Re: [atheists-55] Re: Indian Ocean concert - please save the dates.

From: Malcolm
Sent on: Thursday, August 4, 2011 11:23 AM
I don't think we should be dismissive of Emil's argument though.  As  
far as I know, we don't have any controlled long term studies on the  
safety of GM foods.  On top of that companies produce many new  
chemicals each year and put it in our products (BPA, for example)  
without doing significant testing on them.  You cannot say that adding  
a cocoa producing gene to a cow is safe, the body is a chaotic system  
so small perturbations can produce vastly different outcomes.  Maybe  
adding the cocoa gene causes another pathway to get out of whack and  
now the milk is full of melamine, which is bad.

But I don't think it's an issue of "We haven't proven X to be safe" or  
vice versa.  You can always do a longer longitudinal study.  We have  
been doing an ad-hoc study on GM food for 15 years with no ill- 
effects, but someone can always say "Well maybe it takes longer", and  
that will be true for any study you do.  The reality is we pick an  
arbitrary point and say it's safe enough.  As far as I know, the  
current scientific consensus is that our understanding of biology  
would have to be significantly off for the changes we are making to  
have a negative effect.  Unless my understanding is incorrect as well,  
the changes we are making are not significantly more radical than the  
changes we make by breeding, but I'd be happy to be educated on this.   
On top of that many make the argument that the cost of not doing it is  
worse than the cost of doing it.  It's easy to just say "this is bad  
because we don't fully understand it", but welcome to reality, we  
don't fully understand anything.  I think we should maintain a  
conservative perspective when evaluating them though, rather safe than  
sorry.

- Malcolm

On Aug 4, 2011, at 11:03 AM, Doug wrote:

