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GM and the Greens

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animist
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Re: GM and the Greens

#181 Post by animist » July 13th, 2015, 11:24 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Tetenterre wrote:
animist wrote:enough food is produced already, it's getting it to the people who need it which is the problem.
That is a problem, not the problem. Another significant problem is spoilage. However, distribution would be less of a problem if food could be grown closer to (or, preferably, by) those who need it. Also, as I am sure you know, nutrition is not merely about quantity; quality is essential as well. This is one reason why Golden Rice could have such a beneficial effect.
spoilage can undoubtedly be a problem in long distance food distribution - is that you mean to get at here? If so, at least you are getting a bit towards the nitty gritty of what I have tried to address. But you are not being too clear here, I think. Distribution is in principle less of a problem if the distances involved are less rather than more, and I guess spoilage of the good being distributed could be a concrete example of these possible problems of distance, although many other factors influence the risk of spoilage, and it is not clear that food produced relatively close to the final consumer but in less than optimal conditions is less subject to spoilage than produce transported for longer but under better conditions. But, anyway, do you have any evidence of this supposed superiority of more local produce in the real world? In the absence of this evidence, I do not think that you are entitled to say that food distribution to the poorest people is simply one problem, not THE problem.

Golden rice - this was an important topic in the video posted by Alan a few weeks ago. I don't think you commented on my response to this at the time, but, while golden rice may have its advantages, the message from the Greenpeace video was that there are indigenous plants, notably moringa, which might be able to solve the problem (in this case, vitamin A deficiency) without recourse to GM. Again, when we come down to specifics, there seems to be a lack of proof that GM food is either hotly desired by developing nations or really does benefit them.

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animist
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Re: GM and the Greens

#182 Post by animist » July 13th, 2015, 11:38 pm

Tetenterre wrote:
animist wrote: So that is one response and challenge to GM advocates: show that insufficient food is grown worldwide and that GM is therefore necessary to produce more.
You appear to be begging the question here, animist: an underlying assumption that so-called "GM" organisms potentially more harmful than so-called "natural" organisms (both terms in quotes are pretty meaningless).
you totally misunderstand me. I am not begging the question at all, and in fact am trying to do the opposite: ie, I am trying to separate out the question of the potential VALUE of GM food from the question of its potential RISK. I really don't know how to make this plainer

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Re: GM and the Greens

#183 Post by animist » July 13th, 2015, 11:46 pm

Tetenterre wrote:
animist wrote:The second challenge from me, which I have tried to articulate before, is that apologists of GM like the author of this article seem to presuppose that bodies like Greenpeace have some sort of omnipotence, or at least decisive influence, over decisions made by national governments in the developing world; I just don't buy this.
Please think again. The anti-GMO misinformation campaign has been remarkably successful in many economically developed countries. This has lead to enormous political pressure to limit and over-regulate so-called GMOs. This has two effects on people and governments in the LEDCs where the nutrition problems are greatest. First is that they too are affected by the misinformation campaign. Secondly, you get the spurious "if they're not good/safe enough to be grown in EDCs, how are they good enough for us?" argument.
well, you make a lot of claims here, without much evidence. I could also remark that your claims make the governments and people of the poorer countries of the world rather stupid. That is why, to repeat, I just don't buy your contention that organisations like Greenpeace have somehow taken over the minds of these countries' rulers - and their farmers and consumers - to prevent them adopting what you claim are life-saving techniques. It may indeed be so, but you're the apostle of evidence and proof - prove what you claim.
Tetenterre wrote:
animist wrote:The last response, over which I don't feel so confident and again which I have mentioned before, is that, while it may be reasonable to conclude that GM foods are safe to consume, it may in principle be impossible to prove their environmental innocuousness.
An amazing double-standard here! It's as near as dammit impossible to prove the environmental inocuousness of just about anything. Why should so-called GM crops be singled out for special treatment here? They are far more rigorously tested than (say) new organic varieties, so why should there be more fear of their potential environmental harm?

