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    How Bt Corn And Roundup Ready Soy Work - And Why They Should Not Scare You
    By Michael Eisen | June 21st 2012 05:00 AM | 26 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Michael

    Prof. Michael Eisen is an evolutionary biologist at U.C. Berkeley and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His research focuses...

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    Last week I wrote about the anti-science campaign being waged by opponents of the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture. In that post, I promised to address a series of questions/fears about GMOs that seem to underly peoples’ objections to the technology. I’m not going to try to make this a comprehensive reference site about GMOs and the literature on their use and safety. I’m compiling some general resources here, and a list of all FAQs here.

    Question 1: Isn’t transferring genes from one species to another unnatural and intrinsically dangerous?

    Question 2) Maybe GMOs aren’t automatically bad, but isn’t it obvious that it’s dangerous to consume crops that produce their own pesticides and can tolerate high doses of herbicides?

    Approximately 90% of soybeans, maize, cotton and sugar beets grown in the US are have been genetically modified to produce a protein that kills common insect pests or to make them highly tolerant of an herbicide used to control weeds, or in some cases both. To make a rational judgment about whether these specific GMOs are good or bad, it’s important to understand exactly what they are and how they work.

    Bt soy and corn

    The pesticide resistant plants have been engineered to produce a protein isolated from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (known generally Bt). Each strain of Bt produces a different version of the protein, known as Cry, each highly specific to a limited number of related species. Bt has evolved these proteins as a key part of a reproductive strategy in which they kill insects that ingest them and then eat nutrients released by the dying host. The Cry protein found in Bt spores must be activated by a protein-cleaving enzyme found in the host gut and then bind to a specific protein on the surface of cells in the digestive system, which Cry then destroys. Insects, who are not huge fans of this strategy, eventually evolve resistance by modifying one or both of these proteins. Bt stains that rely on this insect adapt in turn, creating highly-specific strain-insect relationships.

    The irony of Cry becoming a major bugaboo of the anti-GMO movement is that, until the gene that produces it was inserted into corn, it was the poster-child of a “natural” insecticide, preferred over chemical pesticides because of the potential for extreme host specificity and complete biodegradability.  Bt spores were sprayed on crops for decades, and are still widely used to control pests by organic farmers. But the effectiveness of Bt as an insecticide is limited because it degrades in the matter of days – more rapidly when it rains. This led agricultural biotechnology companies to try and insert Cry genes directly into the plants, and there are now many varieties on the market, each targeting pests that are a particular problem for a given crop (some varieties of Bt corn, for example, targets the European corn borer).

    Given what we know about  Cry proteins, there is very little reason to be concerned about the safety of eating it. These are proteins that have evolved to kill insects – and not just insects in general, but very specific subsets of insects. And humans are not insects. Regulatory agencies in the US and Europe have consistently rejected claims that plants that produce their own Cry cause problems in either humans or farm animals.

    Nonetheless, anti-GMO activists continually raise the spectre of “plants that make their own pesticide” as if this alone was sufficient reason to not only avoid them, but to ban them. Here is a banner running on the website of one of the organizations pushing the CA GMO-labeling initiative:

    If you don’t know a lot about plants, I can see how this would seem threatening. But this picture and the anti-GMO campaign it accompanies are based on the flawed premise that ”normal” plants are pesticide free. This could not be farther from the truth. Almost since they first appeared on Earth, plants have had to reckon with a diverse array of animals determined to eat them. And this is a battle that continues today, as anyone who has tried to garden, or wandered through a forest, can attest. To fight off these pests, plants have evolved a dizzying array of defense mechanisms, including the production of a diverse arsenal of chemicals targeted at the insects and other pests that afflict them.

