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    GMO Foods: To Label Or Not To Label?
    By Steve Savage | August 21st 2012 03:32 PM | 154 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Steve

    Trained as a plant pathologist (Ph.D. UC Davis 1982), I've worked now for >30 years in many aspects of agricultural technology (Colorado State...

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    This fall, California voters will be asked to vote on Proposition 37, a law which would require that all foods including “GMO Crop ingredients” be labeled as such.   There are many reasons that this isn’t a good use of governmental authority for mandatory food labeling.  A look at historical logic and precedents for labeling, and at the misleading messages this initiative would foster, should inspire Californians to reject it at the ballot box.

      Labeling for a Known Hazard

    If a food is hazardous to some consumers, but not others(e.g. peanut allergy), then it makes sense to require that it be labeled to protect that minority.  If a food contains something generally hazardous, but difficult to immediately remove from the food supply, it makes sense to label those foods as well (e.g. trans-fats for which labeling was required after 2006).  If a particular GMO crop were to be found to be hazardous to certain people, or people in general, the appropriate response would to ban the use of that particular trait nationally, not to label it at a state level. No such hazard has been documented for dozens of biotech crops crop traits over 16 years of extensive commercialization.  The genetic changes in biotech crops are also much like what occurs in nature.  So “hazard” has never been a reason to require labeling of a GMO crop. 

    Labeling For Lack of Safety Studies

    The proponents of Proposition 37 argue that because the FDA does not require a set of specific human safety studies prior to commercialization, consumer need to be warned. Considering the diversity of biotech traits, it does not really make sense to specify a particular battery of safety studies.  They would really need to be varied on a trait-by-trait basis. The opponents of these crops imply that these foods are thus, untested when it comes to safety.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Both the companies that produce the crops, and a wide range of independent researchers, have studied GMO crop safety for years.  Highly qualified scientific panels have reviewed those data and consistently concluded that these improved crops represent no unusual risk compared to crops improved by traditional methods.  

    Ironically, the largest single contributor to the pro-labeling effort is the Internet “health advisor,” Dr.Mercola whose $800,000 donation was funded by his thriving, natural supplement business.  There is very little regulatory oversight for that multi-billion dollar supplement industry in terms of required testing either human safety or product efficacy.  When it comes to safety testing, GMO crops are far more intensively scrutinized than something like Dr. Mercola’s supplements.

    Labeling Because Other Countries Require It

    One argument for requiring labeling has been that places like Europe, Japan and China do so. First of all, most of the ingredients in the US, human food supply that come from GMO crops (corn starch; high fructose corn syrup, soybean, cottonseed or canola oil…) have always been supplied from different crops in other regions (potato or rice starch, beet or cane sugar, sunflower, peanut or rapeseed oil…) so there are actually very few GMO labeled foods in those countries.  They import massive amounts of our GMO crops for animal feed, but that is not labeled.  Second of all, the scientific review panels in these other countries have come to the same conclusions as those in the US. They find no reason to doubt the overall safety of GMO-based foods.  It is just that politics trumps science in those political systems. That is certainly not something we should imitate.

    Labeling Because It Is A Consumer’s “Right to Know.”

    Bits of information do not actually become “knowledge” unless they can be placed into a meaningful context. We have a historical example of this with the mandatory food composition labeling that has been required in the US since 1990.  The calorie, protein, fat, carbohydrate and vitamin content of foods could theoretically be useful information that consumers could “know.”  Unfortunately,when Congress passed the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, it never actually funded the education part (imagine that).  For most consumers, the information on food products is not part of a functional knowledge-base that could guide their food decisions.  Instead, they are left to be influenced by the advertizing messages and ever-changing food fads that shape our“marketing of non-existence” food culture. Proposition 37 does not include any sort of official educational component,. It would just mandate that a bit of information, “contains ingredients from crops modified by genetic engineering” be attached to many foods.  The contextualization of that information will be heavily influenced, not by any sort of balanced presentation, but by a range of activist groups, aggressive organic marketers, and fear-based marketers like Dr. Mercola.   

    This will not be anything new as these groups have been flooding the internet with hyperbolic warnings for more than a decade.  One might think that there would be a statute-of-limitations on saying that “the sky is falling.”  It is not at all surprising that Mercola and others would like the opportunity to ramp up the level of societal fear with the help of the “information” supplied by California law.  (By the way, Dr. Mercola has not just promoted fear of GMOs.  He has been a conduit for anti-vaccination activists and even for a “doctor” with the theory that all cancers are fungal infections.  His consistent message is, “Be afraid! Buy my products”).

    Labeling As A Way ToTrack The Effects of GMO Foods

    Another argument that Prop. 37 supporters make is that labeling will allow us to better track or detect any issues with these foods.  Other than the fact that there is no obvious mechanism for that to happen, there is another major problem with the argument.  Foods purchased in restaurants would not be labeled under Prop 37. Considering that on average people eat about half of their meals out,and that many mostly eat out, this idea of tracking falls apart.  The other implication of this exemption is that the information on grocery items (which will be cast in a scary light by Mercola et al), will not be seen in restaurants, including those that serve fast food, fried in GMO vegetable oils and sweetened with GMO corn-based sweeteners. Making home meals sound scary and restaurant meals sound safer hardly sounds like a smart message to be sending to a population with an obesity problem.

    Labeling To Allow Some Consumers To Avoid GMO Foods

    Some people may never trust the scientific/regulatory consensus.  That is OK, but those folks don’t really need to force mandatory labeling for everyone else.  They always have the option to buy Organic, which decided not to use GMO long before it was even an option.  These folks also always have the option to buy products that are sold as or even certified as non-GMO – something that is allowed already.  Anyone can also learn a few simple rules based on the limited numberof crops that are GMO in the first place.

    Here are the simple rules: If the product has ingredients that are derived from Corn, Soy, Cotton, Canola, or Sugar beets, just assume it is probably includes biotech varieties since farmers of those crops overwhelmingly choose those option.  Right now, the only fresh market GMO crops in the US are papayas from Hawaii (virus resistance developed by Cornell University that saved the crop), and some sweet corn. In the rare case of another biotech crop being added to this list, there is always plenty of official notice and press/blog coverage.  

    Labeling to AllowConsumers to Intentionally Choose Biotech Improved Foods

    Within a few years there may be some biotech-based, non-browning apples on the market, but they will be voluntarily labeled as such because it is a positive consumer feature and because that value chain is amenable to full identity preservation down to the sticker on each fruit. This is the most logical form of GMO crop labeling, and there are no regulatory or legal barriers to such labels.

    Conclusion

    Mandatory food labeling should be reserved for well-documented public health needs and should be linked to viable public education efforts.  It shouldn’t be something designed to enrich fear-based marketers or to give people a false comparison of at home and restaurant foods.

    Front page image credit: Shutterstock.com

    Comments

    Well articulated and detailed. Be prepared to be accused of shilling for Monsanto or of being part of a vast corporate conspiracy to kill us all with flouride, vaccines and efficiently grown row crops.

    sdsavage
    Mike,  Thanks.  I'm pretty used to the ad hominem approach.  It actually is much less persuasive to reasonable people than actually addressing the points.
    Steve Savage
    With all due respect, Steve uses an ad hominem argument in his own piece, see paragraph #4.

    What is not mentioned in this piece is that there are many scientific studies which do raise health concerns with respect to GMOs. A summary of this work can be found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/06/debunking-the-health-c...

    In the case of trans-fats, it took 50 years for scientific findings to influence the regulatory system. Harvard epidemiologist Walter Willett estimates that the failure to regulate trans-fats cost 30,000 American lives per year: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/review/rvw_spring06/rvwspr06_transfats.html

    Given that this is how science-based regulation works, there's little wonder that so many American citizens want the freedom to choose what they eat.

    Hank
    Making home meals sound scary and restaurant meals sound safer hardly sounds like a smart message to be sending to a population with an obesity problem.
    This culture war is essentially a war on the world's poorest people. While I am thrilled that the 1% can afford organic soap, organic pineapples and a bunch of heartwarmingly unessential stuff (Krill Oil for Dogs, from Mercola's site) organic marketing and the process they promote can't feed people at all much less feed people at a reasonable price.
    This is a war FOR the worlds poorest people. Trying to feed poor people JUNK makes them fat and starving for nutrition. They eat more not because they are hungry, but because they are hungry for nutrition, which is in real food, not food with pesticides injected into the DNA which explodes the stomach of bugs when they eat it. People eat this food or syrup made from GMO corn and the toxins erode the stomach lining and then this poor person who doesn't have health care finds that they are suddenly getting rashy from all kinds of food, gaining weight and has stomach aches and headaches alot. They might even find themselves super cranky or depressed, get divorced and have to take lots of meds. Stomach irritations lead to ulcers, which lead to auto immune disorders and cancer Real Food doesn't do that to any person, rich or poor and we all deserve it.

    Hank
    This is a war FOR the worlds poorest people. Trying to feed poor people JUNK makes them fat and starving for nutrition.
    This shows you have no knowledge of what a GMO is.  You seem to think it is some sort of DNA hamburger.  But I assume with a name like "Mom of boys with lots of allergies due to GMO's" immunology is not exactly your strong suit
    They eat more not because they are hungry, but because they are hungry for nutrition, which is in real food, not food with pesticides injected into the DNA which explodes the stomach of bugs when they eat it.
    I have no idea what you are talking about. Injected into DNA?  Hungry for 'nutrition'?  You make no sense.
    She makes perfect sense. If a body is malnourished it will use hunger as a way to let you know. Most foods today are nutritionally deficient.

    Whether or not organic agriculture could feed the world is an open scientific question. There is a article set to be published in Nature on this. Here is a preview of the issues discussed:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=organic-farming-yields-...

    What is clear is that conventional/GMO agriculture, as currently practiced, will fail to feed the world. It simply has too many environmental consequences which ultimately undermine its own productivity.

    These are complex questions which deserve careful reflection.

    Not an expert but here is an article that will refute a lot of the opposing claims: http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/4984/corporations-spending-milli...

