Who’s Afraid of Genetically Modified Bread?

CANADIAN, US and Australian wheat organisations recently released a joint statement asking for the development and commercialization of higher yielding varieties through biotechnology – through genetic modification.  

Clearly wheat farmers are feeling left behind with the statement including the comment:  Lack of private and public investment in wheat research has left wheat development behind the advances in competing commodity crops, and has also led to a shortage of scientific expertise in wheat research generally.

I’ve been aware for some time of important research being conducted in South Australia, at the Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG), focused on developing new drought and frost tolerant varieties of wheat and barley.

Frost tolerance has become an issue because plant breeders have been selecting for early maturing varieties in order to escape potential summer drought. But, this has now exposed crops to frost during flowering.  There is apparently variation for traits for frost and salt tolerance in the “crossable” gene pool for wheat and barley, but there are far better genes in other plants and these would need to be transferred through genetic modification. 

Of course organisations like Greenpeace oppose this research and have claimed consumers do not want GM in their “daily bread”.   In a media release last year a spokesperson for Greenpeace said that GM wheat is not grown commercially anywhere in the world nor accepted by any market which is why major GM crop producers such as the US and Canada have rejected it. 

No doubt the growers in the US, Canada and Australia hoped that by putting out a joint statement the opportunity for activists to play them off against each other would be reduced. 

Already the Canadian Wheat Board has reacted negatively to the statement with a spokesperson explaining they won’t support genetically modified wheat until key conditions are in place, including assurances that overseas markets will accept the crop.

Of course if organisations like Greenpeace stopped their scare mongering there would be near universal acceptance of the product tomorrow.    The fear of “GM bread” is a creation of modern environmentalism.

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Notes and Links

Canadian Wheat Board cautious about GM wheat
http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-GreenBusiness/idUSTRE54E59X20090515

Genetically Engineered Wheat Not the Solution to Drought
http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/news-and-events/media/releases/genetic-engineering/genetically-engineered-wheat-n

Importing A Banned Product & Denying Drought Tolerance
http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2006/10/importing-a-banned-product-denying-drought-tolerance/ 

Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics
http://www.acpfg.com.au/

Picture of the loaf of bread republished from http://cdn-write.demandstudios.com/upload//6000/400/90/1/66491.jpg 

Wheat Biotechnology Commercialization
Statement of Canadian, American and Australian Wheat Organizations

In the interest of expressing support for more efficient, sustainable and profitable production of wheat around the world, the undersigned organizations have approved the following joint statement concerning commercialization of biotechnology in wheat:

1. Wheat is a vital food to all peoples of the world and we believe that by developing higher yielding better quality wheat varieties we can better supply the world with wheat food products.

2. One important tool to help feed the world into the future is biotechnology. Basic agronomic
improvements to wheat like strengthening disease and insect resistance, enhancing wheat’s use of soil nutrients and water, increasing its tolerance to weather extremes like drought and frost, are all possible with biotechnology. Another critical area for biotechnology is to improve the nutritional aspects of wheat to facilitate healthier living for people all over the world. Biotechnology is not the only answer to these questions, but it will be a significant component in solutions.

3. In many of our production areas, wheat production is under pressure from competing crops which, through the application of biotechnology, have achieved higher productivity, reduced input use, and other benefits not available in wheat. As a result, the historic area of wheat production has declined in many areas and economics are driving producers away from wheat and into other crops if they have alternatives. If wheat continues on a non-biotech course, then farmers will continue to devote a greater share of their acreage to biotech crops, where profitability is relatively greater, resulting in lower world wheat production than would otherwise be the case.

4. In general, wheat yields are on a very slow growth trend in comparison with competing crops, and the longer it takes to increase the growth rate the bigger will be the hole from which the industry must climb.
5. Biotechnology is a proven technique to deploy traits of interest with a high degree of precision in agricultural crops. Crops derived through biotechnology are subjected to strict regulatory scrutiny before commercialization. Over 10 years of global experience with biotechnology has demonstrated a convincing record of safety and environmental benefits as well as quality and productivity gains.

6. Lack of private and public investment in wheat research has left wheat development behind the advances in competing commodity crops, and has also led to a shortage of scientific expertise in wheat research generally. By providing an opportunity for private companies, the level of activity in wheat research will expand and attract a new generation of scientists into the field.

In light of these resolutions, we will work toward the goal of synchronized commercialization of biotech traits in our wheat crops. While none of us hold a veto over the actions of others, we believe it is in all of our best interests to introduce biotech wheat varieties in a coordinated fashion to minimize market disruptions and shorten the period of adjustment. We are also committed to working with other stakeholders to address their needs and concerns as we travel the road to commercialization.

US National Association of Wheat Growers, U.S. Wheat Associates, North American Millers’
Association, Grain Growers of Canada, Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, Alberta Winter Wheat Producers Commission, Grains Council of Australia, Grain Growers Association, Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia (Inc.),  May 14, 2009.

