Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by gturner, Jun 10, 2014.
The great misconception that somehow got stuck into people's head's is that genetically modified food somehow alters your DNA. I'm wondering how that ever came up in the first place. Probably an extension of the saying "You are what you eat", but nobody so far has turned into fish, pork or vegetables.
There's nothing wrong with genetically modified food. The problem is companies like Monsanto using the patents to bully people.
It's not that the companies are evil, it's that they happen to be in the same position as a lot of software companies, where the product they spent a lot of money developing, once made available, can be easily copied an infinite number of times by anyone.
Faced with the same issue back in the 1980's, software developers (especially for games) came out with all sorts of irritating anti-piracy software. The music and movie industries tried all sorts of other schemes, and often tried massive lawsuits against people who had pirated copies.
Except that the GMO crops have a tendency to be planted close enough to non-gmo crops that cross fertilization happens. The companies then go after the non-gmo farmer for "stealing".
It would be sort of like a software company releasing a computer virus on the internet and then suing the owners of infected PC's for piracy.
Here is a basic explanation of the mechanism per se:
I don't know a specific article on the topic. It's stuff we got taught in my genetic classes at university, 25 years ago, when the method just started. With the rapid developments in genetics (mostly by Japanese colleagues), books and articles usually are completely outdated the moment they get published in English or German, so that I didn't keep up to the latest research (and case reports), only to the general trends.
The jumping thing was originally the reason why in Germany there must be a certain distance between fields with genetically altered plants and fields with normal plants. Originally it was 50 meters iirc, but after it was realized that the pollen transfers those unwanted genes as well (surprise, surprise! ) the distance was changed to 150 m to conventional fields and 300 m to organically grown plants. Here's the law's full text (in German) http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/gentg/index.html
This ammendment states the 300 and 150 m rules: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/gentpflev/anlage_17.html
In humans there is a highly increased risk for resistence to antibiotics (these AB-resistence genes are being used as markers to show when the jumping gene has changed its host) and for allergies: http://www.bund.net/themen_und_projekte/gentechnik/risiken/gesundheit/ (in chapter 3, about half the page down)
You didn't take the tomato-flavoured tumor literally, I hope? It's indeed a possibility though a highly unlikely one but in this case I rather meant it as a figure of speech.
It's always difficult for me to find the right translation for biologist tech-speak. If you simplify too much, you get misunderstood. If you simplify too little you don't get understood at all. (Try explaining the Gaussian Bell Curve to your postman and you'll see what I mean.) Didn't mean to puzzle you. Sorry.
I don't know that that actually happens, though. One of the science podcasts I listen to reviewed all the court cases (there weren't actually that many) and they were all very straightforward and obvious cases of farmers stealing the seeds. The podcast even appealed to listeners to see if they missed something, but all the evidence seemed to point to that being just another made-up part of the Monsanto Bogeyman narrative. It's been awhile since I've listened, so maybe they've found something since.
I'll try to find the episode or episode notes or something when I have more time later.
That's been my understanding as well. I hear all the time about how awful Monsanto is and how they're suing farmers who have the misfortune of having their field next to a field of GMO crops. Yet whenever I hear about it from an unbiased source, it's pretty clear they're only suing farmers who have intentionally tried to steal the GMO seed for their own benefit. The Supreme Court recently refused to hear a case on this topic, partially because Monsanto had promised not to sue anyone who who unintentionally had traces of their technology on their farm.
From what I've seen most if not all of the anti-Monsanto hype is fear-mongering by people with an ax to grind or who don't understand (but think they do) the science.
Off-topic, but just noticed whenever someone posts in the thread, it gives an amusing display on the front page with poster's name beneath.
What caught my eye was
LOL I hadn't noticed. Nice!
Here are the links I promised. This is the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe Archive, and I believe the episodes in which they addressed Monsanto are numbers 428 and 429. To be clear, Monsanto does a lot of shady shit, like most other huge corporations, but the farmer suing appears to be propaganda made up by the Anti-GMO ideologues.
I like the bite-sized ones that are so easy to eat. They make salads great! (I think they are called cherry tomatoes:
But, that might put a lot of slicer- and dicer-manufacturers out of business!
P.S.--My fans will note that I have access to, and utilize, sources other than just Wikipedia!
^ There are really small ones called Grape Tomatoes. They're literally the size of grapes.
Separate names with a comma.