist mindset is was makes this kind of technology so profoundly and obviously dangerous. But this has nothing to do with the science, and everything to do with cutting corners, forcing work-arounds through idiotic patenting of naturally-occurring genes, generating cheap monocultures, breeding for superficial (i.e., sellable) phenotypes like size and colour as opposed to breeding for nutritional optimality and ecological fit, etc. etc. And of course, you can take the prescient (and terrifying) perspective that Bacigalupi offers and realize that monopolizing the food market is better than sex - and the best way to do that is to patent resistance to engineered food pathogens. GMO has the potential to be a global panacea. GMO + capitalism has the potential to end us.
  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:21PM (#42484303)

    Fear. You mean like asbestos? Cigarettes? Global warming?

    How long do you want to wait to learn that GMOs damage the environment? Humans?

    Who will accept liability for the damage done? Who will assign it when everyone who caused the problems related to GMOs are long gone and have made their money?

  • by seebs (15766) on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:30PM (#42484697) Homepage

    So buy stuff that does tell you. Problem solved. You don't have a right to demand that millions of people starve to death so that you can indulge your superstitions.

    But forcing a label that people won't understand onto things, when we all know that mandatory labels are almost exclusively used for things believed to be harmful, will drive people away from technology that can improve the chances of people actually eating and getting nutrition.

  • by foofish (10132) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @12:58AM (#42485231)

    Newsflash: Millions of people are going to starve to death with or without GMO crops. It's not like Monsanto or ADM is just going to magnanimously ship all this extra food to Africa out of the goodness of their hearts. Producing more food does absolutely nothing to ensure that the surplus actually gets to the people who need it. One study claims that 40% of food in the US goes to waste (Link [cnn.com]). A good chunk of this hypothetical extra GM food will probably just add to that.

  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @01:20AM (#42485341)

    The forces at work to put GMO crops into the market is every bit as political as the movement to have the food produced from the same crops labeled. Your suggestion that the desire to have GMO labeling on food is merely a political movement makes it no less important.

    Look, remove the incentive with patents and we'll see how important it really is to the companies that want to "feed the world.

    You're right, I could educate myself and I do. But most people would like a guide. Here's a sample: "His survey found that 91 percent of people want GMOs labeled, while 81 percent "strongly favor" such labeling." http://www.rodale.com/gmo-labeling [rodale.com]

    But then again, the will of the people doesn't matter, does it? Corporate profits are more important, aren't they?

  • by blackest_k (761565) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @01:59AM (#42485513) Homepage Journal

    You seem to be in favour of ignorance. The thing you are trying to ignore is People want to know!
    When it comes to food no lets be more general and apply this to products in general.
    place of origin - people like to support their local economy or enjoy a product from a particular region for example champagne from france or a watch from Switzerland. You might prefer Texas beef to Argentinian or Brazillian Beef.

    The Organic label i am fine with that, I don't tend to buy organic food it usually costs more but there are definitely people who do and organic food also tends to be less wasteful of food as sizing is a lot looser than with your standard supermarket sizes,

    Potato's can be from marble sized to a good pound or two in weight. I personally have no issue with having a single potato to peel (its quicker and there is less peel).
    There are vast numbers of vegetables which go to waste if they do not match the supermarkets size guidelines. If we are talking about yield and costs to produce shouldn't we also look at sizes and blemishes, such as cracked onion skins.

    Eggs can be free-range, organic, barn raised or factory farmed. do you care? maybe not. With chicken diet makes a difference, corn fed chicken has a yellow tinge to the meat and there is more meat on the bone too.

    GM is another choice people want to make the same as they can look at a pack of sausages and see the E numbers they are free to choose to buy or not to buy. My personally most disliked phrase on a pack of burgers "Mechanically reclaimed meat" I also look at fat content and sugar content oh and water content too and soya content too.

    I would also like to know the company producing the products name, I will not buy Sony for example a bias fairly commonly shared on Slashdot. I also will not buy from Smithfield meat or Japanese Tuna. I'd rather buy Irish Beef instead of British and support my local farmers. Your biases may vary.

    My dad is allergic to gluten, want to make him ill just give him food with flour in it. It's quite handy for him to have gluten free labels on food. People do want to know what they are buying and GM is one of the things people want to know about GM crops maybe cheaper to produce due to bigger yields and less reliance on chemical fertilizers so let the price reflect that. Same with irradiated food and uht milk.

    If you want to encourage people to buy GM food then first you need to give people the choice, people need to be aware that there are people eating GM food with no ill effects and that GM foods are as tasty as the non GM version if not more so. You are not going to gain acceptance of GM foods by flat out refusing to say which products are GM and which are not. By hiding the GM status of a food product you invite suspicion, if your being too cagey people will be convinced there is something wrong with GM food.

    GM food needs to be marketed as such or it will always have a stigma attached to it. But lets not ignore the real reason for not labelling GM as GM. Sales would tank and corporations would lose money and who pays for the Government, Corporate Industry. In another thread there were snarky comments about people who boycott Sony (do you think Sony cares) maybe they do, maybe not, but its clear that there is an industry terrified of the fall out over GM labelling.

  • Re:Mods (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zakkudo (2638939) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @03:25AM (#42485829)

    There is a point to all of the posters but:

    1. It should be labeled no different than high fructose which has gone from unnoticed to hated.

    2. It should be up to the companies, not the government.

    3. The GMO companies are like a black plague, litigating normal farmers who don't use their products. People have a right to be able to avoid them.

  • Re:Mods (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Solandri (704621) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @03:12PM (#42489199)
    The problem is it misses the point. The problem isn't labeling Jews. I'm Asian, and you don't even have to label me. My appearance immediately tells you I'm Asian. But it's not a problem because there is no negative stigma associated with Asians.

    The problem isn't the label. It's the negative stigma associated with Jews. Fixing the problem involves correcting the negative stigma - teaching kids that there's nothing wrong with being Jewish - they're just people like everyone else, and that they've been unfairly targeted in their past just because of their race.

    The same goes for GMO foods. The problem isn't the label, it's the negative stigma they've picked up. Fixing the problem means openly engaging and educating people on what GMO is, and what dangers are real and fake. Hiding behind a ban on labels just fuels the conspiracy that they have something they to hide.
  • Re:Mods (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @07:38PM (#42491041) Journal

    The fact that you and others think that food deserves the same protection shows that you're either food industry shills or just really shallow thinkers.

    Please don't assume to know what I think, I'm obviously the one who has all the "facts" on that subject.

    It's not the same question and it IS flamebait. Food doesn't have feelings,

    Your a perfect example of why I bitched about the moderation, your comprehension sucks! The GP's and my post were not about what or who is being labeled, they are about the power a label has over the human psyche. A label is specifically a mental simplification that replaces thinking with a standard response, it's is THE way human minds communicate with each other and it is basically the definition of "shallow thinking" and it is necessary because the brain does not have time to think deeply about everything it encounters. If you don't have the introspective abilities to see this behavior in yourself then you are much more susceptible to propaganda, you will tend towards "shallow thinking" and jump to erroneous conclusions as you have done here.

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -- Niels Bohr

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