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Genetically Modified (GM) crops: Safe or Risk?





nanobid
It is a burning question that consuming genetically modified vegetables, crops and other foods is safe to human beings or not. It is obvious that this is an excellent outcome of the development of biotechnology and genetic engineering. So since our resource is limited and population growth is alarming, let's have positive thinking.
GoldenEagle
nanobid wrote:
It is a burning question that consuming genetically modified vegetables, crops and other foods is safe to human beings or not. It is obvious that this is an excellent outcome of the development of biotechnology and genetic engineering. So since our resource is limited and population growth is alarming, let's have positive thinking.


I really don't think there's too much to be worried about. For thousands of years humans have been selecting individual organisms to be bigger, stronger, have more fruit, and easier to grow. That is in itself genetic engineering. Of course it takes much longer, but the basic premise is the same : Change genetic traits to better match our desires.

Modern science (when done right) uses our deeper understanding of the mechanisms and uses them to instigate the changes.
ocalhoun
In most cases, yes they are perfectly fine to eat*. Anti-GM hype is mostly people trying to make money off of 'organic' foods, or people who listen to and repeat those people.

*Certain GM foods are not approved for human consumption, but for good reason, such as bio-produced pesticides being (intentionally) present in them.


Personally, I'd be a lot more worried about the long-term effects of hormone treatment in livestock intended for consumption than about GM vegetables.
GoldenEagle
ocalhoun wrote:

Personally, I'd be a lot more worried about the long-term effects of hormone treatment in livestock intended for consumption than about GM vegetables.


This is a whole issue in and of itself. While I don't think that GM foods ought to be an issue, there is almost certainly a bio-accumulation impact of consuming foods with unnatural levels of hormones.
nanobid
Well, I am not sure about the food values of such GM crops. For an example, if the protein or carbohydrates content be lesser (?) than the normal food, then why should we go through GM.
deanhills
nanobid wrote:
Well, I am not sure about the food values of such GM crops. For an example, if the protein or carbohydrates content be lesser (?) than the normal food, then why should we go through GM.
Well I'm almost certain they have a much longer shelf life for starters. So there is at least more fruit that can get to more people. Less wasted. Certain gene modifications are practical as well. I like watermelon and mineolas without pips in them.

I have to agree however about the hormones, especially in cows milk. I've just read in the Health Forum that quite a large number of plastic surgery for male teenagers is for breast reduction, so possibly this could be one of the reasons for it.
Bikerman
The risks from GM foods are not zero, but are extremely small IMHO. From discussions I've had, there is a very unlikely but possible scenario where the transplanted gene results in several other genes being switched on/off and a measurable difference in the phenotype - which could, I presume, be dangerous.
Quite frankly I'm not sure it is worth worrying about. The chances must be astronomically small.
Bluedoll
I question the size of a berry the size of a water melon. Watermelon (natural) may contain a large percentage of...... what else?,,,,,, water! That does not make watermelon dangerous, I think it just makes watermelon,,,,,,,,,,watermelon.
Ok so, now we have a berry that is the size of watermelon with the same qualities as watermelon. Why are my pies so runny??? Will someone rename these things and stop trying to trick me! Berrymelon#2923b4? Use as directed.
Ankhanu
Bikerman wrote:
The risks from GM foods are not zero, but are extremely small IMHO. From discussions I've had, there is a very unlikely but possible scenario where the transplanted gene results in several other genes being switched on/off and a measurable difference in the phenotype - which could, I presume, be dangerous.
Quite frankly I'm not sure it is worth worrying about. The chances must be astronomically small.


It's not. At least in terms of nutrition. A modified genome will break down the same as a natural genome in the digestion process.
I suppose there is a worry that, like you mentioned, something might be switched on that might cause the expression of a toxin within the organism, which could be hazardous if consumed (that's not an issue with the DNA itself though)... but, any GM food product that is released for growth will have been tested to ensure that the organism is not toxic. The likelihood of this sort of expression is low, and the likelihood of it escaping the notice of the developers (who's asses would be on the legal line if their product was toxic) is even lower... it's almost a null risk.

The biggest risk of GM organisms is the threat of them escaping and naturalizing, or hybridizing with wild populations. What, for example, would be the effect of cold hardy, rapid growth GM wheat or something spreading off of agricultural fields and onto the Great Steppe? What effect would that have on the delicate grassland ecosystem and its native biota? It could be devastating, and is a very real threat. Similarly, what about rapid growing Atlantic salmon escaping their farms and integrating with wild populations? It could have intense effect on an already stressed fish population.