I suspect that it is because they are a threat to the very powerful organic lobby.
organicfood01.png
yes I agree that it is impossible to prove anything is safe, and that the organic food industry probably is pretty powerful and hostile to GM. I am not interested in organic food and don't buy it, so I personally am not making any double standards. I said that we are not sure about the environmental longterm effects of GM food, that's all, and my basic argument is that if there is not a strong case for these foods, then unease about their longterm effects is a reasonable objection to their use

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Re: GM and the Greens

#184 Post by animist » July 14th, 2015, 12:24 am

Nick wrote:
animist wrote:
the article promises more than it delivers. I have seen the "myths" about the risks of GM paraded before, and am not trying to dispute these debunkments, but the article simply does not show that GM could help feed the world; enough food is produced already, it's getting it to the people who need it which is the problem.
Hmmm... I have my doubts about that, but let's accept it for now. Some of the problem is the waste amongst those who can afford to waste it. Apart from exhortation, not sure what you could do, realistically. VAT, perhaps? Very good in theory (just adjust pensions and benefits) but not really politically acceptable. Certainly, if the world economy were different, then food distribution might be better. But I'd bet a pound to a penny that any such improvement would also alter the food choices of those who are currently deprived- just look at changes in Chinese preferences. Furthermore, production increases amongst the poor is a basic way of improving their economic state. eg drought resistant seeds and such like. And whatever happens, we will still see an increase in the world's population by several billions. Also, the more efficient the production of food, the more land can be left for wild-life, tropical forest and so on. So yes, increasing food production is a good thing.
sorry, you don't make much sense at all to me. Are you querying that distribution of food is the main problem? If so, then I have read many many times that, yes, it is indeed the problem. But even if there were a need for more food production in aggretate, we all know that the technological means are there, in a world of agricultural gluts (remember the butter mountains etc etc?) to remedy this. So how do you argue from the need for more food to the need for GM food?

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Re: GM and the Greens

#185 Post by Tetenterre » July 14th, 2015, 8:23 am

animist wrote:spoilage can undoubtedly be a problem in long distance food distribution - is that you mean to get at here?
No. Food can (and does) spoil during storage. Storage of locally grown food is a major problem in many LEDCs and is a major part of the problem.
I do not think that you are entitled to say that food distribution to the poorest people is simply one problem, not THE problem.
I'll grant that if you can show that food does not spoil during storage.
the message from the Greenpeace video was that there are indigenous plants, notably moringa, which might be able to solve the problem (in this case, vitamin A deficiency) without recourse to GM.
"might be able" - yet they haven't actually shown this, have they? And yet again, you appear to assume that so-called "GM" is somehow intrinsically different.
animist wrote:
Tetenterre wrote:
animist wrote: So that is one response and challenge to GM advocates: show that insufficient food is grown worldwide and that GM is therefore necessary to produce more.
You appear to be begging the question here, animist: an underlying assumption that so-called "GM" organisms potentially more harmful than so-called "natural" organisms (both terms in quotes are pretty meaningless).
you totally misunderstand me. I am not begging the question at all, and in fact am trying to do the opposite: ie, I am trying to separate out the question of the potential VALUE of GM food from the question of its potential RISK. I really don't know how to make this plainer
If you assume that there is some potential risk to so-called "GM" foods that is different to the risk of any other food, then you are indeed begging the question.
animist wrote:I just don't buy your contention that organisations like Greenpeace have somehow taken over the minds of these countries' rulers - and their farmers and consumers - to prevent them adopting what you claim are life-saving techniques. It may indeed be so, but you're the apostle of evidence and proof - prove what you claim.
Cheap shot, animist: I did not assert that Greenpeace has taken over anybody's mind and I'm damned if I'm going to to be tricked into trying to provide evidence for an assertion that I haven't made.
I am not interested in organic food and don't buy it, so I personally am not making any double standards.
You may not be, but the title of this thread is "GM and the Greens"; the Green Party actively promotes organic agriculture and actively spreads misinformation about it and GMOs.
I said that we are not sure about the environmental longterm effects of GM food, that's all, and my basic argument is that if there is not a strong case for these foods, then unease about their longterm effects is a reasonable objection to their use
Yet again you appear to be assuming that so-called "GM" foods are intrinsically different (in their long-term environmental effects) to any other food, yet you have not demonstrated this. There is also no reason to think that there is any extra risk, given that GENERA has decades worth of research, none of which suggests that there is.
Steve

