GM food

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  • #84205
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    ALB has made the strong case that the campaign against GM is not scientific but simply protectionism and cited the EU restrictions on GM food

    His argument has been bolstered recently by Scotland's anti-GM stance which as Sturgeon has explained is all about marketing Scottish farm produce  and not safety or environmental concerns except those of the consumers' persception

    Another example is now Russia, who are no doubt responding to the sanctions against them rather than the science which imho is a mere cover. 

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/russia-to-ban-genetically-modified-organisms-in-food-production/531823.html

    Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich  "The question is complicated, but the decision was made: We are not going to produce any food products using genetically modified organisms,"

    (tried to track the original thread but too much bother)

    #114380
    DJP
    Participant

    I think if you add a bit of scientific illiterate populism into the mix and you'd be about right.Actually though you should change the title to "GM Crops". People have been eating GM rennet in cheese since the late 80's it's just that no-one seems to have noticed (or died or the world imploded).

    #114381
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    DJPAre you saying that there are no potential risks to eating genetically modified foods? That they are 100% safe because all outcomes are known and deemed acceptable?

    #114382
    DJP
    Participant

    SP.There's no such thing as absolute certain knowledge. But there have now been thousands of studies going back for well over a decade and meta-analysis (statistal analysis of many studeis combined) confirms that yes they are safe to eat.Take this for example:http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/review-10-years-gmo-research-no-significant-dangers/

    #114383
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    DJPJust checking.I'm aware that there is a general consensus among scientists that GM food is safe. Because I'm not a scientist and can't review the thousands of studies to verify for myself I have to trust that consensus, just as I trust the overall consensus among the scientific community that manmade global warming is a reality.The only issue I have with GM food is whether or not it is really necessary, to save lives etc, and not as a result of "commercial necessity". If it is an absolute necessity then the potential long term uncertainty is worth a gamble.

    #114384
    DJP
    Participant

    Actually that reminded me of this which I read yesterday:http://grist.org/food/dealing-with-the-rational-fear-about-gmos-and-global-catastrophe/I think socialism will have a rational, sustainable and evidence based agricultural policy and there's no good reason to think that GM can't be a part of that. In the changing world climate we are facing we will need all the tools we can get..

    #114385
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    I'm basically in agreement. A socialist society would be in a more advantageous position to be able to way up the present needs with potential long term uncertainty. When I say long term, I'm thinking beyond decades.However the issue of whether or not to use GM foods today is not based on the same reasoning as we would expect to see in a socialist society. The thinking behind the use of GM crops etc today is not based on necessity, but profit.

    #114386
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    I think we should add a caveat that although there is no reason to suspect GMO of being a health risk, there are still reasons to argue that for poor small farmers there is evidence that it empowers a huge corporation and endebts the poor, that the application of  GMO goes hand in hand with the use of specific pesticides owned by the same corporation advancing the case of GMO, and encourages farm practices more suited for only part of the agriculture such as industrial-sized farms and not the small holders which account for the vast numbers of food producers and also for the source of much of the demand of food for the world's poor. What i am saying that there is technical reasons being offered to be anti-GM by what type of farmer you are. These can be a matter of life and death as much as food-safety within capitalist economics.So even though these concerns do not impact on the decision to use GM in socialism, for those workers in capitalism there can be a detrimental effect which they may well be right in combatting and resisting and argue for an alternative agricultural and farming model to be promoted. People are being dispossessed and land grabbed and the reason is to make farming more profitable and GM industry is part of this. As the song goes…What side are you on? There is also the issue on how private corporations in alliance with NGOs are influencing politics of corruptible and often relatively powerless countries. The anti-GMO actions of the EU, Russia and Scotland (under umbrella of EU) don't quite equate with the lesser nations experiences  By accepting GMO health claims, i don't think gives GMO carte blanche as the panacea it sometimes presents itself as. 

    #114387
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    Following DJP advice that we should more scientific just a quick correction on his statement

    Quote:
    90% of the hard cheese in the UK is made using chymosin from genetically-modified microbes. Notice that the cheese is NOT made using a GMO, but rather the product of a GMO (the enzyme). Consequently, ALL cheeses on sale are in fact 'GMO free'. Another important point is that the enzyme does not remain in the finished cheese. Like all enzymes it is required only in very small quantities and because it is a relatively unstable protein it breaks down as the cheese matures. Indeed, if the enzyme remained active for too long it would adversely affect the development of the cheese, because it would degrade the milk proteins too much.

     http://www.ncbe.reading.ac.uk/ncbe/gmfood/chymosin.html

    #114388
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    As a person who uses two medical products that are a result of recombinant DNA technology, I'm well aware of the benefits of genetic modification technology.The technology was driven initially by medical science. A worthy cause most would agree.The first GM crop to be trialed was a herbicide resistant tobacco plant. Not quite what you could call a worthy cause. The first commercially available GM crop for eating was a tomato, designed to have a longer shelf life.Do I need to spell out the obvious conclusion from a socialist perspective?   

