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    Food Fear, Food Labels, And My Two Cents
    By Kevin M. Folta | July 15th 2012 03:31 PM | 173 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Kevin M.

    I'm proud to be a public scientist at a land-grant university with great interests in public education. I completed a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology...

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    If you want to scare somebody, convince them that there is a remote chance of danger in their food, water or medicine. Even if there is no evidence to back up the claim, people respond strongly to such information, causing them to abandon safe foods for alternatives. Today this fear factor is being played to influence food policy and politics, as activists realize they can change consumption with distortions of truth and perpetuation of food phobias and food anxiety. Because it works like a charm.

    The Red Scare of 1976

    In the Summer of 1976 concerned customers flocked to grocery stores to return poisonous provisions. They heard of the dangers on television, from friends and from activists. The rumors swirled. Alleged tragedies unfolded. Mikey from the LIFE cereal box died from eating them. They also killed Spanky McFarland. They invented disco.

    Red M&Ms. Dirty, damned red M&Ms.

    It was the country’s bicentennial and the public psyche irrefutably connected red M&Ms to cancer. Moms picked them out of Halloween candy stashes and whole bags of candy were burned in effigy. At the same time Bubble yum was filled with spider eggs and Rod Stewart was getting his stomach pumped. Nightly. 

    Lousy science at the root 

    The hysteria over red M&Ms was spawned by some suggestive Soviet science that was accepted by Joe Six Pack as medical gospel. The foundational Russian 1971 report showed evidence that a red food dye, FD&C No.2, was linked to cancer. Follow up by the FDA could not demonstrate evidence of harm at physiologically relevant levels. 

    But a 70’s Amish Internet of barbers, beauticians and talking heads on all four television channels codified the association. The news linking red M&Ms to cancer ignited a culture into freak out mode. The Mars Candy Company bowed to public pressure, removing red M&Ms from the package. A country breathed a collective “Up Your Nose with a Rubber Hose” and all was okay with the world once the cancer candies were gone.

    Time would show that red M&Ms were simply candy and not cancer capsules. In fact, they didn’t even use FD&C No.2 as a food dye, but instead used FD&C No.40! The hysteria was not scientifically supported and the chemical causing the hysteria was not even used in the shunned product. The simple rumor sent us into a non-scientific tailspin. To this day FD&C No.2 is still used in Canada and Europe, where in 2010 it was declared harmless by the European Food and Safety Authority.

    Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Memory 

    This account of red M&Ms is presented as a reminder of how non-scientific rumors and misunderstanding of science can twist cultural perceptions of a perfectly safe food. To this day you can Google “red M&Ms” and find warnings about eating them, consuming them during pregnancy, or inserting them rectally. Talk about red dye No.2! Myth, non-scientific thinking, and society’s implied labeling of a safe product as dangerous still causes many to not play Russian (science) roulette with M&Ms. At least the red ones. The same credulous souls know the green ones are Poor Man’s Viagra. 

    G-M&M-Os.

    Slash cut to 2012 and we again see a non-scientific assault on harmless food. A handful of reports in low-impact journals are influencing the public consensus on the dangers of transgenic (a.k.a. Genetically Modified, or GMO) foods.

    Lacking proper controls, statistically meaningful numbers and/or physiologically relevant experiments, these reports are held as high evidence that 70% of the food supply is absolute poison, evidenced by the fact that 100% of people consuming it eventually die. 

    Like the red M&M, transgenic foods have a demonstrated record of safety and no plausible way to cause the alleged problems. Corporations, scientists and activists provide active surveillance, as any real evidence of harm would turn America’s food supply upside down overnight. The scientists identifying such an association would be forever lauded as saviors of the food supply.

    But there are no such data.

    Just Label It, With a Bull’s-eye

    With no evidence of harm, there is a groundswell of support for labeling foods containing transgenic products. Some of those initiating such efforts might tell you that it is about consumer understanding of food products. However, many among them will tell you that this is about food politics and trying to deal a blow to Big Ag- a handful of companies that supply the seeds and chemicals to produce mass agronomic crops like corn, sugar beets, canola and cotton. If they can label it, they can then scare the pants off of anyone that might choose to eat it using non-scientific information and bad science.

    To me, the label is not a problem if it provides honest information. The problem is that the label will be the basis to build fear, making safe food the new Red M&Ms. The label will become a tool for those with political or anti-corporate motivations to develop fear about food. 

    Conclusion 

    I know that this posting is more projection and opinion than scientific evidence. However, it is important to at least consider that this agenda may be at the core of labeling intentions. History shows us that people respond negatively and with great memory to threats from food. Based on a single (bad) report in 1940 people were convinced that ice cream caused polio, a fear that rippled across America. Many people won’t eat at Jack-in-the-Box (I guess I never would either, but not because of E.coli fear), buy Tollhouse Cookie Dough or even risk eating sprouts. They fear ALAR in apples, mercury in seafood and acrylamide in their freedom fries. Unfounded fear of food is real and hard to reverse.

    The labels on food will ultimately have to be factual and won’t contain the skull-n-crossbones and warnings that activists would like to see. But even a factual label may be used as a means to install fear of a sound technology, leading consumers to change their buying habits. We don’t tolerate it when a company makes unreal claims about their products. We don’t allow labels to stay something that is not true. Yet here we are contemplating a label that will be used to manipulate the consumer, not based on science, but based on fear.

    Comments

    You must be joking. No evidence? Look at a GMO crop under a microscope and compare it to any Heritage crop. Look at the lack of variety nutrition. Look at all these ridiculous supplement tablets.

    Sciences aside, looka t all these common scenarios.
    Look at all these diseases GMO consumers have that raw foodists growing their own gardens and eating heritage crops DON'T have! Look at our ridiculous medical system that doesn't even teach doctors about general Nutrition!

    Common scenarios aside even, look at the politics! Why does Monsanto get such a strong lobby placement in the US Government? Why are people finding it more difficult to grow their own food and stop importing food from around the globe in a chemically preserved or even unripened state.

    It's not a lack of evidence, its you're own silly blindness!

    For others, believe who you want. When you are ready to stop having cancers and diseases and ridiculous starvation diets for the sake of getting rid of a few pounds on your generally obese body, do some reasearch of your own on how to grow your own gardens and grow your own foods WITHOUT alterations.

    Hank
    No one got cancer before GMOs? You have revolutionized oncology.

    I guarantee that 'raw foodists' who consume bean sprouts and milk have gotten more illnesses in the last 6 months than GMOs have caused in their history - since GMOs are still sitting at zero, though, I suppose it is too easy.
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, in a few short paragraphs you've demonstrated that you have no scientific knowledge or information worth sharing.  It is clear that you have an agenda, and any support that you might have gained in seriously questioning GMO foods has been lost because you're a nut case.

    It's for that reason that people like you really, piss me off.  Legitimate query gets sidelined and ridiculed because ignorant fools like you come out and contaminate the discussion with their silliness.
    ...do some research of your own on how to grow your own gardens and grow your own foods WITHOUT alterations.
    You're don't even know what has been altered, and I strongly suspect you're lying if you claim that you use no fertilizer, pesticides, or anything.   BTW ... what "research" did you do?  Read a few books about organic foods? 

    It is certainly important to raise legitimate questions about the use of technology, but no one needs the "Mother Earth" speech, nor the "everyone is out to kill you" philosophy.  That's simply a waste of time.


    Mundus vult decipi
    KevinFolta
    Boe, 
    What exactly am I looking for under the microscope?  What cell type?  What crop?  What transgene?  I've seen tens of thousands of microscopic views of transgenic strawberries or Arabidopsis and never could tell the difference, unless the transgene specifically imparted an effect.  Please tell me more and I'll gladly check. 

    You have no data on GMO eaters vs raw foodists.  Even if you did, it is such an invalid comparison. You need to compare GMO eaters vs. non-GMO eaters that have otherwise parallel lifestyles.  If you examine general life expectancy before and after GMOs it actually has gotten longer.  My tongue is in my cheek.  That's not valid either.

    If you have a problem with the politics, that does not make the food bad or the scientific process of making it harmful.  This exposes your true agenda. 

    No blindness here.  Happy to consider your evidence.  So where is that microscopic difference?  I'd love to check that out first. 

    Foods without alterations.  You mean, the way it occurred naturally, with no human intervention?  Where do you find that?   Please read up a little on crop domestication, or send me a note. I'll be happy to direct you to the appropriate resources. 

    Last question.  If no "cancer and diseases", what kills people that eat non-GMO diets?  Do they live forever? 

    Thanks for your comments, I'm excited to read your replies.
    Don't tell me it can't be done. Tell me how you are going to help me do it.
    Well stated Kevin!

    Thanks Kevin, for being a voice of reason in our hysterically paranoid, chemophobic fear-motivated world. However, you can never win an argument with a paranoid person, as the mental condition is by definition incorrigible.

    On the other hand, try to inform greens that rock phosphate contains uranium and decay products, and has to be used in larger quantities that super phosphate. They don't care. The only alternative is sea bird poo and ground up fish.

    Marc Emory claims cannabis turned him libertarian. If a controlled study confirms this, only libertarians will smoke pot.

    It really doesn't matter what anyone's rational is for wanting GMOs labeled. Regardless of how scientific, unscientific, religious or asinine their motives, wanting is enough of a justification. The process in question is one of the "Democratic process," NOT a scientific one. The real beauty here is that the majority rules. If the people of California vote to have GMOs labeled, for whatever reasons, it shall be labeled.

    There are a lot of things on our governmental process I don't agree on - let's say War for profit as a simple example. Not that we have been given the choice to collectively vote on engaging in killing innocent people - but either way, I'm compelled to have to go with the way things are. All of these wonderful, well-meaning (sic), PRO-GMO advocates are going to clearly have to "go with the flow." You don't always get what you want ... but this time, the MAJORITY is going to get their way - regardless of the million$ Biotech is going to spend on their corporate propaganda.

    Given inflation ... you can do the math as to what your two cents is worth!

    KevinFolta
    Hi Anonymous, 
    But science is not a democracy.  What is true, and what is fable, is not up for a vote.  

    I'm not slippery sloping here as much as extending the analogy.  So if majority rules, we should teach creation in science class?  Stop pursuing alternative fuels and promote fossil fuel usage because 51% think climate change is a scam?  51% of Americans feel that there is a Bigfoot and UFOs, so that stuff should be taught in science class? 

    This is why I love the term Frankenfoods.  Angry mobs with pitchforks and torches destroyed something from the lab they didn't understand, that was not causing any harm.  Spot on. 

    As a scientist it makes me sad to think that my passion and life's work could be voted on by the public because they didn't like it.  As a left-leaning greenie it is sad to see people I agree with fooled by bad science and some with anti-scientific agendas. 

    Science is a process that gives us real answers.  The public should not get to change science-based policies because they are unpopular. 
    Don't tell me it can't be done. Tell me how you are going to help me do it.
    Gerhard Adam
    Kevin, I'm going to have to disagree with you here, because I don't believe you're talking about science any more.  Having the public vote on labels, or even the use of GMO foods is public policy and doesn't affect the science in the least.

    You might argue that the problems our society faces can only be solved by such science, but then again, it isn't science's problem to implement such solutions.

    However, another area that hasn't really been explored and its one that concerns me, is the issue of legal precedence.  This has nothing to do with science and everything to do with economics, politics, and the law.  Once a company has established a process of bringing products to market, even modifications that you may not feel quite as comfortable with can be difficult to stop or question, because there will be precedence that allows companies to require more rigorous opposition in the event problems are encountered.

    Overall, I understand and respect your position, but it is important to also understand that this is NOT a position that is shared by the corporations that will be managing this science.  They are bound by a completely different set of standards and objectives, so the scientists also need to be prepared to recognize that their work is going to be used for purposes that they may not agree with in the future, and it would be extremely naive to believe that the corporations are going to always abide by sound scientific principles when it comes to these issues.

    Is that fear-mongering?  I hope not, because it isn't my intent to make people unnecessarily afraid, nor to promote fear where there is no need.  However, I'm also fed up with the abuses of corporations and politicians on everything that they are supposed to be protecting society from.  After all, of GMO foods are intended to solve a particular social problem ... then I expect to be consulted before such a plan is rolled out.  Since corporations and governments have NEVER claimed to a desire to be society's saviors ... I have to look with suspicion when such a claim is suddenly used as justification for something they wish to pursue.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I think you are missing the real point: science has to be the driver in food labeling policy. Using open refforendums do drive policy that should only be made based on science is mob rule democracy. We have a representative system whereby concepts that the public does not understand (and should not be expected to understand) are debated and policy is made accordingly. This is bad democracy, much like the MO "puppy mill" law.

    The precedent being set by this type of law is astoundingly bad. If we have the right to know anything, why not vote on which hybrids need labels. Which growing methods are free from disclosure (and just WHAT are they hiding by doing so), what type of soil was it grown in, is if from seed propogation? Cloned? Grown from tissue culture? Was it irradiated (this is actually already unfairly being forced). Singling out biotech because the science-ignorant public is scared of is is just not fair or right. There have to be acceptable methods, varieties etc that are just accepted to be safe and typical.
    Further this initiative undermines science. The actual scientific regulatory agencies are supposed to be in charge of determining what is hazardous and what is not. Simply putting an implied warning label against their recommendations undermines their ability to be taken seriously, and puts words in the mouths of those doing animal feeding studies, those doing environmental impact studies, those doing epidemiology. A warning label is presumed to be speaking for these scientific endeavors and in this case it decidedly is not.

    And I don't think GMO foods need to be targetted at any social problem, other than fulfilling a market-driven need.

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but the "science-driven" argument is irrelevant (1), since that isn't the basis for either GMO's or the labeling laws. 
    ...other than fulfilling a market-driven need...
    It is interesting that you would use that phrase while arguing that the market doesn't have a right to know.

    You're also assuming that my decision to purchase or not purchase GMO foods is based on science and that I simply have to accept science saying it's OK.  In fact, that's completely wrong, because I reserve the right to purchase GMO foods based on economics.

    If I feel that I'm getting a less quality product then that is my choice to make.  If I feel that I'm paying too much for something [that is cheaper to produce] then that is my choice.  You do not get to use the government to hide such information simply because it is more convenient to the producers to keep the public in ignorance.

