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(Cleveland Plain Dealer)   Genetically-modified corn has been available for 4,000 years   ( divider line
    More: Obvious  
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8641 clicks; posted to Main » on 13 Nov 2003 at 8:57 PM (14 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2003-11-13 11:10:24 PM  
I disagree with the "companies should have the right to do what they want" philosophy. (I'd like to think Anatole could use his molecular biology superpowers for good and also get paid, of course.)

They might well perfect controlled gene insertion. What they can't perfect is the spread of those genes in unintended ways. I'm not too worried about eating stuff like BT corn. I'm worried about the genes crossing into other plants, creating "superweeds" that could act like introduced species (kudzu, anyone?) and do irreparable damage to whole ecosystems.

And no, copyright protections aside, I didn't give them permission to damage the ecosystem that I live in. But they don't care about that. And we never got to vote on it. Even if the "balance" is "restored without us" (Berylman) it will take an incredibly long time -- possibly tens of millions of years. I don't want to go that route, any farther than we already have.
2003-11-13 11:18:14 PM  
Well, I'm not going to defend overly litigous corporations that would sue for accidental distribution (even though the corn case in Canada is an extremely bad example).

First it wasn't corn, but canola. grapeseed oil.

I'm with ya tho. Technology in itself can be good. Very good. so, If you want to go all activist, get corporations to put limits on their copyrights. This isn't a monk making a better pea. It's big corporations that have the opertunity to do great good, or great evil.

Evil pays better--in the short term.
2003-11-13 11:19:50 PM  
Anybody ever watch Penn and Teller's BullShiat! on Showtime? One of my favorites while it was on, anyways they had a great show on GM foods. It was how asshat "enviromentalists" used anti-GM food lobbing to get starving Afican countries to reject GM corn from the U.S. Good show....
2003-11-13 11:20:34 PM  

Genious, my man, pure genious.
2003-11-13 11:22:37 PM  
Genious? Genius? What the Iced Cream? Nah, someone just complianed about the lack of funny, and I was up at bat, and Swede set it up already so... Aw shucks.
2003-11-13 11:26:09 PM  
I think the genious lies in the fact that I'm really in the mood for some of that all chocolate neopolitan ice cream.

Ah, didn't read swedes post.

Brilliant my man, pure brilliance.
2003-11-13 11:27:06 PM  
copyright protections aside, I didn't give them permission to damage the ecosystem that I live in. But they don't care about that. And we never got to vote on it.

I hear ya.... its a major biatch eh?

Evil pays better--in the short term.
That's a quote I'll remember :). It seems the fate of mankind hinges upon the short term gain (at least right now in some circles in America). We're all watching this years GDP or whatever and screwing the well-being of the next generation.

Put the future before yourself if possible.
2003-11-13 11:27:59 PM  
Credit where credit is due.
2003-11-13 11:30:40 PM  
Fine, Fine, Let's have GM food. I'd really like it if it worked well. But would GM propoents be willing to accept this:
a) A gene not be copyrighted.
b) No one can be sued for using copyrighted genes in seeds or animals. Unless orginal first generation source material is stolen.

Do this, and I'd have no problem with any franken food. Make it opensource.
2003-11-13 11:34:22 PM  
I am so with optik on this one.
I was just searching for the right term before (babbling about Linux) because I am not a programmer....
Opensource genome; I only wish it could come true.
Say it three times, click the ruby slippers, and....

I think we are onto something.... really
2003-11-13 11:35:13 PM  
I wouldn't agree with either of those. What's the point of a corporation throwing millions of money into research if their competitors get the benefits as well? No, genes have to be copyrightable. All I'm saying is that the courts should only award damages to the corporation if it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant actively stole the produce, rather than merely being a victim of chance.

To this end, it's the corporations' responsibility to insulate their crops from the environment if they want to keep their trade secrets. Not their neighbors'. Simple as that, a minor change in the judicial interpretation. No sweeping authoritative government bans needed.
2003-11-13 11:35:16 PM  
I like how the article makes little distinction between breeding the corn naturally (as the Native Americans did) and Monsanto's (& others') Frankenfood. (I have to wonder if this pointless study/PR offensive has anything to do with the very recent FDA approval of a new type of genetically-modified Monsanto corn? Although it's only speculation, such a flaky study would make GE corn seem more palatable... the sad thing is that it wouldn't surprise me if Monsanto (Or Bayer, Kraft, etc) had something to do with this.