    #114389
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    And in case there is any confusion, those sceptical of GM foods have a different and more relaxed approach to GM medicine

    Quote:
    1. Medicine is contained use of GMOs, targeted at the sick person. GMOs in contained and medical use are genetically crippled so that it is extremely difficult or impossible for them to replicate. This is in stark contrast to agricultural GMOs, which do replicate and spread.2. Medicine is administered on the basis of informed consent. The patient considers the potential benefits and risks of taking the medicine and compares them with the risk of allowing the disease to remain untreated. In contrast, people in North America cannot exercise choice as to whether they eat GM foods, as they are unlabelled there. Globally, choice is also undermined by GMO contamination of organic and non-GM crops and withdrawal of non-GMO seeds from the marketplace. 3. Medicines are tested far more thoroughly than GM foods. Medicines have to go through long-term toxicity testing in rodents before proceeding to controlled trials in healthy people and then in sick people. In contrast, no regulatory authority anywhere in the world requires long-term safety testing of GMO foods prior to release into the food system.4. Post-release monitoring of medicines is relatively simple because there are records of what people take and they are under the supervision of a medical professional. But post-release monitoring of GM food consumption is non-existent.

    Personally, i think i will always try to differentiate between the advances in medicine such as organ transplants and the profits and business such as the trade in organs built on those scientific achievments.  Maybe my attitude would change if i required a kidney and had the money to buy one on the black market rather than linger on a waiting list.SOYMB and organ trade http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2014/12/capitalism-and-body-snatching-ghouls.htmlhttp://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2011/06/flesh-market.htmlAnd many many more posts on our blog. 

    #114390
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    Northern Ireland follows Scotland in banning GM.http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34316778The NI Agricultural minister offers an almost identical case as Scotland…brand image and marketing

    Quote:
    "We are perceived internationally to have a clean and green image. I am concerned that the growing of GM crops, which I acknowledge is controversial, could potentially damage that image."

    Eighteen million farmers in 28 countries grow GM crops on 181 million hectares, which is 13% of the world's arable land. The main producers are the USA, Brazil and Argentina, and the leading GM crops are soya and maize. 

    #114391
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    Soy and corn starch is found in a huge amount of processed foods. I wonder just how necessary they really are?I know that cost and shelf life are major factors in their use, as well as cosmetic factors, but not sure if they are essential. In other words could we manage to feed the global population and have healthy, as well as enjoyable diets without their use?

    #114392
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    This made me ponder. Much defence is made of the nutritional benefits that can be had by developing GM food, one being what is known as Golden Rice which is still to be rolled out, despite the long wait. Nevertheless, one crop that has been genetically modified the most has been maize (corn). Most maize around the world is GM. So i was intriqued to read this articlehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/10/how-climate-change-threatens-zambias-already-fragile-nutrition-record/

    Quote:
    maize – a staple food for more than 1 billion people in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America – lacks essential micronutrients such as vitamin A. This common deficiency in the diets of poor malnourished populations leads to retarded growth, increased risk of disease and reproductive disorders.

    Have you read of Monsanto urging its researchers to tackle this aspect? I haven't. But the article goes on to explain that this deficiency in maize is being remedied.According to an international research agency HarvestPlus …

    Quote:
     by using conventional crop breeding techniques to develop five new Vitamin A-rich varieties of maize in Zambia. The varieties produce orange coloured maize cobs, and in farmer trials they have been found to produce yields similar to hybrid white maize varieties.

    (my emphasis)Now,my case has never been that GMO was a health risk but one that was based upon the economics of Big Ag dominating the small food producers of the developing world and the political clout Monsanto etc possess (you need to be as powerful as the EU or Russia to counter it) They make much of the potential benefits to humanity but, really, when i come across facts as the above, i realise that the benefits is entirely to support their own Big Business interests. Monsanto GM maize was developed not to increase its nutritional value but to make it more compatable with the pesticides Monsanto sells. 

    #114393
    DJP
    Participant
    Kevin M. Folta wrote:
    It’s particularly paradoxical that we can take two plants that are almost not related, and we can cross them together, to generate a next-generation which then can be marketed in organic markets, it can be cerrtified as organic no problem. We can mix forty thousand genes with forty thousand genes from these two different species maybe and that’s perfectly acceptable. We have no idea what genes are mixing, we have no idea how to trace their products, we have no idea what allergens may be produced, what other toxic compounds may be produced… but still this is fine. (Here I'm just talking about) standard traditional breeding. Wide crosses. The whole idea in breeding is to incorporate new variation that the consumer may find acceptable or preferred. So many breeders go out into the wild and find plants that could never cross with cultivated materials naturally. That’s the idea – bring in something really unique. Other laboratories – and this is another major thing that’s been done throughout the last century – was mutation breeding, where you could treat seeds or plants with chemicals, you could treat them with radiation and generate variation that way, just by damaging genes or causing chromosome rearrangements – sometimes whole genome duplications – and that’s perfectly acceptable. But if you want to improve a plant by introducing one gene, and by doing it in a way where you can trace how that gene is going to behave in the plant, you can trace its products, you understand what it does, you understand how this protein that’s eventually produced is interacting with other parts of the plant’s biology, that’s UN-acceptable.And so it’s that paradox that if we want to use a sledge-hammer, it’s perfectly allowed – but if we want to use a scalpel, it’s not allowed. [from the SGU (The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe) Podcast].
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