    Your article is completely false. There are many studies showing the animals fed GMO's gain weight, become sterile and have a multitude of sickness and tumors. All evidence points to GMO's causing allergies which in turn create cancer.I don't need studies on humans to get that it would be a basic human right to know whether or not the food I put in my body and becomes a part of me, affects my thinking, health, moods and work performance, whether or not it contains a foreign protein and toxin.
    Re: Prop 37:

    "If it passes, the result would be no small change. As Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott wrote recently:

    Since GM corn, soy, sugar beets, and cotton (the oil part) are processed into sweeteners, fats, and other additives that suffuse the US food system, the initiative would require the labeling of something like 80 percent of all non-organic processed food sold in supermarkets."

    http://grist.org/food/these-companies-dont-want-gmos-labeled-in-california/

    Also, Americans throw away 500 pounds per year person. We don't need more food, we need real food.
    "Americans eat 50% of their food out" is a lie as well. The fact is that there is a growing population of peole who cannot eat out because they have so many allergies that it is too much of a hassle and migt be life threatening. This 265% allergy increase is directly connected to the past 15 years that GMO's have been injected into our food supply without our knowledge. My boy could die from allergies to foods that NO ONE was allergic to when I was a child. Don't tell me that GMO's have nothing to do with it. The fact is none of these large food and GMO companies have any proof of studies that prove GMO's are safe.
    Please stop being a tool of big money.

    Gerhard Adam
    There is also a school of thought that proposes the Hygiene Hypothesis as a possible cause of such allergies [which actually makes more sense than foods].  This would be the direct result of people routinely engaging in wholesale massacres of their microbiota where without a second thought, they routinely wipe out the critical bacteria necessary for our health and well-being.

    Think about that the next time you take a dollop of an antibacterial lotion or soap, or when you hear commercials about killing 99.9% of the germs.  This falsely creates the illusion that "germs" are dangerous, instead of pointing out that without them, you die.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I wrote about the hygiene hypothesis a few years ago: "Studies have found that kids who grew up on farms have significantly lower rates of allergies and asthma. However, Dr. Scott T. Weiss professor at Harvard Medical School and ivy league spoilsport says "Eating dirt or moving to a farm are at best theoretical rather than practical clinical recommendations for the prevention of asthma."

    We are raising a generation of kids who will grow up to be soft, weak and sickly. The worst case scenario is that it will be a generation of kids who have to live in bubbles, like John Travolta."

    http://www.examiner.com/article/why-your-kids-are-fat-and-sickly

    Gerhard Adam
    Like many other items like this, there needs to be some caution lest this become the "one size fits all" solution to what ails us today.  This isn't a silver bullet and whatever elements of truth may exist, are undoubtedly going to be tempered by a lot of dependencies.

    In many ways, we may be jeopardizing the bacteria we depend on, but that shouldn't be translated to mean that anything goes.  There are also quite dangerous bacteria that will kill as readily as be deemed necessary.
    Mundus vult decipi
    WAIT, let's not blow right past a nice moment of irony

    You want to do HUMAN TESTING on a product (that would be a real human rights violation, and highly unethical for food), so that YOUR human right to know what you're putting in body won't be infringed on???

    Here's a quick question? Who should we subject to a pure soy/corn diet for long enough to suit your desires?

    Do you think you really know the mix of proteins you're putting in your body with non-GM crops? Do you think there are right to know lists out there for every vegetable with a full listing of all the bichemical components? You are setting up a very false set of standards that nothing meets. So by your requirements you have to starve.

    Also quite ironic that you post as "Mom of boys with lots of allergies due to GMO's (not verified)". I'll agree to the not verified part.

    I guess all those feeding studies accepted by the USDA, FDA, EFSA, FSANZ, CDC, WHO and everybody else just are imaginary.

    Hank
    You want to do HUMAN TESTING on a product (that would be a real human rights violation, and highly unethical for food), so that YOUR human right to know what you're putting in body won't be infringed on???

    Here's a quick question? Who should we subject to a pure soy/corn diet for long enough to suit your desires?
    I'm guessing they would use poor people.  In a world where conventional farming is banned we can feed 2 billion and we have 6 so something would have to be done with the rest.  The 1% will always have food - they can afford krill oil for their dogs so they sure can afford 'ethical' food, whatever that is.
    sdsavage
    There are hundreds of things that people could point to in modern times and blame them for all the very real problems that people have (allergies, diabetes, obesity, autism, ADD, depression...).  In fact modern people are often must much more aware of these problems, and in fact they are no more common today, and they have been issues long before the various things that are blamed. 
    There is a reason why governments gather expert panels to sift through all the publications - these are complex issues.  The bottom line is that these collections of experts from around the world come to the same conclusion about biotech crops.  There is still, even after all these years of commercialization, a reason to think they are a problem.

    Steve Savage
    All you have to do is Google "autism increase" and you will see that a huge upswing started in the early 1990's around the time GMO's became more prevalent. Also how do you account for people suddenly getting fatter and sicker than ever before? Childhood obesity and diabetes? All of these have been on the rise in the last 20 years. Again around the time GMO's became more prevalent.

    AAEM"s position paper stated, "Animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. They conclude, "There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation," as defined by recognized scientific criteria. "The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies."

    You are a plant pathologist not a medical doctor so I don't think you have the credentials to determine if something is safe or not for human consumption.

    http://www.saynotogmos.org/scientific_studies.htm

    sdsavage
    You are right, I'm a "plant doctor", not a human doctor.  I'm not trying to say that the safety of GMO crops is something that I can certify.  I'm saying that the diverse, expert and independent scientific panels that have reviewed this technology are saying that is it safe.  Follow the links from this post and you will see that this is what these experts has decided.
    Steve Savage
    Hank
    I think it is silly for some anonymous person to claim any PhD in biology does not understand the basics of genetics, much less someone with a specialty in plants when the topic is plants.  Modesty is a curse of modern scientists, I think.  Humanities people have no problem invoking their degrees about anything - Paul Krugman pontificates on everything in politics even though he doesn't know economics after 1950 - so it is pointless to let people deflect the truth because you are not an epidemiologist.  They don't believe those either, it is just an excuse they use.
    I am glad that you admitted your limitations, because so many plant scientists act as the world's biggest know-it-all's
    The truth is the following:
    A. Of the experts on your esteemed panels, how many hold medical degrees? How many of these are in active practice, seeing patients with these chronic illnesses every single day?
    B. Reliance on expert opinion is a classical logical fallacy: appeal to authority which is an acceptable practice if you are proselytizing a religions, but is absolutely ANTITHETICAL TO Scientific inquiry.... which depends entirely on INDEPENDENT THOUGHT!

    Gerhard Adam
    You truly are clueless.  You want to argue against expert opinion, while arguing that unless you are an epidemiologist or a medical doctor then you're unqualified to have an opinion.

    Do you have any idea what you're talking about?
    Mundus vult decipi
    My position is CRYSTAL clear: this expert is a PLANT pathologist. Therefore, by definition, unless he holds a dual plant AND a medical degree--- has notraining/ qualifications/ expertise to render Medical Opinions.
    Yep.... I know what I am talking about. I am talking about a farmer rendering medical opinions and a plant pathologist ( an expert on plant disease) rendering MEDICAL OPINIONS, which is a definition of arrogance.

    Gerhard Adam
    Sure ... and this opinion was generated by a jerk that exists solely as an anonymous internet poster. 
    I know what I am talking about.
    Yeah ... that's credible.  You're talking through your ass.

    Go away.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Please ask the dear Plant pathologist what test he would order to screen a mammal patient for kidney disease.
    Feel free to answer the same question, please, dear Gerhard

    Please ask the Dear Plant Pathologist, and yourself:

    "What is the Gold Standard for Testing kids for food allergies and whether without Traceability and Labeling of foods this standard of medical care can be met in diagnosing and treating Kids with Food allergies?

    Food allergy is being increasingly recognised with the highest prevalence being in preschool children. Pathogenesis varies so diagnosis rests on careful history and clinical examination, appropriate use of skin prick and serum-specific IgE testing, food challenge, and supervised elimination diets. A double blind placebo controlled food challenge is the gold standard diagnostic test. Avoidance of the allergenic food is the key towards successful management. IgE mediated food allergy may present as a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction, and management consists of the appropriate use of adrenaline (epinephrine) and supportive measures. Sensitisation remains a key target for intervention. Disease modifying agents are currently under trial for managing difficult allergies. Management requires a multidisciplinary approach and follow up.

    Gerhard Adam
    "What is the Gold Standard for Testing kids for food allergies and whether without Traceability and Labeling of foods this standard of medical care can be met in diagnosing and treating Kids with Food allergies?
    Even though I'm in favor of labeling foods, I have to simply say you're full of shit.  As was just readily evidenced on another blog post about Celiac Disease, the problem in finding gluten-free foods is precisely due to the lack of labeling in most foods.  So to suggest that this is some kind of standard that is only going to be violated by GMO foods defies logic.

    With gluten-free, there is at least a concerted marketing effort to promote such products, but even then there is no standard that is enforced to ensure that such labels are accurate.  To claim that there is sufficient labeling information, especially when organic foods are involved, is simply a lie.

    So while you can feel free to toss your various "tests" around as pre-conditions to make your point, the simple reality is that such a standard isn't being met by current foods.

    More importantly, despite your posing as some sort of a medical authority, the simple truth is that you haven't [and can't] define the simplest requirements for such a label to actually be useful in establishing allergies, since the level of detail available on a label is insufficient to establish what might produce an immune response.

    In short, you know nothing about it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    No, I have a much better question.

    Please identify, specifically, what tests you would conduct, and the criteria you would apply to deem food [from any source] safe?

    In other words, if I were to hand you an ear of corn, or a piece of bread, or a twinkie.  Identify for me, what you would do to establish that it is safe to eat?
    Mundus vult decipi
    experts caused a genocide in Iraq

    Hank
    Experts also allowed a genocide in Iraq to go on for 40 years. What does that have to do with science?  Are you saying biologists created Saddam Hussein?  
    Gerhard Adam
    In looking over your link it appears to be big on fear-mongering and not so big on actual data.  The perpetual references to genes, DNA, and bacterial DNA isn't informative.  It is simply misleading.