    My primary issue is that while the biotech companies get to charge for license fees and effectively begin to move into monopoly based products, I get no input nor information to determine which products I wish to purchase nor which production methods I prefer to support.  In fact, the only reason for GMO foods is to improve the profitability of the producers.  It is pretty clear that no cost savings will be passed on to consumers, so the market is being manipulated under the guise of "science".
    We have a representative system whereby concepts that the public does not understand (and should not be expected to understand) are debated and policy is made accordingly.
    What?!?  You bring up the MO. Puppy Mill Law as an example?  Based on what?  That's simply a case of lawmakers doing whatever they please because of budget.  So, the public should just accept this?  They should put up with it?

    No, we have a corrupt system that is based on lobbyists, special interests, and ensuring that the money always wins.  I encourage the public to vote against such efforts, and to hold politicians accountable no matter how much they may rationalize that something different should be done.  I'm done with apologists that keep looking out for everyone's interests except the citizens.  Information is not a privilege.  Information is not something that the government or anyone should be allowed to determine whether we, as citizens, are entitled to it.
    ...science has to be the driver in food labeling policy.
    You couldn't be more wrong.  Science is ONLY the driver of evidence and information.  Policy is and always should be the province of the electorate.  It is presumptuous in the extreme to argue that my only basis in making decisions must be "scientific".  I can also make decisions based on economics, politics, etc.  I can even make decisions simply because I feel like it.

    I expect to be kept informed, and labels are the means of doing so.  I've already stated elsewhere that I don't accept the notion of warning labels since that is little more than marketing.  As for all the other things you've cited ... by all means ... provide the info.  But don't argue that it's too complicated or too costly.  I don't accept such patronizing notions that presume I have an obligation to trust "science" simply because its science.
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    (1) The science can only answer two questions.  Can it be done [yes]? Is it safe [yes]?  Beyond that the science has nothing to say and certainly doesn't not represent a default public policy position.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I should have been more clear. Science must be the driver of health/nutrition/safety aspects of food labeling. And absolutely so. A hazard warning that is unjustified is simply unfair labeling and false advertising. That is what this is. It has been tested in court w/ rBST in milk. Implying harm unfairly will not stand up to judicial test.

    Conflating this GMO labeling push to, say, a country of origin label is not legitimate. This is specifically pointing out a type of ingredient and forcing lableing - as such it implies harm. Why else would it be pertinent that an ingredient is GMO? There is no reason outside of a philisophical one, and that would only require voluntary positive labeling rather than mandatory negative labeling (GMO free vs Contains GMO).

    I really would not be against fair accross the board freedom of information, but there simply is not space on the label for all categories on the same plane as whether an ingredient is GMO. Hybrid vs open pollinated, for example.

    Gerhard Adam
    If there's room for self-promotion and all manner of recipes and other nonsense, there's room for the relevant information.

    I have no interest or desire in seeing warning labels.

    However, let's do a little thought experiment here.  Just for the sake of argument, let's say that GMO foods "cured" erectile dysfunction [just like Viagra].  How much are willing to bet that we would suddenly have no problem in finding space to label foods as containing GMO components?

    Also, let's be clear that the food industry has never been above labeling foods for whatever fad they currently think will help sales.  Whether it be "sugar-free", or some such other nutritional rhetoric, and unfortunately, the "science" is somehow never a sufficient influence to ensure accuracy on the labels.


    Mundus vult decipi
    Do you not see the glaring error in your argument? You are comparing voluntary labeling to compulsary labeling. As long as the former is done fairly and without falsely advertising then it is permitted. Additionally you are still conflating non food safety related information with other information (i.e. the afformetioned product of origin, "all natural" etc.)

    I'm sorry but this is a very poor comparison. Companies are currently labeling their products GMO free. I have a bag of popcorn in my pantry with that label. Nobody is complaining. If all you want is label space for companies to make room for a voluntary disclaimer then your wish has already been granted. But I that is what the ballot initiative is about, nor is it what you are actually arguing for.

    Now allow me to ask , would including a GMO label within the ingredient list suffice? For instance in the ingredient list if you see "high fructose corn syrup" it would be followed by "(may be a product of GM corn)"

    If not then this is simply an attempt at defacto warning lableing and is in very essence usurping the scienctific process that is involved with food safety.

    Also allow me to propose a thought experiment. Currently there exist conventional varieties of seed for commodity crops that are treated with various anti fungal substances. These are being properly applied per EPA and USDA standards and are well within safe use concentrations. Should food labels reflect whether the crops are grown from treated seeds if a general ballot initiative was passed? Bear in mind that since it is an accepted nomral process that the grain grown from such seeds are not seperated from grain from non treated, nor is does there exist a reasonable method to isolate them from eachother.

    Learn to write properly before you make comments, this is incomprehensible rubbish!

    Thanks for constructively adding to the conversation...

    Gerhard Adam
    Now allow me to ask , would including a GMO label within the ingredient list suffice? For instance in the ingredient list if you see "high fructose corn syrup" it would be followed by "(may be a product of GM corn)"
    Forgive me for being presumptuous, but that's precisely what I assumed we were talking about regarding labeling.
    Bear in mind that since it is an accepted nomral process that the grain grown from such seeds are not seperated from grain from non treated, nor is does there exist a reasonable method to isolate them from each other.
    That's not particularly relevant since there is no way to have two different forms of the product.  Therefore to label or not, doesn't contribute any additional information from which a choice can be made. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Full ballot text:
    http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/initiatives/pdfs/i1044_11-0099_(genetically_engineered_food_v2).pdf?

    It requires a disclaimer on the front of the package for produce an don the front or back, but gives the required text. It is not allowing a simple inclusion in the ingredient list. It is clearly attempting to imply hazard. I contend it is a de facto warning label, and that is the underhanded intent of this initiative.

    ..front or back for processed products...

    Don't want to be accused of being incomprehensible.

    Gerhard Adam
    I am not now, nor have I ever supported the California labeling law.
    Mundus vult decipi
    And to your second point, unless intended for overseas market or for organic, there is no method to isolate gm corn or soy from conventional. They are harvested and sold as a commodity regardless of their genetics. They are intermingled at point of sale to the elevator, or before that at time of harvest. Part of what makes this bill unreasonable is this fact- there is no way to separate the two crop types. The activists know this and hope it will mean growers will be forced to stop growing GMO varieties. Another example of how this bill is underhanded.

    I don't see a difference between GMO/conventional and treated/untreated seed.

    Hank
    Which is why the legislation specifically exempts anything with an organic sticker. It's not about truth, it is about selling $800 stickers.
    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but that's a cop-out.  Every producer knows exactly where they purchase their goods from, so if it includes GMO crops and it is intermixed, then the labeling is obvious.

    If the supplier chooses to differentiate, then that is their problem.  It isn't a problem with the labeling.  Of course, we know that the reason why the suppliers don't want to label is, because they know that the public may avoid their product if they have such labels, so they want to come in under the radar.

    I don't have a fear about GMO safety, so for me the issue is purely one of information.  So, if a supplier puts GMO on the label, that simply provides me information. 

    I guess this may seem simplistic, but if you aren't prepared to market your products because they are better, then why should I concede to your keeping it secret just to help your sales?

    In the end, if the use of GMO crops is as prevalent as everyone suggests, then the consumers will quickly discover that their choices are severely constrained if they want to avoid them.  I don't see a problem with that.  I do see a problem in withholding that information.

    NOTE:  Again, just for completeness, I also support labeling "organic" foods, so this isn't just about GMO's.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Well, that is you. The origin of this was to penalize non-organically processed food, not truth in labeling. So arguing for any labels is insuring they get put on - but only for food without a sticker.  The initiative is what it is, people cannot vote on what it should be.  

    These arguments just muddy the water but it's why 90% of people say they 'support' it - it is framed as transparency, when it is no such thing.

    It does, however, add to California's anti-science reputation.
    Gerhard Adam
    Perhaps, but this article never even mentions California, so I don't think the entire argument should be based solely on what is happening there.

    I fully agree that the California law is intended to apply warning labels, and to exempt organic foods.  However, that does not automatically extend to every discussion about labels and frankly ... I never really viewed California as redeemable :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Well, my point wasn't that it would be tough to differentiate gmo/non gmo. It was related to the comparison to treated seeds. ssince you dismissed my comparison on the grounds of not being able to seperate the supply.

    I think the biotech guys do have a marketing battle they are loosing. Mainly because the public has been intentionally misinformed by activists. Now we have a category of perfectly safe food being villified unfairly.

    And I dont think including gmo as part of the ingredient list would ruffle too many people's feathers. Particularly when they learn that they've been eating them for the past 20 years in an awful lot of foods, and the body count is zero. Heck the upset stomach count is zero. I think a warning disclaimer is a different story.

    Gerhard Adam
    Now we have a category of perfectly safe food being villified unfairly.
    Sorry, if I'm not overly sympathetic.  These corporations have no problem spending billions of dollars in advertising to convince people to pressure their doctors to prescribe medications that they themselves can't get [yea, I know .. different industry].  I'm just not sympathetic.

    If anyone has a voice, it is these companies with a very strong capability to "educate" the public.  If they choose not to and that expense of their product then shame on them, but I don't see why I should give them a break because they can't be bothered.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Well now we're getting down to it. These corporations can spend money on whatever they deem proper and that is their prerogative. Putting this on them is simply displacing cost to the consumer. This doesn't sell more, so it doesn't pay for itself like advertising does.

    And the simple fairness argument remains. Why not implement this precise degree of labeling across the board? Because it's flat out unreasonable. We don't discriminate hybrid vs. open pollinated because the end result is substantially equivalent and the same can be said of GMO varieties (current ones). I know you're not arguing that point, but if we're singling out GMO and ignoring all the other categories then we at very least need a good reason.

    I also agree that Monsanto et al lost the PR war way early and that is unfortunate. That does not mean that the users of their product should be unfairly burdened with such requirements.

    Gerhard Adam
    These corporations can spend money on whatever they deem proper and that is their prerogative.
    I agree, but it seems that if the issue is public "education" regarding their product, then the onus is squarely on them.  More importantly, it should be clear that this has the potential for long-term downstream ramifications, so to ignore it now seems like they're shooting themselves in the foot.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    And I dont think including gmo as part of the ingredient list would ruffle too many people's feathers. Particularly when they learn that they've been eating them for the past 20 years in an awful lot of foods, and the body count is zero. Heck the upset stomach count is zero. 
    Mike, how do you know that the body count is zero or even that the upset stomach count is zero? As you pointed out Americans have been eating GMOs for the past 20 years and in 2006 this Washington Post article reported upon extensive scientific medical studies that showed that Americans were much sicker than the Brits and no one knows why.

    Recent scientific evidence and studies show that rats (and other animals) eating Bt GMO corn eat more and become fatter than rats eating non Bt GMO corn which might also be relevant here, as obesity is often correlated with ill health and Americans are known to suffer from high levels of obesity.
    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
    Hank
    You're asking him to disprove a negative now. Why not challenge him with 'how do you know aliens are not upsetting people's stomachs or making rats fat?'  He can't prove aliens are not doing anything of the kind.  What is well known - you can find it for yourself in 5 seconds if you cared about science - is that there is no link between any GM product to any sickness, much less death.  

    You also go on to use circumstantial evidence that couldn't convict someone of jaywalking to indict GM products. And blaming GM corn for obesity is as ridiculous as blaming a fork.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Did you even bother to read the 'Rats being fed genetically modified food eat more and grow fatter than those on a non-GM diet' article Hank? Do you think it could possibly be relevant to obese Americans dying early deaths and suffering increased medical problems and sickness? If not then would you agree to eat a portion of Bt GMO corn 3 times a day for for 90 days and see if you put on weight? I know that I certainly wouldn't, because I'm fat enough already :)
    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
    Hank
    I read an article by a journalist at ScienceNordic, sure.  What is a puzzle is how you insist 10,000 biologists are wrong but you latch onto any bit of specious hysteria which reaffirms your latest voodoo weirdness crank nonsense. 

    Your goofy belief is that my eating corn for 90 days and putting on or not putting on weight is dependent on it being GMO corn.  You can't see how that is stupid but wonder why people think you are clueless.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    What is a puzzle is how you insist 10,000 biologists are wrong but you latch onto any bit of specious hysteria which reaffirms your latest voodoo weirdness crank nonsense.  
    Well let me help you solve the puzzle. 10,000 biologists and all of the pro-GMO authors here, including you, have only managed to show me one study feeding Bt GMO cotton to sheep for 30 days in which there were no significant or adverse effects on the animals internal organs. They did however show me many Bt GMO studies that did have significant or adverse effects on their internal organs. 

    Hank, I am not against GMOs per se, as I have repeatedly said, I am even looking forward to eating my first blue strawberry and the blight resistant potato sounds great. It is only really the GMOs that have been modified to contain a target prey bacterial insecticide and/or toxins in every cell of their body, like the Bt GMOs for example, that I can't wash from the GMO food that I am nervous about. 

    If one of those 10,000 biologists could just show me just a couple more studies showing no significant effects on the animals internal organs after eating the Bt GMO insecticides and/or toxins for preferably at least 90 days, I will stop asking for this evidence and  even maybe follow Gerhard's advice and change my name to Kesi, though turning into a tall, dumb blond (I could dye my hair) might have a more beneficial effect.
    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
    Link to lit review of long term feeding studies is posted below in a seperate post.

    And jsut fyi, the blue strawberry was an internet hoax. Poor photoshopping at that. But it was widely regarded as horrible frankenfood by activists. It shows how easily the anti-GMO activists latch on to absolutely anything that might be on their side. You need to be very careful and skeptical.

    But it might be fun to start an internet rumor like that. For fun let's photoshop a zuccnini with leopard spots and see how long it takes to get on mercola or mother earth news.

    You also need to be very careful at what you are calling significant organ changes. All of the feeding studies showing any change that I am aware of have shown minor changes that are generally withing natural variance, or are suspect for bad experimental design, bad controls, and most importantly statistical significance. If you play your cards right, you can find a couple rats that won't be healthy and include them in a small test group. Then load your small control group with healthy specimines.

    Just to help you understand the actual reality of bt and how it's not an unprecedented, un-natural concept. Naturally occurring "insecticides" (bt is not really even an insecticide, less of an insecticide than soap for instance) exist in nearly all plants. They contain compounds that fight attack from insects in addition to microbes, large animals.