Bluedoll wrote:
I question the size of a berry the size of a water melon.


Question no longer! Watermelon is, in fact, a berry!
Navigator
http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Safety/gmo/gmo_foods_pose_higher_risks_for_children_0508110629.html

http://www.responsibletechnology.org/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/tribnation/chi-a-qa-on-geneticallymodified-foods-20110525,0,4914034.story

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8464

http://www.naturalnews.com/023004_Morgellons_disease_fiber.html

http://permaculture.org.au/2009/01/04/genetically-modified-foods-unsafe-evidence-that-links-gm-foods-to-allergic-responses-mounts/

They are definitely a risk, there aren't enough studies showing they are safe in the long run since they haven't been here long enough. Instead, they have proven to be harmful provoking a myriad of symptoms and diseases already.

Labeling these frankenfoods should be a priority for us, the consumer. And the US Congress and governments everywhere should push hard for this measure.

Who are the ones advocating for these crops? Well, the usual suspects, Monsanto, ConAgra and many others, just check this little statement by the biotech industry:

Quote:
The U.S. food and biotech industries have opposed similar laws, concerned that the labels would stigmatize their products unfairly. Such labels, required in parts of Europe and Asia, are "scary sounding," says Ken Yates, vice president of government affairs for the Northwest Food Processors Association, a Portland trade group.


http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstrye184.html?recid=1013

Of course we are wary of these stuff, why shouldn't we? The main goal of big agribusiness is not our health, is to profit by making more produce with less investment.

For millenia mother nature has done its job providing us with natural, organic food, should we now trust greedy corporations that have been doing research just for a few decades?
Ankhanu
This particular method is a couple decades old, yes, but we've been genetically modifying our agricultural organisms for millennia. Selective breeding is a fine example of low-tech genetic modification.
Do we need to be careful? Yes, of course. But, genetic modification, in and of itself, isn't necessarily a scary thing for our health. There are many reasons to be careful about genetic modification, but, in general, I think health is not really a top priority.
Navigator
Ankhanu wrote:
This particular method is a couple decades old, yes, but we've been genetically modifying our agricultural organisms for millennia. Selective breeding is a fine example of low-tech genetic modification.
Do we need to be careful? Yes, of course. But, genetic modification, in and of itself, isn't necessarily a scary thing for our health. There are many reasons to be careful about genetic modification, but, in general, I think health is not really a top priority.


Low-tech, compared to modifying the genes in a lab, with the intention of a DNA to be more "resistant" to weather, plagues and to grow bigger fruit or vegetables. Although the initial promise is attractive, these are the corporations that use patented herbicides like RoundUp since the 80s and before, these pesticides, regarding of what the EPA has concluded are the cause of the rise of cancers and other illnesses as they stockpile in our bodies.

Check Shelly Rogers' book Detoxify or Die where she goes deep into the length of the damage done by pesticides, herbicides, plastics, vehicle exhaust and a lot, lot more that don't get released by our bodies due to diet, among other things. She says in her research that most cancers are a product of diet and environment, and she has been doing her detox therapy on hundreds of people freeing them from disease just by taking out these harmful chemicals from their bodies.


So our health should come first when dealing with these companies that have shareholders to please, and to be very cautious when they say that there are no "sideeffects" to their products - as they are already the cause of many, many illnesses and diseases.

Remember, these are the guys that pour millions of dollars each year to get the EPA, USDA and others do what they want, but are they intentions the best for us? I strongly doubt it.

That, the lack of evidence of damage in the long run, should be a reason by itself to prohibit at best, and to regulate and label properly these GMOs at worse.
Ankhanu
Prohibition is ridiculous, regulation is certainly wise.
You appear to think I'm suggesting that there are no health dangers, and that we should throw caution to the wind and just trust whoever produces a modified organism... that's far from the truth. I'm all for regulation, in fact, my initial point was that regulation is what will help ensure safety. If properly regulated, GMOs and health can nicely coexist.

My other point was that human health is a lower concern than ecological health. The threat the GMOs present to natural ecosystems are well beyond our scope and are a much greater scale than the health of a few humans. Are humans important? Sure. Are we more important than natural ecosystems, I don't really think so. All life depends on healthy ecosystems, if we cause them to collapse, it doesn't matter how healthy our bodies might be to start, they'll quickly stop functioning Wink (Yes, I'm using some hyperbole here, I recognize this)
The issue with GMOs taking over natural ecosystems is that, just as with any other invasive species, we can't properly predict the effects of their introduction... though it rarely goes well. Factor in unnatural levels of resiliency and resource acquisition/allocation, and you can get into a fair mess pretty fast.