    When you consume plant or animal products [without any modification] what do you think happens to their DNA?  Do you think it just magically disappears when it goes into your mouth?  What do you think is going on with all the unknown DNA that is intrinsic in your microbiota?  This is a simple point for which we have absolutely NO answers, since 99% of the bacteria residing in your gut can't even be cultured.

    By tossing around the DNA acronym, your link attempts to create some kind of credibility despite spouting complete nonsense.
    "...is maternally ingested foreign DNA a potential mutagen for developing fetus?..."
    Questions like this are simply ignorant.  By what basis would foreign DNA enter the human cell?  This is currently a trick that viruses have mastered, but it hardly applies to a random string of DNA floating around the blood stream.

    Every time you eat yogurt, you're consuming all manner of living DNA.  Many of the products you consume [i.e. diary products] are the result of interaction with bacteria to product the final result.  Animals and plants contain DNA in every one of their cells.

    So, I have to ask ... what's your point?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Mature red blood cells do not have DNA.

    sdsavage
    Gerhard makes a good point - the "ingestion of foreign" DNA is absolutely normal.  I did a post on that a while back:What Should We Know About Foreign Genes in Our Food?

    The added genes in biotech crops are the foreign DNA about which we know the most

    Steve Savage
    Gerhard Adam
    Apparently no one has the credentials to declare such foods safe, except for those that already agree with your position.  Do you think that no medical doctors are part of these evaluations?

    Instead the link you provided is little more than a series of articles alleging all manner of conspiracies ranging from governmental agencies to corporate scientists that are all engaged in simply bringing a product to market that will ultimately kill their customers.
    Mundus vult decipi
    No..... None has the credentials to declare such food SAFE unless they have a legitimate background in medicine and nutritional studies. Do you have such a background Gerhard or Dr. Plant Pathologist?

    sdsavage
    Well, I base my assertion of safety on reading of and conversations with scores of experts over several decades including molecular biologists, biochemists, nutritionists, toxicologists, epidemiologists, microbiologists, food scientists.....  
    Steve Savage
    Hank
    You always fight a losing battle when some anonymous crank is going to claim a biology PhD has no credibility - but his debunking is entirely legitimate.

    I have an article in the works comparing the methods of the anti-GO movement and creationist groups like the Discovery Institute.
    Gerhard Adam
    I'm in favor of labeling, although I suspect that this will be wholly inadequate and simply produce more political maneuvering than useful information [especially since organic foods are exempt].

    My concern with GMO foods isn't about the current batch, which undoubtedly are safe and have been rigorously tested.  My concern is more downstream.  There are obvious biological concerns that we can't anticipate, such as the evolutionary trajectory of plants with such modifications, how this could result in Bt resistant insect species, etc.  There are already indications that this is possible, but there's simply no way to gauge the long-term effects.

    I'm also concerned that once a precedent in such development is set, then it becomes correspondingly more difficult to gain transparency.  As we progress down this path, it becomes increasingly likely that more and more modifications will get introduced with less stringent testing.

    In my view part of the problem is that biology has always suffered from "physics envy" [i.e. the desire to be mathematically precise, etc.].  With genetics, biologists have the opportunity to "produce something" rather than simply studying what's already there, and this is obviously what makes it "engineering".

    However, like engineering, we have a long history of man-made disasters that occurred.  Not because we lacked the knowledge, but because we became complacent in our knowledge.  New technologies are invariably "over-engineered" because we're concerned about safety and compensating for all the things we don't yet understand.  Once we acquire more understanding we get cocky.  This is what has resulted in bridge collapses, buildings, etc.  Even the space shuttle explosion was not the result of ignorance as much as it was arrogance.

    As a result, my concern is that we will follow a similar path in biology.  Initially we will be cautious, but invariably we will make more assumptions on flimsier basis, and potentially end up creating a biological disaster which will be significantly worse than any bridge or building collapse.

    Is labeling the answer?  Obviously in light of these concerns, it is totally insufficient.  However, it lays the beginning groundwork for more data collection and an opportunity for the public to maintain tighter scrutiny on the products that will undoubtedly be in our future.  The objective isn't to elicit fear or panic, but rather to move society down a path of where we all recognize our increasing responsibility towards being informed, and to be more engaged in formulating public policy as it affects scientific developments.

    Our early ventures in plant hybridization and animal husbandry were analogous to early humans building huts and even primitive settlements.  However, we are now moving into the equivalent of the "space age" in biology and we cannot afford to become complacent or cocky.  There is simply too much that we don't know.
    Mundus vult decipi
    sdsavage
    So,  based on your premise that "There are obvious biological concerns that we can't anticipate, such as the evolutionary trajectory of plants with such modifications",  would your option be to do nothing?  Why do you think that there are any less "evolutionary trajectory" risks from conventional breeding where the identity and functions of thousands of genes mixed are unknown?  
    Steve Savage
    Gerhard Adam
    Why do you think that there are any less "evolutionary trajectory" risks from conventional breeding where the identity and functions of thousands of genes mixed are unknown? 
    The point here is that we can combine genes in ways that could never occur through conventional breeding methods.  As a result, it's a more directed approach and puts together combinations that might never occur otherwise.  In fact, we could potentially make the argument that when differences are too radical, then if viable offspring are even produced, they are generally sterile.  That, in itself, already makes for a significantly different biological outcome than conventional breeding.

    This is a complete shift in the organism and could almost be argued to be equivalent to introducing a new species.  In addition, most other methods are slower and more amenable for co-evolution with dependent species.  Basically my point is that this represents a new "jumping off" point for natural selection.  These organisms aren't going to remain static, so when the Bt toxin gene is introduced, it now becomes a part of the organism and will now be subject to selection like any other trait.

    But even then, who are we kidding?  We already know that biology isn't static, so this isn't but a short-term solution anyway.  I'm only hoping that from an evolutionary perspective, we don't make the same blunders we did in abusing the benefits of antibiotics.
    ... would your option be to do nothing?
    Well, that's kind of a loaded question.  The first question should be, why do we have to do something?  What is the problem we're trying to solve?

    Invariably the answer reduces down to the fact that we want to keep perpetuating and supporting an unconstrained human population.  So, in that respect we are forced to move down these paths towards more and more exotic solutions.  Whether it will actually make a difference in the long-run or end up destroying us is probably more a philosophical than scientific question at this point.

    Let's remember that out of millions of other species, it is only humans that "have to do something" and that is almost exclusively driven by our desire to exempt our selves from biological limits.

    In addition, despite all the claims about feeding the world's hungry, that's not actually part of the GMO effort.  There's not a single plan in place to make these foods available.  It's simply assumed that there is some economic condition someplace that "someone" will implement that will allow people to take advantage of these crops.

    That's part of the difficulty I have with it, because it is being sold to people that don't perceive a need for them.  Perhaps if people saw and understand a need, then it might be a different discussion, but presently I have to question why the hard sell?  Why am I not permitted to say "Thanks, but no thanks"?  Since when do I need a scientific justification to reject a product?

    If it's about environmental concerns, like the excessive use of pesticides or herbicides, then there's nothing wrong with having that discussion, from which the GMO foods may make good sense.  However, it doesn't appear that anyone wants to have that discussion either.

    So we are left with people having to vote on a proposition regarding labeling food, where the overwhelming majority of people don't perceive a need for making changes.  In addition, it won't do a thing to help poor people, because it isn't about bringing the price of food down.  Interestingly if it did that, then many people would support GMO foods regardless of any concerns about safety.

    In the end, this simply seems like more economic wrangling to sell a product because its more profitable and not because it actually solves any problem for us.  I've raised the point in other places, where I can't see how an entire segment of the food industry can be so naive and stupid when it comes to PR.  Instead of embracing the technology they behave as if they have something to hide.  It's little wonder that people are behaving like sharks smelling blood in the water.
    Mundus vult decipi
    sdsavage
    "The point here is that we can combine genes in ways that could never occur through conventional breeding methods.  As a result, it's a more directed approach and puts together combinations that might never occur otherwise.  In fact, we could potentially make the argument that when differences are too radical, then if viable offspring are even produced, they are generally sterile.  That, in itself, already makes for a significantly different biological outcome than conventional breeding."
    Actually, you can't possibly predict all the ways that genes can combine by "conventional breeding" because of the many, quite natural mechanisms for major change like "crossing over" of chromosomes, transposons etc.  Actually there are many crops quite intentionally bred for sterility as triploids like bananas and grapes which are seedless by that conventional breeding mechanism (cross a tetraploid line with a diploid line to make a sterile triploid).  

    In addition, despite all the claims about feeding the world's hungry, that's not actually part of the GMO effort.
    "Feeding the world" is a vastly more complex technological, logistical, political and economic issue than any one technology like biotechnology.  I've written a post titled, "Technology cannot feed the world, farmers might" which makes the argument that it is only the risk-taking, technology integrating,  farming community that has any hope of being how we feed the world.
    When it comes down to the question of feeding poor people, it is appropriate to ask whether, when we have short supply as we will this year, do we sell it to rich European and Japanese customers who have both limited their own productivity by eschewing biotech, and blackmailed North America to delay biotech wheat (and its related private investment in that crop) by decades?  Or do we sell to the poor, grain-dependent nations?  Europe, Japan, China... they are all highly dependent on GMO crops to feed their animals.  Why should they get the grain when there is not enough for poor countries?
    Steve Savage
    Gerhard Adam
    Actually, you can't possibly predict all the ways that genes can combine by "conventional breeding" because of the many, quite natural mechanisms for major change like "crossing over" of chromosomes, transposons etc.
    I'm sorry if it seemed I was implying some predictability.  My point is that regardless of predictability, conventional breeding is bounded by the genetics of the plants themselves.  Barring some rare mutation that is beneficial, all the offspring will be constrained by the available genes in the bred plants.

    As a result, it would seem to be nearly impossible to breed plants to produce the Bt toxin [for example], since there's no place to obtain that gene through conventional methods.  This isn't to suggest that it is dangerous, merely by introducing it, but rather that we have now placed the plant on a different genetic footing for selection to operate on.