    And the blight resistant potato you refer to would likely have bacerial source "fungicide" in every cell. So if you're comfortable with one and not the other, then you may not understand what is actually going on here.

    micheal eisen does a good job explaining natural insecticides:

    http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=1082

    Gerhard Adam
    While I'm reluctant to get between Helen and yours little sparring match, I do have to question exactly how we would know if anyone got sick.  Certainly something as extreme as death would be more notable, but even a relatively minor upset would go unnoticed and largely unreported, because we don't actually know what people are eating.

    That's the problem in not knowing what various products contain.  Harmful or not, it also precludes any ability to collect data about its use or disuse.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thats why feeding studies are done. Simple as that. Not every possible category will ever be possibe to isolate and be traceable for epidemiology. Particularly true with commodity grains that are considered the same and are not kept seperate. Neither is hybrid kept from open pollinated. Niether is minimal pesticide vs. conventional pesticide use.

    So they do feeding studies.

    And for helen's sake, here is a literature review of the pertinent studies she thinks do not exist.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691511006399

    Note that negative studies are included, however unlike other lit reviews that seem to indicate a majority of negative results, the quality and actual results are taken into account.

    Gerhard Adam
    So they do feeding studies.
    I don 't have a problem with feeding studies, but those are singular sources of data that are isolated to one particular measurement.

    There's no question that every possible condition can't be tested and it would be unreasonable to try, but collecting data is becoming increasingly important and we aren't doing a very good job of it.

    It's silly when we have tons of data available, and no one is bothering to collect it for possible future research.   We often find research focusing on back-tracking to collect years worth of data from a variety of sources because someone may suspect a link with something that is ongoing in society.  This would be expected, given all the changes that constantly occur, so it seems like it would make sense to have as much data available as possible to differentiate and collect information about the changes we, as humans, introduce.

    I fully realize that my explanation is quite simplistic and would need a lot more specifics to spell out exactly what I'm proposing, but any time we exclude information, we are leaving ourselves open for "wishing" we had the data at a later point in time should it become desirable to examine it.

    I'm not concerned about GMO food safety, nor do I believe that there are any significant issues associated with it.  However, that is the state of affairs right now, today.  This issue of labeling is also going to set the precedent for the future, where some of the issues/concerns may not be as clear-cut.  Bt Corn may not be a particularly serious problem, but is anyone really going to guarantee that something more problematic isn't going to be introduced in the future?  If it is, it will be nearly impossible to undo the legal precedent of not requiring labels. 

    The fact is that some of the concerns are legitimate.  We really don't know what's going to happen downstream of much of this technology.  As I've said elsewhere, humans have always had very positive attitudes and much hubris with much of the technology, only to discover that there are completely unknown and unanticipated secondary effects or consequences to what we thought was a relatively straightforward implementation.

    I'm not suggesting that this will occur, nor am I suggesting that we be overly cautious.  What I am suggesting is that we should make more of an effort to take advantage of the technology we do have and begin to collect more comprehensive levels of data so that we are better prepared for correlating changes and effects that may occur.

    I know it's been mentioned before that companies shouldn't be forced to spend money on things that they don't choose to, but that's simply nonsense.  They exist because of our laws and protections and consequently they do what we, as a society, determine and expect them to do.  If that means their product is not economically feasible, then so be it.  We as a society are under no obligation to ensure a company is profitable.  That is their problem and the nature of how the market establishes what occurs and what doesn't. 

    While you may argue that the market conditions are too onerous for a product or a company to be productive, that is no basis for using the government to determine that they have no responsibility.  We've already been that route and companies have demonstrated that they have no problem in taking advantage of the taxpayer to improve their own profitability.  That's why things like SuperFund exist, is because we failed to properly regulate industry in an effort to keep them profitable, instead of assessing the true costs of production.


    Mundus vult decipi
    So are you arguing that a majority vote should and can impose an unfair and undue (in this case not scientifically perscribed) requirements "just because?"

    That is unfair business practice imposed by a majority rule. I don't think it would stand up to judicial or regulatory scrutiny. If we can do this, we can demand to know if our food is a hybrid or open pollinated "just because we want to." Or we can demand a company identify their cleaning regiment on a label front? It's simply unfair and potentially not legal to put unfair adavantage or disadvantage on a whim of an uninformed majority.

    Gerhard Adam
    Yep.  Guess what?  Life isn't fair, and I'm certainly under no obligation to worry about whether everything is fair to corporations.  It isn't fair when corporations can use their financial clout to buy discounts that smaller companies can't.  It isn't fair when corporations can afford to pay lobbyists to influence legislation that the public doesn't get to vote on.  It isn't fair when corporations get the benefit of tax-payer subsidies and even bail-outs because of dumb decisions they make.  Yet ... there it is.

    So ... you know what?   I don't care.  I want food labeled, and I don't personally care how much it costs them to do it.  As I said .. I'm not interested in warning labels. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    It isn't fair when corporations can use their financial clout to buy discounts that smaller companies can't.

    Really? It's called a volume discount, and a manufacturer can give one when they can reduce setup cost for a manufacturing run, because they don't stop and start a product line. This effect also applies to all of the suppliers that provide materials that go into the product, as it does to the suppliers suppliers, and so on.
    Nothing unfair about this.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Oh ... so what's it called when a corporation dictates what the price is that they will pay?  Extortion?
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    The price.
    Never is a long time.
    Well I hate to be dismissive, but if the argument is for unfair business practice by force of mob, then I'm done. If your point of view is that YOUR point of view is more important that fair business and facts then there is little left to say. But, if we're going to vote on which companies succeed and which will be unfairly handicapped, then there is a failure of democracy. Regardless, the judicial precedent in IDFA vs. Amestoy in VT will probably prevent any of this from coming to real fruition anyway.

    Gerhard Adam
    I find the concern about "unfair business practices" quite interesting.  Businesses have never been concerned about their unfair practices to their customers or employees.  Yet, somehow the richest most profitable companies in the world are suddenly under threat by people like me, simply because I want a label.

    Sorry, but I don't buy it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I find it quite interesting that anti-corporate sentiment ranks above what is right, good and legal. Corporations are not without fault, but that is not grounds for doing wrong just because we say so.

    Gerhard Adam
    When they worry as much about my well-being as I'm expected to worry about theirs, then you might have a point.  I'm looking out for my best interests.  There's no reason to fault me for doing exactly what they would do.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You say "they" as if all are one and all must be responsible for the sins of any particular one's past.

    Regardless of whose sins were committed in whose past, this current issue is wrong, and it is not made less wrong because those in question were wrong or right in the past.

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat

    And for helen's sake, here is a literature review of the pertinent studies she thinks do not exist.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691511006399 

    Mike, thank you for your link but in order to view it I have to pay $31.50, do you have any other links for general public viewing of the same data please? If not then why is this data not freely available to the public, who have these genuine concerns about the health effects of these unlabelled Bt GMOs that they are buying and eating daily? 

    BTW, I have never said that I thought these Bt GMO studies showing the effects of Bt GMOs upon animals organs do not exist, why did you say that? I have repeatedly said that I have seen several studies that do show significant or adverse effects upon the internal organs of pigs, mice, rats and even salmon and that I have only seen one study on sheep eating Bt cotton for 30 days that showed no adverse effects. 

    I would just like to see more than one Bt GMO study showing no significant or adverse effects upon animals organs eating Bt GMO foods for preferably at least 90 days. If you and the 10,000 biologists and many pro-GMO writers here can't give me freely available evidence of this, then you should stop crying about people questioning whether Bt GMO foods are safe. 

    Who is being anti-science here? The people like me asking to see the Bt GMO feeding studies scientific evidence of no damage to internal organs or the scientists who won't freely show us their scientific data to prove that this is the case?
    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
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I'm still waiting for those links Mike :) Surely you or the 'thousands of biologists' who say that Bt GMO's are safe, and the pro-GMO authors here, have at least ONE free, publicly available study, with reputable scientific evidence of a Bt GMO feeding study that has been done for at least 90 days showing no significant or adverse effects upon the animals internal organs? I haven't been given even ONE yet, only a 30 day study on sheep eating Bt GMO cotton and humans don't eat Bt cotton. I have been given instructions on where and how to search for this evidence myself but these searches have come up with nothing reassuring at all! Just  even more studies showing significant or adverse effects on the animals organs, I now have quite a collection.
    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
    Gerhard Adam
    While I'm not inclined to pursue this, in five minutes I found these three studies.  While they are behind a pay-wall, the abstract indicates what the conclusions were from the study.  Certainly you could investigate further, but since you're not engaged in research, this should satisfy your requirement that some studies have occurred and are documented.


    This study complements extensive agronomic, compositional and farm animal feedingstudies with MON 810 grain, confirming that it is as safe and nutritious as grain from existing commercial corn varieties
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691506000093

    Feeding of diets containing genetically-modified corn did not significantly influence health and performance of quails nor did it affect DNA-transfer and quality of meat and eggs of quails compared with the isogenic counterpart.
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17450390500353549

    No statistically significant differences were found in relative organ weights of rats
    within groups but there were some minimal histopathological changes in liver and kidney.
    http://www.somloquesembrem.org/img_editor/file/Kilic%26Akay08BtMaizeFeedingStudy.pdf
    Mundus vult decipi
    Very funny Gerhard, I have to go out now but I will reply later. Your first study is behind a pay wall, the second doesn't measure the quails organs and the third study shows significant histological effects on the livers and kidneys of the rats and if I remember rightly there were some other questionable factors about that study! BTW, I used to keep quails, they breed like vermin, eating just about any rubbish including cow excrement and they are definitely not mammals, so hardly relevant or reassuring.

    Hank
    Behind a paywall is even a copout. Every abstract in the world lists the corresponding author and every corresponding author will send a PDF of the paper. I've said it a hundred times and there are 0 times cranks actually bothered to do it. 
    I don't know what you mean and I've been here for couple of years and I can't remember you saying that before and I've read most of your comments. Please get me the pdf of the paper and email it to me then if its so easy or explain what I need to do better. I certainly can be bothered but I'm damned why I should pay for something that should be freely available.

    Gerhard Adam
    Hank's point is to e-mail the author and ask for a PDF copy of the paper.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    She knows, this is just another vanity comment of hers - she says I never say it but I said this exact thing to her two weeks ago. Surely someone who has read 'all of my comments' saw a reply to her saying what she says I never say.
    O didn't know that was a pay wall article, I thought you were joking telling me to write a blog when you've taken away my right to write blogs. I just thought it was your weird sense of humour.

    There's no author email address that I can see, only a Monsanto telephone number, do you really expect me to call Monsanto? Anyway, why isn't this information freely available?

    http://www.ask-force.org/web/Longterm/Chelsea-Assessment-Health-Longterm...

    You will see many of the "best" feeding studies do not show the results that the authors claim.

    Kevin, I'll reiterate - perhaps you'll hear me this time and respond within the context of my premise: Labeling is NOT a scientific issue! Let's say, all things being equal, that you shove your peer-reviewed studies down people's throats, disregarding peer-reviewed contrary science, to the point that people actually believe that GMOs are unequivocally safe. The people can still demand that they are labeled, for whatever reason they choose ... say, because GMOs are fundamentally different for example.

    Now of course you'll take exception to that, quoting "substantial equivalence" and "not 'materially' different," etc - but a common understanding of language and legal meaning, will inform you that those two definitions do NOT equal SAME.

    We have corn regulated as a pesticide rather than an agricultural product. GMO salmon would be regulated as a Veterinary drug rather than a fish. If these products are unique enough to "regulated" in the first place - and especially when they are regulated as something completely different that what they appear to be, and if these products are so novel that their success is dependant highly protective patents - then they are novel enough to be labeled.

    While I'll agree that some opponents of GMO who demand labeling do have a further agenda, labeling as such, is not intended to bring down your passionate life's work. I'm sure there were many atomic bomb researchers or are many bio-weapon researchers who are just as passionate about their life's work - but I reserve the right to disagree with the ethics of what they did and do. It's not personal Kevin. If labeling has a detrimental impact on GMOs, so be it. That's the way things work. The market always decides what's hot and what will disappear. Just as it recently has with Pink Slime.

    It's your career and your life, do what you like. I reserve the same privilege to do with mine what I choose ... even if that means fighting for the labeling of GMOs in my food.

    Kevin,

    You do realize that the exact same process that leads people to believe red M&M's cause cancer is the same one that people use to promote 'theories' that cannot be disproven? That you even call it 'Climate Change' is a sick joke. Do I believe in Climate Change? Why yes, I do. Only a fool claims the Climate doesn't change any more than we believe people never change and grow old. But you're using a generic term to try to prove a specific one.. that of Global Warming.. and more specifically that man is somehow causing it through his actions(thereby implying we can 'fix it' through different actions).

    Now, that.. and in my lifetime.. will be proven to be the greatest scam man has ever known. Its a hypothesis masquerading as a theory and a poor one at that. Make no mistake, there is one.. and exactly one body in this solar system that outstrips anything and everything for sheer power.. and thats the sun. Everything depends on it, and even minor fluctuations can have major consequences here on Earth. Don't believe in the power of the sun? Go outside and look at it. Watch it for half an hour and from 93 million miles away it can permanantly blind you. Whether or not your part of the Earth is pointed at it can cause the temperature to raise or lower by 50+ degrees Farenheight.

    It is so powerful that our entire day is structured around it with work typically taking place while it is light out, and play and sleep when its dark. Make no mistake, even with 6+ billion people on this planet, the cumulative power of said people can't even come close to having any sort of effect that the sun has on us every single day. If the overall climate is changing, its by and large due to the sun, not us. We could all mysteriously disappear into nothingness, and any modifications we've made to Earth will dissipate over time. If the sun mysteriously disappeared, the entire Earth would be destroyed overnight. Remember that the next time you think yourself so conceited that you think that the overall changes taking place on this planet we have really anything at all to do with. We live by the sun, and we will die by the sun.

    I'm not a scientist and it's hard to say... but how do we explain nearly every other kid you see nowadays has some kind of allergy - this was unheard of when I was a kid! ADHD, autism - all on the rise since all these experiments with our food. So many people affected from cancer, etc.
    Coincidence?
    It just seems to me that if it looks like a duck... well, you know the rest!
    I think when you start altering nature you're asking for trouble... didn't you see "Jurassic Park" ? lol

    Hank
    The duck in this case could be better diagnoses or it could be that things that were minor quirks when you were a kid are called full-blown allergies now - because more kids go to allergists.  And most allergists are going to find something and when concerned parents see anything on a number scale, they think that is a concern, just like people who misread a risk factor for a type of cancer as worrying about cancer.