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59 Responses to Who’s Afraid of Genetically Modified Bread?

  1. JeffT May 22, 2009 at 7:06 pm #

    Jennifer,
    I see where your at and I also realise that GM is part of the AEF’s agenda.

    But before anyone gets too excited, they should watch the French documentary
    “The World According to Monsanto” which is available on Youtube in 10 parts.
    There may also be a book of the same name available. It is on websites overseas.

    Transgenic food products by gene manipulation may seem to be a panacea, but research would have to be improved from that shown in the above video.

    No-one has yet satisfactorily explained about how you remove GM from the environment, once it is out in the field, and who pays for that cleanup.

    J.

  2. sod May 22, 2009 at 8:28 pm #

    Of course if organisations like Greenpeace stopped their scare mongering there would be near universal acceptance of the product tomorrow. The fear of “GM bread” is a creation of modern environmentalism.

    we call this INFORMATION.

    and the companies are denying to provide it.

    the claim that greenpeace could stop those companies with a fraction of their funding and against facts, is plainly stupid.

    the problems with gene-foods are real.

  3. Louis Hissink May 22, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

    Genetic modification might otherwise be termed “evolution”, so if the wheaties can come up with a better wheaty, good on them.

    Sod and the “Greens” can continue to grow and eat, (and how subsistence farmers could grow sufficient wheat is another, logitsical, issue) their “pure” grains, unsullied with evolutionary traits.

    Perhaps they ought to be labelled as “Greeny Luddites”?

  4. Louis Hissink May 22, 2009 at 8:54 pm #

    In addition, Sod and the Green Conservatives…………

    Conservative being sensu strictu those who are happy with present arrangements…..

  5. janama May 22, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    I think we should take all the food technologists and line them up against a wall and shoot them.

    Because of their work and effort you can now purchase a guacamole dip with 3% avocado. The rest is some concoction they try to call food.

    In an era where we should be trying to get back the lost quality of our food adding a bullshit weird science adaptation is not only not necessary, it’s not wanted.

  6. David Joss May 22, 2009 at 9:30 pm #

    Janama,
    Fight them with market force. Buy your own avocados and make your own guacamole. It ain’t hard.
    And grow your own tomatoes. I’d be all for food technology that could make the supermarket ones taste like tomatoes.

  7. Louis Hissink May 22, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    Guys,

    I had to labour as a banana picker a decade ago during one of the previous commodity crashes.

    Farm production seems to be geared to market demand – and in the banana farm I worked in, produce had to be presented in a specific manner or it would not be accepted by the wholesalers in Perth.

    In order to cut costs, some producers, as Janama points to, or marketers, to be truthful, (value adders in the current lexicon) modifed the source products for market.

    This only happens in a regulated market. In a free one, no one would buy the crap in the first place, by definition.

    Figure it out Fools.

  8. Luke May 22, 2009 at 11:09 pm #

    Says Louie the Fly – hehehehehe –

    “straight from rubbish tip to you – he ain’t afraid of noone sept the man with can o’ mortein. The man with the can o’ mortein”

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4232493673820188113

    hahahahahaha ….

    But seriously on the cotton front – GM cotton has dramatically reduced pesticide use (for now anyway).

  9. JeffT May 22, 2009 at 11:41 pm #

    To produce a GMO product that is safe(?) for human cosumption requires mega buck research facilities, lots of scientists and lab workers. Large field trials and lots of testing by other agencies such as FDA and EPA.
    Where does that take us? Patent seeds and patent lawyers to protect the research investment.
    Which means a Monsanto or a Syngenta.
    Back to square one – please watch the movie – The World According to Monsanto – Youtube

  10. sod May 23, 2009 at 12:18 am #

    nobody in his right mind can defend a company like Monsanto. nobody in his right mind, would allow them to spread any of their new products, on their own claim that it is “safe.

    nobody, but those who profit from it. like Jennifer does.

  11. Joseph May 23, 2009 at 1:28 am #

    People the world over have been consuming GM foods for many years, they just didn’t know it.

    Beginning in the 1950’s, experiments were conducted with the gamma-ray bombardment of corn seed, to see what that might produce since gamma-rays are a known genetic mutagen. Admittedly, this was a shotgun approach, 99.9% of which did not produce anything useful. But that last 0.01% resulted in the modern corn hybrids of today which people (and animals) have been consuming for decades.

    This is much ado about nothing.

  12. MattB May 23, 2009 at 1:38 am #

    I thought there was already GM bread on the shelves? All I want is labelling Jen… you can eat the cheap GM and I’ll pay more for quality non-GM grains? Or do you have a problem with consumer information and choice?