A few humans dieing of cancer is a minor thing compared to species extirpation/extinction and complete transitions of ecosystems.
Navigator
Ankhanu wrote:
Prohibition is ridiculous, regulation is certainly wise.
You appear to think I'm suggesting that there are no health dangers, and that we should throw caution to the wind and just trust whoever produces a modified organism... that's far from the truth. I'm all for regulation, in fact, my initial point was that regulation is what will help ensure safety. If properly regulated, GMOs and health can nicely coexist.

My other point was that human health is a lower concern than ecological health. The threat the GMOs present to natural ecosystems are well beyond our scope and are a much greater scale than the health of a few humans. Are humans important? Sure. Are we more important than natural ecosystems, I don't really think so. All life depends on healthy ecosystems, if we cause them to collapse, it doesn't matter how healthy our bodies might be to start, they'll quickly stop functioning Wink (Yes, I'm using some hyperbole here, I recognize this)
The issue with GMOs taking over natural ecosystems is that, just as with any other invasive species, we can't properly predict the effects of their introduction... though it rarely goes well. Factor in unnatural levels of resiliency and resource acquisition/allocation, and you can get into a fair mess pretty fast.

A few humans dieing of cancer is a minor thing compared to species extirpation/extinction and complete transitions of ecosystems.


Yeah, wanted to point out that the health issues are there and shouldn't be treated lightly, and if we take a look at the bigger picture considering the real damage that the use of modified crops do to the environment AND to the pocket of the farmers (as Monsanto has sued farmers that "save" their patented seeds for next season, check link here, here, and http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Goliath_and_David:_Monsanto's_Legal_Battles_against_Farmers why are we so passive towards this?

Just found out about this little film called The World According to Monsanto, worth a watch.
HelloRoshan
have you ever seen it? ... i think it was in that movie where they talked about how one man patented his version of the genetically modified corn and then basically developed one of the largest crop monopolies that the united states has seen till date...
kelseymh
HelloRoshan wrote:
have you ever seen it? ... i think it was in that movie where they talked about how one man patented his version of the genetically modified corn and then basically developed one of the largest crop monopolies that the united states has seen till date...


Monsanto is far, far older than "genetically modified" crops. Monsanto started out by manufacturing the artificial sweetener saccharin (which it sold to Coca-Cola), then expanded into industrial chemicals and herbicides (with a nice sideline producing Agent Orange for the U.S. military). It wasn't until very late that they got into the GM business, and they did that mostly as a way to avoid losing revenue because their herbicides and pesticides were being restricted.

I think "HelloRoshan" is thinking of the Pioneer Hi-Bred seed company. It also (1926) started generations before genetic modification. A future U.S. vice president founded the company to sell his hybrid (that is, bred by normal selection, not genetic modification) corn seeds, and it now dominates that market.
captainsuperdude
pros = more food
cons = gm food eaters are basically guinea pigs for the next 50 years or however long it takes to establish the effects it has on our bodies.

I say avoid eating entirely gm foods for atleast a generation and see how often kids develop superpowers with it.
Ankhanu
captainsuperdude wrote:
cons = gm food eaters are basically guinea pigs for the next 50 years or however long it takes to establish the effects it has on our bodies.

I say avoid eating entirely gm foods for atleast a generation and see how often kids develop superpowers with it.


Why do you say this?
We can very easily determine the chemical content of GM foods, just like we can non-GM foods. The risk inherent in GM foods with the "we don't know what they'll do" is largely in terms of unforeseen chemicals being produced within the organism, say, for example some sort of toxin production gene was turned on by the changes... by completing basic chemical analyses of the product we know whether or not it contains unexpected... oh... cardenolide glycosides.
This IS a real danger, but it is one that is relatively easily checked before it ever enters the food path.

