GMO Science Has Greens On The Run
    By Hank Campbell | January 8th 2013 03:00 AM | 8 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

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    The problem is not with science but with those who would use it for military and/or financial benefit with no caution or conscience about the lasting effects of abusing it. The exposed rods at Fukushima should give us a hint.

    Hank
    How was Fukushima an abuse?  Are you saying the Japanese government uses science with no caution or conscience? 

    Does government grow to be some autonomous, nebulous demon no longer made of people, but some uncaring collective where they are all consumed into the hive and use science for evil purposes?

    Your comment doesn't make a lot of sense. It explains who you might give money to anti-science environmental groups, but it doesn't make any sense.  Is there any science modern environmentalists accept in its early stages?  Not one.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Amazon gives the following description of the book 'The God Species' by Mark Lynas that you reference and promote here in this article :-
    We humans are the God species, both the creators and destroyers of life on this planet. As we enter a new geological era - the Anthropocene - our collective power now overwhelms and dominates the major forces of nature.

    But from the water cycle to the circulation of nitrogen and carbon through the entire Earth system, we are coming dangerously close to destroying the planetary life-support systems that sustain us. In this controversial new book, Royal Society Science Books Prize winner Mark Lynas shows us how we must use our new mastery over nature to save the planet from ourselves.

    Taking forward the work of a brilliant new group of Earth-system scientists who have mapped out our real 'planetary boundaries', Lynas draws up a radical manifesto calling for the increased use of environmentally-friendly technologies like genetic engineering and nuclear power as part of a global effort to use humanity's best tools to protect and nurture the biosphere.

    Ecological limits are real, but economic limits are not, Lynas contends. We can and must feed a richer population of nine billion people in decades to come, whilst also respecting the nine planetary boundaries
    Personally, I think the man and his book sound just as black and white and blinkered in his thinking as he probably always did before. We are no more a 'god species' than we are a parasite species, so he is giving the wrong message. Like many parasites we are capable of constructing elaborate frameworks and systems to bring about our host's destruction, while we ourselves are multiplying out of control.

    We already know that genetic engineering and nuclear power are potentially lethal but very useful tools at our disposal, that are only really dangerous if we mistakenly think we have a God like control over them. We also know that we are powerless to prevent earthquakes from occurring beneath nuclear reactors along with other unforeseen disasters and that we are also very capable of accidentally creating genetically modified (GM), potentially dangerous, super GM species that we can't then control, like the cane toads, rabbits, lantana and camphor laurels in Australia for example.

    The scientific evidence is staring us in the face, that we are therefore not God like at all, we are just very fallible human beings, who keep making environmental blunders again and again and that we are a dangerous parasite consuming the Earth. So surely we need to recognise this and start employing the precautionary principle wherever possible, to try at least to contain ourselves and prevent future disasters? This, combined with environmentally friendly education and population control could hopefully then keep us more symbiotically in check and give the planet and what remains of the other threatened species a chance to recover.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    I don't doubt that everything about GMOs is black and white in your mind, but insulting people by calling them as 2 factions anti-science and pro-science is really not helping. Just like generalizing that all the "right wing" denies global warming when it's mostly a few vocal American religious extremists. I am one of the most informed and pro-science persons, like many others no doubt, but the truth is, for the past 40 years, there hasn't been an independent long term toxicology study like Séralini's. His number of specimen rats was so low as to flaw any statistical result but that does not mean we don't need such studies.

    I also read all of Mark Lynas' transcript, and it is clear that the guy does not know much more about agriculture than he did before, he is now praising nuclear and GMOs just as stupidly as he was denouncing them before. There are so many things wrong in his talk that I won't even get started. Regardless, the debate about GMOs is not closed, as it is not limited to human toxicology. The most important concern to me for instance is how Monsanto's genes find their way into non-GM plants, thus reducing genetic diversity for traits usable in future crop selections. just one example among many. And saying that GMOs are safe because we've been eating them for decades is not scientific either. Or hasn't he read anything about the state of health in the U.S.? Again, not a single independent long term study applicable to human health anyway.

    GMOs are also so different in plants, effects and technologies like the gene gun, that it's not even possible to say "GMOs are safe" or "GMOs are unsafe", we should study each of these case separately, using a methodology that's approved by both pro- and anti-GMOs, and decide upon their results. The studies should also be much broader in scope, and study environment and other effects. For instance, what long-term effect do Bt GMOs have on "good" insects (the ones that are pest predators or play other useful roles like pollination) when the Bt toxin is produced 24/7 by every cell of the plant? Farmers already report a drop in yield for such crops, which has not been studied scientifically yet, but the first discussions hint at the possibility that these plants redirect too much of their resources into fabricating Bt proteins in the whole plant rather than focusing on filling up the corn kernels before harvest. Separate concerns for R/R or L/L GMOs: Since Roundup blocks the absorption of nutrients by the plants, is it even thinkable that R/R corn can be miraculously sprayed with Roundup without a single side-effect on nutrient? Of course not, it may be that one specific nutrient may need to be artificially supplemented or is missing altogether, or that much more fertilizer is needed in order to compensate for a slight loss of nutrient efficiency, etc. In the case of both insecticide and herbicide GMOs, we have also seen the growth of pesticide-tolerant, then pesticide-resistant pests (weeds and insects), and since last year, we now have pests that even thrive on pesticides, adapting so that they can transform these compounds for their own biological cycle. Most GMOs require different growing and treatment practices, what are the effect of those? These are real concerns, and we need to know if the short term benefits of GMOs are worth the medium or long term issues they may cause.