  13. Joseph May 23, 2009 at 2:27 am #

    More information on the GM foods we have been eating for years:

    “Mutation breeding” accelerated after World War II, when the techniques of the nuclear age became widely available. Plants were exposed to gamma rays, protons, neutrons, alpha particles, and beta particles to see if these would induce useful mutations. Chemicals, too, such as sodium azide and ethyl methanesulphonate, were used to cause mutations. Mutation breeding efforts continue around the world today. Of the 2,252 officially released mutation breeding varieties, 1,019 or almost half have been released during the last 15 years. Examples of plants that were produced via mutation breeding include wheat, barley, rice, potatoes, soybeans, onions, etc.

    http://www.isaaa.org/Kc/inforesources/publications/biotechinagriculture/Conventional_Plant_Breeding.htm

    Some interesting links at the bottom of that webpage…

  14. Nasif Nahle May 23, 2009 at 3:21 am #

    Comment from: sod May 22nd, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    “Of course if organisations like Greenpeace stopped their scare mongering there would be near universal acceptance of the product tomorrow. The fear of “GM bread” is a creation of modern environmentalism.”

    we call this INFORMATION.

    and the companies are denying to provide it.

    the claim that greenpeace could stop those companies with a fraction of their funding and against facts, is plainly stupid.

    the problems with gene-foods are real.

    According to your criterion, what those problems are?

  15. luctoretemergo May 23, 2009 at 4:29 am #

    In Canada and the US we have been eating GM canola [rape seed] and soy beans for over a decade now. The products and their derivatives are everywhere in the food chain. Much as Greenpeace and the other anti-GMO groups would like to overlook the fact, with a combined population of over 400 million users, this constitutes the largest real life trial of GM foods in the world and it is noteworthy that there is no evidence whatsoever of anyone keeling over.

    It is beyond any discussion that GM crops greatly reduce the use of pesticides. In Western Canada, the introduction of GM canola a decade ago has seen farmers burn over 500 million liters less diesel than they would have with conventional crops. The greenies should rejoice, but they will not.

    There are technologies available that allow for the multi-trait transformation of crops. It has been shown that it is possible to introduce a gene as part of such a “casset” which in the absence of the appropriate external enabler makes it impossible for the GM plant to propagate.

    The “greenies” greatest revulsion comes not really so much from the science – although those would practice it are of course accused of all sorts of things including playing god – but by the fact that these technologies are developed and owned by private companies. Would Greenpeace and assorted organic believers be equally opposed to GM crops if the technology to develop say GM rice were owned by the UN’s International Rice Institute in Manilla?
    Said in passing, it isn’t. The Chinese are introducing GM rice strains: they have a billion plus people to feed.

  16. sod May 23, 2009 at 5:19 am #

    copyright on food.

    farmer dependence

    spread of modified genes to other pants/animals

  17. Nasif Nahle May 23, 2009 at 5:28 am #

    Comment from: sod May 23rd, 2009 at 5:19 am

    copyright on food.

    I agree on this issue.

    farmer dependence

    Agreed also.

    spread of modified genes to other pants/animals

    I don’t see any problem on the horizontal transfer of genes from GM crops to wild species because it happens in nature. Sterility of or biological confinement of GM plants is a practical solution.

  18. sod May 23, 2009 at 6:45 am #

    I don’t see any problem on the horizontal transfer of genes from GM crops to wild species because it happens in nature. Sterility of or biological confinement of GM plants is a practical solution.

    this is completely impractical. there is a huge potential for massive errors. and we would learn about errors only years later. and this with companies, which have shown their lack of responsibility in the past.

    if Monsanto was a private person, and had shown similar behaviour in driving, they would never again get a driving licence.

    but they have enough cash and are a US company. millions of dead kids, couldn t stop their production..

  19. sod May 23, 2009 at 6:48 am #

    I don’t see any problem on the horizontal transfer of genes from GM crops to wild species because it happens in nature.

    this is completely false, btw. we don t “normally” transfer genes from animals to plants.

    transferring resistence to plant killers isn t that “normal” either.

  20. crapulous May 23, 2009 at 7:57 am #

    When discussing any genetic modification one must consider the role of agrobacterium in the process of gene transfer. If agrobacterium is used to develop the geneticaly modified product it is important to consider the potential ramifications for humans.

    Such as is indicated in these links. (full text below each link) EMPHASIS is mine

    1. http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/PP99211

    Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated TRANSFORMATION OF WHEAT using suspension cells as a model system and green fluorescent protein as a visual marker

    Brian Weir, Xu Gu, Mingbo Wang, Narayana Upadhyaya, Adrian R. Elliott and Richard I. S. Brettell

    Abstract

    (Scientific stuff edited for brevity – see the link for detail)

    Keywords: Agrobacterium tumefaciens, green fluorescent protein, wheat transformation.

    Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 28(8) 807 – 818

    Full text doi:10.1071/PP99211

    © CSIRO 2001

    2. http://www.gene.ch/gentech/2001/Feb/msg00001.html

    Health News
    Wednesday, 31 January 2001. Last updated at 03:36 (AEDT)

    Tumor-Causing Plant Bacteria May Infect Human Cells
    Source: REUTERS, by Emma Patten-Hitt

    NEW YORK – A soil bacterium that causes lumpy tumors on plants may be able
    to ‘jump kingdoms’ and insert its tumor-causing DNA into human cells, new
    research findings suggest.
    The bacterium, called Agrobacterium tumefaciens, contains a small piece of
    DNA that can insert itself into the DNA of a host cell and initiate a tumor.
    Agrobacterium is already known to cause plant tumors, but researchers wanted
    to test whether the bacterium could similarly insert its DNA into human
    cells.
    Dr. Vitaly Citovsky from the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and
    colleagues found that THE PLANT BACTERIUM WAS ABLE TO ATTACH TO HUMAN CELLS AND INSERT ITS DNA INTO HUMAN CELLS just as it does with plant cells.
    Whether Agrobacterium is dangerous to humans is unclear, however. “Here
    (insertion of DNA into) human cells has been observed in laboratory
    conditions; whether it may be relevant biologically in nature remains
    unknown,” the researchers note in the current early edition of the
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    “Our experiments were done under laboratory conditions,” Citovsky told
    Reuters Health. “In nature, I do not believe Agrobacterium represents a
    danger. However, for people who work with large concentrations of this
    bacterium, for example researchers or certain agricultural workers who deal
    with heavily infected plants, it may be prudent to be careful or at least
    aware,” he said.
    One implication of this study, said Citovsky, is the potential for genetic
    flow between bacteria and animals. Another implication is that the basic
    biochemical and cellular reactions involved in the Agrobacterium-plant cell
    interaction probably exist in the animal kingdom as well.
    “Presently, it appears that Agrobacterium is the only example of
    trans-kingdom DNA transfer,” Citovsky said. “I do not rule out other
    possibilities but there are no data. Of course, what can be done once, can
    almost always be done again,” he added.
    SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition

    End of Reuter Item

    3. http://www.morgellons.org/suny.htm

    SUNY FINDINGS

    Contribution of Agrobacterium to Morgellons Disease.
    RB Stricker, VR Savely, A Zaltsman, V Citovsky

    California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, CA
    International Lyme & Associated Diseases Society, Bethesda, MD
    State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY.

    Background: Morgellons disease is characterized by dysesthesias and dermatologic lesions that range from minor to disfiguring (Savely VR, LeitaoMM, Stricker RB. Am J Clin Dermatol 2006;7:1-5). The disease has been reported primarily in Florida, Texas and California. Although an infectious etiology of Morgellons disease has been postulated, treatment of the disease remains problematic, with many patients having inadequate responses to antimicrobial therapy. Skin biopsies of Morgellons patients reveal non-specific pathology or an inflammatory process with no observable pathogens, often with fibrous material projecting from inflamed epidermal tissue. Morgellons skin fibers appear to contain cellulose. This observation indicates possible involvement of pathogenic Agrobacterium, which is known to produce cellulose fibers at infection sites within host tissues. Methods: Skin biopsy samples from two Morgellons patients were subjected to high-stringency PCR testing for genes encoded by the Agrobacterium chromosome. Screening of the same samples for Agrobacterium virulence (vir) genes and T-DNA sequences in the patient’s genome was also performed. Results: PCR screening indicated the presence of Agrobacterium genes derived both from the chromosome and from the Ti plasmid, including the T-DNA, in tissues from both Morgellons patients. Conclusions: Our preliminary results indicate that Agrobacterium may be involved in the etiology and/or progression of Morgellons disease. If these results are confirmed, it would be the first example of a plant-infecting bacterium playing a role in human disease.

    Further testing is ongoing to validate this observation and to determine whether Agrobacterium not only resides in the infected areas, but also transforms them genetically.

    Research Update, January 14, 2007
    Vitaly Citovsky, Ph.D.

    Our continuing screen of additional Morgellons patients has identified Agrobacterium genetic material in three additional individuals. Thus, ALL MORGELLONS PATIENTS SCREENED TO DATE HAVE TESTED POSITIVE TO THE PRESENCE OF AGROBACTERIUM, whereas this microorganism has not been detected in any of the samples derived from the control, healthy individuals.

    SEM Images of Morgellons Patients’ Fibers and Lesions, SUNY
    Below, please see eight SEM (Scanning Electron Micrograph) images generated by Dr. Citovsky’s research group at SUNY Stonybrook.

  21. Nasif Nahle May 23, 2009 at 9:12 am #

    Comment from: sod May 23rd, 2009 at 6:48 am

    this is completely false, btw. we don t “normally” transfer genes from animals to plants.

    transferring resistence to plant killers isn t that “normal” either.

    I don’t know what your concept of “normal” and “normally” could be, but horizontal gene transfer in nature is quite normal and frequent. I have many scientific references on this issue, unfortunately, my previous posts containing those references have not been published here.