    ADD is an excellent analogy - those fad diagnoses faded when the next big thing came along, so now all those kids are instead 'on the spectrum' - a spectrum being so large 80% of people are on it.

    What you don't see are poor countries where GMOs are far more common having these problems.  Like anorexia was for a time assumed to be biological, it turned out there was not a special gene for middle class white girls wanting to be thin.  Allergies and psychological diagnoses are a perk of being wealthy.
    Gerhard Adam
    Unfortunately you could make similar arguments about kids watching television, playing video games, increases in pollution, increases in population size, etc. etc. etc.

    There's no end to the things that have changed in our society many of which could also play a role.  Here's one example that may raise all kinds of hackles, but it's something that is often ignored;  how many women have taken hormone based birth control for years and then later had children?  This also didn't happen years ago.  One could easily make the argument that changing a woman's hormones before pregnancy might be much more consequential than the food.

    NOTE:  I'm NOT saying that's a cause, I'm only pointing out the dangers/risks of such correlations.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Personally, I couldn't really care less whether a genetically modified strawberry is blue, red or even glows in the dark, I just don't want to be eating strawberries that have been genetically modified to contain Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt) bacterial insecticide, cry toxins or snowdrop toxins such as leptin or any other toxin in every cell of the plant, specifically to target some prey insect, if the same Bt GMO foods can not be proven to be safe to humans and animals with freely available, public access to scientific data from long term preferably independent, scientific studies. 

    These scientific Bt GMO studies need to have thoroughly examined the animals for any internal organ damage or other adverse health effects from eating the Bt GMO food, then I will no longer be concerned. So far, after much searching, I have only seen studies showing either significant or adverse effects on animal's internal organs, except for one 30 day study on sheep eating Bt GMO cotton that you gave me, which doesn't reassure me much, as humans don't eat Bt GMO cotton and it was only a 30 day study.
    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
    So tell me Helen, will you eat organic strawberries?

    Oddly enough, insects attack organic plants just as much as they do conventional ones, so the organic farmers use an insecticide. Of course their principles prevent them from using organophosphorus compounds, so they use something else instead.

    That something is Bt toxin, that's right, the self same Bt toxin produced in GMO strawberries. Of course, because it's not produced within the plant, the organic farmer has to add it in larger amounts, but hell it's not a "chemical" when it's "organic" is it?

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    So tell me Helen, will you eat organic strawberries?...the organic farmers use an insecticide. Of course their principles prevent them from using organophosphorus compounds, so they use something else instead. That something is Bt toxin, that's right, the self same Bt toxin produced in GMO strawberries. 
    Ha ha, I couldn't care less if my blue, glow in the dark GMO strawberries have been sprayed with Bt toxin because of the simple fact that I CAN WASH IT OFF! What part of Bt GMOs containing Bt bacterial insecticide and Cry toxins in EVERY SINGLE CELL OF THE Bt GMO PLANT do you people not understand?
    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
    KevinFolta
    Helen, welcome back. 
    The problem goes back to several facts.  1.  Bt has been shown to have no effects in animals outside of targets (larvae of some insects) for over 50 years.   Even force feeding non-physiological, non-natural levels to bees doesn't have much effect.  2.  The mechanism of action cannot cause the same effects in animals, and it does not.  3.  Independent studies have demonstrated no harm. 

    Yes it makes it in every cell-- it is a small protein that when processed by a gut-specific insect enzyme binds a specific receptor in the gut of the insect and causes ion leakage across the membranes.  It is so wonderfully specific that I'm surprised people don't want this engineered into everything instead of having to use chemicals, fuel, and labor to achieve the same end-- only with much more environmental impact. 

    And so what if you can wash it off of organic produce.  If you are certain it is so dangerous to organisms and cells, then why doesn't it kill the organically grown plants? 

    It goes back to my article- they have scared you and you are making a decision based on fear rather than logic and science.   That's not good for you, and not good for our future.  If science decisions are made by committee rather than by facts and fear is allowed to rule, we will have no progress.  Thanks. 
    Don't tell me it can't be done. Tell me how you are going to help me do it.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
     1.  Bt has been shown to have no effects in animals outside of targets (larvae of some insects) for over 50 years.  
    Kevin, I am not talking about possible adverse effects from eating an old powder or liquid form of the Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) insecticide that has been sprayed on even organic crops since 1961 and can be washed off. I am talking about the possible adverse effects on animal organs from eating plants that have been genetically modified to contain B.t. in every cell of their bodies in a living cellular format, that is potentially a slightly different type of B.t. and also a different delivery method. Here is the National Pesticide Insecticide Centre (NPIC)  fact sheet about Bacillus thuringiensis, which clearly states that :- 
    Plant researchers place B.t. genes in some crops (B.t. crops) to combat insects (6). Examples of B.t. crops include corn, cotton, and potatoes (6).  This fact sheet does not address B.t. crops.
    You say that 'Even force feeding non-physiological, non-natural levels to bees doesn't have much effect.'  But these bee studies that you gave me a link to via your list of independently funded GMO studies were very selective and excluded many other B.t. GMO bee studies that possibly did find adverse health effects because they had to meet a series of very strict criteria in order to be included in the analysis. Specifically studies had to :-
     (i) involve Bt Cry proteins that are either lepidopteran-active (Cry1, Cry2, or Cry9 class) or coleopteran-active (Cry3 class) and that were either expressed in Bt plant tissues or produced by genetically modified B. thuringiensisEscherichia coli, or Pseudomonas fluorescens strains (i.e. we excluded studies testing formulations of whole or lysed B. thuringiensis bacterial cells or spores, which might contain a mixture of different toxins, surfactants, and inert carrier ingredients
    (ii) measure the effects of ingestion of the cry protein for honey bees of the species Apis mellifera; 
    (iii) have occurred in a laboratory setting
    (iv) report survival (or conversely mortality) as a response variable; 
    (v) include a comparison to a non-transgenic control (typically sugar water or, for tissue studies, pollen from a non-transgenic plant variety); 
    (vi) present treatment means, accompanied by standard deviations (s) and sample sizes (n) (or the author directly provided these values to us) necessary to calculate the metric of effect size, Hedges' d [16] (i.e., we required n1>0, n2>0, n1+n2>2, and s1(n1−1)+s2(n2−1)>0); and 
    (vii) have been written in English
    Available studies reported a range of response variables including survival, growth, development, and abundance. We focused only on survival (or mortality) data to maximize consistency among studies and reduce issues of non-independence when studies reported multiple metrics for the same sets of bees. Application of these criteria yielded data from a suite of 25 suitable publications or reports (Table 1). 
    '2.  The mechanism of action cannot cause the same effects in animals, and it does not.' 
    I have never suggested to you that I believe that the mechanism of action causes the same effects in animals by making holes in their gut membranes. However, it is obvious though, that if the animals eat this B.t. bacteria or Cry toxins in their food then they must process it in their guts, possibly absorb and filter it and then excrete it, unlike the insects! Therefore it makes sense to do long-term studies that just check that there are no adverse effects upon the animals internal organs that are responsible for processing, filtering and excreting these new GMO B.t. and Cry toxins, like the liver and kidneys for example. 

    '3.  Independent studies have demonstrated no harm.'  
    As you know I check through your list of independently funded GMO studies and only 5 of them investigated the effects of B.t. GMOs upon animals internal organs and only one of these studies on sheep eating B.t. cotton for only 30 days, showed no significant or adverse health effects on the animals organs, all of the other studies did show significant or adverse health effects. Only one of the studies on mice had been done for longer than 90 days, the two studies on pigs were for only 30 days and the one on rats was for 90 days.
    Yes it makes it in every cell-- it is a small protein that when processed by a gut-specific insect enzyme binds a specific receptor in the gut of the insect and causes ion leakage across the membranes...And so what if you can wash it off of organic produce.  If you are certain it is so dangerous to organisms and cells, then why doesn't it kill the organically grown plants? 
    I am not certain it is so dangerous to organisms and cells, where on earth do you think that I said that? 
    It goes back to my article- they have scared you and you are making a decision based on fear rather than logic and science.   That's not good for you, and not good for our future.  If science decisions are made by committee rather than by facts and fear is allowed to rule, we will have no progress.  Thanks. 
    I am not scared at all, I might be if I lived in America and had been eating these Bt GMO crops for over a decade, with no labels to even tell me which foods they were contained in though. I am not making any science decisions by committee but you do seem to be. If these B.t. GMO foods are safe for animal and human consumption, then you scientists and your committees should be able to easily provide me and the general public with plenty of evidence from long term scientific studies that you have done, on many different animals eating these B.t. GMO foods, to prove this. I noticed that you have given me another link in this comments section below, telling me to type in a couple of key words and asking me to find them myself, so I guess that is what I will have to do? Thanks, I will report back.
    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
    Helen
    Perhaps you are unaware of these two documents.

    "A decade of EU-Funded GMO Research 2001-2011" In which they say over 25 years of research involving over 130 projects and over 500 independent researchers found GM crops are not per se more risky than conventional breeding.

    and

    the UN-OECD Consensus doument on plants expressing Bt proteins where they staee there is no evedence of any har to mammals from consuming plants expressing Bt proteins (pg 34 I think)

    cheers

    Rob

    whether or not a "organic" farmer uses something on their crops, does not validate or invalidate the use of it through Genetic Engineering, in order to properly access whether or not a new technology should be used, longterm safety studies which are independent of influence by parties which have a interest in the technology, if after these types ff studies are conducted and adequately peer reviewed then we may consider the use of that technology justified.

    Organic farmers use Bt toxin. They spray it on their crops, instead of genetically engineering it.

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Yes, and there's nothing at all wrong with doing this because the organic foods can be washed and the Bt toxins can be removed, unlike the Bt GMO foods which contain the Bt toxins that kill the target insects, which have been genetically modified to be in every cell of the Bt GMO plant. 

    That means that Bt GMO potatoes and Bt GMO corn now contain large quantities of Bt bacteria and Cry toxins that can't be removed from our food and must be consumed and then excreted by us and our animals. This might not be a problem but I would like to see scientific evidence and data proving that this is not a problem and I don't mean studies of the old Bt insecticide spray, I mean long term studies of animals eating the Bt GMO food with Bt and Cry toxins in every Bt GMO plant cell, showing no adverse effects on their internal organs. Not a lot to ask is it?
    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
    The EPA approved Bt crops in 1995. This really is settled science. But, if you're that concerned about them, go find the original EPA reports. But you can't say, "Show me the studies," when you won't take the effort to go look them up.

    In case you haven't found them yet, Helen, the EPA Bt reports are here: http://www.epa.gov/oppbppd1/biopesticides/pips/bt_brad.htm 
    KevinFolta
    Helen,  again we need to get facts straight.  I only chime in here because I know you are receptive and I want you to please check everything I tell you. 
    1.  There are no GMO potatoes in production.   When they were in production in Romania they worked wonderfully against the Colorado Beetle.  When Romania joined the EU they had to quit using GM potato, went from an exporter to an importer, and now use millions of pounds of broad spectrum insecticide, labor and fuel instead. 

    2.  "GMO corn now contains large quantities of Bt bacteria an Cry toxins... must be excreted".  No.  The cry toxin is a small protein.  It is toxic only to the target larvae (maybe some other effects maybe seen in related insects, but not conclusive).  There are no Bt bacteria.  The cry proteins are broken down completely in the stomach like any other plant protein, some evidence shows small pieces of it in the first part of the small intestine, so they are digested long before excreted.

    3.  There is so much evidence that this is just fine, and to me, the understanding of mechanism really oversteps any need for feeding studies.  Still they were done and no effects.  

    Punch "Bt" and "feeding" into PubMed and you get 310 articles.  Many are tests on larvae to demonstrate efficacy, others tests on animals.  _http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=bt%20feeding  Check this out and let me know if you find something interesting. 

    Thanks,  Kevin
    Don't tell me it can't be done. Tell me how you are going to help me do it.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I want you to please check everything I tell you. 
    Yes, I will check everything else you have told me, thanks. 

    1.  There are no GMO potatoes in production.
    Why are there no GMO potatoes in production Kevin? 
    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
    Why are there no GMO potatoes in production Kevin?  
    I haven't changed my name to Kevin, Helen, but it's apparently because after experimenting with GMO potatoes that did indeed have resistance to beetles and some viruses, American companies concluded that they had no economic advantage over conventional potatoes.

    This is according to _http://www.gmo-compass.org , which to me does not seem to be a biased organization. Do readers agree, if they are more familiar with them than i am?
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I haven't changed my name to Kevin, Helen 
    Ha ha, very funny Enrico, I was replying to Kevin not calling you Kevin!
    it's apparently because after experimenting with GMO potatoes that did indeed have resistance to beetles and some viruses, American companies concluded that they had no economic advantage over conventional potatoes.This is according to _http://www.gmo-compass.org , which to me does not seem to be a biased organization. 
    Well I've searched all over that GMO Compass site and I can't find this information that you have quoted as to why the B.t. GMO potatoes are not in production, its not  under the potato section at
    http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/database/plants/44.potato.html could you give me a direct link to this B.t. GMO information please Enrico?
    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
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Thanks Kevin, I mean Enrico :) The article says :-
    The GM potatoes did not prevail, because they were not delivering any economic advantages, and some larger US companies refused to take the GM potatoes for further processing. 
    I wonder why the US companies refused to take the GM potatoes for further processing?
    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
    Enrico answered this question: "American companies concluded that they had no economic advantage over conventional potatoes."

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    'Refused' sounds a bit strong though, doesn't it? It implies that large American companies are acting collectively which makes them sound like a formidable economic force acting against these GMO potatoes, which sounds a bit unfair to me. 

    I am not in any way anti GMO foods overall, I believe that scientists like Kevin Folta are doing some wonderful work improving our food crops and I am looking forward to eating my first blue strawberry. I also don't like to think that corporations can collectively just stamp out genetically modified potato processing just because they want to for economical reasons. 