For those who don't know, Monsanto has a horrible history of using RIAA-style bullying litigation, develops/sells dangerous consumer goods using Phillip Morris-style ethics, in addition to Clear_Channel-style antitrust/antiAmerican business practices, combined with insufficient US government oversight or regulation. It's a recipe for disaster.
2003-11-13 11:37:36 PM  
Hi, I'm LookSir-Droids, I march into the discussion without reading the thread and throw out a bunch of slanted articles and half-truths that have ALREADY BEEN HASHED OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
2003-11-13 11:37:56 PM  
I'll tell you one thing,

Organic Milk tastes much better.
2003-11-13 11:38:34 PM  
Also, point me to an industry that has been made more efficient by "government oversight or regulation." Go ahead, do it!

(Here's a hint: there aren't any).
2003-11-13 11:38:48 PM  
Lawdy yes, we's gots to protect them helpless corporations and their tenuous profits!
2003-11-13 11:41:09 PM  
Hey entropyblues, you were almost sounding reasonable before that ridiculous straw man. I'm not saying the government should protect anyone! I'm saying the government should be totally passive and not get involved (as in legislation) at all!
2003-11-13 11:41:15 PM  
Well, if you include monopoly-breaking in "government oversight" Anatole I'm sure you could name a few.
2003-11-13 11:42:14 PM  
Wow, you're an angry man, Anatole. Let the man post his articles.

So, you... read all of those links... and have formally declared them slanted and half truthed?

Congrats on not calling him a dumbass however.
2003-11-13 11:44:36 PM  
office_despot I'm especially including "trust-busting," which is one of the worst government abuses in modern times.
2003-11-13 11:45:41 PM  
Straw man? The "Lawdy yes, we's gots to protect them helpless corporations" thing? How do you know I wasn't serious? And when exactly was I "almost sounding reasonable"? Humor makes me less reasonable? I'm so confused...

Oh and:
Well, if you include monopoly-breaking in "government oversight" Anatole I'm sure you could name a few.

2003-11-13 11:46:39 PM  
Name an industry that has been made more efficient by "government oversight or regulation." Go ahead, do it!

This might sound lame, but:
More stringent regulations concerning acceptable levels of toxics in wastewater perhaps has spurred technological advances in their removal. While initially causing efficiency losses due to procedural complications, the adapted technology eventually outperforms. Sure they can always do things cheaper by polluting more. My point is that regulations (not all mind you) spur innovation.
2003-11-13 11:47:17 PM  
office_despot I'm especially including "trust-busting," which is one of the worst government abuses in modern times.

Yes the world would certainly be better off as a 19th century Fat Cat Robber Barons personal paradise.
2003-11-13 11:52:05 PM  
I don't mean to start another thread... but concerning "trustbusting", did Microsoft not get a handjob from the government last go round?
2003-11-13 11:55:08 PM  
Entropy, LFMAO!
"Lawdy yes, we's gots to protect them helpless corporations and their tenuous profits!"

I imagined this being read in the voice of Beau Bridges....... BWAHAHAHAHA!
2003-11-13 11:56:08 PM  
I'm especially including "trust-busting," which is one of the worst government abuses in modern times.

Really? I would consider that the breaking up of Standard Oil, which happened well before you or I were born, benefited us both greatly. For that matter the breakup of AT&T, much more recently, allowed other providers (Sprint, MCI, etc.) to enter the market at great benefit to consumers. The breakup of AT&T probably also forced the resulting companies to become leaner and more driven by competition to innovate -- indeed many of those companies are doing very well. Economic theorists point to IBM as a company that successfully fended off antitrust action, although the resulting competition and innovation might have saved it from spiraling into near-irrelevance.

Anti-trust can be good for consumers AND good for business.
2003-11-13 11:58:22 PM  
1) Copyright your own genome.
2) ....
3) Get profit from offspring!
2003-11-13 11:58:36 PM  
All right, fine, let's take apart the articles Look-SirDroids posted piece by piece.

His "Frankenfood" article talks about how major fast-food corporations rejected using modified potatoes in their proiducts. The article says, and I quote:

"Food companies, supermarkets and restaurants throughout Europe have gone GE-free and placed added pressure on US companies and farmers who wish to export. Japan stated earlier this week that it will begin screening food coming into the country to determine whether it is genetically engineered."

So, in other words, the only reason the companies are going GE-free is because of government intervention, and the resulting drop in demand. Not because of any dangerous "Mad Potato Disease" prion lurking in the genetic code.

His "it wouldn't suprise me" link goes to an Aussie op-ed talking about a study that has to do with working conditions in Monsanto's herbicide factories. It has nothing to do with genetic manipulation. And although it does impugn that specific comapny, Monsanto is far from the only biotech company out there. I said before that I didn't support taking things to litigous extremes.

