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Why do people hate genetically modified food?

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by onix, Mar 29, 2013.

  1. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    this is my major issue, the other one is that I am not sure that we know all possible ramifications, for instance, we have been using plastics for 50 years, and it seems that certain chemicals in plastics can mimic human hormones and can impact people, especially children's development. we are playing with things that we don't understand all the ways it can impact the environment.

    that said, I don't think that we should cut out genetically modified foods completely, I just think we should be careful in how we use them. honestly, without some of the ways we have modified agricultural products in the past 50 years we couldn't feed anywhere near as many people as we feed now.
     


  2. Huntsman

    Huntsman Senior member

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    Indeed. Witness Norman Borlaug. How many millions of lives were saved by dwarf wheat?
     


  3. onix

    onix Senior member

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    But this is not a problem of GMO alone. It applies to everything. For example, we have been eating wild fish since the beginning of humanity, but not until the 1950s we learned that some fish such as tuna has a high level of mercury which is also harmful for children's development. So why does GMO get singled out for side effect that has not been proven/shown? Simply because it's a bit more advanced and people don't understand it very well?
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013


  4. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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    Could be the straw the broke the camels back. Enough is enough as it were.
     


  5. hendrix

    hendrix Ill-proportioned

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    Yes, this is my only issue with the way industry utilises GM.

    I'm a research scientist and work with genetically modified organisms and perform mutagenesis frequently. It can be tested, it can be safe, and it can lead to excellent gains in yield, taste, viability etc etc. So I have no problems with it as a concept.

    Take a look at grapes. I'm not sure what it's like in the US, but most of the grapes we eat are those big fat commercial grapes. The way they get them that big is very simple; each cell essentially has 4 copies of its genome. The cells are larger, the grapes are larger and look more plump and juicy.

    There are many ways to also enhance the sugar production. Sweeter grapes, yay!

    Except when you taste a small, nice organic grape you realise that it's so full of complex flavours and aromas that are simply not present in the industrially grown ones. If the measure for how well a scientist has done his job is the glucose production or the size of the grape or other easily quantifiable measures then there is a risk of losing the complexities of flavour. I suppose this is where art and science need to be aware of each other.

    Of course, this is not an issue exclusive to GM.

    Most people drink shitty mass produced beer that tastes like carbonated water, with as little complexity as possible. For every litre of artfully crafted beer there's 1000L of heineken produced.

    I guess there may end up being scientists who recognise this and work towards adding interest and things beyond simple quantifiable measures to commercial food.
     


  6. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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    Excellent post, Hendrix.
     


  7. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    There's actually been a lot of work on studying the genes of heirloom tomatoes to understand why they taste so much better than modern tomatoes. I'm sure there's interest in producing GMO variants with all the flavor of classic heirlooms but the durability and ease of growing of moderns.
     


  8. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    This is starting to remind me of an old business motto that goes, "Cheap, fast, high quality. Pick which two you want." It seems much of GMO is trading off some positive attributes at the cost of others.
     


  9. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    why should agriculture be different than other businesses? serious question.

    there have been a lot of claims about this, but i haven't seen any evidence that has stood up to inspection. there are a lot of issues behind colony collapse disorder ... drought, pests, chemicals, overwork, supplemental feed, neonicotinoid pesticides ... probably all of them.

    No, not necessarily. In citrus, for example, most seedless fruit comes from varieties that are self-sterile, but which can be cross-pollinated quite easily by other citrus varieties, meaning there must be sufficient space between the plantings to prevent pollen from drifting. It's quite easy to find seedless and seeded examples of the same variety. Seedlessness is a varietal issue with some fruits, such as watermelons, where the fruits have been bred to have three sets of chromosomes, which prevents seed development.

    and the acid is quite powerful, too, huh?

    this is one of the essential arguments against GMO, but I don't find it valid because it's criticizing the way the technique is used rather than the technique itself. And, as goes with your strawberry example, Mendelian genetics hasn't done such a hot job either. The reality is, strawberries are supposed to be a very fragile 6-week fruit. You can look at the fact that we have berries all-year-round that can be shipped from California to New York as a good thing or a bad thing.

    this is it exactly. we're very lucky that we live in a time when we have a choice: we can buy fruit that has great flavor (by picky shopping at farmers markets, etc.), and we can also buy fruit at a low enough cost that almost everyone can afford it. But it's really hard to have both in the same piece of fruit.
     


  10. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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    FG- I never said they should. I was notorious in my non-profit industry for pushing the bottom line. I could have worded that sentence better; my point was I feel driving the use of GMO exclusively for the sake of shareholders at the expense of the sanctity of our food chain I find abhorrent. There are better ways to pick a peach.

    As to bees- it is likely a combo of all. We're friends with the woman here at he U. That is the leading expert on CCD... GMO's are playing a role but are not the only culprit. We always want to find one cause to very problem, sometimes it's the combined result of many mistakes, and we should fix all of them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013


  11. otc

    otc Senior member

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    For the record, I dislike monsanto more for their legal practices than the fact that they are using science on food.

    Going after farmers for doing completely normal things like reserving some of their harvest to replant instead of buying more seeds is bull shit. That's what farmers do and if you didn't want to deal with the fact that most seeds grow to produce more seeds...maybe you shouldn't have gotten into the seed-selling business. Ditto for suing farmers who never bought monsanto seeds but end up with roundup-ready crops after enough cross pollination with their neighbors who did buy monsanto.

    Also, the Bee thing is scary.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013


  12. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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  13. constant struggle

    constant struggle Senior member

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    I don't like GM food because i still have taste buds, also i am not really into massive amounts of chemicals sprayed on my food (as harmless as they claim to be). Monsanto is the anti small farmer. Also, if you want to eat cheap mass produced chemically sprayed, GMO food, go ahead, but... THIS IS STYLEFORVM! Plebian!
     


  14. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    OK, I'll rise to the bait. There is no correlation between GMOs and increased use of pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. In fact, GMOs can reduce the amounts used because they allow more efficient and targeted spraying. Furthermore, reducing the frequency of spraying reduces the amount of tractor time in fields, which reduces compaction of soil and soil erosion and exhaust pollution as well (if you've ever visited the Central Valley during winter, this is not an inconsiderable benefit). As for flavorless ... for the most part, the only GMO fruit or vegetable you are likely to have tasted is Hawaiian papaya. There was a Flavr-Savr tomato introduced years ago, but it was a commercial flop and hasn't been in production for at least a decade.
    The papaya is actually an interesting case. At one point several years ago the Hawaiian papaya industry (IIRC, the main US source of commercial papayas) was threatened with extinction because of an introduced pest for which the conventional crop had no defense. By using genetic engineering, scientists were able to create a papaya that could survive the pest.
    This is a particularly interesting case today because there is an introduced pest which is threatening all of US citrus production. HLB has already devastated Florida and Brazil and has been found in isolated California orchards. As of now, there is no defense for it, though pesticide spraying can help some by killing the bugs that spread it. If HLB spreads in California, it could mean within a very short time the end of most oranges, lemons, limes and mandarins grown in this country (there is still a fairly sizable grapefruit crop grown in Texas, where winters get cold enough to reduce the insect population).
    I am not rabidly pro-GMO, but I think it's important to recognize that the technique's use does not stop with Monsanto corporation.
     


  15. FLMountainMan

    FLMountainMan White Hispanic

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    Only in a country that has GMO food can people afford to argue about whether they should eat it or not.
     


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