    Believe it or not, all I am asking to see is scientific evidence that the Bt GMO crops have been scientifically proven to not adversely or significantly affect the organs of animals eating Bt GMOs long term, not just ordinary GMOs that don't contain Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt) insecticide or cry toxins, like blue strawberries for example

    People keep supplying me with endless lists of studies primarily done on feeding Bt GMOs to chicken broilers, quails and piglets for 30 days, showing no adverse effects upon their overall performance as meat and egg producers but nothing so far showing me no long term adverse or significant effects on their internal organs but I'm still searching through these lists. Only another few hundred Bt GMO animal feeding studies to go, in between listening to suicidal and depressed people and arguing with Gerhard about obedience to authority, I think I need a holiday!
    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
    Ok, here's one. It just came out. It shows that mice fed a GM diet grew a little bigger than mice fed a non-GM diet. (Yes, they looked at organs, too.) Everything was within the normal range, and the mice looked and acted healthy.
    http://sciencenordic.com/growing-fatter-gm-diet

    Disregard the last section because it is not scientifically sound. The authors make a claim that the impact of gene transfer is unknown. But, that is very misleading. Gene transfer can hypothetically occur with normal food, too. All food has DNA in it, not just GMOs. Gene transfer from the food we eat is thus not a big concern. To me, the authors sound like they are anti-GMO and are disappointed that the experiment didn't verify their fears.

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Thank you Alex but I'm afraid that this 90 day study showing that rats fed Bt GMO corn get significantly fatter than rats fed the same amount of non GMO corn, is not very reassuring to me at all! Neither are these significant effects observed upon these animals in the study's ability to digest proteins, changes to their immune system, blood, digestive organs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, adrenal glands and reproductive organs :-
    Rats fattening up
    As part of the project, a group of rats were fed corn which had been genetically modified for pest resistance. Over a period of 90 days they became slightly fatter than the control group of rats fed non-GM corn. The same effect occurred where rats were fed fish which, in turn, had eaten GM corn.“If the same effect applies to humans, how would it impact on people eating this type of corn over a number of years, or even eating meat from animals feeding on this corn?”, he asks.“I don't wish to sound alarmist, but it is an interesting phenomenon and worth exploring further.”
    Different microstructure
    Examining the effects on salmon, the researchers found distinct differences between fish being fed GM food and those on a non-GM diet. “These were not major changes; all were within a normal range and the fish appeared healthy,” says Krogdahl. “But the ones who had fed on GM corn were slightly larger, they ate slightly more, their intestines had a different microstructure, they were less able to digest proteins, and there were some changes to their immune system. Blood samples also showed some change in the blood.”
    Wide range of organs
    These subtle changes were observed in a wide range of organs, including the digestive organs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, adrenal glands and reproductive organs.

    And scientists wonder why many people want labels to identify genetically modified foods? Do you realise that according to this Washington Post article, studies have been done showing that the Americans are sicker than the English and no one knows why?  I'm fat enough already, so I definitely will not be eating Bt GMO corn and I want labels to show me which corns have been genetically modified to contain Bt before I end up looking  like this fat rat.....


    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
    Helen,

    Here's a list of studies in which transgenic crops are fed to livestock and other food animals: http://www.fass.org/page.asp?pageID=52&printable=true&&ULnotkn=true&auto...

    This is my favorite, comparing the Cry protein degradation rate to that of Rubisco: http://jas.fass.org/content/84/1/135.full?sid=d5426aab-8068-4358-bd6a-cd...

    what the consumers reaction to the labels will be is not a appropriate factor for determining whether or not that label is neccesary; if the the subject of the label is one that has a potential to have a significant effect on the consumer then it must be labeled. Just because a few individuals will make false decisions based on erroneous information, does not mean that this will become common practice, ultimately if the benefits of this product are inherent they will become proliferated amongst those who value those benefits; either through the spread of good scientific information to those individuals or by verbal passage the benefits from those who have experienced it. It is not the job of institutions to make decisions for individuals on what to products to purchase(even if said institution was willing to bear responsibility for all negative results coming from their decisions), because the individual is the one that ultimately bears the results of these actions, and therefore is the one with the most vested interest in their own wellbeing. ultimately this is a question of whether or not a consumer has a right to make a choice on whether or not to purchase products containing GMO ingredients, it is not within the authority of the government or any other institution to determine how a consumer weighs on this matter, and it would be a fundamental violation of the rights of these individuals for any institution to do so.

    If the science was really as onesided as the author portrays there would not be such strong opposition towards the use of GMO's, but the fact of the matter is conscious consumers have seen numerous cases where corporate interests have manipulated the science to serve their own self-interests, and attacked legitimate science which contradicts their interests. I will ask the same thing I ask everytime I visit one of these pro GMO articles, show me the independent evidence demonstrating GMO's are safe.

    Tonio,

    Think of something that you believe is safe. Anything you like! Acorns; pens; teddy bears; wooden blocks; ice cream...

    Show me independent evidence that it is safe.

    "show me the independent evidence demonstrating GMO's are safe."

    Just because you haven't bothered to look for it doesn't mean the evidence isn't there.

    University of California-San Diego Fact Sheet on Bt Toxin
    http://www.bt.ucsd.edu/bt_safety.html

    EPA approved Bt in 1995
    http://www.epa.gov/oppbppd1/biopesticides/pips/regofbtcrops.htm

    Six PNAS papers published in 2001 show Bt is probably safe for butterflies, too
    http://www.pnas.org/content/98/22/12328.full

    KevinFolta
    Tonio, 
    I love the idea of organic production and low-impact farming, so don't misunderstand what I'm saying here. 

    Find me the independent, long-term studies that demonstrate growing plants in highly composted soils is safe. 

    GM/transgenics add one gene.  One gene is differentially expressed.

    Taking a plant (let's say tomato) that is not from N. America and sticking it into soil that has been artificially enriched with tens of thousands of chemicals made from bacterial and fungal decomposition of plant matter-- you'll have many differences in gene expression and production of secondary metabolites.   People say all the time that organics taste better-- so they accept that there are compounds produced there that are not in conventional food. So what ELSE are they producing?  Is it all safe?  Tomatoes are nightshades, remember. 

    Nobody has ever done the long-term studies. 

    Of course, this argument makes perfect sense, but I'd never stay up worrying about either GM or organics.  The food supply has never been safer.  Enjoy.
    Don't tell me it can't be done. Tell me how you are going to help me do it.
    That was a beautifully crafted argument. Seriously.

    I do believe there are valid criticisms of transgenics, but the safety factor re: human & animal consumption surely isn't one of them.

    Hank
    If the science was really as onesided as the author portrays there would not be such strong opposition towards the use of GMO's
    Of course there would be.  This statement denies there is an anti-vaccine movement and that there is an anti-curbing-pollution movement because the science is one-sided.  There certainly are both. People do not buy organic food because they have done the research, they buy it because they get comfort from a feel-good fallacy.  The anti-GM movement is beneficiary of a lot of corporations that raise money claiming to do 'awareness' about this, so they spend a lot.  And 'Frankenfood' is a delightful term - completely unscientific, since hybrids are actually Frankenfood and GMs are not anything that ever happened in Frankenstein - but the entire basis of it was unsubstantiated claims by one person invoking research that didn't exist.  Much like the people who protest on the Internet today.
    We read all ingredient labels to avoid petroleum-derived food coloring and preservatives. Our reason is that we have an immediate reaction to food coloring, everyone in our family, and our child also has a bad reaction to preservatives like TBHQ and synthetic "vanillin" flavorings...and it lasts 2-3 days. It's more common than I used to think. I meet more and more parents of kids who react to petroleum colors and preservatives every day. If dyes were used in the small amounts from 50-60 years ago, then they might be regarded as harmless, but the use of dyes, especially in products marketed to kids (vitamins, yogurts, juices, shampoo, blueberry waffles (red 40 and HFCS blobs, not real berries), candy, Nutri-Grain bars, toothpaste, bubble bath, tooth floss, lotions and topicals, flavored and dyed prescription antibiotics, cereals, soda, and temporary tattoos), has increased many times over since then. Petroleum dyes are non-nutritive and not necessary, but if we are given a choice that is from a natural source to achieve the visual appeal in our yogurts and "blueberry" waffles, then I will opt for that over a petroleum-derived dye. The EU requires a warning label on the front of foods containing any petroleum-derived colorants, based on the 2007 McCann study published in The Lancet. In the US, we're already required to have a label on the front of a package when artificial flavoring is added. It's not a huge label and it's not always easy to spot. Anyone interested in further reading and studies on each color, please see CSPI's "Rainbow Of Risks" at http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf ...and for studies dating back to the 70s on the affects of dyes and other additives on kids, please see http://www.feingold.org/Research/adhd.html.

    Hank
    You're certainly the epidemiological exception.  Those products have been in existence for decades and somehow your generation acquired an immune deficiency to them this generation.

    The rest of the public has limits, though.  Starbucks wanted to go from artificial coloring to natural but customers objected to the natural bugs that were used for hundreds of years.  However, their faux-food-concerned customers never considered that non-red strawberry drinks are more natural and, really, a frappuccino is not organic anyway.

    Food dyes cause ADD?  Wow, that study is old.  This decade everything causes autism.  I guess they need to do an update.
    The point is that petroleum-derived dyes are used in much higher quantities now than in previous generations.

    I agree that a strawberry drink doesn't *need* any coloring, and while cochineal colorant never bothered me, it causes religious, ethics, and allergic problems for others. I give credit to Starbucks for removing petroleum-derived colorants as of a couple of years ago.

    Set aside whether GMOs are safe, or whether irradiated food is safe or whether this or that additive is safe. For the moment, look at the title of the article: Food Labels. We in the US have this naive and quaint notion that Congress sits down with the top scientific minds of the age and hammers out the labeling requirements that make the most sense from a scientific point of view. The truth, like food itself, is messier than that. In reality, Congress calls upon subject matter experts who essentially define the requirements for the politicians. And when it comes to food, who are the experts?

    The food industry.

    I'm not saying those labels are outright lies. What I am saying is that the food labels are convenient for the food industry.

    I have followed the labeling movement in CA pretty closely, as I am one of those who are uncomfortable with the idea of GMO's. I think your article is a bit reductionist as the issue with GMO's is a bit more complex that a bunch of scaredy cats overreacting to some magazine article they read somewhere.

    The biggest problem with GMO's, to me, is their tendency to contaminate other crops indiscriminately. If a farmer has gone to the expense and increased effort to farm corn in an organic manner, and then when harvest time rolls around finds out that he cannot use that pricey label after all because testing has shown some level of contamination, how is that fair? And the contamination issue is not contained to just corn. If GM livestock escapes into the wild, it will be pretty hard to turn that truck around.

    Then there are the business practices of the big leader in GMOs, Monsanto. They like to sue small farmers whose crops have been contaminated for copyright infringement. Most of those small farmers have lost their land due to something that was beyond their control, something they never asked for.

    As for independent research into the safety of GMOs, please see http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/wanted_gm_seeds_for_study. The industry has fought long and hard to avoid any real scrutiny. And while you're reading stuff, you might get a kick out of this one, as well http://worldforum98.percepticon.com/technology/article_shapiro.html. Note the part where Monsanto's CEO says he sees no problem with labeling.

    A package label does not prevent anyone from buying an item, and if you are comfortable ingesting a non-food substance, please feel free to continue purchasing those items. I, for one, want to know what's in my food.

    And PS, Rebecca's family is not some statistical outlier. My child also reacts to several different food additives. Until you've actually watched your child go into a tailspin after ingesting something that should not even be in food perhaps you should keep your belittling comments to yourself.

    Hank
    If people don't want to be belittled for introducing anecdotes as evidence, they should stick to advocacy sites, right?  A whole lot of people are helped by homeopathy - that doesn't make it science.  And lots of people have allergies, that does not mean the product should be banned.

    I have no issue with ingredient labels but you confuse ingredients with genetic makeup.  If we required full disclosure of ingredients, as I have noted in the past, the first multi-billion-dollar market that goes bye-bye is organic food. That still wouldn't require a label for genetic modification, though, since it is impossible to know what genetic modifications have occurred in every plant sold, including organic ones. Genetic modification is not an ingredient.

    Nature genetically modifies food all of the time. This legislation is going to make lawyers rich and do nothing at all to placate people who want to believe their natural food is better - unless every turnip is required to undergo genetic screening.  

    MikeCrow
    Hank, how much is Big Turnip paying you to be a SHILL!!!!!

    Your children will live a life of Shame, Shame, Shame for your actions!
    Never is a long time.
    Hank
    Yeah, my business model stinks.  Truth about science pays zilch.   But anti-science activists throwing out propaganda are getting rich creating scare pieces about nothing.
    I didn't say anything about ingredient labels, I was talking about the GMO labeling campaign currently going on in CA, which I would imagine, if passed, would just be a badge of some sort, much like the "Certified Organic" label. It is perfectly possible to test for GMOs, sellers of organic corn seed do it all the time. In fact, 300,000 farmers and seed companies are currently suing Monsanto in the hopes they can protect themselves from copyright infringement lawsuits when their tests come up positive for GMO traits. The beauty of a label is that it allows the consumer to make up his or her own mind. If the market for GMO items isn't there, well, isn't that what capitalism is all about? And I disagree on what would happen to the organic market if full disclosure was required on labels. The problem with the organic label is that large processed food producers got involved in the discussion and pushed their own interests through the legislation, thereby watering down the label. What would go away is the organic *processed* food industry. Organic produce and meats would be just fine.

    As for nature genetically modifying anything, when was the last time nature interbred bacteria with a plant? As a scientist you know that there are very few organisms that can breed between species, and even then they must be very closely related genetically, as with donkeys and horses. And unlike man-made GMOs (which is what the labeling law is targeting, not natural mutations and hybridizations), natural F1-hybrids are generally either sterile or their offspring revert back the characteristics of the parent organism.

    And while I only have a degree in one of the soft sciences (oh, woe is me!), even I know that anecdotal evidence has its place. While it doesn't hold the same weight as a double-blind, controlled study, it is wonderful as a jumping-off point for discussion and hypothesizing. As for your attitude towards commenters on your site, being a snarky jerk is not the best way to educate the public. If you want visitors to your site to learn something from you perhaps you could try interacting with them with some level of respect.

    Hank
     It is perfectly possible to test for GMOs, sellers of organic corn seed do it all the time. 
    Then why would the organic food lobbyists behind the legislation specifically exempt organic food companies from this same labeling requirement? 

    I agree with most everything you write, except you seem not to have actually read the legislation.  If this were applied fairly and was not simply a warning label about GMOs, it would be fine - expensive for everyone but that is government for you.  The California legislation is instead a warning label for products far safer than organic food practices and is not advocating transparency in process, make-up or content.
    Jennifer, I too have been following the Ca. labeling law issue. (I am not a scientist. I'm a writer who got interested in this issue about a year ago.) In fact, I just posted a rather long post in my blog about it. I found the law contained much misinformation about the science.