    There's little doubt, though, that this will have downstream effects on target species.  How likely is it for them to develop resistance to Bt toxin?  If they do, what evolutionary shift will occur that may make them worse or more benign?  We simply don't know at this point.  Much like Newton's "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction", we will have something similar in biology.  Perhaps to paraphrase it, it should be "For every selected trait there is an equal or opposite response to said trait".  Certainly we could debate "equal" and "opposite" but the point remains that biology doesn't remain static, and the all target and non-target organisms will respond to the change in some manner.

    This isn't to say that it is good or bad at this point.  However, like antibiotics have been a tremendous force for good positive benefits, we are also now seeing that there is a "dark side" to this force which we will have to contend with in the future. 

    I'm perpetually reminded of Robert Heinlein in that regard:

    TANSTAAFL  =  "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch"




    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    "Feeding the world" is a vastly more complex technological, logistical, political and economic issue than any one technology like biotechnology.
    I agree, which is why it is unfortunate when this argument is used as justification for GMO foods.  It simply isn't very persuasive to those opposed to them.
    Mundus vult decipi
    sdsavage
    If you want to talk about a justification for GMO crops, you need to consider the extremely high adoption rates for that technology by every farming community that has ever had the opportunity to grow them.  That is true for farmers in the developed world, and also for millions of small scale farmers in places like China and India.  These are the people who are going to feed and clothe us if they can.  What is "not persuasive to those who oppose this technology" has little relevance to the "feed the world" issue.  Farmers are our only hope of feeding the world. 
    Steve Savage
    Gerhard Adam
    What is "not persuasive to those who oppose this technology" has little relevance to the "feed the world" issue.  Farmers are our only hope of feeding the world.
    Sorry, but it has ALL the relevance.  Farmers are not going to "feed the world" as an altruistic gesture.  It's pure economics and without your customer's support, it won't happen.

    We've already demonstrated that we have plenty of food to feed people, but we lack the political will and means to make it happen.  Unless the farmer plans to deliver the crops personally, it will not happen here either without widespread support.

    The feeling that people don't need to be persuaded and that science will prevail simply by being right is grossly naive.  "Being right" rarely counts for much in politics and policy.


    Mundus vult decipi
    If industrial biotech's mission was to feed the world, it certainly wouldn't be wasting valuable arable land to make ethanol to fuel our vehicles. I find it ironic that the poorest people in this world reject biotech seeds. This includes Haiti (after the earthquake) and Iraq, a destroyed and occupied country, and a perfect victim to biotech :" The important information about Iraqi Order 81 is that it was designed to have a major impact on the way farming is done in Iraq. This order prohibits Iraqi farmers from using the methods of agriculture that they have used for centuries. The practice of saving seeds from one year to the next is now illegal in Iraq. Order 81 wages war on Iraqi farmers. They have lost the freedom to choose their own methods of agriculture. The legalese in which the orders are written creates confusion about their exact meaning, but the desired result is obvious. Order 81 prohibits the farmers from using their own seeds, on their own farms, to grow their own crops." http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=12547

    Pretty well done as far as the article goes. I've been trying to communicate science and reason against the coming tide of fear and hysteria for a while now. I'm glad to see other people taking a stand. Check out my latest post on Edible Intelligence: Be Aggressive and follow me on Twitter @samvance

    For the anti-corporatists in the crowd, please follow the science and not the money. Following the money will lead to false positives, basically, where you assume someone or something is wrong because of who supported it. That isn't how science works.

    True, that's not how science works. But science must contend with money and politics, and so it is distorted in all kinds of ways. Thus it is relevant to look at who is producing and promoting "science". You'll get some good insights as to how money and politics influences science, costs lives, and distorts regulation, if you look at the history of trans-fats. Here's a nice summary:
    http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/2000s/2004/06/heart_breaker

    You can do all of the "scientific" pontificating you want but this is now a political issue and because of the strong support the only way to defeat it is to buy the election which is exactly what biotech is trying to do. Right now their only course of action is to bombard the public with television ads and we all know how well that works in an election year. People will just tune it out and all of the scientific data will sound like "blah blah blah". Latest polls show that almost 90% of CA voters are in favor of Prop 37. That's a lot of people to try to convince with "blah blah blah".

    Mr. Savage:
    You say, "When it comes to safety testing, GMO crops are far more intensively scrutinized than something like Dr. Mercola’s supplements."

    First of all, your comments about GMOs being intensively scrutinized" may be true in Europe, but they certainly are not "scrutinized" here in the U.S.

    Second, your comments about dietary supplements is misleading, at best. The U.S. is the world's largest market for consumers of vitamins etc., with more than 160 million users. In 2007, the Poison Control Center reported no deaths associated with multiple vitamins, b-vitamins, or from Vitamins A, C, D, or E. - and there were no deaths from any of these vitamin supplements or any other vitamin in 2010. And by the way, ANY dietary supplement MUST include a list of ALL ingredients on the label.

    Why should rBgh in milk .. or any GMO product be different?

    You call it "irony," I call it "common sense."

    I'm very happy to see that the very high standard is "not killing people." That's pretty...uh...impressive.

    And by the way, GMO has a body count of 0. Also never made anybody sick. So if we're just comparing records, GMO is far and away safer than dietary nutriceuticals.

    They're not human bodies but bodies none the less.

    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Syngenta_Charged_for_Covering_Up_Livestock_Death...

    Gerhard Adam
    I have a problem with such an allegation, especially without any actual autopsy data.  In short, we don't know what killed his cows. 

    I also find this statement a bit disturbing:
    Gloeckner continued to lose cows and many more had to be put down due to serious illnesses.

    The vets declared that the toxicity could be due to the Bt toxin but this could not be proven as results were confounded by additional pesticides used on the fields.
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Syngenta_Charged_for_Covering_Up_Livestock_Deaths_from_GM_Corn.php
    WHAT??!?  Despite the claims that the corn was killing his cows he continued to lose cows because he continued to feed it to them?  Was he a total idiot?

    I can't think of too many individuals that raise cattle that don't immediately suspect feed if something goes wrong in a herd.  What kind of a numbskull feels that the food he is using is killing his livestock, so he continues to use it?  But, the problem was that he couldn't actually tell that it was the Bt 176 because of all the other toxins present in the fields.

    I suspect there's far more to this story than is being told.  Equally there's even greater likelihood that Syngenta isn't as guilty as people are trying to portray it. 

    ALERT:  As widespread as Bt toxin is in corn and only ONE farmer reporting such losses [or at least a tiny group] ... look to the farmer ... not the toxin.
    Mundus vult decipi
    It's a favorite myth of anti-GMO. No proof, just anecdote. Appearently Monsanto et al pay all scientists not to study this (you should expect a check soon I guess - but you also will be banned from studying how animals "won't eat GMO" and why pigs and cows go sterile eating it.)

    There have been almost no long-term tests of GMOs (i.e., tests which last longer than 90 days).

    There have been no major tests of GMOs on human health.

    Please everyone, consider this before arguing that GMOs are either safe or unsafe.

    I've considered it and consider it patently false.

    I also consider it a boldly dishonest argument. Somehow arguing that international standards in feeding studies are adequate everywhere but with GMO's rubs me the wrong way. Insinuating that somehow we have studied GMO less than any other food type is false. Implying that controlled human feeding studies are the norm and required when they would be unethical inhumane and probably illegal is just funny.

    GMO's have probably been significantly more scrutinized and studied than any food you put in your body. And the scientific concensus on the findings of the studies speaks for itself.

    GMO's have probably been significantly more scrutinized and studied than any food you put in your body. And the scientific concensus on the findings of the studies speaks for itself.

    Once again,,,, the argument is Not citing any long term double blinded multi-generational feeding trials....
    The argument does not cite a study which demonstrates via proteomics that there GMO's do Not down regulate genes in metabolic organs (to dispute the scientific articles which report that they do). The argument is nothing more than an appeal to authority and if composed of rhetoric, not science. It is best taken to a church, not a blog named Science 20

    Gerhard Adam
    Your argument fails to cite anything.  You run your mouth with little more than smart-ass attitude and no evidence.

    Go away... you're simply annoying.
    Mundus vult decipi
    sdsavage
    This isn't about scientific pontificating.  It is about exposing the fact that this initiative only pretends to be about consumer rights when it is actually designed to enrich the lawyers, organic marketers, and supplement marketers who paid to get it on the ballot.  There will also be a number of unintended consequences that I will describe in the next post
    Steve Savage
    This was not "paid" to be put on the ballot. Almost a million signatures were collected by volunteers. It's called a citizen's initiative. I hope I don't have to explain what that means to you.

    you may indeed have to explain to Mr. Savage that this is what our Republic was founded on! Well said.

    Hank
    I hope I don't have to explain what naïve means to you.  If I were the same kind of social authoritarian that backers of this bill are, I could find a million people in California to sign a petition to ban gay - not gay marriage, being gay. Finding a kooky super-minority who want to control choices for someone else is easy when there are 40 million people in a state, that doesn't make it right.
    85-95% of Americans want GMOs labelled.

    They want the right to know what they're eating.

    Hank
    100% of people want to know what they are eating, so why exclude organic food from accuracy in labeling?
    sdsavage
    A great many of the signatures were collected by paid gatherers as is the norm for these initiatives.  That is also done with very little provision of information to those voters about what the proposition actually says.  
    Steve Savage
    oh, puh-leeze, Mr. Savage. Stick to the issue: labeling of GMOs. Every poll ever conducted on GMO labeling shows a vast majority of Americans in favor of labeling. Trying to say "it's those crazy vitamin/granola eaters pushing this bill" is simply ridiculous. Your comment that this "initiative only pretends to be about consumer rights when it is actually designed to enrich the lawyers, organic marketers, and supplement marketers who paid to get it on the ballot" is so sad—and inaccurate that it is laughable.