  22. Nexus 6 May 23, 2009 at 9:32 am #

    Jen, the reason Monsanto, Beyer etc haven’t developed GM wheat is nothing to do with Greenpeace. All major current GM foodcrops (canola, soy, maize) are outbreeding. The seed is no good after a few generations – the GM and other traits specific to a variety are mostly lost. No other option but to continually buy seed – whether its GM or not. Wheat is inbreeding, so the seed can be saved. It’s not legal, but companies like Monsanto know there’s not much they can do to about it – hence it’s far less profitable, hence less private investment.

    Sod, I have no financial or other ties with Monsanto or any GM company whatsoever, but I’d certainly defend their right to do what they do. As I would with similar public funded research (which I also have nothing to do with). So far all commercially released GM products have proved to be safe and environmentally beneficial. Large reductions in pesticide use is a good thing in my book. That’s the reality of the situation.

    Anti-science conspiracy theorists are all as bad as each other – whether it be climate science denialism or GM denialism. I’m not surprised janama sits in both camps.

    JeffT – prove to me organic food is safe to eat. I get scared when I read things like this and think organic food should be banned 😉 (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/spinacqa.html)

  23. Nasif Nahle May 23, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    @Sod

    There are many references to horizontal gene transfer.

    For example this one:

    Julie C. Dunning Hotopp et al. Widespread Lateral Gene Transfer from Intracellular Bacteria to Multicellular Eukaryotes. Science Express on 30 August 2007. Science on 21 September 2007: Vol. 317. No. 5845, pp. 1753 – 1756.

  24. Marcus May 23, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    Sod,
    I don’t like GM crops for an entirely different reason, but whatever you may say about Monsanto, you can’t say, they are stupid.

    Why would they release something onto the market, that harms their customers?
    That would be the quickest way, not only to go out of business but even to go to jail!
    And bear in mind, they are a company, here for the long haul, not like a snake oils salesman or politician.

  25. rojo May 23, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    Have they classified Morgellons as a real disease yet?

    If agrobacterium poses a threat should I stop my children from making mud pies?

  26. Taluka Byvalnian May 23, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    Comment from: sod May 23rd, 2009 at 5:19 am
    copyright on food – farmer dependence
    spread of modified genes to other pants/animals

    Did you mean Jeans to other pants?

  27. Ian Mott May 23, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    Hmmn, so my GM Bagette is likely to jump off the shelf and mate with a Bagel? And what will the Pide’ do with the Focaccia? And this brings us the immortal line, “how will we clean up the mess”? The mind of the paranoid green plodder simply boggles.

    What we really need to concern ourselves with is what substance abuse is doing to the brain cells of the bimboscenti. It is real, measurable and entirely preventable.

  28. JeffT May 23, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    Nexus 6,
    The link to the ‘organic food’ you provided was to do with contamination of spinach with
    E Coli 0157:H7 from cattle manure.
    A link further down the page asks the question “will cooking the spinach solve the problem?”
    The answer – cooking at 160 degrees F. for 15 seconds solves the problem.

    So unless your into picking your spinach fresh and eating it as a salad vegetable without cleaning beforehand – no problem.
    As a lot of home grown vegetables are fertilised by animal manure and/or chicken manure which has to handled correctly (they do advise masks and gloves) , does not make this situation unique, but is a normal health precaution to wash even salad vegetables before consumption.

    Unlike GM products, were the addition of virus DNA or some other alteration can change the characteristics of the food you are eating, and cannot be washed off or cooked out.

    And my original question about GM agricultural, if GM is found to be a factor in increasing health problems, who cleans up the fields, the run off and the soil? And who pays?

  29. spangled drongo May 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    Ian, but the substance was most likely GM or fluoride in the water.
    Has the Greens policy banned substance abuse yet?
    We must realise that on an overpopulated planet the last thing we want to do is look after the people.

  30. Nasif Nahle May 23, 2009 at 12:42 pm #

    Comment from: Ian Mott May 23rd, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Hmmn, so my GM Bagette is likely to jump off the shelf and mate with a Bagel? And what will the Pide’ do with the Focaccia?

    Heh! Something like that; not a real harm. 8)

  31. luctoretemergo May 23, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    As I wrote above, there are technologies available that do not rely on bacteria or viruses and that allow for the stable multi-gene one time transformation of plants. When one does the genetic modification one gene at a time -apart from the fact that it takes some seven years to select the optimal progeny for each transformation- plants tend to kick out one of the new genes after some four transformations. Using “cassettes” or “artificial chromosomes” solves this problem as plants do not kick out chromosomes. This approach allows us to control transfer and also unwanted cross breeding.

    The technology exists and has been shown to work in e.g. brassica and grasses. If all the purported “dangers” are in fact non-issues, why not use the technology other then for ideological reasons? Maybe the environmentalists fundamental belief that there are too many humans around anyway, blinds them to the reality that we will need to feed those who do exist to get them out of poverty so that they in turn will have fewer offspring. History treaches us that allowing one generation to die of starvation will only perpetuate the legacy of large families. But then again, by its very nature environmentalism is religious, not evidence based.