    But I would like to address your concern over what you call "indiscriminate" contamination. (btw: I think that is a loaded term). I contacted the owner of a large farm that is a supporter of the law. They grow 70% organic and 30% conventional. 14,000 acres. I asked, if contamination is such a big concern, how does he prevent his organic crops from being cross-pollinated by his conventional crops? I also asked about pesticide drift. Through a spokesman, he declined to comment. That spoke volumes to me about the veracity of that claim.

    Bernie, I obviously can't speak to what your specific farmer is doing, but conventional does not equal GMO. If he supports the law, I would imagine he is not using GMO seed, but you know what they say about assuming things. Conventionally grown produce can be GMO seed, F1 hybrid seed, or open-pollinated seed. The term "conventional" is simply referring to the growing practices used (petroleum based fertilizers and pesticides used if necessary). Organically grown means produce grown with "safer" pesticides and naturally occurring fertilizers and amendments. Corn is a rather "promiscuous" plant and being wind pollinated will spread its pollen for miles. If your farmer is growing both conventional and organic corn right next to each other, the pollen (as long as it was not GMO) I don't think would cause an issue under the organic labeling law as long as he was not trying to save the organic field's seed for next year's organic crop. As for pesticide and fertilizer spray-over, if he's planting the two different fields right next to each other, then that's where his problem lies. When I said "indiscriminate" contamination, I was referring to what I just said about corn spreading its pollen far and wide. There is no way for a farmer growing GMO corn to prevent its pollen from spreading to all of the farms surrounding his and contaminating the crops of those not growing GMO corn.

    As to the legislation, is it perfect? No. Is any legislation perfect? I doubt it. Is it a step in the right direction? I think so. Hank, I have read the Prop and like most areas of our government it comes down to figuring out what's least bad and hoping that things will continue to improve over time. The part excluding certified organic items I would assume is because those items are already prohibited from containing GMOs under the National Organic Program (see "Excluded Methods" in section 205.2 and section 205.105 http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=6f623e1de545758...) and it would be unfair for them to have to basically doubly certify their products. As to GMOs being far safer than organically grown produce, as I said earlier, the GMO industry has worked hard to block research on their products. Considering the elevated rate of allergies and neurological disorders among children over the past few decades that scientists have yet to find a definite cause for, I'm going to play it safe and eat the way humans have for a lot longer than GMOs have been around.

    Jennifer, I don't claim to be an expert in this area, only someone who has researched and has written about it. That said, ( a phrase I hate) why did he refuse to comment? I find that suspicious, don't you? I am going to put on my pretend journalist hat right now and not talk about the science. He could easily explained it to me, but he didn't. This whole campaign is about transparency and the right-to-know. He has a website supporting the law and yet refuses to answer a few questions about why this is a big problem? Why did he refuse to talk about it? In fact, the main website for the campaign has a private domain name. You can't find out who owns it. The right-to-know site doesn't allow you the right- to- know who owns the domain name? Sounds fishy to me. I'm going to post a link to my post about it. I hate doing it because it reeks of self-promotion, but it seems to me that the whole reason behind it is to destroy GMO, plain and simple. Its biggest donors are snake oil salesman, crackpots and Big Organic. I have no love for Monsanto or the others, but at least they are upfront about it. I find the groups behind this law sneaky, weasly liars and they are using it to prop up their own bottom lines..
    http://theprogessivecontrarian.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/california-gmo-l...

    KevinFolta
    Bernie, you've hit the nail on the head.  This proposed labeling law comes from activists, not from scientists.  It is not pro-choice, it is anti-Big Ag.   Why do I say that?  As you mention, the sponsors are all pseudo-science based, and the content of the whole actual CA Labeling Act is NOT science based.  
    It is not based on evidence.  I suspect an anti-Monsanto activist and a lawyer sat down and the CA Labeling Act was the outcome. 

    I could support a smart change that provided information, but this is a mob-rule, power grab of science.  That's scary.  Let's hope the climate change deniers and anti-vaxers don't follow this dangerous anti-scientific precedent.
    Don't tell me it can't be done. Tell me how you are going to help me do it.
    The whole business of GMO labeling is an extremely emotional topic, on both sides of the argument. I’m not taking sides on this issue because it is likely to become moot. I don’t think the efforts to have the labels do what is intended will work out, regardless of which side you happen to be on.

    Here’s why I believe that: Almost all of the commercially grown food stuffs that we, in the US, consume are considered fungible goods. Implicit in that statement is the fact that all of the corn, or beans, or rice, or . . . is comingled at a gathering point to be shipped for further processing. At the processing plant there is further mingling with produce from different gathering points. One can never be sure of where a particular, individual, grain of corn came from.

    (I only mentioned the grains but the same holds true for beef, pork, chicken, fish, and every other food that I can think of.)

    If the proposed GMO label is to be truly used to allow consumers a choice in avoidance, then the segregation, and testing, requirements to prevent the comingling of the produce will very likely be so expensive that us commoners will not be able to afford eating at all.

    MikeCrow
    I agree Frank, I think requiring a label that is meaningful, will require separate supply chains for GMO/Non-GMO produce, and add a huge "tax" to foods. If meaning isn't required, you could always just label stuff "May contain GMO Produce", but it would provide no useful tracking of GMO usage, and products might not even contain any GMO foods.

    And personally I don't really want the cost of my food to go up to satisfy someone else's labeling requirements.
    Never is a long time.
    Well Mike, since you bought that gem perhaps you’d be interested in the necklace that matches it.

    Let’s assume that, regardless of the merits, the GMO labeling proposal passes and is ratified by whatever officials are required to do so. The next step is the determination of the enforceability of the law. This is a matter of determining that ‘yes we can enforce this law’, or saying ‘oops, no way we can enforce this’.

    If the decision is that the law is not enforceable, then we all have been embroiled in a tempest within a teapot. This round in the battle for labeling has been lost, but the war is ongoing.

    If the decision is that the law is indeed enforceable, then we have a whole new ball game. Here are some predictions and surmises concerning this decision:
    There will be years, perhaps decades or even generations, of litigation involved in the fight for and against the new law. When the dust finally settles, when the wounded have been tended and the dead buried; the results will be thus:
    One clear winner, one clear loser, and one murky tie.

    The tie belongs to the groups who were in favor of and the groups who were opposed to the new legislation. After the inevitable rounds of negotiations are completed, the legislation will be so watered down that neither side will be happy with the result.

    The clear winner will be the groups of lawyers who fought the valiant battle. They win no matter which side they were on.

    The clear loser will be us consumers, who will pay all of the bills through increased taxes and higher food costs.

    Meanwhile, it is business as usual for Monsanto, ConAgra, and the Missouri Corn Growers association.

    KevinFolta
    Frank, I think this is the most meaningful post yet.   I'm convinced that Prop 37 will pass and then the legal challenges will begin.  Since it comes with no scientific basis, it likely will not stand up to critical scrutiny. 
    If it does, or is allowed to be instated while challenged, I think enforcement and litigation will be a huge drain.  When you read the language about who can level a complaint, it opens up a huge can of worms. 

    I do think it will pass, it will be fun to watch it play out.  I'm glad once again that I don't live in California.  I may start smuggling cheap, unlabeled food into the state to sell at flea markets.
    Don't tell me it can't be done. Tell me how you are going to help me do it.
    MikeCrow
     I'm glad once again that I don't live in California.  I may start smuggling cheap, unlabeled food into the state to sell at flea markets.

    So, here's where California leads the rest of the country. As a food producer in let's say Iowa, who does 20-30% of their business in Ca, what do you do?
    Do you:
    Stop shipping to Ca, and take a 20-30% hit in sales.
    Run a separate process line with all of the supply chain hassles of a second line, plus having to track the GMO content from suppliers and pass that cost on to your Ca customers.
    Do you start tracking GMO content for all of your customers, passing the supply chain cost on to everyone.
    Or does your marketing dept tell you that a GMO label is going to cost you 20% of your business, and you decide to restrict your supplies to non-GMO and pass any increases in supply costs into your product.

    I haven't read the law, but it would sure be convenient to just mark the label as has GMO and be done with it, well unless you expect to take a 20% hit on sales......
    Never is a long time.
    "I may start smuggling cheap, unlabeled food into the state to sell at flea markets"

    I know that you say that in jest, but follow your own thoughts to the ultimate end. It's extremely likely that we, here in the great plains, will suffer higher prices because of this goofy battle. Once the litigation begins, the meter will continue to run.

    I believe I can see the day when our local WallyWorld no longer has huge bins of iceburg lettuce for sale. The wholesale purchasers, shippers, and the farmers in the Imperial Valley, will tack on a portion of their share in the costs of the labeling. Eventually, iceburg lettuce may join the group of 'exotic' foods that we only see in fashionable cooking magazines.

    >>I am only picking on iceburg lettuce, it may not be involved at all.<< Pssst. Hey buddy, wanna buy some black market lettuce? Cheap at 25 bucks a head.

    Like you said, it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. BTW, thanks for your level-headed science approach to this topic. It's refreshing.

    Gerhard Adam
    One thing you'll never hear though is that you are going to save money because GMO's make food production cheaper.  As a result, I have to wonder why we're bothering with any of this nonsense, if it isn't actually improving anything.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Good question. I suspect that the 'roundup ready' soy seeds have significantly reduced the costs of production inputs. The fact that I haven't gotten my check from the farmer is likely just an oversight. Perhaps it's just a clerical error which will be corrected as soon as the audit is complete.

    This portion of my comment isn't really on topic with this thread, but I remain hopeful that our science will advance the GMO concept to actually do some life-saving good. Like, say, producing salt tolerant rice, or drought tolerant rice, and in particular genetically producing rice that is not affected by the condition known as 'blast'.

    There are many other food crops that could stand a little human intervention, which may not have a clear cost benefit to us but could be a life saver for a large portion of our global population.

    Gerhard Adam
    I have no quarrel with doing our best to feed the larger portion of the global population that is having to contend with less food.  However, such solutions aren't dependent on a labeling law in California either.
    Mundus vult decipi
    We have had GMO labelling in Australia since 2001 and I haven't noticed any increase in food costs or additional taxes incurred because of this.

    Hank
    You mean GM foods are labeled unless they are under 1%.  You are still eating a whole lot of 'GM' food.  Since Australia, like the US, mostly has processed stuff that is GM, it won't have increased the cost and if the law were written fairly in the US it would be less of an issue.  But the legislation in the US is about activism and not truth in food.

    There is nothing that will not be labeled in the US if their rule holds up, except the things they go out of their way to exempt which is, not coincidentally, organic food.  Which we all know is GM but activists pretend is not.



    Gerhard Adam
    Helen ... if you go directly to the link you'll see the lead author [B.G. Hammond].  Right next to his name you'll see a little e-mail icon.  Click on it, and you'll send him an e-mail.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I've sent the following email to Bruce Hammond at Monsanto asking for a free copy of the paper called 'Results of a 90-day safety assurance study with rats fed grain from corn borer-protected corn' and ccd you, Hank and Kevin, hopefully with the right email addresses :-
    Dear Bruce,
      I am a university student in Australia currently studying for a Social Science degree and a member of the science outreach website and blogging community at www.science20.com owned and run by Hank Campbell (who I have cc'd on this email) and Ion Publications. On this website we often discuss the pros and cons of GMO foods and GMO technology and on a recent article called 'Food Fear, Food Labels and My 2 Cents' written by Kevin Folta who is the Pincipal Investigator in strawberry genomics and light regulated plant development at the University of Florida, I asked for scientific evidence showing that feeding the Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt) pesticide contained in Bt GMO foods is not having either a significant or adverse effect upon the internal organs of mammals eating Bt GMOs preferably for a period of at least 90 days. One of the links supplied to me was for your paper below but unfortunately it is behind a pay wall and would cost me $31.50 just to read and reference it. I was told by Hank Campbell and Gerhard Adam who is a moderator at the site, to ask you for a free copy, hence this email to you. FYI the comments section discussing and advising me to make this request to you is below.
    So let's see if Monsanto will supply me with a free copy of their paper, watch this space :)
    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
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat

    B.G.Hammond has kindly sent me a pdf copy of the paper and also a chapter out of a book that was recently published on the food safety assessment of Bt crops by Springer books entitled “Bacillus thuringiensis Biotechnology”, Estibaliz Sansinenea Royano, edit, published 2012.

     He said that there are several other publications of feeding studies with Bt crops, that they have written a review that includes these studies, if it is accepted for publication, he will let me know. He also told me to let him know if I have any further questions. I now have a lot of reading to do :)

    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
    Did you find the free link to the feeding study review I posted earlier?

    http://www.ask-force.org/web/Longterm/Chelsea-Assessment-Health-Longterm...

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    No I didn't, thanks for that, a lot more reading :)
    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
    Gerhard Adam
    Mike

    You keep talking about this issue as being "wrong".  I've said before that I'm not in favor of simple warning labels, so in that respect I agree with you. 

    As for your other comments of it not being "right" or "fair" or "legal" [which is irrelevant if the law changes], I don't see those as being germane to the question at hand.  In addition, you behave as if this law is going to put companies out of business.  It isn't.

    I know people have said that it's impossible to keep track of everything, and that it's too costly, and that it will impose an undue hardship. 

    I don't believe that anyone has any evidence that any of those statements are true.  Will it cost more?  Probably ... is it a hardship ... I don't buy it. 

    However when you analyze the main criticisms, the issue isn't that it will be expensive or anything of the sort.  After all, the obvious solution is to simply label your product as containing GMO components and be done with it.  Why worry about the details.

    Yet, when such a simple solution is proposed, then we find out what's really going on.  That is that companies want to sell products that contain GMO components, but they don't want to have to publicly admit it.  There's no costs associated with food products except in those cases where you want to ensure that you don't have the GMO label.

    Just imagine if every supplier simply put "contains GMO corn" on the label.  That would effectively negate any effects of the law and provide the desired information.  But we already know that there is a contingent that would take advantage of that to present their own products as being without GMO components.

    So, this entire charade is about being able to sell GMO foods without having to admit to it. 

    Tough ... they need to get over it and put on the bloody label.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Is there a whole charade about being able to sell horseradish grown from sets propogated in a lab at an SIUE extension? If I took a public pole I could probably get results from the public indicating that they want a label for that too. The producers and processers would be upset, and activists would insinuate that they are trying to pull a fast on on the public by selling tissue culture crops without having to disclose that fact.