    As far as I know, natural pesticides have been found in every plant in which they have been sought, including all conventionally grown crops. Wheat makes a family of proteins lethal to hessian flies, peas contain the insecticidal protein PA1b, tomatoes tomatine, and so on. And even if the corn in that picture was not genetically modified, that cute little girl is about to get a mouthful of the insecticide maysin. Indeed almost any mouthful of unprocessed plants from any source will likely contain some kind of natural pesticide that is inert in humans. There is nothing at all unusual, or particularly worrisome, about eating plants that contain the Bt Cry protein as we’ve been eating insecticides for eons.

    I’m sure some people will say that we may have been eating insecticides all along, but we haven’t been eating Bt Cry protein and, under the “you never know” principle, should just avoid it. This would all be fine and good if there weren’t strong evidence supporting the value of Bt corn and soy in reducing pesticide use on farms and limiting collateral damage to insects that are in the vicinity of, but not eating, the relevant crop. As a panel of the US National Academies of Science reported in a 2010 study of GMOs:

    The evidence shows that the planting of GE crops has largely resulted in less adverse or equivalent effects on the farm environment compared with the conventional non-GE systems that GE crops replaced. A key  improvement has been the change to pesticide regimens that apply less pesticide or that use pesticides with lower toxicity to the environment but that have more consistent efficacy than conventional pesticide regimens used on non-GE versions of the crops.

    To me, the demonization of Bt in anti-GMO rhetoric is a emblematic of everything that is wrong with the GMO debates. The producers of Bt crops have done a horrible job of explaining why plants expressing a single insecticidal protein should not – and do not – harm humans. And the anti-GMO advocates either have not bothered to understand the science behind their activity, or (worse) are cynically exploiting peoples’ fears of pesticides to promote their cause.

    Glyphosate tolerant crops

    The second major class of GMOs (mostly soy) have been engineered to be tolerant of the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup). Glyphosate is a small molecule that inhibits an enzyme, 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS), which catalyzes an essential step in the biosynthesis of the amino acids  phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan. By denying rapidly growing plants these amino acids, it is able to rapidly inhibit grown of plants onto which it has been sprayed. Glyphosate is generally considered to be inert in humans, who get these amino acids from their food, and do not have an EPSPS.

    The obvious problem with using glyphosate to control weeds is that it will, under normal circumstances, also kill crop plants. However, plants that have been engineered to express an alternative form of EPSPS that functions normally even in the presence of glyphosate. These plants are thus “Roundup Ready“, and will survive doses of glyphosate used to kill weeds in the field.

    Although the EPSPS gene used in Roundup Ready plants comes from a bacterium, the necessary changes could now easily be made to the plant’s own copy of EPSPS. Thus Roundup Ready crops, which produce no new proteins not found prior to genetic manipulation,  shouldn’t really be places in the same class of GMOs as Bt expressing plants, which are expressing a new protein. And there is absolutely no reason to expect that there are any health risks associated with eating the altered form of EPSPS found in glyphosate resistant transgenic plants.

    Concern about Roundup Ready plants focuses instead on the adverse effect of glyphosate on people and the environment. There are some suggestions that high doses of glyphosate are bad for humans, though these studies are hotly contested (note this was a Monsanto-funded study and must be assessed with that in mind). But the more important question is whether the use of glyphosate in conjunction with Roundup Ready crops is better for humans and the environment than the alternatives. Here, the aforementioned NRC report concluded that:

    GE soybeans, corn, and cotton are designed to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, which has fewer adverse environmental effects compared with most other herbicides used to control weeds.

    This does not argue that glyphosate is safe. However, it suggests that the net effect of the GMO – Roundup Ready- has been positive. There is a bigger discussion to be had about the role of herbicides in farming – but this is really orthogonal to issues of genetic modification.

    NEXT: Question 3) Why should I trust the big companies that develop these crops? Didn’t it take years to realize PCBs, DDT etc. were bad for us?