    The anti-GMO movement has lost the North American continent, is in the process of losing Latin America, India and China and it’s a matter of time before international trade rules reshape the anti GMO politics of EU and they come around to reason. Anti-GMO organics are a wealthy western care-for-me-only cultural luxury, and will never feed those in the world in real need – fully in line with the feel good attitude of most Greenpeacers and assorted associates.

  32. JeffT May 23, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    Ian Mott,
    My concern about cleanup follows cases were Monsanto have actually lost legal actions in the (US or Canada) and had to cleanup sites of cross pollination.
    I definitely am not a greenie, and don’t even qualify as “paranoid green plodder”, I also don’t have any connection to Greenpeace.

    The producers of GM crop seeds have gotten away with:
    GRAS – Generally Recognised As Safe
    and Substantially Equivalent
    due to fact they are introducing a gene or part of a gene DNA into the plant, and as food plants contain genes and/or DNA, they are classified as Substantially equivalent.
    This has allowed the manufacturers to get away with minimal testing, only to do with toxicity but not with long term effects.

    The usual argument “for” GM foods is that they haven’t killed anyone yet??
    But with out long term studies, who can tell whether the increase in some cancers such as breast and thyroid are not due to these products.

    Have you watched the movie “The World According to Monsanto”? – Youtube.

  33. kuhnkat May 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    Luke,

    “But seriously on the cotton front – GM cotton has dramatically reduced pesticide use (for now anyway).”

    Yeah, but would you Eat it!!!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Hey, I thought everyone believed in evolution!!! Y’all think an ongoing, random modification of genomes for better adaptation and survival is OK but man made modification for specific results is BAD?!?!?!?!?!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  34. janama May 23, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    Anti-science conspiracy theorists are all as bad as each other – whether it be climate science denialism or GM denialism. I’m not surprised janama sits in both camps.

    I’m sick of scientists telling me they have a gloom and doom solution for climate or the hi tech food production solution.
    Unfortunately over the past years scientists have developed an inflated sense of their importance.

  35. David Harrison, Ph.D May 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm #

    Greenpeace and other’s objections to GM wheat is not based on information but on emotion which they whip up with misinformation. Current cultivated wheat strains are already genetically vastly different from any wild strains and the relatively small changes required to make them more frost proof, increase yield etc. can present no hazard whatsoever to consumers or the environment. It is just as well Greenpeace was not around when our forefathers were selectively breeding wheat with increased chromosome numbers or we would still be trying to grow pathetically small-grained wild type with almost no nutritious value.

  36. JeffT May 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm #

    kuhnkat,

    Hope you don’t have a liking for tinned fish in ‘light’ oil.
    The fish you would be eating would be from Thailand, Indonesia (if you ain’t choosy) or the good ol’ US of A. Any of them could be using cottonseed oil – GM cottonseed oil??
    Cottonseed oil is used in a variety of foodstuffs.
    Bt cotton has it’s own insecticide built in – genetically engineered in.

    Some respite, there is a trend to use canola oil – check the can, – Jeez, that may be GM canola oil. And this one may be from RR seed (Roundup Ready) – naturally(?) from Monsanto

    LOL – (maniacal laughter, similar to Dr Frankenstein)

    If you do a search on the proponents of GM wheat listed early in the post you will see:
    Triticarte, investigate it further you will find Bayer Crop Science and Monsanto linked.

  37. janama May 23, 2009 at 6:37 pm #

    remember the meal the scientist ate on his trip from the moon base to the space station in the movie 2001? We have a habit of trying to re create our fantasies.

  38. Louis Hissink May 23, 2009 at 7:19 pm #

    Luke,

    Despite all the cans of Mortein you could source, you will never ever be rid of me but, dear boy, do try to be a little more original.

  39. JeffT May 23, 2009 at 7:34 pm #

    David Harrison, Ph.D,

    “Greenpeace and other’s objections to GM wheat is not based on information”

    Genetic modification of natural wheat strains was not done by gene splicing and insertion of genetic material from other plants, but by selection of plants that have naturally mutated.

    The methods used to genetically engineer GMO material could arrive at plants with characteristics that could not EVER be created by natural means, with genetic material derived from cross species.

  40. sod May 23, 2009 at 7:37 pm #

    I don’t know what your concept of “normal” and “normally” could be, but horizontal gene transfer in nature is quite normal and frequent. I have many scientific references on this issue, unfortunately, my previous posts containing those references have not been published here.

    and

    Julie C. Dunning Hotopp et al. Widespread Lateral Gene Transfer from Intracellular Bacteria to Multicellular Eukaryotes. Science Express on 30 August 2007. Science on 21 September 2007: Vol. 317. No. 5845, pp. 1753 – 1756.

    we are not talking bacteria to plant. we are talking mammal to plant. and we are talking very specific genes with a very specific (and potentially extremely dangerous) trait.

    weeds immune to major pesticides wouldn t be good news, would it?

