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Genetically Modified Crops Are Safe, Report Says (nbcnews.com) 378

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: Genetically modified crops on the market are not only safe, but appear to be good for people and the environment, experts determined in a report released Tuesday. "The committee delved into the relevant literature, heard from 80 diverse speakers, and read more than 700 comments from members of the public to broaden its understanding of issues surrounding GE crops," the report reads. Panel members read more than 900 reports. A lot of concern centered on health effects. The committee determined the following: there is no evidence of large-scale health effects on people from genetically modified foods; there is some evidence that crops genetically engineered to resist bugs have benefited people by reducing cases of insecticide poisoning; genetically engineered crops to benefit human health, such as those altered to produce more vitamin A, can reduce blindness and deaths due to vitamin A deficiency; using insect-resistant or herbicide-resistant crops did not damage plant or insect diversity and in some cases increased the diversity of insects; sometimes the added genes do leak out to nearby plants -- a process called gene flow -- but there is no evidence it has caused harm; in general, farmers who use GM soybean, cotton, and corn make more money but it does depend on how bad pests are and farming practices; GM crops do reduce losses to pests, and if farmers use insect-resistant crops but don't take enough care, sometimes pest insects develop resistance. The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have put the evidence up on a website for skeptics of the report. The report also includes a 'Summarized Comments Received from Members of the Public' section for people to look up the facts to answer their concerns.
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Genetically Modified Crops Are Safe, Report Says

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  • by Daemonik ( 171801 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @06:57PM (#52131177) Homepage

    There are people today who are concerned that there is DNA in their food. They will not believe this report any more than the people who think global warming is a lie or that the creationist 'museum' is factual..

    The issue of GMO food has passed rational debate and entered into religious fervor. Some silly report isn't going to change a thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by s.petry ( 762400 )
      There are also companies who profit from selling seeds and have a history of lawsuits against independent farmers for allegedly stealing seeds. It's amazing how these "debates" mostly revolve around the asinine extremes isn't it?
      • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @07:17PM (#52131297) Journal

        Actually, that isn't really so extreme. If you use these seeds, you can't keep back seeds from your crops for next year's crops, a practice that is as old as agriculture itself. This might sound like it isn't a big deal "Just don't use GMO seeds", but it is getting so the variety of seeds that aren't GMO is diminishing, leaving few choices. I'm not claiming it is evil, but there are some ramifications that haven't been worked out.

        This is why some 3rd world countries won't use it, not fear of GMO itself, but they don't want to be beholden to an American company for their seeds. I really don't blame them. I'm a USAF vet, all American guy, but I wouldn't trust US companies (or our govt) strong enough for the food supply of another nation. We have a bad history of using shit like that to our advantage.

        • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @07:26PM (#52131339) Homepage Journal

          If you use these seeds, you can't keep back seeds from your crops for next year's crops, a practice that is as old as agriculture itself.

          1. Not true for all GMO crops. Golden Rice is patent free
          2. Keeping back seed died on most farms in the USA quite some time before GMO became a thing. Buying new hybrid seed each year has been around for a while because it's more profitable.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            2. Keeping back seed died on most farms in the USA quite some time before GMO became a thing..

            citation needed

          • Keeping back seed died on most farms in the USA quite some time before GMO became a thing.

            So why do the companies selling GMO seed need to prevent farmers from doing this then? If nobody does it then it won't hurt their profits at all. The only reason which makes sense is that it would prevent them from jacking up prices to obscene levels sometime in the future when there are no alternatives left.

        • Farmers don't re-use seeds. You say it's "as old as agriculture itself" but the idea is patently false. Long before GMOs there were seed companies and seeds were purchased for a season. There's no conspiracy here; it's wildly inconvenient to collect seeds and re-plant them, and seeds have been sold in bulk for this purpose for the last 150+ years.
          • "Farmers don't re-use seeds"

            Some used to, but it is indeed inconvenient to get sued by large corporations.
          • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @11:03PM (#52132261)

            Farmers don't re-use seeds.

            Uh. Yes they do. At least the farms I've lived on have. Its called Seed saving, and its standard practice.