    The whole issue is in fact scientific. In America we cannot put burdens on one competitor over another unless we have sound reasoning. It's not fair and it is not right or even legal. It is the very nature of free enterprise and economic freedom.

    As long as we are mandating GMO labeling particularly as a warning style lable, and not mandating the plethora of other pertinent and equivalent farming practices or crop varieties, then we are not following our own ideals.

    The bottom line is there are plenty of practices and plant variety details that are found to be be safe and no further end-use disclosure required. GMO variety is well within that criteria and processors are well within their rights to avoid such a disclosure. Imagine if you had to print "contains crops grown with roundup" or fill in the blank with a pesticide. You would assume that there is a reason that that specific pesiticide is on the label right?

    Gerhard Adam
    In America we cannot put burdens on one competitor over another unless we have sound reasoning. It's not fair and it is not right or even legal.
    In the first place, it's legal if it is a law, so that portion of your statement is irrelevant.  If you want to argue about moral rights, then get in line, because there's plenty of arguments that can be made all over that industry. 

    However, who are these competitors that you feel are going to gain an advantage?  As I've said elsewhere, if producers are afraid to label their products, then perhaps the public should also be afraid to purchase them.

    This isn't an undue hardship.  It's simply producers wanting to have the ability to sell a different product without being required to differentiate it.  Despite claims to the contrary, it is NOT the same thing as other forms of breeding.  If you can create a plant hybrid that is capable of producing the Bt toxin through normal hybridization techniques, then you'd have a valid point.  Otherwise you have no argument.  It isn't merely the act of modification, but the type of modification that is also being questioned. 

    As I've said elsewhere, I don't agree that labels should be "warning" labels, since that doesn't offer up any information.  However, I also think it's rubbish that this is some hardship that will cause industries to crumble. 

    As for your "burdens" on competitor argument, I have no idea where you ever arrived at that idea.  One of the simplest examples is the government subsidies of ConRail over other railroads.  Similarly with the government bailouts for the financial sector and the auto industry.  Each one was specific government intervention that was NOT provided to competitors, so your statement is clearly incorrect.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Laws are overturned all the time. They are found to be illegal even if signed into law.

    Also notable that you are now returning the argument to a scientific one, which in the past you denied quite adamantly that it was. I would be happy to continue on with scientific arguments, but we would need to not go back to arguing that this is simply a right to know / policy issue where science is irrelavant.

    I realize that there are inconsistencies in the way government does things. It doesn't make them proper by rule of law. The examples you mention are valid, but I would argue should not have occured and have created quite a slippery slope.

    Gerhard Adam
    They are found to be illegal even if signed into law.
    I don't mean to sound like I"m splitting hairs, but a law, by definition, cannot be illegal.  If there is some governing document [like the constitution], then a law can be found that is unconstitutional, but it can't be illegal.

    In my view the whole issue of labeling should require that ALL modifications be provided.  I don't particularly care, how a change occurred, if it is something that is different than what I would grow myself, then I deserve to know how it was modified.

    Now you could go all the way back to the "dawn" of agriculture and claim that humans have tinkered with it all along.  That's a frivolous argument because none of us were alive then, and quite frankly, we represent the evolutionary result of those that survived the experiment. 

    We also have plenty of situations where people were assured of safety and discovered that science or government or industry was wrong.  Let's be honest.  Love Canal didn't happen by itself. 

    It's little wonder that people distrust the general players, so I"m quite unsympathetic to the whole lot of them.
    Mundus vult decipi
    And again I would say that if we're being consistent and putting the information where it belongs as to not imply hazard then I don't have a problem. I do think we'd have an interesting time trying to isolate all the modified varieties since they may not be treated differently in the field. So we'd end up with a meaningless laundry list of disclaimeres "may contain gmo, may contain crops developed from mutagenics, may contain..." Really at that point it may as well not exist, but I'm not sure it will get any more exact than that.

    Anyway, I guess my point remains that this is why we test things and have authorities and experts making detrminations of what is safe and equivalent to conventional food crops. If they do their job then we don't really need to split all the hairs on what's what so we can put it in food. We just say it's all food and can all be treated the same. That is why the science part of this is important.

    Gerhard Adam
    I would agree, but the trouble is that the science part isn't normally the problem.  It's the business decisions that are the most apt to abuse the science.

    Consider that what we decide is going to set a legal precedent.  So, Bt corn is not a problem and is 100% safe.  That isn't to say that the next modification is, or that it's been tested as much as it should be.  We've seen plenty of scientifically tested drugs pulled from the market after we discover that they are far more dangerous than they are helpful.

    Similarly, by not having labels, we can never really know if there are problems, since anyone that were to show up in a hospital or under a doctor's care, wouldn't know what they had been eating since it isn't labeled.  Arguably, the medical profession would find it nearly impossible to establish any causes for a condition.  We also would not have information available for more long-term studies because we don't know how these are distributed throughout the population.  It just seems that we're pretty confident in establishing that we somehow don't need to know, despite overwhelming evidence that we are always chasing our tails later, trying to collect such data.

    So, let's do it up front.  There is no reason to not collect the data and ensure that we have good information about populations that are exposed to these products.  Perhaps we'll even find from these studies that they are healthier ... not a problem, but we can never know without the data.

    Mundus vult decipi
    The tracking is probably the most relevant argument out there. But considering somethign like 65-80%+ of processed foods contain a potential GMO ingredient,, I doubt that such a bit of information will ever be of great use. If it were a specialty product with specific uses and could be easily seperated from general stock I would see more value.

    And I do agree that the lumping of GMO's together is a mistake. Unless we're saying that the modification process is the culprit (as has been suggested by major opponents even in peer reviewed studies - discredited ones, but still..) then what value is a "may contain gmo?" Which one and how much will likely be impossible to drill down to. Considering we're talking about corn and soy (right now for the most part) the answer will be some of it is mixed variety conventional, some is one or more of the roundup ready varieties, some is one or more of the various bt varieties. Unless we're blaming the biotech iteslfa a GMO label will essentially be useless.

    Can you see how I'm coming to the conclusion that this is of more value to the activists and those emotionally opposed than of valid epidemiological value? I don't see what useful information will be had unless we go several more steps and demand that processors know what corn they are using to make oil or syrup or meal out of. They do not and really cannot know that at this point.

    Gerhard Adam
    They do not and really cannot know that at this point.
    I can appreciate that, but the point is that "someone" knows.  Perhaps we need to think about different ways in which we track information.  It doesn't have to be onerous, but clearly we cannot simply go about making changes to something as fundamental as our food supply and not have a better handle on where components are coming from.

    Imagine how this would be if the products were originating from another country?  Would we really accept the reasoning that we don't know which country we bought it from, or what standards, etc. are being employed?

    If we can identify individual components that go into dog food as having originated in China, and we know what component they specifically added that made some of them get sick, we can do far better than we're claiming right now.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Similarly, by not having labels, we can never really know if there are problems, since anyone that were to show up in a hospital or under a doctor's care, wouldn't know what they had been eating since it isn't labeled.  Arguably, the medical profession would find it nearly impossible to establish any causes for a condition.  We also would not have information available for more long-term studies because we don't know how these are distributed throughout the population.  It just seems that we're pretty confident in establishing that we somehow don't need to know, despite overwhelming evidence that we are always chasing our tails later, trying to collect such data.

    But, as I keep saying, "Contains GMO" is worthless for such endeavors.

    You even state the reason why it's worthless.
    So, Bt corn is not a problem and is 100% safe.  That isn't to say that the next modification is

    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Actually that's my mis-typing.  It should have read "So, assume Bt corn is not a problem and is 100% safe".

    That wasn't intended to be proof, but just an assumption to formulate the rest of the statement.

    However, all this has made me think of a different issue/question.

    Would we be against labels if the modification originated and were kept essentially "secret" by a foreign country?  Are we going to be this liberal in our assessment if the produce were to arrive from China using a genetic modification unknown to us?

    Are we going to simply put it under the generic GMO umbrella?
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    To be honest, I'm not sure, but I'll again point out even if they label it "Super Delicious Zero Calorie GMO Apples", it really tells us nothing, anymore than if they tell us which base they changed in which protein, nor does it provide an accounting for someone who occasionally eats them.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    No, but presumably it tells someone that needs to know something.  For example, I don't need to know the chemical makeup of a household cleaner, but presumably the poison control center does, so that if a kid swallows it, they know how to treat it.

    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    You think they're going to have signs of poisoning six months after eating a few apples that could be traced to the apples?

    Let's say there are 20 different types of GMO produce(and it will be more likely a few hundred) in hundreds of different products, out of the thousands you eat over 30 years. And one day you wake up with a hump on your back that would make quasimodo proud, do you really think they will be able to tell what caused it?
    Which of the millions of foods, chemicals, fields you're exposed to would you suspect? Even if a thousand different people all over the globe grew the same hump, it'd still be difficult to identify the cause, and most likely it'd be pure causality.
    Never is a long time.
    Hank
    You think they're going to have signs of poisoning six months after eating a few apples that could be traced to the apples?
    Hey, Rachel Carson heard that someone sprayed DDT and got cancer and died and milked a whole book out of that. Common denominator?  Apples.  Apples can kill anyone, it seems.
    Gerhard Adam
    Oh please, don't get absurd.  You know as well as I do that most issues with food are going to occur shortly after eating them [if they occur at all].  So for any short-term effects that would be something rather immediate.

    However, over a longer period, if there were a change in someone's diet, then they would certainly be aware of such a change corresponds to the occurrence of some condition.  Again, it's the beginning of establishing a causal link, should one exist.

    One thing is certain.  With no data, there is NOTHING that can be determined. 
    Which of the millions of foods, chemicals, fields you're exposed to would you suspect?
    Are you joking?  Do you really believe that we shouldn't track anything because we have no basis for suspecting anything?  The simple reality is that we've already been down this path several times with drug recalls, because people CAN apparently tell when they make such a change and conditions that occur many weeks or months later.  More importantly is what doctors can tell, but again ... no information ... no data.

    Are you seriously suggesting that if people did grow such a hump, everyone would just shrug their shoulders and say ... "Oh well ... I guess we'll just never know"? 

    Again, your longevity argument holds no water, because this is also something that is considered in the formation of tumors and cancers.  We know that there are many products and exposures that will take decades before they manifest.  How was this discovered?  Because someone drew such a connection and then constructed experiments to verify it.  However, you are simply denying such information, so that even the most tenuous link can't be established.

    If we can't even develop a tenuous link, then we have no basis for constructing experiments that might point out problems that exist.  As I've said before, I can't imagine any argument that renders the lack of data a scientific proposition.

    Are you suggesting that only the testing done to date should be considered and that we never have to examine or consider anything in the future?  Are you that confident that nothing can possibly go wrong?  For every individual?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Frank Parks
    I continue to be surprised at how often I can be convinced to change my mind about things (by the comments on Science 2.0).

    I had made up my mind not to take sides in the GMO labeling debate.  In light of the comments within this article I have decided that I am in favor of labeling all foods from all sources.  Let no group, country, individual, corporation, or company be exempt.

    Yeah, right.  Like that's gonna happen.
    Gerhard Adam
    Scientifically I think you have to clap your hands or click your heels together three times.  Not sure which law of physics that is, but I'm pretty sure it's part of quantum mechanics.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Labeling is cheap, meaningful labels not so much.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Define "meaningful".  I'm sure most people would be content with knowing whether something contains a GM product.  Nothing more extensive has ever been proposed, despite your claim that this labeling requirement will involve having to know which particular leaf something came from.

    I can't imagine adding "contains Bt corn" will be THAT expensive [or something similar].  More detailed information can always be made available on the company's website if that is desired.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Obfuscation by reasonable request. You'd make a good politician.

    How many strains of GMO corn are there, do they each get their own label? What's the allowable intermingling/percentage of GMO vs GMO vs Non-GMO strains before labeling is required? Since the gene expresses itself down to the cell level, what about corn dust? Does the farmer have to build separate silo's for each species of GMO corn (since the gene isn't inserted into the same place)? What about transport bins, GMO/Non-GMO bins?
    Production lines, do they need segregated equipment?

    It is all just data, data's cheap, right?
    Nope, nope, all of that is cheap and easy to do, easy as pie and cow bells.......

    Never is a long time.
    Frank Parks
    You've raised a good point here.  Clearly, science will need to define GMO, or GE, or whatever it will be called.  Policy makers will likely have a different definition, but the science term will need extensive qualifications.

    Besides the obvious topic of the potential dangers of a man-made genetically modified food, there is also the issue of 'how much' of it constitutes a danger and to whom.  If the genes from the modification survive the acid bath within the human stomach, will those modified genes be assimilated by the human genome?  If so, will those genes affect the expression of genes within the human system?  If so, will the affected human gene be transmitted through the reproduction system?  Perhaps more importantly, if they are reproduced will they be detrimental to future offspring?  A seriously long list of 'ifs' can result.  Many of these questions would seem to need answers.  Who will pay the freight (besides the consumer of course)?

    If the labeling of food stuffs is to be more than a marketing ploy, it will take some time for the science to become a settled subject.  Perhaps a very long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    I have a much simpler solution and one that is already in place.  The criteria simply needs to be the same as that for which a license fee is assessed and charged.  If they can track it to license it, they can track it to label it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    It's licensed at the field level, not at  the end of the supply chain. Maybe you don't understand the supply chain? That's from the field, through processing, shipping, incorporation into product, and then packaging all of which can happen many times over before it gets to the consumer, and each time tracking Percentages becomes more costly because ingredients get mixed with other ingredients and have to be kept separate from other ingredients.

    But I suspect that's the point, ban GMO crops by requiring tracking laws that are so erroneous everyone gives up and stops growing the stuff, it's a shame that well fed and monied consumers in the US cause poor people around the world to starve.

    But I suppose they'd rather starve than eat stuff we consider poison, so that probably all works out for the best anyways.

    Unintended consequences.............
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    ...well fed and monied consumers in the US cause poor people around the world to starve.
    I can't believe you're arguing that angle.  First of all, other countries are free to make their own decisions, and I refuse to be saddled by the political baggage of those that want to blame a California labeling law for people starving in Africa or some other place. 

    If you don't like the political decisions, then that's a different battle.