    Sod, I have no financial or other ties with Monsanto or any GM company whatsoever, but I’d certainly defend their right to do what they do. As I would with similar public funded research (which I also have nothing to do with). So far all commercially released GM products have proved to be safe and environmentally beneficial. Large reductions in pesticide use is a good thing in my book. That’s the reality of the situation.

    there are two other groups:

    the uneducated

    and the “anti-government at all costs” crowd.

    with the latter often including the former, or actually being profiting from a lack of government intervention.

    Why would they release something onto the market, that harms their customers?
    That would be the quickest way, not only to go out of business but even to go to jail!
    And bear in mind, they are a company, here for the long haul, not like a snake oils salesman or politician.

    why not ask the people of Anniston about this subject?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A46648-2001Dec31

  41. Nexus 6 May 23, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    Ahhh janama, at least your consistently anti-science, and I respect that. Much better than these Free Marketeer types who simply don’t care about science, as long as it doesn’t get in the the way of making lots of $.

    Sod, ya got me – uneducated and anti-government.

  42. janama May 23, 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    I’m not anti-science – I’m anti stupid science.

  43. Marcus May 23, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

    sod,
    thanks for the link read it.
    I hope you did too, I stand by what I said. I never claimed, that Monsanto or any other corporation is a benevolent organization. If you care to read, ALL of the link and not just the bits you care about, you will find first, ignorance of the effects of PCBs to begin with, and after that, gross negligence on the part of the regulatory authorities.

    For instance Monsanto instructed the water board about the dangers of fishing in contaminated waterways, but the board refused to tell the public.

    Improve the EPA, make them bite, punish the wrongdoer and apply the law to the letter.

    Even today in Melbourne, I could point out that many companies dump waste in landfill, approved by the EPA, that people complain about, and in years it will come back to haunt us.
    Again make them comply!

    I certainly don’t agree with genetic modifications as they stand, on the simple ground, that it cannot happen naturally.
    If it could or does, I’m all for accelerating the process.

  44. sod May 23, 2009 at 9:49 pm #

    I hope you did too, I stand by what I said. I never claimed, that Monsanto or any other corporation is a benevolent organization. If you care to read, ALL of the link and not just the bits you care about, you will find first, ignorance of the effects of PCBs to begin with, and after that, gross negligence on the part of the regulatory authorities.

    For instance Monsanto instructed the water board about the dangers of fishing in contaminated waterways, but the board refused to tell the public.

    you are falling for company rhetorics. of course they told authorities. they told them that there was a minor problem.

    of course they don t tell us, that at the same time they threatened them with loss of funds.

    Improve the EPA, make them bite, punish the wrongdoer and apply the law to the letter.

    this would wipe out Monsanto. and this wont happen.

  45. JeffT May 23, 2009 at 11:41 pm #

    From what was posted above, I thought the EU was a gone goose on GM cereals

    But apparently Germany say they don’t want Monsanto’s maize 810, so they banned it.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25436822-12335,00.html

    Shows at least some of the western world doesn’t want this stuff.

    But the Aus Government is saying OK, just Google – Australian Government, MonsantoJe

  46. JeffT May 23, 2009 at 11:44 pm #

    Correction last posting.

    But the Aus Government is saying OK, just Google – Australian Government, Monsanto

  47. maya May 23, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    marcus, “I certainly don’t agree with genetic modifications as they stand, on the simple ground, that it cannot happen naturally.”

    But you’re happy with the electricity grid, mobile phones and aeroplanes? al naturale.

  48. JeffT May 24, 2009 at 12:01 am #

    A good read on the subject of GMO safety and contol is here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartagena_Protocol_on_Biosafety

    Then think about how WTO’s are going to subvert it.

  49. Marcus May 24, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    maya,
    Sorry mate I don’t quite understand where you are coming from?
    What have living thing to do with electricity and mobile phones?

    I’m not against improving the quality of livestock or plants, but I do have objections to introducing
    foreign genes, something, that simply cannot happen in nature.

  50. David harrison, Ph.D May 24, 2009 at 12:43 pm #

    reply to JeffT: wheat strains were produced from natural variations.
    Think about it. It is a strange argument that what happens in a laboratory, under controlled conditions, is a greater threat than what might happen by chance ‘naturally’. We know that new genes can arise and genes can jump species without any interference from Mankind. There are plenty of plants that have arisen ‘naturally’ that are deadly poisonous. There are plenty of plants that emerge ‘naturally’ that outcompete others and drive them to extinction.
    It is just that we can speed up the occurrence and selection of new plants by the use of gene manipulation in the laboratory. We can also be much more directed in the changes we incorporate into plants and much more careful of how we introduce them into the environment. It is reasonable to ask that gene manipulation be carefully regulated and controlled, as it is. However the call for a blanket ban is based on an emotional rejection of technology percieved to be ‘unnatural’. The current strains of cultivated wheat are far from ’natural’. they occurred through very rare changes in the genome that would not have survived had they not been ‘artificially’ cultivated. If we are to continue to improve the life and health of the vast majority of people on the planet then gene technology must take its place alongside those of transport, computers and sustainable power production.

