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EU Science

Europe Needs Genetically Engineered Crops, Scientists Say 586

Posted by samzenpus
from the feed-me-seymour dept.
First time accepted submitter Dorianny writes in with a story about the ongoing battle over genetically engineered crops in Europe. "The European Union cannot meet its goals in agricultural policy without embracing genetically engineered crops (GMOs). That's the conclusion of scientists who write in Trends in Plant Science, a Cell Press publication, based on case studies showing that the EU is undermining its own competitiveness in the agricultural sector to its own detriment and that of its humanitarian activities in the developing world. 'Failing such a change, ultimately the EU will become almost entirely dependent on the outside world for food and feed and scientific progress, ironically because the outside world has embraced the technology which is so unpopular in Europe, realizing this is the only way to achieve sustainable agriculture,' said Paul Christou of the University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center and Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats in Spain."
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Europe Needs Genetically Engineered Crops, Scientists Say

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  • Eh, what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dunkelfalke (91624) on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:19AM (#43553323)

    EU pays farmers for not growing stuff because it it produces too much food. There have been surpluses for decades, only recently they have been depleted because of the world market.

    Yes, obviously there are imports, but only in winter time or for exotic fruits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:30AM (#43553375)

    1. The world, and the EU, produce plenty of food. People in certain areas do not have enough food due to problems in the food distribution system.

    2. 90%+ of GMO food is either herbicide resistant or produces its own insecticide. It's focus is not producing more or better food. Yes, this could change some day, but that's how it is and has been for a long time.

  • I call BS on this (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:37AM (#43553413)

    the EU has a food surplus for decades

  • Re:Eh, what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DustinB (220805) on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:39AM (#43553427) Homepage

    Very true. Production is not the bottleneck; it's distribution which often times is hindered due to political reasons. We are not at peak production either.

  • by Moabz (1480009) on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:39AM (#43553433)
    Paul Christou

    He received a first class honors degree in Chemistry (University of London) followed by a PhD in plant biochemistry (UCL, London) in 1980. Following postdoctoral research at UCL, he joined one of the very first plant biotechnology companies, Cetus Madison Corp (subsequently Agracetus, Inc.) Madison Wisconsin, USA. He led a research group which achieved the first genetically transformed staple crop (soybean). Subsequently his team developed a variety-independent gene transfer method for rice. These two achievements had a significant impact, as the first transgenic soybean on the US and global markets sold by Monsanto was a direct output of his group’s research efforts.
  • by ecbpro (919207) on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:41AM (#43553443)
    Since 25 years GMOs were tested and not a single case of adverse effects has ever been described. GMOs are not more dangerous than plants coming from classical breeding, actually GMO products are much safer because they are actually being tested. While classic breeding products (even mutagenesis!) are not tested even though it causes massive uncontrolled genetic changes (e.g. jumping genes get activated).
    There is also no documentation that organic products are healthier in any way. You can find cancerogenic compounds in many organic products (e.g. aflatoxins) and nobody cares about that because it is "organic".
    You should get out of your romantic view of nature, nature is dangerous!

    What is interesting is that only people who do not understand anything about biology, plant breeding and GMOs are against GMOs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:54AM (#43553541)

    http://www.patentmaps.com/inventor/Paul_Christou_1.html

    He does R&D for the big M

  • Re:now we wait (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2013 @04:19AM (#43553697)

    There's also immigration, but that's a moot point.
    Some EU countries produce more, some less, both by choice. The newer members on the other hand, those in the former communist block, produce less now, than they did 20 years ago, because it's cheaper to import, than subsidize.

    Price is a good indicator for demand, and food prices have been growing in the past decades only because of the growing oil prices, not for any other reason.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2013 @04:21AM (#43553709)

    Of course nature is dangerous, but not tested? Ever heard of evolution and selection?
    Breeding also works since thousands of years and not only 25.

    Independant GM research is almost non-existent:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/13/opinion/la-oe-guriansherman-seeds-20110213 [latimes.com]
    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/companies_put_restrictions_on_research_into_gm_crops/2273/ [yale.edu]

    http://earthopensource.org/files/pdfs/GMO_Myths_and_Truths/GMO_Myths_and_Truths_1.3b.pdf [earthopensource.org]

    Please stop spreading lies.

  • by Zumbs (1241138) on Friday April 26, 2013 @05:12AM (#43553903) Homepage

    You cannot prove a negative. What you can prove (and what already has been proven) is that all of the GMO crops are safer than peanuts, penicillin, and organic bean sprouts and spinach, and cell phones (GMOs 0 deaths with 100s of millions of exposures over nearly 20 years, the others many thousands of deaths between them due to anaphylactic shock, e. coli, driving-while-texting, etc) .

    By that rationale, cigarettes are also not dangerous.