The altered genome itself is identical, in terms of digestion and incorporation of components, as any other genome. We just have to be careful about the altered phenotype, which is, again, easily compared and checked.
yagnyavalkya
GM is good for increasing production under biotic and abiotic stress conditions
Ankhanu
yagnyavalkya wrote:
GM is good for increasing production under biotic and abiotic stress conditions

Sometimes. Sometimes it's under optimal conditions... it really depends on the intention/design of the modification. Modification may be used for any number of reasons, for use in any number of environmental conditions.
metalfreek
Genetically enhanced food and crops are already in use now a days. The level of modification might vary. But in near future I think we will have a lot more productivity by the use of genetically enhanced crops and we desperately need that. World's population is increasing rapidly and without these enhanced crops I don't think we can feed the world.
rafaht
I'm a Biotechnology student and on my opinion, the consume of GM crops is safe to human and animal health. The GM vegetables reduces the use of agrotoxics and pesticides, because this vegetables have a resistance to pragues. Equally, have a possibility of cultive vegetables in climates that not naturally to this organism. Currently, the GM products are very tested by industry and government organs, as well as the legislation of this products are very rigid. So, to put products with this feature, the producers should be test very much your products, like the allergenicity and allergens presents, the security of consume...
And in Brasil, this products are identified in your packing for a symbol, which is the letter T surrounded by a triangle. In other countries, I don't know how is this identification.

//Sorry for my english.
BigGeek
Ankhanu wrote:

The biggest risk of GM organisms is the threat of them escaping and naturalizing, or hybridizing with wild populations. What, for example, would be the effect of cold hardy, rapid growth GM wheat or something spreading off of agricultural fields and onto the Great Steppe? What effect would that have on the delicate grassland ecosystem and its native biota? It could be devastating, and is a very real threat. Similarly, what about rapid growing Atlantic salmon escaping their farms and integrating with wild populations? It could have intense effect on an already stressed fish population.


From what I have read this has already happened. Farmer in Oregon was clearing his wheat field with roundup and a few of the plants would not die, they were sent to the lab and found to be Monsanto 71800 wheat strain that apparently migrated quite a long way to get into his field. How it got there no one knows....????

I have read similar things about the corn in Colorado one of Monsanto's main test areas. Farmers complaining that there crops are now cross pollinated with GM Corn.

The other alarming fact is the decreasing bee population - there are no conclusive reasons that have been pin pointed as the cause, however there are some alarming studies pointing to GM Crops as one of the contributing factors. Of course along with pesticides.

Couple that with the fact that there are a huge number of birds now entering the endangered species list, and again there are some studies that are pointing at the GM Crops and pesticides.

All that aside, my personal big problem with GM Crops and Monsanto is the fact that the crops do not grow seeds for next years planting, farmers must repurchase new seeds every year from Monsanto to continue growing crops. Even if the GM crops are completely safe to eat, and have no side effects one still has to ask the question: what happens if Monsanto or ConAgra suffer some disaster and cannot produce the seeds for the next crop....what then?

Do we really want the ability to grow crops solely in the hands of these companies?
lovescience
From saving seeds, and planting these seeds,
farmers or anyone can preserve plants and keep biodiversity on planet.
mshafiq
Its a debatable topic that you have arisen. Anyways, I would say genetically modified crops are safe and are for advantage of mankind. To prove my point, lets see today world where you already will find different crops that are already genetically modified. Look at tomatoes that don't ripe too quickly and other vegetables that can survive in cold storage for weeks and months. These are the blessings of genetically modified crops. Now not only they survive longer but also they tend to be selective. By this I mean they are made not only disease resistant but selective in their nutrition. For example, different rice varieties or types could be made each with different starch level. Also, its been observed, when you introduce disease resistance in these kind of crops and plants, they survive for long. Like they do not react easily with diseases so the production can be made significant higher.

However, I can;t think of disadvantages to write down. But lets see what exactly future has to offer in this regard.


Thanks )
Afaceinthematrix
lovescience wrote:
From saving seeds, and planting these seeds,
farmers or anyone can preserve plants and keep biodiversity on planet.


You missed the point. The point is that once these seeds are planted, they're planted. They're finished. These crops do not produce seeds and so you must repurchase them every year from Monsanto. If Monsanto is finished, then there's absolutely no way to procure seeds.

BigGeek wrote:
All that aside, my personal big problem with GM Crops and Monsanto is the fact that the crops do not grow seeds for next years planting, farmers must repurchase new seeds every year from Monsanto to continue growing crops. Even if the GM crops are completely safe to eat, and have no side effects one still has to ask the question: what happens if Monsanto or ConAgra suffer some disaster and cannot produce the seeds for the next crop....what then?


I've actually heard that many governments have vast stores of seeds hidden somewhere up in the Arctic. I don't know how true this is but if it is true then it could have something to do with that.
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