His "something to do with this" link refers to a New Zealand article where Monsanto's tests are alleged to be flawed, and producing adverse side-effects in rats. It doesn't mention a single confirmed human side-effect. It also doesn't mention the scale of the experiment, or any real technical details. I'll grant it makes a point, but there's not enough info to draw conclusions. And again, this is only one company with questionable ethics.

His "RIAA-style" litigation link, I already discussed in an earlier post.

His "develops/sells" link is totally irrelevant to the subject at hand, it talks about how the U.S. Government (!!!) developed and used Agent Orange, and the side effect people live with to this day.

The "Philip-Morris style ethics" link goes to a study that shows GM crops affect the ecosystem and outpace regular crops. Well gee whiz, ain't that terrible. That's the point the original FARK link was trying to make, that it's no different from engineering a good strain of corn, we can just do it in less time. Again, I'm not for knocking on people's doors and suing them if the seeds drift, but this fearmongering is ludicrous.

His "antitrust" article means nothing to me, as I don't advocate ANY style of anti-monopoly or anti-trust, and that's a whole other discussion....

And as for "insufficient U.S. oversight," all THAT article contains is news that a majority of americans favor GM restrictions. Because if a majority is behind something, it must be a swell idea!
2003-11-14 12:02:24 AM  
Hey guys, way to believe things without checking the facts. Of course Standard Oil was evil! It's self-evident! I'd recommend Dominick Armentano's excellent articles on the history of anti-trust. I quote:

"Between 1870 and 1885 the price of refined kerosene dropped from 26 cents to 8 cents per gallon. In the same period, the Standard Oil Company reduced the [refining] costs per gallon from almost 3 cents in 1870 to .452 cents in 1885. Clearly, the firm was relatively efficient, and its efficiency was being translated to the consumer in the form of lower prices for a much improved product, and to the firm in the form of additional profits.

That story continued for the remainder of the century, with the price of kerosene to the consumer falling to 5.91 cents per gallon in 1897. At the very pinnacle of Standard's industry 'control,' the costs and the prices for refined oil reached their lowest levels in the history of the petroleum industry."

Tell me again why monopolies are bad? (I'm referring to free market monopolies, not false monopolies like the RIAA that are propped up purely because of government special-interest).
2003-11-14 12:04:50 AM  
Because as everyone knows, if you splice a cockroach gene into a cucumber, you get a pickle that tries to run from light. Or if you make a strain of potato that doesn't catch the blight, anyone who eats it turns into Oliver Cromwell.

Christ, people. I never knew so many people had such a complete lack of knowledge of how stuff works.

If you're all so worried about eating cockroach parts, I suggest you never eat at a restaraunt again.
2003-11-14 12:12:18 AM  
Also, AT&T is not an example of a free-market monopoly, it's an example of a goverment-supported monopoly. In 1907 AT&T president Theodore Vail proposed that a monopoly would be more efficient to handle national phone traffic, and the federal government accepted this principle. Look up the Kingsbury Commitment of 1913, and tell me AT&T is an example of the abuse of a "free" market.
2003-11-14 12:12:22 AM  
My main problem is that when monopolies exist, the free market rules no longer apply as previously understood ( when the laws governing competition, etc. are manipulated) and there is in essence no competition, even though it might be under the guise of fair comp. Tell me a politician isn't bribable and I have some interesting property to sell you.
2003-11-14 12:13:45 AM  

Maybe people who don't like GMO's can stop eating, and die, then we can use their bodies to feed plants!
2003-11-14 12:14:53 AM  
So because politicians can be bribable, we're expected not to trust things to the free market? We're expected to pass government regulation that, hey, whaddya know, is going to be controlled by the same politicians!

Politicians ARE corrupt, which is why it's better to keep them as far out of business and the economy as possible.
2003-11-14 12:15:52 AM  
All I want is some Jiffy Pop that tastes like virgin clam. If it's genetically modified and I'll die 5 years early, at least I'll die with a smile on my face and tasty butter on my lips.
2003-11-14 12:18:23 AM  
Hey all you anti-GM foods people. You know that you CAN buy organic foods in pretty much any reputable supermarket. It will just cost you twice as much. So stop trying to stick us with higher food bills just because you suffer from severe paranoia.
2003-11-14 12:20:19 AM  
You have hit upon the golden nail of irony, in that both sides are corrupt as hell yet coexist in some bizarre spectacle.
So because politicians can be bribable, we're expected not to trust things to the free market? We're expected to pass government regulation that, hey, whaddya know, is going to be controlled by the same politicians!