    So popularity = right fair and proper?

    sdsavage
    If you actually spend 5 minutes explaining what GMO and/or genetic modification actually means and what the labeling initiative would do, then that 90% knee-jerk reaction drops dramatically.  I have often asked people, "do you think that cloned fruits should be labeled?"  At least 90% say yes until I explain that almost all fruit is technically "cloned" because it has to be vegetatively propagated to continue to be the desired variety.  What if you asked people, "should food that is grown using partially decomposed animal excrement be labeled?"  In that case you would actually be talking about something with real, though relatively manageable, documented risk.  
    So, I stand by my statement about the economic motivations of key, early supporters of the initiative.  I also believe that the consumers have a right to hearing a more intelligent discussion of the issues than, "Just label it."  
    Steve Savage
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, like it or not, Monsanto makes the perfect villain in this, because their apparent lack of PR involvement has cast them as a disinterested arrogant entity that simply wants to force people to accept their products.

    It doesn't matter whether this is true or not, it's only the perception that will matter in the end.

    With so many vehicles available to provide information to the public, it is truly a shame that these multi-billion dollar companies have spent more on lobbyists than on educational fare to inform the public. 

    I'm not sure what the situation is in California, but I find it disconcerting that even with this huge political push to force labeling, the companies involved are still not doing much to garner public support.  A recent discussion regarding safety testing resulted in a paper produced by Monsanto which is still behind a pay-wall to read.  Attitudes like this will not bode well for these companies if they don't start doing more to get their message out.

    This isn't just about GMO foods, but also about a growing distrust of corporations that feel that they don't need to engage their customers anymore, since they can tap directly into the best government their money can buy.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I am afraid this statement is factually incorrect. Most polls show that around 90% of Americans want the freedom to choose what they eat, i.e., they want GMO labeling. This includes nationally representative polls commissioned by the New York Times, Reuters, and MSNBC.

    How very ironic. Discussing the unintended consequences of GMOs on health is fear mongering, because all those authorities declared them all safe in all those safety reviews and yet-- I predict that you are going to use the oldest of all logical fallacies "appeal to fear" of hungry lawyer squads and food prices going up, starving poor people.
    Nice!

    “We have not concealed, we do not conceal, and we will never conceal…[W]e have no internal research which proves that smoking…is addictive.” (Stevenson, BAT Denies Smoking Claims, The Independent, 31 October 1996.

    And, by the way, your limited number of GMO crops, are in the majority of food on the super market's shelves.

    JUST LABEL IT!

    sdsavage
    I'm glad you brought up the smoking example.  It matters not what the tobacco companies said, the scientific evidence for health problems was overwhelming and the Surgeon General said so.  There is no such body of evidence for harm for GMO crops and there is no such conclusion from any government entity around the world.  With smoking, the logical thing would have been to ban the use of the product, but there was not the political will to do so.  Official labeling rules should be reserved for things where there is a real and pressing need backed by the science, not the economic interests of certain marketers.
    Steve Savage
    And, still, the tobacco companies were forced to label their products; and the tobacco farmers adapted and stared raising chickens. I can provide link after link of scientific evidence of the dangers of GMO's, but the fact of the matter is, you will try to refute it. If it's harmless and the people demand it, why are Monsanto and Dow, et al, spending MILLIONS to block labeling? I PROUDLY label everything I manufacture.

    sdsavage
    Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer, Bayer... all fully label what they manufacture and that is something that is fully regulated by the EPA and USDA.  They sell those products to farmers and also "proudly" describe their advantages via biotechnology.  In my upcoming post I will describe how the commodity grain system works and why it has never been a system that is well suited to the tracking of specific varieties unless there is some reason to spend a lot more for some special feature.  The food companies are the one's who would have to label and that is far less trivial than you think.
    Steve Savage
    I eagerly await the next one. People need to realize what they're actually asking for by trying to get farmers, grain silos, the ADM's of the world etc to seperate by varieties.

    It seems people get confused why they can track lysteria to canteloupes from a specific farm, but wouldn't be able to do the same for corn or soy.

    I would say the 'epidemiology' value of labeling that is often cited by activists would not be of any value whatsoever. If all of us eat unspecified GMO products all the time every day, how would you ever track back to a specific variety?

    sdsavage
    Actually, it was very hard to track the Lysteria back to the Colorado farm that was ultimately determined to be the source.  The fruit went to various brokers and re-packers so that even this relatively "local" and high value crop was hard to trace.  During the delay, even California producers were hurt because people were avoiding all cantaloupes.  
    Steve Savage
    You are UNQUALIFIED TO render such an opinion. You are not an epidemiologist nor a medical doctor.

    Gerhard Adam
    ... and who the hell are you, besides an ignorant internet poster?
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    I've had an ongoing disagreement with Gerhard on the cost and value of a "Contains GMO" label. I think to create scientifically meaningful data (his goal of having labels), would require specifics of strain and percentage of content, which will require extensive changes to the supply chain, from the fields to the consumer. These changes will increase prices to consumers across the country, as most manufacturers do not have separate facilities for US and Ca markets.
    While "Contains GMO" doesn't cost anything, it's also meaningless.
    I look forward to your next post.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Yes, we have this ongoing debate, ranging over a multiple of topics.  Would I like to see more detailed food information across the board [including organics] ... yes.  I won't hold my breath though.

    As for the California labeling law, we already know that it won't provide meaningful information, but even if ends up being little more than a warning label, why does this matter?  Does anyone really believe that consumers are suddenly going to switch to organic? 

    Instead the GMO terms will cease to be faddish in a few months and no one will pay any attention to it.  Similarly, if the food producers had an actual brain between the lot of them, they could actually exploit this in advertising, but it seems that they don't actually have any sense in that respect.

    It still seems to me, that the basic labeling requirement is neither onerous nor costly.  It may be uninformative, but it is hardly difficult. 

    Personally I think that this generic labeling law will actually be a benefit in disguise.  When people realize how much of the food supply is modified in this way, and even if they begin to look for alternatives, the conclusion will invariably revert to ... "oh .. we've been eating this all along".

    My personal prediction is that when it's all said and done, nothing will change in California except that food will have an additional label on it that no one will read.  Just like no one reads the carcinogenic signs in bars, etc. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I AM a food company! So, trust me, labeling IS trivial!!! Of course Monsanto and the other biotech companies in the business of poisoning others have to label their products...it's the law. Yet, they spend millions fighting labeling. Ironically, my Yes vote on Prop 37 is FREE.

    MikeCrow
    Do you use flour, or corn(corn syrup), or sugar? What strain(edited) of wheat, corn, sugar cane/sugar beets are in your products?
    Never is a long time.
    Interesting. I just read your full profile and you have worked or still work for DuPont and Mycogen which is owned by Dow Agrosciences. Hard to think of you as unbiased.

    And there it is. It took a while but finally showed up.

    But hey, I guess by the same token anybody that's ever bought organic produce would be biased and shouldn't be allowed to have an opinion on this matter either.

    And there it is. Recognizing that this is just someone's opinion and not necessarily based on fact.

    Come on now, it is an opinion, but Dr. Savage did a fine job of showing that is indeed factually based. If the best you can do is ad hominem attacks rather than actually engage any single one of the well articulated points.

    Everybody has opinions. That does not make all opinions equal.

    Note the list of scientific studies on this in the bibliography.

    http://www.aaemonline.org/gmopost.html

    sdsavage
    No one is unbiased, but some people are more informed about the science and the business aspects.  If you will notice, my experience is nothing I've ever attempted to hide.  The blogging etc that I have been doing for 3 years now has never been paid-for by anyone and I have even lost some consulting business for sticking my neck out.  You didn't mention that when I worked for Mycogen that I helped to develop biological controls and natural products which can also be used in Organic.  My loyalty is to the science and to the farmers.
    Steve Savage
    Hank
    Interesting. I just read your full profile and you have worked or still work for DuPont and Mycogen which is owned by Dow Agrosciences. Hard to think of you as unbiased.
    This means you think that 100% of the work of scientists funded by the Obama administration should be disavowed by Republicans.  And Virgin Galactic cannot go into space because it is not NASA.

    As stated before, science is not a world view that you pick and choose, there is also no secret litmus test where you allege anyone who ever worked in the corporate world is illegitimate if you dislike the company that paid them - but then contend the homeopathy crank, the one selling magic soap and the greedy lawyer are all legitimate.

    If you have proof that anyone is getting paid here to promote a company, show it.  Otherwise, you are just an anonymous coward who is also a racist.  Don't like being called a racist with no proof?  Then you now see the flaws in your logic.

    It's sad that the founder of this site has to reduce himself to slinging insults and name calling. Really lends a lot of credibility to your work. You sound like a very bitter person.

    Too true! I just don't get it, though I quickly learnt to skip his comments.

    Sad that you're not loyal to consumers. We drive the market. You can eat whatever you want. We'll continue to buy organic.

    sdsavage
    Actually, I've never found there to be a conflict between what makes sense for farming and what is good for consumers.  You are welcome to continue to eat Organic, but you should probably know that an increasing amount of the grains, fruit juice concentrates, and other non-perishable ingredients that go into Organic food is coming from China.  I'm not the only one who is rather suspicious of a paperwork-only certification system in this case.  Look at what various organic consumers organizations and pro-organic bloggers are saying about this.
    Steve Savage
    No worries here. I only buy local, organic. Fruit juice concentrates? Please.

    Gerhard Adam
    Why does that sound suspiciously like ... "As long as I have mine, I don't give a damn about anyone else"?
    Mundus vult decipi
    sdsavage
    So where is it that you like that can produce high quality bread wheat, tropical fruits, fruits that need chilling, rice... ?   
    Steve Savage
    Include full disclosure FFS.

    sdsavage
    Sorry, what does FFS mean?
    Steve Savage
    A study done on the hazards of glyophosate-based herbicides.

    http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/carrasco_0.pdf

    sdsavage
    If you read the study, which I just did, it was direct exposure to Xenopus embryos or chicken embryos.  Any such study has to be put into the context of what sort of exposure could actually occur for embryos that are not sitting there in an open lab dish.  These are the sorts of questions that are asked by regulators who do risk assessments because hazard and risk are different.  Electricity is extremely hazardous, but we do things to make sure that our exposure is insignificant, therefore it is low risk.  This paper identifies a category of hazard in a highly artificial setting.  To understand whether there is any risk of this nature you have to look at probable exposure.  Farm worker exposure studies have definitely been done for glyphosate because of its long use in specialty crops.  For use on GMO crops, the exposure of applicators would be far smaller than that for hand laborers in vegetable or fruit crops.  Sorry, this is no "smoking gun."
    Steve Savage
    Tell me again why you think it's in the best interests of American consumers (and American citizens who care about health, transparency and our land being "by the people and for the people") to not question the products produced by this company?