    About me

    I am a molecular biologist with a background in infectious diseases, cancer genomics, developmental biology, classical genetics, evolution and ecology. I am not a plant biologist, but I understand the underlying technology and relevant areas of biology. I would put myself firmly in the “pro GMO” camp, but I have absolutely nothing material to gain from this position. My lab is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. I am not currently, have never been in the past, and do not plan in the future, to receive any personal or laboratory support from any company that makes or otherwise has a vested interest in GMOs. My vested interest here is science, and what I write here, I write to defend it.

    Originally published on MichaelEisen.org

    Comments

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Dr Eisen, do you actually read any of the comments sections of your previous pro-GMO Science20 blogs?  If not then why not? You seem to have decided beforehand exactly which anti-GMO questions you want to answer and that you will ignore any other related questions or any other contrary scientific evidence, why? This is hardly very conducive towards convincing anyone that GMOs are safe. Its just a one sided rant written from a one sided perspective hypothetically in response to anti-GMO questions being asked by some one-sided blinkered anti-GMO ignoramus! You are not providing any evidence of the 'anti-GMO campaign's deadly war on science' but instead you are providing plenty of evidence of the pro-GMO campaign's deadly war on any science that disproves or questions your pro-GMO claims. 
    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
    This is sounding increasingly like strawman arguments.
    The irony of Cry becoming a major bugaboo of the anti-GMO movement is that, until the gene that produces it was inserted into corn, it was the poster-child of a “natural” insecticide,...
    Again, what is the relevance?  Bleach also kills many pathogenic microbes, that doesn't mean it would be a good idea to drink it for an infectious disease.

    It seems like this is an opportunity to have many people that are scientifically savvy become aware of scientific papers and links that can dispel some of the fear-mongering and misinformation.  Unfortunately, it doesn't appear as if that is likely to happen any time soon.

    If not, then scientists can blame themselves for not simply being naive, but undermining the very technology they are seeking to champion.  Just from seeing the tone of articles in the past few weeks, I can't help but shake my head at the complete ignorance scientists appear to have regarding the most basic of PR activities.

    If there is information available that can readily dispel the negativity of GMO's, then I can only state that it is simply stupid to not make that information available.  So, while scientists may not get the outcome that they want, they will invariably get the one they deserve.
    Mundus vult decipi
    This article doesn't agree.
    "Philippine villagers living around Bt Maize fields have also suffered deaths and similar illnesses of fever, respiratory, intestinal and skin problem (see [4] GM ban long overdue, five deaths and dozens ill in the Philippines, SiS 29). Five mortalities were reported in 2003 and subsequently, 38 individuals had their blood analysed and all were positive for antibodies specific to Cry1Ab, suggesting an immune reaction to the toxin. As is often the case, intimidation and denial by government officials meant that there were no further investigations into the matter."
    http://foodfreedomgroup.com/2012/06/13/syngenta-charged-for-covering-up-...

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I’m not going to try to make this a comprehensive reference site about GMOs and the literature on their use and safety. I’m compiling some general resources here, and a list of all FAQs here.
    I guess that this also means that you are not even going to respond to comments, links, evidence or questions being asked or provided here in your Science20 blog's comments sections. However, it is still probably worth us pointing out to you yet again, the lack of scientific evidence that you have provided to even support your own pro-GMO claims, simply by using your own links that you have provided. For example you claim the following with regard to your second anti-GMO prescribed question :-
    Question 2) Maybe GMOs aren’t automatically bad, but isn’t it obvious that it’s dangerous to consume crops that produce their own pesticides and can tolerate high doses of herbicides? Approximately 90% of soybeans, maize, cotton and sugar beets grown in the US are have been genetically modified to produce a protein that kills common insect pests or to make them highly tolerant of an herbicide used to control weeds, or in some cases both. To make a rational judgment about whether these specific GMOs are good or bad, it’s important to understand exactly what they are and how they work.
    Bt soy and corn The pesticide resistant plants have been engineered to produce a protein isolated from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (known generally Bt). Each strain of Bt produces a different version of the protein, known as Cry, each highly specific to a limited number of related species. Given what we know about  Cry proteins, there is very little reason to be concerned about the safety of eating it. These are proteins that have evolved to kill insects – and not just insects in general, but very specific subsets of insects. And humans are not insects. Regulatory agencies in the US and Europe have consistently rejected claims that plants that produce their own Cry cause problems in either humans or farm animals.