Politicians ARE corrupt, which is why it's better to keep them as far out of business and the economy as possible.
2003-11-14 12:22:45 AM  
Aye, but here's the rub: Both corporations and government are corrupt to some degree. But in order to get your business back, the business has to do a good job by YOUR standards, and no one else's. In order to get your vote, the politician just has to convince a MAJORITY you he's doing a good job, and whether you agree or not, you have to live with it.
2003-11-14 12:40:28 AM  
Why do all the Bible-bashing Darwin worshippers have soooooooo much faith in science until the topic becomes GM foods or missile defence?
2003-11-14 12:48:21 AM  
First of all, Anatole, I started typing my comment just a few minutes after the link was posted. I was interrupted by a phone call from an old friend, which also woke up my young daughter, and I spent quite some time trying to get her to go back to sleep. I came back and quickly finished my comment... So I apologize if the information in my post was redundant.

I do not, however, apologize for posting the links. They are valid and relevant. Further, I was sure to include a variety of credible sources, i.e., BBC, Wired, etc. as support for my argument. However, I'm always willing to keep an open mind. Are you? Do you even have an argument or are you just being a gadfly?

Finally, I never mentioned anything about efficiency; you did. Although I'm not usually a huge proponent of government regulation in general, I believe some industries are served well by it. More importantly, the health benefits -- among other things -- greatly outweigh any inefficiency by such oversight, in many instances.

Example: the DNR (or whoever) mandating hunters bring in their deer to get tested for chronic wasting disease. It's a pain in the ass (inefficient?) for the hunters; but in the long run, it saves lives and prevents disease. Would you rather eat "efficient meat" or USDA-approved meat?

If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then one could even make the argument that the government's inefficient short term meddling is efficient in the long term... (by freeing up hospital beds, doctors, resources, or whatever else by doing things right the first time.) I don't care if you agree, but it's a valid point.

AND... I'd love to stay here and be awed by your undergraduate-level musings & devil's advocatedness, Anatole, and swoon as you not only 'miss the point' but totally miss the big picture. If no one has put you in your place by tomorrow, then I'll come back and break it all down for you, Champ.
2003-11-14 01:09:24 AM  
GM food is a necessity for the future of mankind, as the population increases, higher yields will be needed and eventually we will need to GM plants to live in zero G for our space missions, then we will need to GM plants to live in a Martian atmosphere, then we will need to GM people to live in a Martian atmosphere. Sterilized GM food is just like copy protection.. you get to watch it grow, but you can't make a copy so someone else can watch it grow. But the Genes will get out eventually Mutation! Its an imperfect world. As Genetics become more understood a natural course of advancement will be for Humanity to make changes for the betterment of mankind... More food, Smarter more Perfect Canine companions( Evolution will constantly give us obstacles to overcome. Resistant bacteria.. new viral strains that come seeming out of the blue. Fungus that makes our feet itch! The very future of mankind could rely on our ability to overcome these and other obstacles like the big robot overlords that enslave most of mankind or the aliens with no noses. No nose knows like a no-nose-alien knows. We arent cheating nature, we are nature! Our very interaction with nature itself creates situations where Dogs benefit us with their abilities and we benefit them with our ability to keep them warm and fed and parasite free! (plus they really dig the free scratches behind their ears.) the same way Trees benefit from woody the wood pecker eating parasites on them, or the way that flowering plants benefit from Bees and Bees benefit from flowering plants.. right now Mankinds Ally the Domestic Honeybee is being threatened from two fronts. Pesticide Resistant Mites are attacking their young and Africanized Bees*(AKA Killer Bees) are breeding and spreading faster than they are. Killer Bees are Genetically modifying the Domestic Bees!(and doing it in a way that negatively impacts mankind) Why arent People protesting against them?!? Will nature find a solution by itself or will Mankind need to use the brain that nature gave us to discover a solution to save the domestic honeybee? Frankly my children and I would be devastated without honey in our cereal! And dont forget locust! Nature and Mankinds common enemy! A Swarm of locust can wipe out forests, plains, crops killing the habitat that little woodland creatures need to survive, killing the crops that feed starving people. West Nile anyone? Mosquitoes are a threat to everyone! Especially the elderly, children, and horses. Already mankind, working with nature has found a bacteria that is lethal to mosquito larvae but harmless to humans, fish, frogs, and other animals.. Although, Wal-Mart charges too much for it, there is no telling how many lives it may have saved by killing off mosquitoes. So if it takes a few Fish genes to put in corn so that locust wont eat it then so be it! These scientists have studied the genes in question and determine that they only produce a certain kind of hormone or chemical that happens be rejected by the physiology of certain bugs but has no affect on humans. Yay! Nature by itself may have taken eons before it came up with that solution. What about the Golden Corn that was fortified with genes that produce certain vitamins that prevent children from developing a deficiency that causes blindness? For that matter some people will want to modify genes in their children, so that they wont have to live through cancer, sickle cell or be more resistant to heart disease, less chance of any number of genetic illnesses. Already Gene therapy is helping people in limited cases. Wouldnt it be great if diabetes sufferers no longer had to endure painful insulin injections or blood sugar tests? It is Manifest Destiny. Plain and simple. Genetics is the code that our Matrix is written in(with a little quantum stuff thrown in) The programs in the matrix have been creating patterns out of chaos for eons, only now are we beginning to understand that we can do more than selectively breed corn, we can take a look at the program, cut and paste good stuff in and bad stuff out, and I believe that in the not so far future entirely new creations will be made unlike any the earth has seen before. Im not talking Tamacco.. Im talking about a completely new fruity vegetable thing that maybe tastes like chicken, super nutritious and yummy and you can eat it raw! Why not? Guiness brand Watermelon? Just stick a tap in it and fill your mug! It shouldnt be too hard just have a watermelon that has some of the same chemicals that bacteria use to convert sugars to alcohol have the genes only express themselves when the watermelon reaches maturity, throw in some oak genes for strength and flavor, and some barely and hops genes for the Beery taste. Use a fertilizer with lots of nitrogen if you like the frothy bubbles. Itd be nice to see some talented Farkers photoshop some Mega-Corp Branded GM Foods!
2003-11-14 01:25:09 AM  
is this supposed to be a middle school social studies textbook or a news article?
2003-11-14 01:31:34 AM  
As an ex-geneticist turned accounting student, I whole-heartedly endorse genetically modified foods, especially our new maize overlords!