    From various sources:
    1. Monsanto has spent $4.2 million to squash Prop 37, the California GMO labeling initiative
    2. Monsanto is responsible for several varieties of “superbugs”.
    3. Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup has spawned over 120 million hectacres of herbicide-resistant superweeds while damaging massive amounts of soil.
    4. An Argentinian study found that Monsanto’s Roundup Ingredient causes birth defects
    5. Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, glyphosate which is destroying and/or altering the microbial biodiversity of the soil, jeopardizes the fertility of the entire biosphere.
    6. Monsanto researchers found that consumption of GMO corn or soybeans may lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice – particularly in the liver and kidneys.
    7. Monsanto has been caught running “slave-like” rings, holding off pay and forcing undocumented workers to buy their food only from the Monsanto company store.
    8. Monsanto effectively owns most US diplomats, and is currently using this political capital to start “Trade Wars” against nations opposed to Monsanto’s destructive policies.

    Hank
    Why go through all this question and answer head fakery?  If Californians can ban plastic bags and smoking and goldfish, just ban GMOs.  No conspiratorial nonsense about how Big Business won't allow it, Californians pass all kinds of flaky laws. If they are dangerous, ban them. 

    And yet every legitimate science organization in the world can't find any reason to ban them.  They have done no harm and helped hundreds of millions of people.

    What you should not pretend is that there is a legitimate rationale for this legislation.  It is designed to make a homeopath and a lawyer rich and that is all.  If that were not all, organic food would not be exempted from this 'food honesty' law.
    sdsavage
    I could go through this list and explain why there are plenty of rational sources to reject these claims.  If you are really interested in the other side on these allegations, you might visit sites like:Biofortified


    or 
    AgBio World


    If not, then have a good time having your preconceptions reinforced in you echo chamber


    Steve Savage
    Agbioworld is an industry front. The folks who run Agbioworld have been implicated in Monsanto-funded attacks on scientists who have criticized GMOS. See: The Guardian, Wednesday May 29, 2002

    Here is an excerpt:

    "AgBioWorld is perhaps the most influential biotech site on the web. Every day it carries new postings about how GM crops will feed the world, new denunciations of the science which casts doubt on them and new attacks on environmentalists. It was here that the fake persuaders invented by Bivings launched their assault on the Nature paper. AgBioWorld then drew up a petition to have the paper retracted. Prakash claims to have no links with Bivings but, as the previous article showed, an error message on his site suggests that it is or was using the main server of the Bivings Group. Jonathan Matthews, who found the message, commissioned a full technical audit of AgBioWorld. His web expert has now found 11 distinctive technical fingerprints shared by AgBioWorld and Bivings' Alliance for Environmental Technology site. The sites appear, he concludes, to have been created by the same programmer. "

    Yeah, easier to dismiss it on who they are rather than what they say.

    Gerhard Adam
    I'm guessing you don't like Monsanto and are probably holding them responsible for the Mayan end of the world prediction Dec 21, 2012?

    Mundus vult decipi
    I sure do miss enjoying good ole corn on the cob!

    Intersting since sweet corn required a chance mutation to occur make it "sweet" and not essentially a source of grain. This random mutation was never studied for safety, allergenicity or any other unknown side effect. Truth is at the time the breeders probably didn't really know how or what happened and what else could have been changed in the genetics of corn.

    Also, almost none of the sweetcorn you could buy is GMO ( I think line 3-4% of sweetcorn on the market). This debate is mainly about ingredients coming from grain crops. Very few fresh fruits or vegetables.

    I only really mention it because it points out the total lack of knowledge that is widespread amonst anti-gmo activists. In any subject, the proper way to go is to learn about it first, then make up your mind. There are so many absolutely baseless arguments being made that you can't see the good argument through them. What we all should be talking about is the ecology and potential impact(s) of trans-gene transfer on a case by case basis. We should be looking at ways to do things better, not trying to rehash sciency sounding issue that have already been scientifically established using social media and activist networks.

    sdsavage
    Mike,  you are right about the sweet corn mutation.  Also, the only reason it is GMO at all is that it is still closely enough related to field corn that the "events" developed there, at great expense, can be conventionally bred into the sweet corn lines (with some help from marker assisted breeding).  When you read most pro-labeling blogs etc, they routinely use a picture of some mature fruit or vegetable being injected with a large hypodermic needle filled with some colored liquid.  That is misleading on so many levels it is absurd.  For people arguing for "transparency" it is rather hypocritical to use images that are essentially lies.
    Steve Savage
    I have simple solution. Producers of all food that does not contain GMO or has not been feed GMO food in process, can have lable "NO GMO." otherwise you presume it does. Law should ban food that does have GMO to have that lable and that's it. If GMO food producers don't want to be forced to put GMO lable on it, ok, no problem. Then let's not lie about it and lets not give them right to lable food.

    Two additional letters (NO), problem solved, pass that law, stop arguing. :)

    Better yet, not law. Anybody that wants to be GMO free can do so voluntarily, but needs to do so truthfully.

    Best part is, we already have this and always have. I (still) have a bag of popcorn with gmo free on it in my pantry. Nobody forced them to say it or not. Nobody was subject to a shakedown. If it caused my wife to buy it (it did not), then good for them for their proactive marketing.

    I agree, problem solved.

    ‎"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority."
    - E. B. White

    Gerhard Adam
    There is certainly plenty of cause for concern, but people don't want to answer the hard questions.  They prefer to indulge themselves and then complain about the means by which that is made possible.

    People want to "go back to nature" or more "natural" things, despite being clueless about what that involves.  

    Humans gave up their right to question much of this technology when they opted to let the population grow to 7 billion people.  Those "natural" options are no longer available.  If "nature" had her way the majority of the human race would die off.  Human population exists because of the efforts of humans ... NOT "Mother Nature".

    While I happen to think it would be desirable to have a more "natural" lifestyle, I'm also not naive enough to believe that it's possible given people's general attitudes.  They won't stop reproducing, and they won't stop doing all the stupid stuff that makes it worse.  So, I've accepted the inevitability of ever more technology being required to support an increasingly delicate infrastructure.

    I question the technology for some of the unintended consequences that haven't [and couldn't] be tested for.  There are certainly issues about creating herbicide resistant plants or pesticide resistant insects.  They are important questions to be raised.

    However, what is NOT appropriate is the mind-numbingly stupid assertions about how everyone is out to kill us, our how the government is looking to allow harmful products into our food supply, or how GMO's cause autism.

    I'm done with people being so stupid.  All those same stupid ideas are what as given rise to an over-populated planet which has pushed us into using these technologies, and now those that wish to argue against it are advancing just as goofy an argument.  I give up!
    Mundus vult decipi
    Not an expert, but I think labelling is very essential for any product being manufactured/supplied

    Please ask the Dear Plant pathologist what the gold standard test is for diagnosing and treating KIDS with Food allergies, and whether this standard can be met when the foods are untraceable and Unlabeled?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1743387/

    Gerhard Adam
    I don't think you understand how any of this actually works.  You keep talking about labels and yet appear to not recognize that a significant portion of the food supply does not have labels and has no requirement to use them.

    From your own link:
    ...food challenge, and supervised elimination diets. A double blind placebo controlled food challenge is the gold standard diagnostic test.

    Avoidance of the allergenic food is the key towards successful management.

    So what does this have to do with labeling?  Elimination diets are invariably the method by which allergenic foods are discovered/eliminated.  I can't imagine any competent physician relying solely on labels as a means of advising on a patient's diet.

    Even if you were to argue that a particular food was genetically modified, so what?  If it is eliminated from the diet, then it will no longer produce the allergic response.  Labeling has nothing to do with it.  What labels do you currently find on corn?

    While any individual with identified food allergies may have great difficulty in finding and purchasing foods that are not harmful, this has nothing to do with the diagnostic test that you raised.  In that respect, I would specifically support more detail in labels for individuals that have such sensitivities and need more information to avoid allergic reactions.  However that's not your argument.

    Instead you want to make it appear as if medical diagnosis will be compromised by the absence of such labels in our food supply.  You don't know what you're talking about.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Are you being intentionally obtuse or are you really THAT dense; that you can't grasp the fundamental concept that the tests available for detection and treatment of food allergies are so limited that the only way to diagnose an allergy is to know that you are ingesting an allergen (predicated on the food being labeled to indicate it contains GE engineered Bt + whatever herbicide tolerant trait is stacked with Bt-corn....vs non-GE corn, not containing any of the GE traits) .... followed by eliminating it from the diet.... followed by challenging the suspected individual with the food to prove that the individual is allergic?

    sdsavage
    At least with a transgenic plant, people can directly test the protein that has been altered.  WIth all the other changes that occur in plant proteins because of conventional breeding, mutations, transposon insertions, crossing-over, endophyte colonization, virus infection, epigentics ..., we wouldn't know where to start testing for new allergens.  Don't think of any crop as a static thing from a protein point of view either in terms of which proteins are present and which are expressed at what levels.  Fortunately, allergenicity is a rare property for proteins.
    Steve Savage
    Testing the inserted protein is not accurate enough in assessing foods for allergies.
    Please read the following: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16119037

    Hope that link worked

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but your bias is showing.

    So you seem to think that the only item that should be on the label is whether it contains GE engineered BT+, etc.  So, in your alleged mind, the only thing that is of consequence for allergies is GMO's.

    Wow, do you have a lot to learn.  That wouldn't even work for something as well recognized as glutens.
    Mundus vult decipi
    sdsavage
    Your link isn't working
    Steve Savage
    Google: food challenge, supervised elimination diets. A double blind placebo trial.
    Food allergies for dummies

    Gerhard Adam
    You just don't get it.  'Mr. "Food allergies for dummies".  That has NOTHING to do with labeling, since a label isn't nearly detailed enough to provide diagnostic data.  Why do you think that one has to engage in an elimination diet?  Why do you think that a double blind placebo trial is important?