        • by s.petry ( 762400 )

          I can find no references in agricultural history claiming that stocking seeds is bad. In fact I find quite the opposite to be true, and instances of civilizations starving to death because they had to use all of their seed during a hard time.

          Did you say the wrong thing? If not, I want citations which disprove everything I can find in every history book I have ever read.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        There are also companies who profit from selling seeds and have a history of lawsuits against independent farmers for allegedly stealing seeds. It's amazing how these "debates" mostly revolve around the asinine extremes isn't it?

        One lawsuit against one farmer who deliberately bred GM plants. He determined which were which by exposing them to glyphosate and breeding the ones that survived.

        Anyways, it's moot because that particular patent expired last year.

        • Propaganda (Score:5, Interesting)

          by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @09:49PM (#52132047)

          Such a small fragment of truth you should have at least tried to verity. From a quick Google [google.com] search the number is more than 140 lawsuits filed by one company (Monsanto) against farmers. This does not include any of the other companies performing genetic modification or licensed by Monsanto to use their seeds and their lawsuits.

          The fragment of truth is that one lawsuit made it to the Supreme Court who upheld Monsanto's rights to sue.

          The second tiny fragment of truth is that one patent expired. There are hundreds of thousands of seeds on patent.

          All that said, when Monsanto goes after a specific farmer even if the patent is expired the claim generally puts farmers out of business.

          The problem is not GMO as much as shit business practices who ensure that consumers get fucked because competition does not exist. A pox on all the people modding down anything that can possibly be perceived as anti-GMO.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        ... and have a history of lawsuits against independent farmers for allegedly stealing seeds.

        The farmers that were sued openly, flagrantly and repeatedly violated IP laws. The most famous example is Perry Schmeiser [wikipedia.org], a Canadian farmer who was sued by Monsanto, after he intentionally and repeatedly used patented glyphosate resistant seed. He was the subject of the wildly inaccurate documentary "David versus Monsanto". The widely held belief that Monsanto has sued farmers for innocent and unintentional infringement due to pollen blowing in on the wind is baloney.

        Note: Most patents for glyphosate

    • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

      Beyond that, people think if you eat genetically modified RNA, it will get into YOUR DNA.

      • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

        Well, it will. The RNA in the cells of the food you eat will be digested to its constituent parts which will form the basis for proteins being synthesised in your body.

        That the RNA will make it through unscathed and form "new" or "hybrid" DNA is what people seem to misunderstand.

    • by Nethemas the Great ( 909900 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @08:21PM (#52131645)

      I'm not against GMO food per-se. I am against the regulatory environment surrounding GMOs. Specifically the ability for the calorie companies to do whatever they like to the genetic makeup of these plants, then get to self-certify that they're safe for consumption. All while creating licensing agreements that make it nearly impossible to perform independent studies. If this were big pharma and not big aggro, people would be up in arms. A better example of conflict of interest; the fox guarding the hen house you will not find.

      GMOs may well be safe in the majority of cases--as this report tries to assert--but absent independent oversight it's truly difficult to know. Given the vast sums of money involved in the calorie business, who in their right mind can honestly believe them to operate as saints?

    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      Boy, have I got news for them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by pellik ( 193063 )

      The issue of GMO food has passed rational debate and entered into religious fervor

      On one side of the debate you have lunatics who are opposed to GMO because it's not natural, and who are portrayed as such. On the other side you have some mega-corporations who clearly manipulate the media by paying for research, paying for good press, and probably paying to have their opposition portrayed as lunatics.

  • No self-respecting member of The Church of the All Natural Plant Food would EVER stoop to disbelief in a report about The Great Satan GMO!

  • Hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @07:01PM (#52131203) Journal
    It says it's from NBC News, but it reads like the opening speech at the annual Monsanto company picnic.
    • Argumentum ad monsantium, that your opponent is a shill, can be used against any side in a debate, and therefore lacks substance. So can the closely related fallacy argumentum ad pomum, that your oppoment is an unpaid but mind-made-up fanboi.

    • It says it's from NBC News, but it reads like the opening speech at the annual Monsanto company picnic.