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Re: GM and the Greens

#186 Post by Nick » July 14th, 2015, 10:39 am

animist wrote:
Nick wrote:Hmmm... I have my doubts about that [that the world produce enough food], but let's accept it for now. Some of the problem is the waste amongst those who can afford to waste it. Apart from exhortation, not sure what you could do, realistically. VAT, perhaps? Very good in theory (just adjust pensions and benefits) but not really politically acceptable. Certainly, if the world economy were different, then food distribution might be better. But I'd bet a pound to a penny that any such improvement would also alter the food choices of those who are currently deprived- just look at changes in Chinese preferences. Furthermore, production increases amongst the poor is a basic way of improving their economic state. eg drought resistant seeds and such like. And whatever happens, we will still see an increase in the world's population by several billions. Also, the more efficient the production of food, the more land can be left for wild-life, tropical forest and so on. So yes, increasing food production is a good thing.
sorry, you don't make much sense at all to me.
That's all good, then! :D
Are you querying that distribution of food is the main problem? If so, then I have read many many times that, yes, it is indeed the problem.
Certainly distribution is a great problem (but wouldn't describe it as the "main" one; I think that is too restrictive). Lack of roads, refrigeration, packaging etc., are all big problems. As for distribution in a statistical sense, (which is maybe more what you are on about) then it is the lack of effective demand (rather than need) which restricts it. It wont work to just ask the world's population to "share nicely".

But we are still left with changing tastes, increasing populations and the need for preservation of wild places, all of which require higher yields.
But even if there were a need for more food production in aggretate, we all know that the technological means are there, in a world of agricultural gluts (remember the butter mountains etc etc?) to remedy this. So how do you argue from the need for more food to the need for GM food?
The fact that the EU can produce a surplus, doesn't mean that the other 6 billion can be fed at those levels of production. And yes, there are other techy means- more irrigation for example. But wouldn't it be better, more efficient, kinder to the environment and cheaper to develop drought resistant crops than use vast amounts of water? And we are still seeing the destruction of rain forest and so forth for farm land, so the need to grow more is plainly there.

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Re: GM and the Greens

#187 Post by Tetenterre » July 14th, 2015, 1:14 pm

Steve

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Re: GM and the Greens

#188 Post by thundril » July 14th, 2015, 4:51 pm

Fascinating stuff, for which, thanks. But not really relevant to the question of whether GMOs are actually safe; just evidence that some other practices are not safe. Nor does the article suggest that there is 'a lot more risk' with conventional plant breeding; it seems to be a similar level of risk.This is made explicit in the final paragraph
Gould’s point isn’t that genetic modification is always better than conventional breeding. It’s not. Instead, they’re both tools — imperfect technologies that could produce unintended side effects. Which one you choose to use depends on what you’re trying to do. But, either way, you can’t say that one is scary and one is safe.
#2.
GMOsafe.jpg
Thanks for this, too, Tet. I am more than happy to accept the scientific consensus that GMOs do not harm humans directly; and have been for quite some time. I would like to know more about the scientific consensus (if any) about potential environmental damage (for example effects on pollinator insects, etc). Another area where my knowledge is not sufficiently strong yet is the economic ( ergo less scientific ;) ). What is the evidence for or against the claims that farmers will be dependent on going back to the same monopoly supplier year after year because GMOs do not produce fertile seeds?