  51. Nasif Nahle May 24, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

    I have to make a confession… I’ve been eating Genetically Modified wheat, corn, milk, meat, eggs, chicken, etc. approximately since I was born; well… one or two years latter. 🙂

  52. maya May 24, 2009 at 5:39 pm #

    marcus,
    All things made at the hand of man, no such manifestation in nature. All have ramifications to human health to one degree or another. But acceptable none the less.

  53. Louis Hissink May 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm #

    Nasif,

    This must then explain your evolved thinking :-). Little wonder that those who spurn evolutionary developments still think anachronistically. Strange that they believe in biological evolution but when confronted with acccelerated evolution, change tack 180 degrees.

    Genetical Luddites perhaps?

  54. Ann Novek May 24, 2009 at 8:17 pm #

    A study carried out in Sweden showed that modern agricultural crops/ seed/ cereals contained much less vitamins and nutrients than seeds( wheat , oats , rye , corn etc) for some decades ago.

    So when yields have increased enormously their nutrients have decreased….

  55. JeffT May 24, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    How about a bit of the Precautionary Principle? The Warmista’s and Greenpeas have been cramming it down our throats for ages in reference to Climate Change.
    When you have corporations wanting to play games with essential foods, I feel some caution should be applied.

    Thanks to David Harrison PhD’s explanations that only using genetic material from the original plant species that is going into research and possible release, in a situation that mimics biological evolution but accelerated in the lab.

    But that is the scientific part of the deal, my main concern is to do with political side, where you have WTO agreements which allows overseas corporations into the scene, and whose records in safety research appears to be only token. It would be only too easy to sell a wheat seed product that had resistance to various diseases and an insecticide or herbicide resistance genetically built in to go with the capability to grow in drought conditions.

  56. Ann Novek May 24, 2009 at 10:01 pm #

    ” Thanks to David Harrison PhD’s explanations that only using genetic material from the original plant species that is going into research and possible release, in a situation that mimics biological evolution but accelerated in the lab.” – Jeff

    I’m confused by this statement. The word transgenic means on the contrary that genes from the plant world is crossed with genes from the animal world…..that’s GMOs….

  57. Eyrie May 25, 2009 at 7:44 am #

    I’d say the GM foods were far better tested than the so called “natural” ones. Much of the food we eat is selectively bred so isn’t “natural” anyway.

    Vegetables are full of insect poisons as a result of an evolutionary arms race between flora and insects. Possibly this is OK as those humans(or pre humans) who were genetically vulnerable to them died before reproducing. Doesn’t say anything about longevity after raising offspring though.

    What a bunch of Luddites.

  58. Helen Mahar May 25, 2009 at 11:01 am #

    Ann

    Nutrient quality becomes a priority once you can get enough calories to survive. Then nutrient quality rises in importance.

    I have seen a health program in an aboriginal commuinity teaching the ladies about preparing healthy food (fresh produce very expensive in remote regions) while completely oblivious that the big problem for thes women and their children, was geting enough to eat First things first.

    Crop research to increase yields, especially in the grain crops has been primarily driven by the meet this first priority. A likely cause of declining nutrient quality could be soil delpletion – crops taking more out of the soil than is being replaced. This is why fertilisers are so important for high yielding crops, which, incidentally allow more food on to be grown on the same, or less land Has to be beneficial for the environment.

    That said, a lot crop research is, once yields are improved, aimed at nutrient quality.

  59. JeffT May 25, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    Eyrie,
    You wrote:

    “I’d say the GM foods were far better tested than the so called “natural” ones. Much of the food we eat is selectively bred so isn’t “natural” anyway.”

    When the terms:
    GRAS – ‘Generally Recognised as Safe’
    and – ‘Substantially Equivalent’
    are used as reasons that extensive testing does not take place, I don’t think GM foods are far better tested.
    Selective breeding is not Genetically Modified.
    Genetically Modified is manipulation of genetic material within the plant, be it DNA or chromosomal. Includes using DNA or parts of DNA from other species of plant, a virus or a fungi. Or as Ann pointed out, from animal of fish.
    This does make it different to Selective breeding – picking the best characteristics of a plant to enhance the plant itself.

    I’m all for scientific advancement, but when it comes to changes that may affect human life, I vie on the side of caution.
    With genetic changes, there is no way back, you can’t take the change back if it turns out wrong. If it effects reproduction, or creates another pathway for cancer.
    If you haven’t already, watch the video in 10 parts of “The World According to Monsanto”, on Youtube, the links mentioned in it can be examined, some have been removed.
    This should put you on the right path about testing.

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