    As far as the supply chain, goes ... as I said ... the means of keeping track of it is possible and feasible.  I haven't heard a single producer complain on that basis.  So, unless you've got some information to demonstrate how onerous a requirement this is, I'm assuming that it's just speculation on your part.
    ...tracking Percentages becomes more costly because ingredients get mixed with other ingredients and have to be kept separate from other ingredients.
    Again .. that's a red herring.  No one needs to keep track of percentages.  Is it exist [check box] if not then don't.  It's not complicated.  Fedex has such a system if food producers are interested.

    Hell, if they were really clever they'd engineer the bar code right into the plant.  Solve everyone's problem.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    the means of keeping track of it is possible and feasible.
    I've never said otherwise. My complaint is that the ninnies in California are going to cause my food to cost more.
    So, unless you've got some information to demonstrate how onerous a requirement this is
    I've explained numerous times that there will be impacts in the supply chain. When I'm on site deploying Lifecycle Management tools to businesses all over the country, not only do I interface with the people doing the specification of materials, I spend time with the people who procure those materials. It's my job to understand supply chain issues.
    I haven't heard a single producer complain on that basis.
    Because in the end, they'll pass the cost on to the consumer.
    No one needs to keep track of percentages.  Is it exist [check box] if not then don't.  It's not complicated.
    Isn't meaningless labels at odds with your desire to collect meaningful data?

    Either the data is meaningful and costly, or it's meaningless and free. And if we drive it out of the market because of our neuroses, the hungry poor will suffer for it, whether you wish to accept that saddle or not.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Labeling is one thing, and data collection is quite another [but then, you knew that].  The point is that satisfying the public desire for labels isn't particularly onerous and can be readily accomplished. 

    Of course, collecting the data will be put off until we [as taxpayers] get to fund some scientific project to go and collect all that data for some testing or survey, or whatever.  It's what we always do.  Don't bother to collect it when we have the means, and then pay twice as much to do it after the fact.

    Sorry, but there's simply no excuse to not get this right.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Sorry, but there's simply no excuse to not get this right.
    At what cost, how many people is it okay to make go hungry when the cost of their food goes up?
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Oh please.  No one gives a damn whether people can afford to buy food at any other time.  Don't drag out that tired old excuse now.

    One thing I can guarantee.  If GMO foods aren't profitable, Monsanto wouldn't give a damn whether people starved or not.  Similarly, it has already been stated [on several occasions] that feeding the hungry is NOT the aim of GM foods.

    Equally I'm not interested in the politics of it, so the California law has nothing to do with other countries.  That's a completely different issue.  Just like blaming the U.S. ban on DDT for malaria in Africa.  You can blame politics, or you can blame local government [which is the same reason why they can't seem to feed their people].  They are certainly problems that need to be dealt with, but they aren't the responsibility of the voters in the U.S. that are looking out for their own interests in this.

    You would never advocate that the citizens of the U.S. adopt an internal policy to benefit another country's citizens.  Don't employ it now to rationalize your own position on GM foods.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    You don't think it matters when meaningless legislation causes the cost of food to go up for people living in the US?
    I'm not for legislating food prices, Carter found out how that works with gas in the 70's. I'm also not for stupid things that will increase the cost of food.

    If it was something useful, then at least they'd have a purpose.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    So, who gets to decide what's stupid?  The fact is that a significant number of people think it's important, so let the market work.

    Who are you to decide that something is going to drive up prices and therefore people shouldn't be allowed to vote on it?  There's always an excuse for gas prices going up.  Food prices have gone up for decades.  In fact, everything goes up.

    When people railed against the finance industry, then they were accused of being stupid and buying homes they couldn't afford, so they had no one to blame but themselves when the market collapsed.

    OK ... fine.  So what makes your evangelizing now so much better?  No one gives a damn what people pay or what they do at any other time, except now that there's an agenda being peddled everyone wants to begin moralizing about how they're doing this for other people.  It's crap!

    I want labels, because I want them.  I don't care what anyone else wants, and they can vote accordingly. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    The fact is that a significant number of people think it's important,
    And this keeps it from being stupid? You've seen the kinds of people who want this in the Prop 37 thread, you tell me with a straight face most of them are knowledgeable consumers.

    Who are you to decide that something is going to drive up prices and therefore people shouldn't be allowed to vote on it?

    If it was only going to cost them more, I wouldn't care what the idiots did, but it's not going to effect only them.

    There's always an excuse for gas prices going up.  Food prices have gone up for decades.  In fact, everything goes up.

    So, because prices go up, we want to enact legislation to make it go up even more? You're really grasping at straws Gerhard.

    then they were accused of being stupid and buying homes they couldn't afford

    And they were being stupid, and why I care is because the market collapse caused the value of my home to go down. I start to care when idiots do idiotic things that impact me.

    No one gives a damn what people pay or what they do at any other time
    And I wouldn't now, except I'll also have to pay for their idiocy. See there's a theme here, I don't care what others generally do, until it starts to affect me, and then I at least consider if it will make a positive effect. And when I think it'll be a negative, with no benefits, that makes it stupid, Like hitting your thumb with a hammer because someone tells you not to.
    I want labels, because I want them.
    The perfect response from a child, going to hold your breath now too? :)

    Look, at this point, you're beyond being reasoned with on this, you can reply, but you'll just be trying to rationalize wanting labels. Being a data migration specialist, if they provided useful data at a minimal cost, I might say it'll be a wash, but it won't.
    Now I have no issue with a basic label saying "This product contains GMO foods", and if it stays at that, I don't care. But the data from that is worthless, pretending it's not, is stupid ;).
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    You're just getting silly.
    Mundus vult decipi
    It is not like drugs. Drugs are not just in the mix of food. Drugs stand out and can be isolated and have further testing done. People don't notify a doctor and pharmacist when they buy produce. They don't write it down. There will never be specific variety information, so just saying "he ate GMO then got cancer" is absolutely worthless. Was it roundup ready? Bt? Which bt? It will never get to that point without significant change and significant cost. Have you ever been to a corn silo? Farmers sell corn, they may grow multiple varieties that they do not isolate from eachother. They sell it and it goes into the mix. That is sold as a commodity to companies like ADM that buy it from mutliple silos and mill it and process it into the ingredients we eat. So when you drink a coke with HFCS in it and want to know how much of it is from GMO source corn it might not be knowable by anybody.

    I'd be all for this if somebody could identify the suspect chemical, species, or mechanism of suspiscion. If we find somehting of concern in a GMO variety then put if on the monitor list. Otherwise it's lay-person assumption that there is a reason to single out anything related to genetic modification, and not very sound as science actually goes.

    Gerhard Adam
    Not true.  This is precisely how we track things like botulism and salmonella.  How do you think it gets traced to a particular farm and a particular crop of spinach?

    These are things that are routinely done.  This is precisely why an E Coli outbreak can be tracked to a particular restaurant and to a particular beef supplier.

    This notion that nothing is knowable simply isn't true and doesn't hold up.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    I never said it wasn't knowable, I said the cost of specific supply chains to allow tracking of species of commodity grains will increase the cost of my food, and that your phobia of GMO foods impacts more than yourself.

    While collecting data so you can track your spinach back to a farm isn't horrendously expensive, figuring out which plant your leaf came from is.

    Again, I think you understand what you're asking for is unreasonable for a commodity product, and will increase the cost of food to everyone, I am surprised your dislike for corporation extends to making the rest of us pay for it though. Course, you probably feel like you're doing us idiots/sheep a favor.

    To your earlier post about how symptoms can be traced back to something you ate, that's gone swimmingly with the autism vaccine link hasn't it.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    ...that's gone swimmingly with the autism vaccine link hasn't it.
    Actually it's gone quite well, when you consider that we know many things that CAN'T cause autism because we have the data.
    While collecting data so you can track your spinach back to a farm isn't horrendously expensive, figuring out which plant your leaf came from is.
    Again, you're using an absurd argument, because GM foods aren't "leaf" specific, so you're arguing that the integration of GM and non-GM foods is so unknown, that it produces an unnecessary hardship.  However, we already know that segregation of crops is a condition of having them, and since the seeds have to be licensed, then integration of such crops isn't going to occur.  This is especially true when a farmer may have markets where the GM foods aren't permitted, then they will definitely know which field produces which crops and the markets they are destined for.  More importantly, you can bet that the farmer will have meticulous records about it, because any error will result in potential licensing fees and penalties occurring.

    Therefore, your assertion that somehow I have to know which "leaf" something came from is simply silly.
    Again, I think you understand what you're asking for is unreasonable for a commodity product, and will increase the cost of food to everyone,
    Even though I've never indicated that you or anyone else were idiots/sheep, instead I've argued for people's "right to know" and make their own choices.  However, it seems that your argument is purely economic, without any basis for making such an assertion.

    In fact, it seems that the claims of how much revenue GM foods save, isn't true, which makes me then question what other "benefits" have been exaggerated or not true.  The fact, is that if GM foods are as economically feasible as claimed, then the increased cost of labeling should be more than enough to cover the expense, keep food prices stable and still provide a profit for the producers.

    It seems that you're the one that keeps advancing some specious argument about the hardship and how such information isn't available.  The truth is that if the information is available, then it can be produced on a label.  Nothing difficult or onerous about it.  I agree with Hank, that this should extend to all producers of food, but I find your economic position less than persuasive.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Oh please, don't get absurd.

    I'm getting absurd?
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Yes, when you're talking about poisonings six months hence, you're being absurd.
    Mundus vult decipi
    We would treat the foreing GMO the same way we treat all of them now. Safety assesments for the individual varieties. Once they met the criteria, we would not require additional labeling. It wouldn't be a deep dark secret, but if there were a chance corn from China had an untested unapproved variety of GMO we would not accept any unless it were kept seperate.

    Gerhard Adam
    What do you mean untested, unapproved variety?  Are you willing to hold them to a standard that you're claiming U.S. companies can't meet?

    In essence, you're requiring them to maintain everything separately so that that portion of it which is untested or unapproved is separate and distinct from everything else.  Yet, this is precisely what you're saying can't be done with existing products.
    Mundus vult decipi
    We require GMO safety testing. They are tested, please do not believe the activists when they aregue that they have not.

    We hold ourselves to the same standard with exports. There are GMO varieties we grow that not every country has tested. So rather than try to keep those varieties out, we have certain corn and soy that has no GMO for sales overseas. We would do the same if China developed a variety that we had not tested.

    Gerhard Adam
    We would do the same if China developed a variety that we had not tested.
    Who is this "we"?  Are you telling me that an American company producing goods in China is going to subject itself to screening such materials?  Are you suggesting that the government is supposed to scrutinize the production methods of the products that companies import? 

    What s the legal basis for keeping something out that hasn't been tested?  Are you suggesting that we have laws on the books governing the standards for GMO foods originating in other countries?  How would you control it?  We couldn't even control the standards for dog food and children's toys.  You expect me to believe that we can control it for something as subtle as GMO foods?  As I said, you're telling me that we can keep track of such goods that originate from China, while you're simultaneously telling me it can't be done for goods produced here.

    Mundus vult decipi
    We is the US.

    I'm saying we have regulation via FDA rulemaking that govern acceptance of GMO food crops. They apply to domestic and foreign grown crops. We don't have laws about how they grow them, but we have standards as far as what they sell us. The idea that this is unregulated is a internet based activist perpetuated myth. There may be no laws on the books, but that's a good thing for food safety regulation. We may need to make new rules without the influence of politics. The laws give the FDA the ability to make the rules that are legally binding.

    We would not expect them to keep the one or two varieties seperate. If they were growing varieties unacceptable to the US, we would require all of the crop from them to be free of it. The probably would not be able to do that very easily, so they would default to sending "GMO free" grain to us so they could comply with our regulations. This is the same thing we do with countries that haven't accepted some of our GMO varieties. This would be no different than how we deal with any imports.

    And I do not trust China any more than you do. It would not be any different than the other contamination problems you have cited. We either cut them off if they won't comply or we take the same kind of measures we have on the melamine issues.

    Gerhard Adam
    ... we take the same kind of measures we have on the melamine issues.
    Except that you're arguing that that kind of information isn't going to be available.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, do you see the problem?  Unless you initiate an outright ban, then there's no mechanism of ensuring that tested, approved modifications enter the country.  Just like the melamine issue, we saw how well that worked from a preventative perspective.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "I know that this posting is more projection and opinion than scientific evidence."

    There, you said it. You don't actually know what you're talking about. So all these people freaking out in the comments would have done well to just read that one sentence and moved on. What a waste of time, writing this post, if you weren't willing to actually investigate.

    Hi,

    I have read some of the posts on here and first want to say I realize that certain topics can bring out people's emotions. That being said I am not interested in accusing any one of being stupid or blind. I simply don't believe in it. I am interested in creating a fact filled discussion without emotions involved. I value everyone's opinion because it is their right to it and if you do not see the same way I do then that is just perspective.

    Part of the GMO issue is political for multiple reasons.

    Monsanto has a lot of money and buys its support with that money.

    Currently, every American buy's 11 Twinkies a year, out of our taxes. Our tax money that is saved for agriculture goes mostly to junk food. That is why junk food stays so cheap and healthy food goes up.

    Monsanto has 11, if I remember correctly, superfund sites that have poisoned our water, land, and air.

    The list goes on and on. That being said it can be hard to separate the two campaigns and its reasoning.

    I have done a lot of research on the topic and have found evidence that GMO food is toxic. Now I am talking about the pesticide GMO products to be specific. Here are some examples. You can take the examples into consideration or leave them, it doesn't bother me one bit.

    Italy banned Goucho, which is a pesticide, and CCD has virtually disappeared. CCD is Colony Collapse Disorder in bee colonies. Bees are just disappearing. And bee farmers have found that when using a GMO bee queen CCD is more common. Bee farmers then have to spend thousands of dollars to recoup their losses. Tests have also shown that other insect species are dying due to large pesticides in and on food.

    Also, here is a video of a doctor who cured herself of MS by eating organic fresh food. She no longer has any signs of MS. The video is on Ted TV. http://youtu.be/KLjgBLwH3Wc She is currently testing her patients on this diet with great success.

    If you are interested in further information please check out my blog. The link is below to the research article I wrote.

    http://www.lovetruthhonor.org/1/post/2012/05/food-wars.html

    In my article you will also read what Countries have banned GMO food or have labeled it. What I found most interesting was that Monsanto has its food labeled in its own lunch room.

    We as Americans have a right to know what we are eating. If people want to be able to choose between GMO or NON GMO we ought to have that choice. For our freedom!

    Thank you for reading my two cents of information.

    Much Love,

    Denae