    There is also a huge gap between the biotech companies' "we need to feed the world" and the actual GMOs on the market, which mostly concentrate on making more money for these companies, for instance by binding farmers into contracts where they can't use their own harvested seeds to plant next year, or forcing them into purchasing proprietary brands of pesticides such as Roundup, even though the patent for glyphosate expired long ago and there's generic glyphosate on the market.

    No doubt genetic engineering can be applied to improve the yield potential of plants, but most yield improvements so far have been achieved through non-GM selection. Current GMOs do not really focus on these traits, they achieve increased yield mostly as a side effect of limiting pests.

    There's also GMOs that focus on making the plant better for human consumption, like most canola, or maybe building more Omegas and whatever the buzzword of the moment is, justified or not. There are also very dubious GMOs, like Golden Rice. Some famished African kids go blind because of a lack of vitamin A in their rice-only diet. So instead of helping people grow carrots or whatever will both help them improve their diet and fix the vitamin A deficiency, the Western mentality is to give them GM rice grown in California that contains vitamin A. First generation Golden Rice was a total failure, requiring each person to eat 10 kg of rice per day to get the daily amount of vitamin A, at least they got it right with Golden Rice 2, but what difference is there with taking vitamin A supplement, like pills or adding vitamin A to a special rice-cooking salt? Absolutely none, and if it fixes blindness, it does not solve the kids malnourishment problem that generates many other ailments, and it creates yet another dependency on Western aid and biotech companies that definitely don't have the health of African kids in mind, as cynical as it seems.

    Also, most toxicology studies about GMOs focus on one trait, like Bt or HT (Herbicide Tolerant) GMOs, when in reality, farmers use GMOs that combine several traits, like both Bt and HT. When I say "most", I actually don't remember reading ANY such study, or at least one described as such. There are even several kinds of Bt traits combined, not just one. For instance, a special form of Bt that will focus on root pests, another for stem and leaf pests. Again,

    In short, there are no global and long term scientific studies that allow anyone to make up their mind rationally about GMOs, and there also can't be a single generic opinion about GMOs, like the GRAS concept, each type needs to be studied and considered separately. The complexity and development of the GM seeds available to the American farmer today is probably like ten years ahead of any scientific study ever made.

    Thor Russell
    "There are so many things wrong in his talk that I won't even get started."
    Please specify, what are they all? That kind of statement can either mean that you have a lot of knowledge or that you are pulling a psychological trick by referring to something and hoping to make people subconsciously accept some of it without having to provide evidence, or a bit of both.

    Thor Russell
    All domesticated foods have been genetically modified over the past ten thousand years. Domesticated animals and crops are different from the wild type because we selected preferred genetic mutations slowly and painstakingly. Our modern methods are faster, more efficient, but otherwise no different than the genetic modifications that went before.

    I do wish our food companies would attend to improving flavor, vitamin content, and protein balance. Much too much effort goes toward shelf life. Hostess Twinkies stand at the pinnacle of food adulteration company science. A Twinky is so lacking in nutrition that it cannot support life and never spoils. I was appalled when the Canola oil industry removed the vitamins from Canola to increase shelf life and advertised it as high temperature oil. Could the food adulterators just once offer a nutritionally complete potato, rice, or cabbage? Please!

    Hank
    I absolutely agree but I recognize things take time. We can improve yield and do it with less harmful chemicals and then turn back to figuring out flavor. Cars are better now than 30 years ago and they will be better 30 years from now, in lots of ways but I am happy I don't have to wait for a great one for decades and spend a million bucks on it.

    I haven't found an organic product name that has consistently good flavor, for example, but I know certain farms that produce stuff I like.  A lot of flavor is subjective and a set of 5-7 criteria that can be on a label will better be able to tell a shopper whether they will like that product more than others.  And that sort of personalized optimization of food is coming sooner rather than later.
    Gerhard Adam
    Our modern methods are faster, more efficient, but otherwise no different than the genetic modifications that went before.
    Repeating nonsensical platitudes doesn't make them any more true.  Hybridization operates with the constraints the genome, by strengthening pre-existing traits, etc.  If a trait is created that would never have occurred through hybridization, then it is most certainly is "different".  I know it's been quoted that anti-science types prefer cosmic rays producing mutations over genetic engineering, but that is also, just a silly platitude and offers no information.  After all, cosmic rays also didn't produce our current hybrids. 

    While one can certainly argue that there is nothing wrong with genetic modification, or that such is a beneficial technology, it is simply wrong to presume that this technology is "no different" than what went before.  It's as different in breeding as driving an automobile is to riding a horse.  So, if the point is to discuss the technology, then that's something specific to discuss.  However to deny that it even exists is both disingenuous and decidedly anti-science.
    Mundus vult decipi