      NBC issued a news story, dullard. The NAtional Academy of Sciences issued the report. I'd bet you still don't care.

      • The report actually said that there was no proof that modified food is harmful to people, because that's difficult to assess for any new food at all. And there's no studies post-commercialization about the possible allergenic effects. Oh, and that the GE-stuff should be labelled as such. And that glyphosate is probably not as safe to use as claimed by big agri.

        And they also state that GE crops don't have bigger yields than non GE (so there's really no point to use them...).

        The main advantages GE crop pr
  • by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @07:06PM (#52131225) Homepage
    The report really knocks the value of GMOs as begin completely over blown and of little value. Further, the report points to many unresolved ares of substantial risk.
  • As I understand, it's pretty much consensus that more pesticides equals to less bees.... or am I totally wrong?

    • by plover ( 150551 )

      Those are a specific class of pesticides called 'neonicotinoids' that recently rose to prominence in the industry because they're safer than just about any other pesticides, ever. Their LD50 in mammals is so high you could probably sprinkle Safari AG on your breakfast cereal with no ill effects (not recommended, however!) The problem is that they're extremely toxic to bees, much moreso than they are to any other insects.

      But these chemicals are produced in a factory, and not naturally produced by plants. T

    • As I understand, it's pretty much consensus that more pesticides equals to less bees.... or am I totally wrong?

      Many GMO crops, including BT-corn, use less pesticides than non-GMO crops.

  • Yes, sure, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dskoll ( 99328 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @07:11PM (#52131261) Homepage

    I don't doubt that GM crops are safe. But what about the dirty tricks companies play, such as patenting a gene sequence? Or writing contracts that forbid farmers from harvesting seed, forcing them to buy new seed each time? Or deliberately modifying the genome so the plants are fine with respect to food, but don't produce viable seeds [globalresearch.ca]?

    Are those things really in society's interest?

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Have you ever been to a farm? Just wondering.

    • But what about the dirty tricks companies play, such as patenting a gene sequence?

      Why is that a "dirty trick"? If the gene sequence is novel, or used in a novel way, then how is that different than patenting anything else?

      Or writing contracts that forbid farmers from harvesting seed, forcing them to buy new seed each time?

      That isn't a "dirty trick" either, since farmers can NOT SIGN THE CONTRACT and grow non-patented seeds instead.

      Or deliberately modifying the genome so the plants are fine with respect to food, but don't produce viable seeds [globalresearch.ca]?

      Two problems: 1. Nobody actually does this. The technology exists, but it is not in use. 2. It would be a GOOD THING if this technology was put to use, because it would prevent GMO pollen from spreading through the environment unintentionally.

      The suicide s

    • by plover ( 150551 )

      People bring up the "terminator gene" argument, but they always forget to bring up the ancient hybrid version, otherwise known as a 'mule'.

      Nobody complains that if they buy a mule, they can't breed a herd of baby mules. And I'm pretty sure the patent on cross breeding a horse and a donkey expired millennia ago. Many common decorative plants are also sterile hybrids.

      This isn't a problem restricted to GMOs, but it's one the genetics companies don't mind exploiting for profit. It also doesn't affect plant sa

    • don't produce viable seeds

      Take seeds from your standard non GMO and try to grow tomatoes from it. It will probably work, but be rather anemic. Most crops are hybrids resulting from cross pollination, kind like a sterile mule. If you don't like this practice, then I think what you are looking for is 'heritage' agriculture.

      This also goes for meat. The chicken that you buy in store are usually CornishX [wikipedia.org] and are not natural. I seriously doubt most people would want to eat a natural chicken; they don't have a lot of meat on them.

  • Natural is bettet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by backslashdot ( 95548 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @07:13PM (#52131273)

    If natural is better how come it's better to live in a man made house than a cave or a tree? If natural is better how come poisonous mushrooms, ivy, and hemlock will kill you? GMO is safe, people eat natural food and die. How did people die 100 years ago before there was any GMO? Actually if we hadn't used our instincts and brains to develop technology such as plant hybridization thousands of years ago humans would probably be extinct like most of the other species that existed on the planet. Without our ability to make things and to modify natural stuff we would be dead. GMO is safe, I have been eating GMO tomatoes and other stuff for decades and I am not dead yet. Obviously there is a way to eat GMO and not die. Just because you don't know every possible ramifications of something doesn't mean it isn't safe. You don't know every possible outcome of driving on the highway yet you do it. How can you be sure a drunk driver won't get you?