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Re: GM and the Greens

#189 Post by Altfish » July 14th, 2015, 5:33 pm

I've not trawled back through the thread but I've probably already said this...

What is the definition of a Genetically Modified crop/plant whatever? My grandfather and father used to have a small market garden, back in the 60s/70s they were selling F1 Hybrid tomato plants. Were they a GM plant? I suspect they were.
I do have concerns about breeding in 'pest resistance' as that upsets the eco-system; but if clever engineering makes a bigger, tastier, faster growing plant it should be ok.

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Re: GM and the Greens

#190 Post by Dave B » July 14th, 2015, 7:23 pm

I agree with you, Altfish, enhancing existing genes is what plant breeding is all about - just that "engineering" techniques can reduce the time needed for several generations to provide the goods.

Putting fish genes, or whatever, as "alien" genes needs more careful consideration. OK, plants that produce omega oils are a good idea, but . . .
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Re: GM and the Greens

#191 Post by Tetenterre » July 15th, 2015, 1:13 pm

Steve

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Re: GM and the Greens

#192 Post by Dave B » July 15th, 2015, 2:06 pm

Many good points in that article, TT.

Personally I think that GMO produce should be labelled as such so the purchasers may make an informed choice. It would not stop me buying it - perhaps I already have in "hidden" form, such as GMO tomatoes in juice!
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Re: GM and the Greens

#193 Post by Tetenterre » July 15th, 2015, 3:27 pm

I don't think it should be labelled. To do so does nothing but perpetuate the anti-evidence notion that it is somehow intrinsically different to other foodstuffs. The "why shouldn't we know what is in our food?" argument is compelling, but it is misplaced in this case. Mostly, this is because it is not really about knowing what is in our food; it is about demonising GMOs.

It was recently equated to it to labeling some food "handled by black people" so that people can make an informed choice, because it has the same safety and scientific content as "contains GMO".
Steve

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Re: GM and the Greens

#194 Post by Dave B » July 15th, 2015, 5:06 pm

Tetenterre wrote:I don't think it should be labelled. To do so does nothing but perpetuate the anti-evidence notion that it is somehow intrinsically different to other foodstuffs. The "why shouldn't we know what is in our food?" argument is compelling, but it is misplaced in this case. Mostly, this is because it is not really about knowing what is in our food; it is about demonising GMOs.

It was recently equated to it to labeling some food "handled by black people" so that people can make an informed choice, because it has the same safety and scientific content as "contains GMO".
I look on it more in terms of an equivalence to the listing of ingredients on food packaging. Informed choice is a right and the right to refuse something you may personally be unsure of should be protected, but you have to know.

Historically I think the anti GM movement will go out of fashion, as the CND did effectively.

Was there really a move to have "handled by black people" on food? After the horse meat affair I would be unhappy to buy meat products from certain countries if it were labelled as sourced from there. So I don't buy cheap meat anymore!
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Re: GM and the Greens

#195 Post by animist » July 15th, 2015, 5:56 pm

Tetenterre wrote:I don't think it should be labelled. To do so does nothing but perpetuate the anti-evidence notion that it is somehow intrinsically different to other foodstuffs. The "why shouldn't we know what is in our food?" argument is compelling, but it is misplaced in this case. Mostly, this is because it is not really about knowing what is in our food; it is about demonising GMOs.

It was recently equated to it to labeling some food "handled by black people" so that people can make an informed choice, because it has the same safety and scientific content as "contains GMO".
"it was recently equated" - by whom? What an idiotically inapt comparison to some illegally racist demand. The ferocity of your defence of GM foods is making me increasingly inclined to at least be fair to the concerns - I think more political than scientific - over these foods. How dare you suggest that legitimate concerns over what we eat should not be recognised?

