WaPo: Can we please cut it out with all of this anti-GMO asininity?

posted at 2:41 pm on June 3, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

Human beings have been using various agricultural techniques to genetically modify (i.e., breed for preferred traits in) their food for thousands of years, and the more recent and more rapidly innovative advent of genetically modified foods via laboratory has helped scientists and farmers to develop hardier, more nutritious, pest-and-weather-resistant crops that have the ability to feed more people while using up less space and fewer resources (which, I might mention, is a pretty great environmental development to boot).

Despite their boundless potential for feeding the hungry and alleviate poverty the world over, genetically modified organisms have inspired a small but vociferous and well-marketed opposition campaign among many of the same types of people who would probably dismiss you as a knuckle-dragging, anti-science flat-earther for questioning the absolute and catastrophic imminence of climate-change disasters. If rising global temperatures are indeed the all-consuming environmental problem that The Party of Science portends, then GMOs are going to be an essential part of any adaptation strategy — but let that not deter the voters of Jackson County, Oregon, who last month joined several other counties spread across California, Hawaii, and Washington to ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops:

Residents in a southwest Oregon county voted emphatically to ban genetically engineered crops following a campaign that attracted a bushel of out-of-state money.

With most of the ballots counted in Tuesday’s all-mail election, Jackson County voters approved the measure by a 2-to-1 margin. ..

Though genetically engineered crops are common and no mainstream science has shown they are unsafe, opponents contend GMOs are still experimental and promote the use of pesticides. They say more testing is needed. …

“Regrettably ideology defeated sound science and common sense in Jackson County,” Barry Bushue, president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, said in a statement. “We respect the voice of the voters, but remain convinced Measure 15-119 is bad public policy. While this election is over, this debate is not. We will continue to fight to protect the rights of all farmers to choose for themselves how they farm.”

The editors of the Washington Post would agree with that sensible assessment, as they outlined in a piece this week criticizing the anti-”Frankenfood” “fundamentalism” of these anti-science and trend-chasing yuppies:

There is no mainstream scientific evidence showing that foods containing GMOs are any more or less harmful for people to consume than anything else in the supermarket, despite decades of development and use. If that doesn’t convince some people, they have the option of simply buying food bearing the “organic” label. There is no need for the government to stigmatize products with a label that suggests the potential for harm. Outright bans, meanwhile, are even worse than gratuitous labeling.

The issue is not just one of agribusiness profits, though some companies certainly stand to make money by creating and selling GMOs. The application of current biotechnological tools to agriculture offers a wide array of benefits , benefits that are only beginning to be seen. There is the potential to create crops that are easier to grow, better for the environment and more nutrient-rich. Smart genetic modification is one important tool available to sustain the world’s growing multitudes. Making good on that promise will require both an openness to the technology and serious investment in GMOs within wealthy countries. The prospect of helping to feed the starving and improve the lives of people across the planet should not be nipped because of the self-indulgent fretting of first-world activists.

Amen to that.


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Believe it or not it’s not just hippies that are “anti-GMO” or at least would like to have labeling.

maables on June 3, 2014 at 5:08 PM

People still have a long-standing trust that the stuff on the supermarket shelves is basically ok, because they want to believe, after everything, that their society/government/culture has at least some of their interests at heart. It doesn’t. And therefore, American libertarians have proven themselves the ultimate useful idiots in this and so many ways.

vlad martel on June 3, 2014 at 4:36 PM

So society/government/culture shouldn’t be trusted – which is what libertarians believe, but you completely trust the current government to tell us all how to live and what to eat – and yet you think the libertarians are the useful idiots…..

dentarthurdent on June 3, 2014 at 5:10 PM

I suggest they next insist that only unmodified wheat be allowed to be grown in their county. (Hint, basically there is no such thing. Wheat has been so modified over the thousands of years its been farmed that it needs human intervention to propagate.)

I was in line at Trader Joe’s the other day and the lady in front of me was buying beer for her husband. However, he would only drink beer that used non-generically modified grain. They had to find some type of imported beer because no American beer company would put up with such nonsense (for now).

Fred 2 on June 3, 2014 at 5:12 PM

However, he would only drink beer that used non-generically modified grain. They had to find some type of imported beer because no American beer company would put up with such nonsense (for now).

Fred 2 on June 3, 2014 at 5:12 PM

http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/03/26/how-can-beer-be-genetically-modified/

Most beers are inherently non-GM because of the ingredients they’re made from: typically water, wheat or barley, hops and yeast. In case you’re trying to guess which of those organisms are the genetically modified ones, here’s a reminder of the genetically modified crops that are currently being grown in the United States: Corn, soybean, canola, and cotton a.k.a. The Big Four, and alfalfa, squash and papayas.

Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Just as soon as congress outlaws monsanto suing the farms growing crops next to their GMO garbage for seed patent infringement in an attempt to shut all heirloom growers out of the market so they can manipulate and profit 100% from the sale of ALL seeds AND the products grown from them.

EFF you, AND monsanto. GMO cretins get no quarter from me either.

Diluculo on June 3, 2014 at 5:20 PM

Because Pioneer has 0% market share.

I continue to be dumbfounded…

Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Most beers are inherently non-GM because of the ingredients they’re made from: typically water, wheat or barley, hops and yeast. In case you’re trying to guess which of those organisms are the genetically modified ones, here’s a reminder of the genetically modified crops that are currently being grown in the United States: Corn, soybean, canola, and cotton a.k.a. The Big Four, and alfalfa, squash and papayas.
Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 5:18 PM

You forgot rice – which the big US piss-water beer brands like Budweiser use….

dentarthurdent on June 3, 2014 at 5:24 PM

You forgot rice – which the big US piss-water beer brands like Budweiser use….

dentarthurdent on June 3, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Budweiser isn’t beer.

Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 5:26 PM

You forgot rice – which the big US piss-water beer brands like Budweiser use….

dentarthurdent on June 3, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Budweiser isn’t beer.

Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Well, ya got me there – I can’t disagree with that.

dentarthurdent on June 3, 2014 at 5:29 PM

You forgot rice – which the big US piss-water “beer” brands like Budweiser use….

dentarthurdent on June 3, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Budweiser isn’t beer.

Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Maybe this is closer to the truth…
But as you indicate, calling Bud “beer” is really a truth in advertising issue….

dentarthurdent on June 3, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Budweiser isn’t beer.

Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Many years ago, we went to a family pre-wedding get-together in LaCrosse, WI. The hosts had 2 big coolers full of beer cans – choices were Pabst, Blatz, and Strohs.
I asked them if they had any actual beer available….
Rough night.

dentarthurdent on June 3, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Pabst Blue Ribbon! Blatz, Strohs, and Old Style all give me sour belly.

Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Montesanto would never sell anything that would hurt you.

Ever.

Remember, trust me and naiveté are closely related.

Bigbullets on June 3, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Yes. Monsanto (I have no idea who Montesanto is) is deliberately poisoning all of its customers, so it can take over the world and make billions selling food to dead people.

Sometimes I wonder if people even think before they type. SMDH

Thanks to Murphy9 for posting all the factual information.

How about people get a choice if they want to eat GMO or not. Yes to GMO labeling.

I like choices.

coolrepublica on June 3, 2014 at 2:56 PM

They tried that in California, and the people rejected it. It’s unnecessary. You want it? You pay for it.

JannyMae on June 3, 2014 at 6:08 PM

dentarthurdent on June 3, 2014 at 5:02 PM

No worries and thanks for the correction. I teach this stuff and know what I am talking about. Read thru the comments and you will realize that they are all over the boards as people have no clue about evolutionary biology. That is where the answers are. As Darwin said, “Nothing makes sense unless it is seen in the light of evolution.” On another note the fact that > 60% of Americans are overweight or obese is a clue that the government has it wrong and why should we trust them on GMO’s?
Some could be harmless, I will not dispute but let’s be sure first.

dentalque on June 3, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Pabst Blue Ribbon! Blatz, Strohs, and Old Style all give me sour belly.

Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Blahhhhh….
I don’t drink any of the large scale manufactured beers – just micro-brews for me – like Breckenridge Brewing (Avalanche), Bristol Brewing (Laughing Lab), Left Hand, and such.

dentarthurdent on June 3, 2014 at 6:21 PM

The problem with GMO is that it will force evolution in the insects that eat those foods and breed bigger and badder bugs, just like our war on germs has produced bigger and badder, medicine resistant germs.

We should live as life comes and stop trying to modify this stuff so darned much.

SauerKraut537 on June 3, 2014 at 6:46 PM

It is not about monsanto trying to kill their consumers, that’s a frigging stupid comment. It’s about monsanto getting rid of all heirloom seeds and produce so they can be the main, or only, seed producer in the world.

If the only place to get seeds to grow your your food is monsanto, who are you going to bow down to? What will they demand once they have a stranglehold on your food? Ridding the world of natural heirloom seeds is the one and only step they need to take. Forget whether or not their genetically modified produce might kill you because they bred the seeds to produce plants that make toxins that kill bugs, they also kill humans. No big deal eh neocons? We need a population reduction anyway, and it has the benefit of being stimulus for monsanto too! Bonus!

Anyone defending monsanto is guilty of genocide, whether it’s short or long term. I want natural seeds, I’m not planting that GMO sht.

Diluculo on June 3, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Guilty of genocide?

Mutterings of religious fanatics.

Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 6:54 PM

25% of market share in certain crops is 100% control now. amazing.

Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 6:57 PM

Yes. Monsanto (I have no idea who Montesanto is) is deliberately poisoning all of its customers, so it can take over the world and make billions selling food to dead people.