    • This New Yorker cartoon sums it up: http://www.damnedheretics.com/... [damnedheretics.com]

      For those who don't want to follow the link - two cavemen are sitting around a fire. One says to the other:

      "Something's just not right - our air is clean, our water is pure, we all get plenty of exercise, everything we eat is organic and free-range, and yet no one lives past thirty."

  • Cover-up (Score:4, Informative)

    by pellik ( 193063 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @07:14PM (#52131279)
    Cancer research has been casting doubt on the safety of roundup (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/roundup-ingredient-probably-carcinogenic-humans/). There is a huge interest in burying the dangers being discovered. The most common GMOs are those modified to work with roundup.
    • If you think cancer is bad try starving to death from lack of food. We need GMO to make the most efficient use of land. If it does cause cancer in some people (it hasn't caused it in me yet) then we need to figure out why and fix that. I am sure the first planes humans built crashed. Heck one of the Wright brothers died in a plane crash. Today flying is one of the safest forms of transportation. Will we make mistakes with GMO, yes .. But the benefits especially long term outweigh those. If we don't have GMO

      • Re: Cover-up (Score:5, Insightful)

        by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @09:01PM (#52131845) Homepage Journal

        If you think cancer is bad try starving to death from lack of food. We need GMO to make the most efficient use of land.

        Or we need to stop the population growth, mainly through education and giving people powers over their own bodies and future. Without old men telling them that there's an invisible creature that wants them to make more babies, and that they can't get pensions to live on, but if they squeeze out a few more babies, surely they will be taken care of if they grow old...

        Starvation and overpopulation goes hand in hand. Higher production and better distribution of food only enables the poor to increase population growth, pushing back the problem to the future, where it will be even worse due to more people.

        And higher production of just some kinds of food means even more lack of variety among the poor, who have to eat what is available and cheapest. That's not a good recipe for better lives.

      • by pellik ( 193063 )
        You're saying it's alright to cause cancer because we will cure cancer.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @07:14PM (#52131287)

    I liked the part of the report which stated that people who eat GMO foods are better looking, make more money, and have sex with supermodels far more often than their non-GMO-eating counterparts.

  • Now they are "skeptics". How about they get to be called genetics "deniers"?
  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @07:45PM (#52131441)
    Just throwing this out there if anyone's interested. I thought The Windup Girl [wikipedia.org] was a pretty good (YA) dystopian biopunk story by Paolo Bacigalupi set in the 23rd century after GMO farming and global warming have taken their tolls. Heard his following book, Ship Breaker [wikipedia.org] was good too, but haven't read it.
  • I first read this as "Genetically Modified Cops Are Safe, Report Says", which would have made for a much more interesting article.
    • I first read this as "Genetically Modified Cops Are Safe, Report Says", which would have made for a much more interesting article.

      Same here.

      I figured they couldn't be much more dangerous than regular cops.

  • Monopoly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HiThere ( 15173 ) <`ten.knilhtrae' `ta' `nsxihselrahc'> on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @08:10PM (#52131567)

    So they've determined that selling GMO plants doesn't lead to increased monopoly control over the food supply?

    That's my primary objection. I'm hard to convince on the other points, but I know myself well enough to realize that this is mainly because nothing has altered my main grounds for opposition: monopoly control over the food supply. I could be convinced that chemical pesticides are safe...it would take better evidence than I've seen, but it could be done. However this wouldn't change my opposition to GMO foods unless it could be shown that they didn't lead to increased monopoly control.

  • Can we extend the definition of "astro-turfing" to this kind of thing?

    It rings true on several levels.

  • This report according to Monsanto and funded by the large farming conglomerates.
    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      This from their website:
      "The federal government funds about 85 percent of our work. The rest is funded internally or by foundations."