> I pretty much agree with Malcolm here.
>
> To Emil, I could just as easily say if you claim that regular  
> tomatoes are safe then what's your evidence?  Have you conducted a  
> longitudinal study on this years tomato crop?  They all have  
> mutations in them that make them slightly different from last year.   
> Have you analyzed the long-term effects and possible genetic  
> interactions that arise  from cross-pollination with every other   
> tomato out there?  Basically what you are saying is silly.
>
> What matters is what proteins and other chemical compounds the genes  
> make, that was the whole point of my chocolate milk example, we  
> already know sugar and chocolate are safe they don't magically  
> become unsafe just because they were produced by a cow cell.  I  
> think it would be reasonable to require that you only design plants  
> or animals to produce chemicals are proteins that we already know  
> are safe for consumption if they are going to be in a food product.  
> The point is though that it's not some whole seperate thing where  
> you need to start from scratch.  If we engineer a tree that emits  
> mustard gas we know in advance it's going to be deadly, it's not  
> going to surprise anyone.  Now yes as with bisphenol sometimes our  
> ideas about what's safe change as new information comes along, but  
> so what. Just make some new batch of seeds that don't produce  
> whatever substance.  There isn't a problem you can engineer your way  
> into that you can't engineer your way out of.
>
> Also, do you know what the potential consequences of some round up  
> ready plant being crossed with a wild type are? Just another plant  
> that doesn't die when you spray it with roundup.  That's very likely  
> it. I am absolutely saying though that if this mutation came about  
> by natural means than it is equally safe as a GM one.  Emphasize on  
> equally cus they are both potentially unsafe as well, in other words  
> it's not like nature can't make a poisonous plant.  Yet you accept  
> every day that it probably doesn't.  Basically you trust random  
> chance mutation more than those that a human being purposely put  
> there, a human who was consciously trying to make something safe for  
> human consumption.  Doesn't it seem like if anything you would more  
> likely want testing in the former case, yet I don't see you calling  
> for it.  Where is the false analogy? Why would the plant be any more  
> likely to produce a compound that was safe? You're the one  
> subscribing to a fallacy and it's the fallacy that anything  
> "natural" must somehow be good or harmless.  Random mutations don't  
> have any motivation to not harm you.  However, The scientists  
> creating genetically modified crops certainly do.
>
> -Doug
>
> On Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 8:19 AM, Malcolm <[address removed]> wrote:
> Couldn't most of these arguments be applied to breeding as well?   
> AFAIK, pretty much none of fruits and vegetables you buy at your  
> local supermarket bare much of a resemblance to their pre- 
> agriculture ancestors.  Just look at what we did to bananas.  My  
> point is, GMO might sound new and scary but is it all that different  
> from what we've been doing since the beginning of agriculture?
>
> - Malcolm
>
>
> On Aug 3, 2011, at 11:27 PM, Emil Volcheck wrote:
>
> Hello, Doug,
>
> You characterized Deshmukh's position as "well I don't really
> know but something bad is bound to happen, so we should ban it".
> I think he addressed that when he called for testing.  Let's apply
> some skeptical and critical thinking to Monsanto's claims.
>
> If the claim is that GMOs are safe, what is their evidence?
> Have they conducted a longitudinal study?  Analyzed the
> long-term effects and possible genetic interactions that arise
> from cross-pollination with wild types?  I think the evidence
> is thin.  It's not unreasonable or being a "hippie" to ask for
> stronger evidence before accepting the claims.  When
> engineering a complex system, there can be side-effects
> that take a long time to appear.  For instance, bisphenols
> are complicated molecules, once thought safe enough
> to use for babies.  Then it was discovered that they had
> hormonal side-effects, something completely out of the
> realm of expectation at the time.  Could there be
> unanticipated side-effects to certain GMOs that exceed
> today's science but become apparent in the year 2040?
> I don't know myself, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility
> without evidence.
>
> Also, have you noticed some of the contradictions in the fear  
> mongering
> about these plants "replicating out of control on their own" and being
> terminators.  How does that add up? You can't have it both ways.
>
> The foreign genes inserted into GMO crops have been proven to
> appear in ordinary non-GMO crops through cross-pollination,
> and then those plants reproduce.
>
> inherently better? Safer?  How would it be different at all?  Did  
> you know,
> for instance, that there are roundup resistant cocaine plants? Not  
> from
> being GM either, but because they have been spraying shit tons of  
> roundup on
> cocaine crops out of planes in Columbia for years.  A naturally  
> resistant
> strain developed simply due to random genetic mutation. Genetic  
> engineering
>
> This is a process of natural selection.  The plants "discovered" the
> resistance through a combination of pre-existing genetic material
> and random mutations that conferred a selective advantage.
> This is categorically different than a genetic change that was
> engineered and inserted by humans.  If the intent here is to suggest
> that the same effect could be produced by a natural as well as
> an artificial process, therefore the artificial process must be
> equally safe, then I'd say this is a fallacy of false analogy.
> Your claim might be correct, but a skeptic should hesitate
> to accept your reasoning.
>
> In any case, I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with what you and
> Deshmukh are claiming.  My point is that we could be a bit more
> skeptical and ask for more evidence before dismissing each
> others' arguments out-of-hand.
>
> Thanks,
>
> --Emil
>
> On Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 11:32, Doug <[address removed]> wrote:
> Harming the ecosystem is a bit subjective.  To some anything man  
> does is
> considered harm.   They probably shed a tear for "unnatural  
> extinction of
> the small pox virus.
>
> We aren't talking about ozone or climate change.  We are talking about
> genetic engineering of plants. They have nothing to do with each  
> other. I'm
> not defending monsanto, it seems like they may be misusing this  
> stuff if so
> have at them, toss they all in jail, lynch them in the streets, I  
> don't
> care. you seem to be missing the point.  Which is that you are  
> spreading
> fear based on ignorance about GM anything.  Your whole argument  
> basically
> boils down to "well I don't really know but something bad is bound to
> happen, so we should ban it".  I'm sorry if that sounds ignorant to  
> me.
> What if I just inserted the genes for producing coco and sugar into  
> a cow so
> it could produced chocolate milk?  What that be bad?  Is that cow more
> likely to grow 10 feet tall with five horns and start ransacking the
> neighborhood? Are your children from drinking the EVIL GM chocolate  
> milk?
> Some fool like you probably thinks "well idk that's a possibility  
> maybe we
> should test it".  That's one of those things that's sound reasonable  
> if you
> don't know any better. Like "teach both sides of the controversy" for
> example.  However,  I do know better and let me tell you, it's not a
> possibility and if you think that it is it's only because you are  
> indeed
> completely ignorant about genetic engineering.
>
> Also, kinda of along the lines of what John is saying you could  
> probably
> accomplish these same things they have done by modifying genes with
> selective breeding over time.  It might take longer but would the  
> product be
> inherently better? Safer?  How would it be different at all?  Did  
> you know,
> for instance, that there are roundup resistant cocaine plants? Not  
> from
> being GM either, but because they have been spraying shit tons of  
> roundup on
> cocaine crops out of planes in Columbia for years.  A naturally  
> resistant
> strain developed simply due to random genetic mutation. Genetic  
> engineering
> is just a means to and end, and it's the end you seem not to like.
>
> Also, have you noticed some of the contradictions in the fear  
> mongering
> about these plants "replicating out of control on their own" and being
> terminators.  How does that add up? You can't have it both ways.  
> Another
> thing if these things are so terrible for farmers, the farmers could  
> just
> not use them. If it really puts them in this huge economic hole then  
> just
> grow something else. Seems likes it's a problem that would solve  
> itself.
>
> Anyway, yeah, like I said stop the practices if that's what you are
> against.  Figure out whether it's terminator seeds or roundup ready  
> or the
> fact that they are conning people with it and make JUST that  
> illegal.  Stop
> trying to frighten people that anything that's genetically modified  
> is some
> kind of scary dangerous mutant when you have no evidence to that  
> effect.
> Natural random mutation could just as easily introduce something  
> dangerous
> into our food supply all replicating and interbreeding on their own  
> and
> shit.  Maybe we should have a batteries of tests that we institute  
> for every
> single plant of every new generation.  You know just to be on the safe
> side... yeeash
>
> -Doug
>
>
>
>
>
> -- 
> Emil Volcheck
> [address removed]
> http://EmilVolche...­
>
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