    Overall, cigarettes do not kill directly, except in very unlikely cases, e.g. people falling asleep in their beds with a lit cigarette. They do, however, poison your body, and large scale studies have shown that heavy smoking will reduce your lifespan by 9 years on average. Same thing could be true for GMO that are engineered to be poisonous to insects, but we have scarce evidence either way. What you are arguing is that we should not require that evidence prior to large scale adaption of GMO crops.

  • Re:"Needs"? (Score:3, Informative)

    by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday April 26, 2013 @07:54AM (#43554531)

    until the patent expires.
    You know patents expire right?

    You're free to cross some Flavr Savr tomatoes with whatever collection of hybrid seeds you like to breed whatever hybrid you like with the addition of the GM genes. You can breed whatever diverse collection of plants you like with or without GM.

  • Re:"Needs"? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ash Vince (602485) * on Friday April 26, 2013 @08:30AM (#43554751) Journal

    You have opened your mouth and removed all doubt, you are a fool.

    Start your post with an insult, nice way to show your own arrogance.

    Virtually all crop plants, GMO or not, are highly resistant to pesticides. Pesticides kill bugs, usually insects, not plants.

    Wrong. The main GM plant that people moan about is GM Soya made by Monsanto. They created GM soya as normal soya was killed if you used roundup weed killer on it. So Monsanto create a GM crop to increase their weedkiller sales.

    Ok, you could argue that there is a difference between a pesticide and a weed killer but that is just being pedantic. The truth is the parent poster kind of had a point, they just screwed up by saying "Pesticide" when they should have said "WeedKiller". Interestingly wikipedia has the following to say about pesticides:

    "A pesticide is generally a chemical or biological agent (such as a virus, bacterium, antimicrobial or disinfectant) that through its effect deters, incapacitates, kills or otherwise discourages pests. Target pests can include insects, plant pathogens, weeds, mollusks, birds, mammals, fish, nematodes (roundworms), and microbes that destroy property, cause nuisance, spread disease or are vectors for disease. Although there are benefits to the use of pesticides, some also have drawbacks, such as potential toxicity to humans and other animals. According to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 9 of the 12 most dangerous and persistent organic chemicals are pesticides."

    So many people seem to consider it fair enough to call something a "pesticide" when the actual pest being killed is a weed. I know the correct term would be herbicide but hey, who am I to argue with wikipedia :)

    You might want to read the following, paying particular attention to the section on Glyphosphate resistant crops: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_crops [wikipedia.org]

    Your concern about 'buying seeds every year' is extremely misguided and mostly wrong. Most farmers buy seed each year anyway, GMO or not.

    That is also arguable. That might be the norm in the intensive farming in the developed world but it is not the case everywhere.

    I think he was referring to the spate of farmers suicides in India where using seeds from a previous harvest is more common: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farmers'_suicides_in_India [wikipedia.org]. This was actually blamed on them not knowing they were buying seeds where the crops would produce sterile seeds so that a year after the bought the crop they planted a load of duds that did not grow.

    I am not entirely sure why a bunch of farmers started killing themselves in far away country, but keeping some of your seeds from a previous harvest is still common in the case of third world subsistence farming it seems.

    Personally I am not sure I agree with all of the anti GM lobby or not, but you were an insulting twat when it was not warranted as some of what he was saying actually had a basis in fact. You could have more politely corrected him without calling him a fool, especially since your post was very light on factual content and evidence itself. I am being deliberately insulting to let you know how it feels, but have tried to include more references to some of my assertions.

  • by taiwanjohn (103839) on Friday April 26, 2013 @08:40AM (#43554843)

    Fertilizer helps, but we'd rather not use that in a high enough degree to make it viable.

    What Europe "needs" if it wants to increase production and/or land use is holistic/organic methods, such as intensive managed grazing, [wikipedia.org] pasture cropping, [pasturecropping.com] and permaculture design [wikipedia.org]. This would have multiple beneficial knock-on effects...

    1. Increase production.
    2. Decrease chemical inputs.
    3. Decrease fuel and capital costs.
    4. Mitigate flood/drought cycles.
    5. Increase carbon sequestration.
    6. Increase biomass and biodiversity.
    7. Decrease the need for veterinary pharamceuticals.
    8. Replenish eroded topsoil.

    Google a bit on "Joel Salatin", "Geoff Lawton" and "Allan Savory" for some excellent videos on this subject.

  • by usuallylost (2468686) on Friday April 26, 2013 @08:54AM (#43554989)

    I don't think there is anything wrong with using fertilizer. In fact human civilization as we know it would not exist without it. The problem has been that in much of the world over use of inexpensive, easily applied, chemical fertilizers has become a substitute for good farming practices. Things like crop rotation, leaving fields fallow for a season, putting grazing animals onto your fallow fields to naturally enrich the soil etc have fallen out of use. In their place they just put ever more fertilizer on the land to compensate for burning up its natural fertility and polluting the ground water and oceans.

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