    It isn't about labels, except with respect to those having to purchase foods.  You keep bringing up the diagnostic tests and clearly don't understand what's involved.

    Mundus vult decipi
    GE foods will be segregated from non-GE foods in order to enable labeling; labeling will enable segregation of patients allergic to corn, from patients allergic to GE-corn; patients allergic to soy, from patients allergic to GE-soy.
    It isn't ideal without the label actually specifying the trait, because one won't be able to determine if the allergen is Bt, EPSPS, herbicides sprayed on it ...etc---- but is is A STEP in the right direction.
    Right now... we have Nothing. Many medical practitioners aren't even aware that most of the food at the supermarket was genetically altered in the 90s.
    Am I being clearer?

    Gerhard Adam
    While I happen to agree with labeling, I think that labeling needs to be significantly more accurate, and it should be sufficient to allow people to make choices.

    What you're proposing won't work, since many foods will have a combination of these ingredients in them, so it will still be insufficient to establish any allergenic connection.  If the only thing being tested were corn or soy, then you would have a point, but since these often serve as ingredients [especially when coupled with other foods such as wheat], it would be impossible to take such a combination and draw any legitimate conclusions from it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    >While I happen to agree with labeling, I think that labeling needs to be significantly more accurate, and it should be sufficient to allow people to make choices.< agreed

    >What you're proposing won't work, since many foods will have a combination of these ingredients in them, so it will still be insufficient to establish any allergenic connection. If the only thing being tested were corn or soy, then you would have a point, but since these often serve as ingredients [especially when coupled with other foods such as wheat], it would be impossible to take such a combination and draw any legitimate conclusions from it.<
    No......Wal Mart is planning on selling GE sweet corn. If it is labeled, and a child is allergic to the products of genetic engineering, it will be easy to tell. Otherwise, it's impossible.

    Gerhard Adam
    If you've read other posts of mine, you'll find that I agree that more data can hardly be harmful.  While you seem intent on allergies, my concern is more long-term, where the inability to have data can make it nearly impossible to examine trends that may emerge, or generalized conditions that are harder to quantify.

    Just as an example, IF there is truly an increase in the incidences of autism [rather than just more comprehensive classification and diagnosis], then having larger amounts of data to draw correlations from could be useful to see if something specific changed in the environment.  Similarly with something like Ciliac Disease, it is a bit easier since it is specifically related to gluten content.  Moreover we know that gluten increased since the 1950's because of plant hybridization to produce hardier crops, and recent GE changes have also produced increased gluten in wheat, the correlation becomes easier to see.

    However, the danger is in simply presuming that GE is arbitrarily bad.  We need to stay focused on what the issues are and not simply pronounce technologies arbitrarily good or bad.  Again, as an example, while it is convenient to criticize GE changes to wheat for increased gluten, I wonder if the criticisms would be quite so severe if Monsanto developed a strain of gluten-free wheat?  Would they suddenly be the heroes, or would people still insist that it was merely "Frankenfood"?

    I'm not a big fan of GMO's because of the issue of unintended consequences, primarily in biology.  I'm concerned about herbicide resistant weeds and pesticide resistant insects that may well parallel our experience with antibiotics and render the entire problem orders of magnitude more complex.

    I am less concerned about food safety, primarily because [other than those with sensitivities] we already have plenty of issues in that domain without worrying about separating out GMO foods.  Our use of regular pesticides/herbicides, antibiotics, and steroids is sufficient to have raised the concern of consumers, and  yet we find them strangely silent on many of the real issues.

    I think labeling, across the board, should be done.  This should include organic foods, specifically so that we stop kidding ourselves that there is some silver bullet solution to our problems.  Even so, a significant number of people will never suffer any food related conditions, so it will  hardly be much of an issue for them.  Similarly others see problems in everything because they are attempting to achieve some kind of naturalistic utopia which has never existed.

    Reality is that we have 7 billion people on this planet that need to eat and live.  We cannot return to some pastoral existence and simply pretend that with a little bit of effort we can return to a more "natural" state.  It was the "natural" state that put us in this position, precisely because we didn't like how we fared in "nature".

    So, I'm in favor of serious discussion, regarding seriously considered facts.  I am not interested in those that simply want to engage in hysteria, fear-mongering, or shoddy science simply to indulge in some "Bambi" fantasy of existence.
    Mundus vult decipi
    My interests in this issue are most concisely summarized ( as sanctimonious as it may sound) by the oath I took.
    I rarely take oaths, but the few I do take--I intend to uphold.
    "Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

    I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence."

    It isn't fear mongering or paranoia. It is Frustration borne out of managing food allergies, chronic kidney disease, hepatobiliary disease, pancreatitis, obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease in animals ( whose foods are often mainly composed of corn and soy) . Decades of clinical experience with genetically modified food and chronic idiopathic diseases which could very well be contributing to great suffering in animals and their people, in the trenches.

    Gerhard Adam
    It isn't fear mongering or paranoia.
    Unfortunately it is when half the people that are concerned can't even accurately define what a gene is, let alone what it's modification means.

    In animals you have the secondary problem due to their domestication, which has often been aggravated by completely arbitrary dietary changes and pet owners that think that giving their pet twinkies or a plate of spaghetti is a reward.

    The problem I have is with vague statements
    about "genetically modified food", as if any of our food hasn't been genetically modified in one form or another over the past several thousand years.  Despite many people's fantasies, much of our food simply doesn't occur in the wild, so the food that they think is "natural" is already heavily modified, albeit with less sophisticated or predictable technologies.

    In truth, half the animals you practice medicine on are genetically modified, with more variations on the way.  I can also virtually guarantee, that if it were economically feasible, you'd have as many pet owners ordering designer pets without a second thought, so I'm a bit put off by the apparent hypocrisy that often surrounds discussions about genetic manipulation.

    As you well know, many dog species are prone to deafness, or blindness, or hip dysplasia are a direct result of our artificial selection methods to create certain breeds.

    The truth is that whether we like it or not, the general consensus is that such modifications are fine, and this is a social journey we're all going to have to participate in.  As with many of the issues or society faces, it is apparent that we are not actually interested in solving our problems as much as we are in simply distracting ourselves so that we don't have to think about them.  At this point we are at a philosophical crossroads, where many different scenarios have to play out before people will acknowledge that we don't know what we're doing and that it may be time to regroup and re-think things.

     
    Mundus vult decipi
    sdsavage
    Do you realize that the protein in Bt sweet corn (whether it is the older, Syngenta version, or the recent Monsanto version) is the same protein that has been sprayed on crops for decades in products like Dipel.  These products are widely used, but are a particular mainstay of Organic pest control.  They are allowed for application right up to harvest and on products that are not peeled.  The only incidence of allergic reactions to these products was with farm workers doing lots of hand labor in sprayed fields.  They were reacting to something in the formulation, not the Bt protein itself.  Again, knowing exactly what protein you are working with makes the Bt crops even safer than the Bt that is a whole bacterium with many other, mostly uncharacterized proteins.
    Steve Savage
    Ahhh.... the fallacy of substantial equivalence, Steve. You know very well that the cry proteins incorporated into transgenic foods are not equivalent to Bacillus thuringiensis, as a naturally occurring soil bacterium sprayed On plants.

    >knowing exactly what protein you are working with makes the Bt crops even safer than the Bt that is a whole bacterium with many other, mostly uncharacterized proteins.<
    I need to see thorough accurate feeding trials to be convinced of safety of these novel foods; as safe as they may sound in theory on paper. I haven't read a single convincing study so far. My patients don't read books, but they sure develop illnesses when our well meaning theories work out different in practice. Sorry.

    Hank
    Ah, equivalence.  When Bt is sprayed on by organic farmers, it is still awesome, but when it is expressed and does far less environmental damage thanks to science, it is an abomination of nature.  

    Got it.
    Gerhard Adam
    I think you're playing a bit fast and loose with the comparison here.  Bt is the bacteria [Bacillus thuringiensis] and it carries the gene to produce the toxin, so it is different from simply inserting the gene for producing the toxin into the plant.

    The degree to which such a difference actually translates into something better or worse is subject to debate, but even so, the lack of comprehensive feeding studies leaves much to be desired.
    This review can be concluded raising the following question: where is the scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe, as assumed by the biotechnology companies involved in commercial GM foods?
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390601177670

    http://www.biosafety.ru/ftp/domingo.pdf
    Mundus vult decipi
    sdsavage
    Gerhard,here is just one example of "scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe".  It is an article written by European scientists that reviewed 24 completely independent, long-term feeding studies.  There is no data like this to support the safety of the dietary supplements that are sold by Dr Mercola, the largest single contributor to the pro-prop37 effort.  

    http://appliedmythology.blogspot.com/2011/12/24-long-term-feeding-studies-reviewed.html



    Steve Savage
    Gerhard Adam
    Thanks very much for the link. 

    My concern comes from the following statement in the abstract:
    If required, a 90-day feeding study performed in rodents, according to the OECD Test Guideline, is generally considered sufficient in order to evaluate the health effects of GM feed.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691511006399
    I find this puzzling, because while it might be appropriate as a starting point, it seems to be unnecessarily dismissive given the large number of opportunities for more specific and pertinent data.

    While it would be unethical to consider human-based studies, it seems that we should be looking at a much larger and far-reaching set of studies that includes chickens, cows, pigs, etc.  If they are being fed these products, the absence of studies that are tracking and confirming how these feeds are handled seems unnecessarily cavalier.

    When we consider how skeptical, and specific experiments have to be to confirm the existence of something like the Higg's particle, it seems that these modified foods are being given a rather casual examination [given the opportunities to be much more exhaustive].
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thank you Gerhard!

    And.....bravo!

    Dr. Ena

    sdsavage
    Gerhard,You conveniently didn't quote the part that said: "_We examined 12 long-term studies (of more than 90 days, up to 2 years in duration) and 12 multigenerational studies (from 2 to 5 generations)"


    Or the part that said: "_Results from all the 24 studies do not suggest any health hazards and, in general, there were no statistically significant differences within parameters observed. However, some small differences were observed, though these fell within the normal variation range of the considered parameter and thus had no biological or toxicological significance."