    OK, in order to prove that when eaten by humans these genetically modified Bt insecticidal bacteria in every mouthful of our GM food, that we used to be able to wash off from our non-GMO fruit and vegetables, are not going to be harmful to us, unlike other harmful soil bacteria from dirt and mud that we still can wash off our food, you simply need to show us evidence of scientific studies that have been conducted on animals, preferably mammals that have eaten these genetically modified foods for significant periods of their lifecycles, because these GMO foods are now full of unevolved Bt insecticidal bacteria in every mouthful that humans and animals are eating.

    You provided a link in your article to the US National Academies of Science 2010 study of GMOs which is massive and I have carefully searched it for all evidence of scientific studies done on animals eating GMO foods. Especially as the article claims that 'much of the soybean and corn produced in the United States is fed to livestock and byproducts are used in consumer products, so quality and nutritional characteristics of soybean and corn associated with GE crops have been closely examined'.

    Here are ALL of the animals studies referenced in that massive document that you linked us to, that was done by hundreds of scientists and scientific organisations and establishments. None of these scientific studies measures the short or long-term effects of GMO foods upon mammalian organs and only a few of the studies on cows' dairy production and Lutz et al (2006) studying rats, actually examines the effects upon the excretions from the organs of the animals being fed GMO foods. The rat study does even find 'slight differences in triglycerides and urinary phosphorus and sodium extractions' and according to another study that I found myself that researched the adverse health effects of GMO Bt corn on rats, non of these mammalian studies were conducted for longer than 90 days or for a significant portion of these animals life cycles. Here they are :- 

    Barrière et al., 2001; Phipps et al., 2005; Calsamiglia et al., 2007 Castillo et al. 2004 - In feeding studies, there was no difference in milk production or milk composition between glyphosate-resistant corn, with or without the stacked Bt gene, and nontransgenic hybrids also feeding value of corn silage estimated with sheep and dairy cows is not altered by genetic incorporation of Bt176 resistance to Ostrinia nubilalis
    Calsamiglia, S., B. Hernandez, G.F. Hartnell, and R. Phipps. 2007 - Effects of corn silage derived from a genetically modified variety containing two transgenes on feed intake, milk production, and composition, and the absence of detectable transgenic deoxyribonucleic acid in milk in Holstein dairy cows.
    Castillo, A.R., M.R. Gallardo, M. Maciel, J.M. Giordano, G.A. Conti, M.C. Gaggiotti, O. Quaino, C. Gianni, and G.F. Hartnell. 2004. Effects of feeding rations with genetically modified whole cottonseed to lactating Holstein cows.
    Cox and Cherney, 2001; Jung and Sheaffer, 2004 - glypho-sate-resistant Bt corn does not affect feeding-quality characteristics of corn silage
    Duke et al., 2003 - Most studies of soybean have reported no differences in important nutritional qualities, such as isoflavonesGiesy et al., 2000 - Given that AMPA is not considered significantly toxic the discovery of AMPA in glyphosate-treated, glyphosate-resistant soybean is not considered to be an issue of importance at this time.
    Hammond et al., 1996 - Most studies of soybean have reported no differences in animal performance
    He et al., 2008 - There were no differences in body weight and feed use between rats fed grain from a Bt corn rootworm hybrid and rats fed grain from a nontransgenic hybrid
    Lutz et al. 2006 - the Bt protein Cry1Ab is degraded during the ensiling processMagaña-Gómez and Calderón de la Barca, 2009 - Most studies of soybean have reported no differences in other characteristics at the macroscopic level of HR soy-bean – however some slight differences in triglycerides and urinary phosphorus and sodium extractions were noted in male rats.
    McNaughton et al., 2007 - no differences were observed in mortality, weight gain, feed efficiency, or carcass yield between broiler chickens fed grain from a Bt corn rootworm hybrid and chickens fed grain from a near-isoline
    Venneria et al., 2008 - nutritional characteristics of GE and conventional corn hybrids—including fatty acid profiles, mineral and vitamin contents, lutein, and total phenol and antioxidant activity—were comparable. 
    Wu, 2006 - livestock operators are the buyers of feed, and they are the major beneficiaries of reductions in the prices of corn and soybean, to which the adoption of GE crops has contributed. They also benefit from increased feed safety from the reduction of mycotoxins.