2003-11-14 02:38:09 AM  
Mike Groovy

Yep, Proteomics has come along a little too late to do me any good (never be able to eat the apple and be transformed into a shapeshifting fiend). Take a few generations more, I suppose.
We play for high stakes - 99.8% of all species are extinct.
Manipulation of our own genome is probably our only way to beat the clock of inevitability.
I, for one, am pleased with Monsanto's advances. Sure beats the Aztec ceremony for improving crop performance: SEE: Xipetotec...
2003-11-14 03:01:27 AM  
Whoa there. I actually support the development of GM foods, but this article is retarded. You can't really compare the two approaches, cuz one take decades to produce the slightest results, and the other leaps - literally - millions of years in a very short time. I cite the tomatoes with fish genes as an example of radical manipulation that shares genes between species that have virtually no common ancestor within the past few hundred million years.

At the end of the day, all of us should demand more testing, regulation, and that products be marked as to whether or not they contain GM foods thus allowing the consumer to make the decision for themselves.

Mikegroovy... dude... please break your posts up into paragraphs. That block of text was a killer.
2003-11-14 03:47:55 AM  
Anatole - this is completly off topic, but you're being a little short sighted in your view that government regulation has never increased the efficiency of business. It is definetly arguable that due to the inconvenience and momentary loss of eficiency caused by the regulations regarding worker safety and health (including the length of the workday) throughout the late 1800's and early 1900's businesses were forced to develop methods and tools to increase efficiency to compensate. One invention or development lead to another and the amount of goods produced by any one worker surpassed the original level. This is by no means the only cause of advancement in this way, but it is definetly A cause.
2003-11-14 04:53:29 AM  
2003-11-14 05:07:58 AM  
Genetic modification in the form of selective breeding has been shown to be safe after thousands of years of use, therefore, genetic modification by splicing in any old genes you feel like must be perfectly safe, too.

Wow, gotta love that logic. People get their ears pierced all the time, and tattoos are fairly commonplace as well. Therefore, I shouldn't expect any difficulty when I get my arms sliced off and grafted to my forehead, and my kidneys placed on the outside of my body. After all, body modification is perfectly harmless, right?
2003-11-14 05:22:16 AM  
Wow. What a sad way of viewing things. Do you cry going to sleep at night or are you fully dead inside now? What do you suggest I do? Report to our local Transnational Corp for lobotomies?

Why don't you start by tossing your corporate-made, polluting, hazardous-material-containing computer if you're so paranoid about OMG CORPORATIONS EVIL. 'course, you'd be better off tossing the ideology...
2003-11-14 05:25:02 AM  
MikeGroovy that is the most hilariously long paragraph I have ever seen!
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