    Also, it is generally a good idea to read the whole paper, which I did before writing about it.  If you would like it, send me your address and I can email it to you.
    savage.sd@gmail.com
    Steve Savage
    Gerhard Adam
    Actually I didn't quote it, because that was self-evident from the abstract.  However, my point remains, because it doesn't seem like 12 studies is very much, given the variations that could occur between animal species, and the number of opportunities for such studies.

    Again, I'm not suggesting that these foods are necessarily dangerous, it just seems that given the public attitude and the huge risk/cost if something negative were found, that more studies and more public acknowledgement of those studies would be the smart thing to do.

    After all, this isn't about a few scientific inquiries.  This has profound ramifications in long-term public policy, so being shy about this work doesn't seem to be the most PR-sensible approach to take.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    There is no data like this to support the safety of the dietary supplements that are sold by Dr Mercola, the largest single contributor to the pro-prop37 effort.
    I understand what you mean within the context of Prop 37.  However as a scientific standard, you know that isn't very persuasive.
    Mundus vult decipi
    > though these fell within the normal variation range of the considered parameter <

    I agree on the need to read the entire original document. Could you please provide links to the original 24 studies.

    What I would like to add is that we need to pay very close attention to the definition of NORMAL

    Dr. Ena

    sdsavage
    The article is, I believe, behind a dumb pay-wall.  I wrote to the authors to get a pdf.  You should probably do the same to stay within protocol.  _Agnès E. Ricroch is the one to write.  _agnes.ricroch@agroparistech.fr
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691511006399 is the abstract. 




    Steve Savage
    Gerhard Adam
    First of all ... thanks for the paper.  However, I was somewhat disappointed at the ambiguous and lax nature of these studies.
    "Six out of the 24 studies examined here used an appropriate number of experimental animals:  three long-term studies (Daleprane et al., 2009a, 2010; Sissener et al., 2009) and three multigenerational studies (Brake et al., 2003; Flachowsky et al., 2007; Haryu et al., 2009)."

    "Yet, this review reveals deep weaknesses shared by most long term studies because of non-adherence to standard procedures outlined in the OECD Test (1998)."

    "The observations of major flaws in some papers highlight the urgent need to improve the reviewing process before publication of papers addressing this subject."
    Perhaps most disturbing was this line:
    "It should be mentioned that increasing the number of animals tested increases the statistical power but is more costly. High costs may hinder the public sector from conducting such studies."
    I am also concerned about some of the phrasing in the paper which sounds a bit too "political" for my tastes.

    In other words, there was a great deal of emphasis on nutritional equivalence, which is undoubtedly true, but is also irrelevant to the question at hand.  Even the abstract concludes with:
    "The studies reviewed present evidence to show that GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed."
    This simply leaves me scratching my head wondering how nutritional equivalence translates into safety.

    Again, statements like the following don't inspire confidence that these tests have reached well accepted conclusions.
    "They found in the fifth generation (only this generation was sacrificed and autopsied) enlarged inguinal and axillary lymph nodes, a decrease in the percentage of T cells in spleen and lymph nodes, increased IL-2 levels (by a factor of 2.5 for the fifth generation compared to controls), and decreased IL-6 levels (by a factor of 0.4 for the fifth generation compared to controls) but no significant changes in the levels of IgE. The authors showed that this expansion of the B cell compartment in the secondary lymphoid organs was not caused by an allergy or a malignant process. Further studies should investigate the reasons of these changes and whether they are reproducible."
    I guess that my feeling is that the promotion of the idea that GMO foods are completely safe, involves my crawling out on a limb that doesn't appear to be backed up by extensive data.  While we can certainly say that these results would suggest that there is no safety concern, I would hardly consider these to be exhaustive.

    More importantly, I find it totally unacceptable to have such a major scientific policy and process being introduced to the public and then complaints about there not being enough money to conduct long-term studies on cows and other animals that are part of that food chain.  The idea that rodents are anything except preliminary is mind-boggling to me.

    If money is an issue, then no scientist should be putting their stamp of approval on anything requiring a policy decision until the data is as conclusive as it can be, and there truly is consensus.
    Mundus vult decipi
    August 31, 2012

    Hello dear Agnes E. Ricroch.

    I would very much appreciate your sending me the original studies cited @ http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691511006399

    Thank you very much in advance.

    Respectfully,

    Ena Valikov DVM, BS (biochemistry)

    ena@beachvethospital.com or ena@bellflowervet.com

    This message was created automatically by mail delivery software.

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    Gerhard Adam
    Email me (through my contact)
    Mundus vult decipi
    sdsavage
    I looked back in my emails and found that this address must have worked, not the one that was on the journal site.  I guess I looked her up at her institution.

    agnes.ricroch@u-psud.fr
    Steve Savage
    One of the most worrisome issues associated with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in our food supply is that long term human safety studies are neither required nor conducted in the United States (for politically motivated, not scientific reasons).

    Most Americans are unaware of the existence of Genetically Engineered ingredients in the food they eat and that they are untested for long term safety on children, adults or humans of any age. Monsanto and other biotech corporations have actively suppressed several legislative efforts to mandate labeling of GMOs to intentionally keep Americans uninformed to protect their profits. At best GMO developers might conduct a 42 day chicken study and/or 90 day rat study but these self serving studies presented to FDA are carefully constructed to limit or hide negative data. These safety studies are never peer reviewed by independent scientists making them highly questionable for scientific validity. In contrast, pharmaceuticals must undergo human safety testing for FDA approval whereas Genetically Engineered food does not. It is unethical and dangerous for an unproven, unnatural, manmade substance to be secretly sold and unknowingly consumed over a lifetime by Americans, especially by our children.

    For something as vital to our biological survival as food . . . supporters for GMO Labeling seek ingredient disclosure to protect themselves and their children from being human guinea pigs unknowingly consuming a manmade laboratory substance developed solely for the financial benefit of huge multinational biotechnology and chemical companies.

    Current Genetically Engineered crops are developed to be grown in conjunction with dangerous proprietary chemical herbicides or designed to produce their own internal pesticide in every cell of the plant, including the part that is consumed by children and adults. There is no evidence showing any nutrition benefit for Genetically Engineered crops grown in the United States yet there is a growing body of scientific evidence these crops and use of their associated chemical herbicides and internal pesticides are causing significant biological and ecological harm. Roundup, the herbicide that over 50% of all Genetically Engineered crops are engineered to tolerate, is not safe as has been claimed by Monsanto. Animal and Human epidemiological studies have found an association between Roundup exposure and miscarriage, birth defects, neurological development problems, DNA damage, and certain types of cancer.

    The report, “GMO Myths and Truths, An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops”, presents a large body of peer-reviewed scientific and authoritative evidence of the hazards to health and the environment posed by Genetically Engineered crops (GMOs). Read the summary and full report here: http://www.earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/58

    Gerhard Adam
    I happen to be in favor of labeling, but not fear-mongering.  Your diatribe is a disservice to those that have legitimate questions about GMO foods.  The mere fact that you would bring up Roundup demonstrates an agenda and not science.

    Roundup is NOT food and isn't intended as food.  If you were to compare it to any other herbicide/pesticide, you'd find all manner of dangers associated with them.  Why you even mention it is beyond me.  Any adult that doesn't recognize that poisons are dangerous is an idiot, and your mentioning it in the same post as foods is disingenuous.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Proposition 37 (The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act) is a common sense initiative that would require non exempt foods and beverages sold in California retail stores to be labeled if they are produced with Genetic Engineering or contain Genetically Engineered ingredients. The initiative simply requires that a notation be added either on the front or back package stating that the food is "Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering", or "May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering". For whole foods that are not packaged, such as sweet corn or fresh fish, store shelves would be required to post a sign or label stating the phrase "Genetically Engineered". In addition to this disclosure, Genetically Engineered foods would be prohibited from being advertised as ‘Natural’. This makes sense since Genetically Engineered food by definition of their creators is not natural.

    Packaged foods already have labels showing nutrition, allergy information and other facts consumers want to know. Contrary to the misrepresentation of corporate opponents, Prop 37 is easy to comply with and does not create new bureaucracies, force manufactures to change ingredients or ban the use of genetic engineering. Independent, unbiased studies show Prop 37 will not add cost to farmers, manufacturers or consumers. Don’t fall for Monsanto and Dow Chemical’s greedy misrepresentation of the facts about Prop 37 . . . read the proposed law yourself at http://carighttoknow.org/read_the_initiative.

    The most common Genetically Engineered crops are Corn, Soy, Canola, Sugar Beets, Cotton, Hawaiian Papaya, Alfalfa, and Squash (zucchini and yellow). However GMOs are also contained in common processed food ingredients such as: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins and Yeast Products.

    Proposition 37 will make it easier for consumers to know if the food they buy contains GMOs without having to make sense of a long list of unfamiliar ingredients.

    The founder of PROP 37, a Grandmother from Chico, is joined by thousands of Californian citizens fighting for honesty and transparency in our food labeling. Unlike the multinational corporate opponents of PROP 37, who fear loss of profits from the rejection of their never proven safe GMOs, we have nothing to financially gain or loose by the passage or defeat of PROP 37. We fight for the belief that we have the right to know what’s in the food we’re eating and feeding to our families and that we all deserve to make a fully informed choice.
    Learn More about Genetically Engineered Food (GMOs)

    Visit any of these sites to learn more about the medical, environmental, political and social issues associated with Genetically Engineered food . . .

    www.EarthOpenSource.org
    www.ResponsibleTechnology.org
    www.CenterForFoodSafety.org
    www.NonGMOProject.org
    www.GMO-Journal.com

    Gerhard Adam
    However GMOs are also contained in common processed food ingredients such as: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins and Yeast Products.
    What the hell are you talking about?  Are you that clueless?  Sorry, but you've gone off the cliff with that sentence.  So that makes you either a liar or an idiot.
    Mundus vult decipi