    So, as I asked before in previous comments sections of pro-GMO blogs that you have written here, where is yours or anyone else's pro-GMO scientific evidence of any long or even short term scientific research that has been done that has shown that there are no adverse health effects on internal organs of feeding GMO foods to mammals and especially to humans

    Surely you can prove to us scientifically that we should not be at all concerned about the evidence that we do already have, that thousands of sheep have died in India eating GMO Bt cotton and that over 50 cows in a Monsanto research experiment died in Brazil eating GMO Bt maize and that rats in Monsanto scientific experiments that were fed 3 GMO maizes had adverse health side effects?  

    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
    These are cross posted from his personal site so try and comment there, though
    So, as I asked before in previous comments sections of pro-GMO blogs that you have written here
    your use of verbage like "pro-GMO", like someone using "pro-evolution", shows your interest is not science.  
    Thor Russell
    Hardly, he himself in this article says:"I would put myself firmly in the “pro GMO” camp," 
    Thor Russell
    Hank
    So being pro-GMO means he is not a rational scientist?  Does this mean climate scientists are also not rational due to their personal beliefs?  He can be pro-GMO because he knows more science than the conspiratorial cranks interested in promoting precautionary principle crackpottery.  It doesn't mean he is writing pro-GMO articles, he is writing pro-science ones.

    Anyway, I am sure if he reads the comments he has gotten on these first three articles, from inside the Science 2.0 community and without, he is going to think this whole place is littered with cranks.
    Thor Russell
    no, you are reading too much into what I said. He describes himself as pro-GMO, Helen calls him pro-GMO, what is the problem with that. I never said his personal beliefs made him not rational.
    Thor Russell
    Gerhard Adam
    Anyway, I am sure if he reads the comments he has gotten on these first three articles, from inside the Science 2.0 community and without, he is going to think this whole place is littered with cranks.
    Are you really suggesting that the biology is so well-settled that even asking questions is sufficient to get labeled as a crackpot or crank?

    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    I believe Helen's questions on the missing energy from the lhc/ switching Geomagnetic field causing earthquakes, got her into the crackpot category.
    So, maybe GMO isn't well settled to you, but maybe it is to Dr Eisen, much like Helen's thread on earthquakes was to you then.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Perhaps, but it's disappointing when the trivial [or even wrong] questions are the one's that keep getting asked and answered.

    I seriously doubt there's any real issue regarding the safety of GMO foods in terms of human health, compared to all the stuff it's already exposed to through other food production methods, including organic.

    My concerns are with the natural selection aspects of it, and I don't believe the science is settled. 

    The irony is that comparisons have been made between specific genetic modification and random cosmic rays.  In addition, it's been stated that it certainly is possible to modify genes to render them toxic, but that isn't what the science is about.  OK ... I get that.  What makes anyone think that cosmic rays are going away?  What modifications are possible due to the new evolutionary level we've set the plants at [that's rhetorical and I'm not expecting an answer]? 