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Re: GM and the Greens

#196 Post by Dave B » July 15th, 2015, 6:00 pm

:thumbsup:
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Re: GM and the Greens

#197 Post by thundril » July 16th, 2015, 11:15 am

animist wrote:
Tetenterre wrote:
It was recently equated to it to labeling some food "handled by black people" so that people can make an informed choice, because it has the same safety and scientific content as "contains GMO".
"it was recently equated" - by whom? What an idiotically inapt comparison to some illegally racist demand.
Precisely. I make my decisions based as well as I can on the information available to me.
As I wrote above, I am satisfied with the evidence that GMOs are not necessarily dangerous to eat; but I'm still not easy about the economic/political implications, or the wider environmental effects. What I need is more information, not less.
Arrogance bordering on actual dishonesty from the food industry, deciding which information is good for us.

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Re: GM and the Greens

#198 Post by Tetenterre » July 16th, 2015, 11:30 am

animist wrote:
Tetenterre wrote: It was recently equated to it to labeling some food "handled by black people" so that people can make an informed choice, because it has the same safety and scientific content as "contains GMO".
"it was recently equated" - by whom?
If I recall correctly, it was the blogger ScienceBabe (but, if that was a genuine question and not a rhetorical device, I'm sure you could find the precise source via Google)'
What an idiotically inapt comparison to some illegally racist demand.
Is there some part of 'because it has the same safety and scientific content as "contains GMO" ' that you are struggling to understand? In that context, I suggest that it is entirely apt.
How dare you suggest that legitimate concerns over what we eat should not be recognised?
Firstly, even if I had suggested that, I believe I have as much right as you (or any other forum member) to express my opinion in a debate on here.
Secondly, I did not suggest that any legitimate concerns about anything should not be recognised, and it is a cheap shot for you to imply that I did. How about responding to what I actually wrote without putting some pejorative spin on it? (Just a suggestion.)

If you wish to assert that GM content in food is a legitimate concern, the first step would be to provide the evidence that so-called "GM" foods are intrinsically different to any other food. You have not demonstrated this. If, because you don't understand the scientific issues, you think that makes any concern you have somehow "legtimate", I suggest that you are mistaken: to do so is either an appeal to emotion or an appeal to personal incredulity (or both).

I find it instructive that those who clamour for GM labeling don't demand to know exactly what the genetic provenance of so-called "non-GM" food is, despite the fact that none of this has been subjected to the same rigorous tests as so-called "GM food" is subjected. This leads me to believe that they don't really want to know what is in their food; they just want to demonise GMOs and can't find any robust evidence to endorse their prejudices.

The expensive, inefficient "organic" food industry is the one most likely to benefit from the demonising of safe GM food by compulsory GMO labeling, which is probably why organic food groups in the USA are funding GMO labeling initiatives.
Steve

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Re: GM and the Greens

#199 Post by thundril » July 16th, 2015, 12:24 pm

A request for information is not best dealt with by impugning the motives of the enquirer.
For example, I might want Israeli produce labelled as such. This could be because I support Israel, it could be because I support the boycott of Israel, or it could be because I am concerned about food miles, and want all food to be labelled with the country of origin. What exactly is the problem with labelling food clearly? In a free-market society, surely consumers are entitled to demand any information that will effect their choices..
GMOs still have significance for some consumers.

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Re: GM and the Greens

#200 Post by Alan H » July 16th, 2015, 12:51 pm

IIRC, there were some calls in the US from pro-GMO activists for all GMO produce to be labelled as such. They felt this would show everyone that they were already eating a huge variety of GMO with no apparent ill effects.
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1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Re: GM and the Greens

#201 Post by animist » July 16th, 2015, 7:47 pm

Alan H wrote:IIRC, there were some calls in the US from pro-GMO activists for all GMO produce to be labelled as such. They felt this would show everyone that they were already eating a huge variety of GMO with no apparent ill effects.
that sounds a good idea

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