Sometimes I wonder if people even think before they type. SMDH

Thanks to Murphy9 for posting all the factual information.

JannyMae on June 3, 2014 at 6:08 PM

Good point.

I wonder the same thing.

Bigbullets on June 3, 2014 at 7:03 PM

It is not about monsanto trying to kill their consumers, that’s a frigging stupid comment.

Diluculo on June 3, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Heh.

Bigbullets on June 3, 2014 at 7:04 PM

No worries and thanks for the correction. I teach this stuff and know what I am talking about. Read thru the comments and you will realize that they are all over the boards as people have no clue about evolutionary biology. That is where the answers are. As Darwin said, “Nothing makes sense unless it is seen in the light of evolution.” On another note the fact that > 60% of Americans are overweight or obese is a clue that the government has it wrong and why should we trust them on GMO’s?
Some could be harmless, I will not dispute but let’s be sure first.

dentalque on June 3, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Darwin was wrong about a lot of stuff.

A lot.

Bigbullets on June 3, 2014 at 7:07 PM

Bigbullets on June 3, 2014 at 7:07 PM

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

dentalque on June 3, 2014 at 7:18 PM

Could be – but it was explained as a beet and rutabega hybrid Cliff grew at home.

dentarthurdent on June 3, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Hmmm, I musta missed that episode of “Cheers”

hawkeye54 on June 3, 2014 at 7:25 PM

Not quite. For some people increased activity does work. Others talk about no matter how much they work out they never lose weight. It’s not until they work out and change their diet do they lose weight.

ConDem

And some people who change their diets and work out don’t lose weight either….what’s your point? Some people who smoke live long healthy lives too. Doesn’t change the fact that smoking is almost universally bad for one’s health.

For the overwhelming majority of people, the problem is they take in more calories than they burn. For the overwhelming majority of people, the problem is just what the guy you’re responding to said it was. Just because there are exceptions doesn’t refute his point. There are exceptions to everything.

xblade on June 3, 2014 at 7:42 PM

I read an article about which beers to avoid drinking for some mysterious reason… which turned out to be that the key ingredients had GMOs in them. And surprise, surprise, pretty much all the major American beers had GMO ingredients. You had to get down to Heineken to find a non-GMO beer. (And I don’t care for Heinies much.)

TMOverbeck on June 3, 2014 at 8:10 PM

For the overwhelming majority of people, the problem is they take in more calories than they burn. For the overwhelming majority of people, the problem is just what the guy you’re responding to said it was. Just because there are exceptions doesn’t refute his point. There are exceptions to everything.

xblade on June 3, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Except physics.

If you take in 100 calories and expend 100 or more calories, you will not gain weight no matter how bad your poor thyroid gland is doing. I always hated that excuse and always garnered evil looks when I called B.S.

Diluculo on June 3, 2014 at 8:21 PM

if a beer is considered having GMO content, it is because the brewer added corn syrup. if its got corn syrup in it, its probably disgusting anyways.

Murphy9 on June 3, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Regarding “seedless watermelon”, I thought I would clear up what it is, mainly because how they are made is pretty cool, but also because the beginning of the thread gets it wrong. Many varieties of seedless watermelon have been produced that produce fruit of many colors, sizes, shapes, rind patterns, petiole shape, etc. So how does one get a seed to a plant that gives a seedless fruit?

The manipulated ingredient of a seedless watermelon is the tetraploid parent produced naturally (rarely) or through the application of the compound colchicine (chemically). Colchicine inhibits cell division and results in the doubling of the number of chromosomes from 2n of a diploid to 4n of the tetraploid. Many varieties of tetraploid plants can be made from the diversity of diploid watermelon variety (and many other plants) and is 100% watermelon. When it undergoes meiosis, it produces a gamete having 2n chromosomes. It is not transgenic.

To produce a seed can grow into a plant that produces seedless watermelon, a tetraploid watermelon parent (2n gamete) and a diploid watermelon parent (1n gamete) is are crossed. The seeds produced are triploid, or 3n. They sprout grow and can undergo mitosis just fine. The become triploid plants and produce flowers that undergo meiosis… or try to. Apparently math is hard even for plants and the triploid plant simply can’t divide an odd number (3n) evenly by 2 and is sterile. The flowers don’t know the pistil and stamen are sterile though and goes on to make the fruit… it may even produce some aborted seed (usually seen as white undeveloped seed-like substances in your ‘seedless watermelon’).

And that is how it is done. They are not transgenic (though they could be). Most people consider GMO foods to be limited to transgenic foods, though I am sure some of the misinformed would vehemently disagree but nothing a rational person could say would dissuade them anyway.

SparkyZ on June 3, 2014 at 10:17 PM

Gmo is preferable to more pesticides.

cimbri on June 4, 2014 at 1:00 PM

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