    This isn't an genetic modification OR cosmic rays.  It's genetic modification AND cosmic rays, which just amplified the possible outcomes for which we possess no knowledge [i.e. the downstream effects].
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thor Russell
    I'm surprised you never seem to point out that GM mostly seems to rely on the one gene, one effect assumption that as we both know in the majority of the time is not the correct model. In other words, its not the latest science, but trying to use a now old and in most instances inadequate model to achieve its results. Its not surprising there aren't any wonder crops being made every year as was originally promised. Making perennial crops using all methods available to us should perhaps get more attention than it does. Of course this could introduce just as many problems as benefits. 
    I think conventional GM is portrayed as more "hi-tech" than it actually is now (its been around for decades). Someone could just as well be more negative to GM than the author because they are pro-science and regard GM as old tech that can't deliver and doesn't take into account the latest knowledge of ecosystems which of course is science every bit as much as chopping up genes is! This does not fit the tired narrative of anti-GM means anti-science of course.
    I havn't done as much research as you guys into the issues, but it sure doesn't seem that this article is balanced, for example: 
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=genetic-engineering-match-weed-resistance 


    This has nothing to do with the safety of GM, but rather simply its ineffectiveness and how the use of GM crops cannot be separated out from the whole farming system and must be part of any conversation about it. Its obvious that making crops resistant to pesticide (through whatever method) will effect how much of it is used and how the weeds adapt. You may get higher yields now, but lower later because of pesticide resistant weeds developing faster. Thats a difficult tradeoff to make, relates to GM, but will not be settled by proving the technology by itself is safe. Monoculture and other issues also need to be discussed when assessing the best strategy for using GM because it affects them. 

    Pointing this out should be obvious and is totally not anti-science. 

    Thor Russell
    Hank
    I think your arguments are spot on regarding why this technology is not a problem.  It is old, they are not creating new modifications willy-nilly and unleashing them on the world, like PETA and the UCS and other anti-science groups claim.  Genetic modifications in use have been more thoroughly tested than every other science advance in history.  People are trying to blame some people or cows getting sick, without noting that the instances of sickness in cows and people are no higher - they just choose to blame GMOs instead of the pesticides people used to blame.

    These modifications are so slight and so controlled that I agree with you, it is boring.   But there has been a lot of caution and even after a decade plus, no problems. That is why scientists wonder what the fuss is about. It does not take an advanced degree to see that not only are these modifications not harming the world, they can't.

    GM crops, as the article notes above, even provide benefits to non-GM ones and they are used sparingly enough that insects do not get these mutations people worry about.  There is no 100% GM field anywhere and herd immunity is not happening.
    Gerhard Adam
    As I've said before, I still maintain that the problems with GMO's are going to be economic and we still don't know all the ramifications.  I'm not comfortable with the control of patents on foods.  I'm not comfortable with the notion of a few corporations controlling the supply of seeds and being able to license farmers for use.  I'm not comfortable that there is too much cross-contamination potential such that it will render it plausible to have anything but licensed GMO crops.  In other words, it will prove impossible to keep seed lines pure. 

    In short, I'm not concerned about food safety, as much as I am in giving control of our food supply in the form of patents to corporations.  Also, bear in mind that this isn't just about GMO's.  Non-GMO's are just as culpable and doing their fair share of the patenting.

    Here's another example from non-GMO's
    The program is implemented by farmers to assess non-GMO product performance compared to the dominant GMO products on their farms. “Buying seed is an investment and we understand our seed products must offer additional returns. Last year, based on 120 replications of farmer-generated data, we found non-GMO hybrids out-yielded GMO hybrids by an average of 4.7 bushels per acre,” says Odle. And he adds, “This is why we see our PlotPak™ program as a critical component of our story. The purpose is to empower farmers and re-engage them in the decision making process.”
    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110628006520/en/non-GMO-Corn-Farmers-Discover-Yield-Profits-Promote
    The point in all of this is that we, the consumers, will continue to pay the same or higher prices for foods which [if they get away with it] are supposed to be cheaper to produce.