      So I guess the question is, do you trust the federal government and/or foundations to not be largely controlled by or at least primarily motivated to protect the interests of Monsanto et al?
      Given that we grow so much corn that we literally have to find new ways to use it,
      http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/... [usda.gov]
      yet massive federal corn subsidies are still in place,
      https://farm [ewg.org]

  • Come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by no-body ( 127863 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @08:44PM (#52131771)

    Glyphosate, a consequence of GMO modified crops is in people's urine and mothers milk, worst of all in BEER!!!!
    And it has "probably" no effect on human's health, not even thinking about the whole soup of endocrine disruptors messing up our bodies or the compound effect of all the goodies additions feeding us so well taken together.

    Interesting the timings of those - does no harm - reports coming out - Glyphosate is due for renewal in the EU in July (or so).
    When was this trans-fat goodie discovered and put to use? 1800's, right and how long did it take to show adverse effects recognized and get it shut down?

    Building blocks of DNA (what they are using to spice the crop's DNA is probably a secret) are swapped between organisms and that process is far from fully researched.

    Round-Up-Ready DNA is taken in by weeds and yoii, are they putting it to use. Next is stronger and more complex poisons...

    The underlying issues - profit and growth the only criteria, unlimited population growth in a limited environment is too hot a potato to be touched by a politician dependent on "sponsors", if it's even recognized by those conditioned brains convinced that all is OK, gods will or things are just not true...

    All-together, just one big Yuck! Fish are dying - can't breath any more.... no more "thanks for all the fish"...

    • Re:Come on... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pellik ( 193063 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2016 @10:05PM (#52132107)
      >Interesting the timings of those - does no harm - reports coming out - Glyphosate is due for renewal in the EU in July (or so).

      This is completely missing the point. In March 2015 the IARC (Internation Agency for Research on Cancer) reclassified Glyphosate as "probably causes cancer in humans". Ever since then there has been a constant bombardment of pro-GMO and anti-anti-GMO articles popping up.
      • by no-body ( 127863 )

        >Interesting the timings of those - does no harm - reports coming out - Glyphosate is due for renewal in the EU in July (or so).

        This is completely missing the point. In March 2015 the IARC (Internation Agency for Research on Cancer) reclassified Glyphosate as "probably causes cancer in humans". Ever since then there has been a constant bombardment of pro-GMO and anti-anti-GMO articles popping up.

        You are not up-to-date on this, that's not just "an article" of "many" going for and against :

        https://translate.google.com/t... [google.com]

        The 18-member working group called Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues, short JMPR had met from 9 to 13 on May WHO headquarters in Geneva. The experts took this no own experiments, but evaluated from available data.

        The results are in a six-page summary to find the meeting. They confirm the core an earlier assessment of the European Food Safety Authority food safety (EFSA). Here one

  • Those that what to join the grand experiment, feed these Adam Henry's GMO foods and see what happens after about 20 years.
  • I wouldn't worry so much about the safety of GMO food, but the "intellectual property" bullshit involved. What could be the consequences of giving certain few corporations so much power over something as essential as a country's food supply? That's just insane.

  • "The NRC has chosen to include numerous scientists who work on promotion or development of genetically engineered (or GMO) crops and who have financial ties [foodandwaterwatch.org] to biotech companies, which have an economic and political agenda in this debate."
  • Uh-huh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WillyWanker ( 1502057 ) on Thursday May 19, 2016 @12:14AM (#52139569)

    Scientists swore for decades that smoking was safe, until it was proven otherwise.

    Scientists swore that thalidomide was safe, until it was proven otherwise.

    Scientists swore that fen-phen was safe, until it was proven otherwise.

    The list goes on and on. This is just a sample: http://prescriptiondrugs.proco... [procon.org]

    So forgive me if I don't trust the "scientists". Do I believe that GMO in inherently bad? Of course not. It's simply a method. It's how that method is used that concerns me. When it's done for profit, then I am highly suspect of its safety. When it's done for strictly humanitarian reasons with no profits involved I'd be much more willing to be open to it.

    Our history is rife with companies that would poison their own mothers if they could make a buck from it.

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