    That's why I still don't understand the argument that the proposed labeling law in California is supposed to cause people in poor countries to starve?  What's up with that?  If corporations don't want to label, then why insist on marketing their product in areas that don't need it and that require such onerous actions.  The point is, that these same corporations know that there isn't any money to be made in selling to poor people.  They want someone else to do that, while they can increase their revenues by selling to people that don't really need it.

    Cynical ... probably so, but I expect that's closer to the truth in this entire debate.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thor Russell
    You have ignored my point though that even though it is by itself safe, using it just because you can may not always be the best idea when you take the big picture into account. Ironically perhaps if more people said it failed to deliver rather than opposing it, bio-tech farming research (this is including the ecosystem, everything) may be less polarised and more effective. Why should you be obliged to reject every GM organism if you take a bio-dynamic approach?
    Thor Russell
    Gerhard Adam
    I agree with you and I liked your link to the Scientific American article.  I think there is certainly some unsettled scientific issues, but I'm frankly tired of the whole bloody lot.  GMO's, non-GMO's, and organics.  They all have an agenda, and they're all trying to vie for market-share to exploit the consumers.

    As for safety issues, I think there are plenty of legitimate questions that can and should be raised, but they aren't specific to GMO foods.
    Why should you be obliged to reject every GM organism if you take a bio-dynamic approach?
    I would agree that they shouldn't be rejected outright.  I know that researchers are aware of the risks with herbicide and pesticide resistance.  I know that there have been studies done that address many of the concerns that people raise.  Yet, I'm continuously surprised by the lack of feedback from the "pro-GMO" camp in even providing basic links or information.  In a country that prides itself on advertising at least a half dozen pharmaceutical solutions to erectile dysfunction, they are surprisingly shy about discussing the advantages of GMO's to the general public.  Here's two reports that talk about some of the economic impacts as well as the scientific ones.  As you suggesting, one is struck by how unremarkable this technology actually is, and it sounds increasingly like it is already being overrun with the effects of its own implementation [i.e. herbicide/pesticide resistance issues]. 

    www.pgeconomics.co.uk/pdf/globalimpactstudyjune2008PGEconomics.pdf

    http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/publi/gmo/full_en.pdf

    http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/eur22547en.pdf

    Mundus vult decipi
    hmm... I'm noticing a pattern here, mr.science likes to name call more than he likes to refer to actual scientific arguments, haha don't get mad kid, I'm just trolling.

    Hank, I haven't got time to log in but I only said 'pro-GMO' because Dr Eisein constantly refers to 'anti-GMO'! Surely that's fair enough? Believe it or not I actually want to be convinced that GMO's are safe for us and our animals and good for the environement, I just need to see some scientific evidence proving that to me.Surely that's also fair enough? Have you got any?

    When we awaken (usually in the morning) we seek the bathroom, we find the toilet through investigation; THIS IS SCIENCE asking the Question : “Where’s the toilet?”; thus to suggest that someone is ‘ANTI-Toilet-in-life’ : OR : ‘Anti-Science’ is childish nonsense, and if the movers and shakers of PRO-GMO can’t accept that every one every day uses “observation” OR ‘SCIENCE’ , then they have no business offering their nonsensical unverified for safety - results to the general public. Since they don’t understand : What is Science!

    To suggest through ridicule that someone who doesn’t agree with their pet project is Anti-Science, shames the writer, who has lowered the debate and crapped out the dialogue – and that is Precisely why this writer uses the term ‘Anti-Science’, he attempts to AVOID the many VALID questions that have been asked, and left unanswered. Helen you’re a DREAM, bravo!!

    Hank
    I'm sure that analogy is rather clever on the goofy layperson sites you frequent but it makes no sense here; you are basically contending the toilet is dangerous and should never be used under your overzealous precautionary principle - because it may suck you to hell.  In contrast to your made up claims, GMOs have been more verified than every science and technology advancement in world history - you instead seek an impossible standard no product can ever meet; proving something is 'safe', whatever that means.

    The fact remains that GMOs have been proven to be far more safe than organic food and conventionally grown food too.
    Hi Hank

    Stuart Speaks an eke :

    < you are basically contending the toilet is dangerous and should never be used under your overzealous precautionary principle - because it may suck you to hell.>

    NO; nothing of the sort; I was simply indicating through : “diction” : that to suggest anyone on Planet Earth is “Anti-Science”: indicates “the writer doesn’t understand : The Branch of Intellect referred to as : The Sciences :

    < In contrast to your made up claims, GMOs have been more verified than every science and technology advancement in world history - you instead seek an impossible standard no product can ever meet; proving something is 'safe', whatever that means.

    The fact remains that GMOs have been proven to be far more safe than organic food and conventionally grown food too.>

    I defer to Helen, an Angel, not a dream....

    “Believe it or not I actually want to be convinced that GMO's are safe for us and our animals and good for the environement, I just need to see some scientific evidence proving that to me.Surely that's also fair enough? Have you got any?”

    Hank
    40 years worth, and 15 in mass usage.  Not one instance of ill effect.  
    Hank,

    Let’s both envision that I hold your life by “a thread” : “a tantrika” : and that your going down underwater to repair the BP’s Deepwater Horizon Well, the line between you and I has never undergone any rigorous testing, who really knows if it’s safe?

    Now, place me as the next generation, your child, and that’s because in this story, if you won’t make it up, I won’t be realized in life.

    What’s my Point?

    Sometimes, in order to live, me must ACT in this life, as merely a passageway to the next generation.

    The Created World that we live in has dangers, though not necessarily always life-threatening. Why not devote your talents away from revising what has worked just fine for billions of years; Why now must you re-invent the food-chain?

    I say, let’s garden simply, and pursue other avenues of research, and stay away from Nature’s LIFE-LINE.

    Hank
    Fine, at what age would you like scientific modification of nature to have stopped?  15 years ago? That seems rather arbitrary.  50 years ago?  2,000 years ago?  

    There is nothing you eat today which has anything but a tenuous connection -  “a tantrika” - to nature. It has all been modified by man for thousands of years. Picking the day before the first GMO went into usage is not science, and it is not a concern for nature.  It is paranoia without any evidence basis.
    Hank, we don’t share the same definitions or ideals; so let me explain myself.

    Science is about Understanding : ‘Applied Science’ works with ingenuity and from this we derive ‘Pharoh and the Taskmasters’: Engineers and their Practice : Engineering.

    Science and Engineering are not the same discipline, they are not disciples of each other, I don’t confuse the two (as I suggest you have).

    An Engineer seeks “EFFECTS”, they seek to observe some “Change” in the ‘Material World.

    A Scientist is a Wholistic Thinker seeking Integration with what they observe, they seek to Understand : WHAT IS : without changing what they observe.

    Thus, a VAST GULF : without OVERLAP : exists between the two : Science & Engineering!

    Engineers Produce Products through Processes.

    Scientists seek Results through ‘Art’ or ‘Practice’.

    The phrase you used : “scientific modification of nature” is a “misnomer” (from Anglo-French misnomer to call by a wrong name) since A Scientist Observes WHAT IS, no modification is sought.

    However, An Engineer would seek to modify what : IS : and proper “Diction” would be “Modification of Nature through Engineering”.

    Thus, your question (to me and my sensibilities), would read : “At what age would you like Modification of Nature through Engineering to have stopped”...“15 years ago? 50 years ago? 2,000 years ago?”

    OK, are we fine thus far?

    man, lol you are annoying your like the annoying kid brother I never had who won't believe wrestling isn't real, and just keeps regurgitating the nonsense that comes out of the wrestlers own mouths, no matter how many valid arguments are made to the contrary you just ignore them and continue with your self-satisfying delusions, haha, I hope I don't get banned for this, I just got banned from a MMA forum for intentionally trolling or at least announcing openly In my post that it was my intention to troll(facepalm) haha.