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Author Topic: Is genetically modified food safe?  (Read 2226 times)

Offline cheryl j

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Is genetically modified food safe?
« on: 23/02/2013 16:02:58 »
I was just curious about whether so far there has been any indication that eating genetically modified fruits or vegetables has any health risks? Has any one found any toxins or carcinogens in these foods?

My husband, a farmer, says part of the controversy over genetically modified foods is about the disappearance of varieties of seeds, and too much genetic uniformity, as well the economic issue of giant companies like Monsanto that farmers will essentially be forced to buy from every year. Those seem like valid concerns, but in the news, I tend to see more discussion about the the health risks of eating those foods, but no actual facts to support it.
« Last Edit: 27/02/2013 23:19:56 by chris »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: genetically modified food
« Reply #1 on: 23/02/2013 20:10:26 »
There has been a discussion about Genetically Modified foods here off and on.

I agree that a lack of crop diversity may be a problem, although this is happening in numerous agricultural fields.  The reason why, say Bing cherries are not cross fertile is that with grafting, they are clonally produced.

However, it is handy for the person shopping for trees to go the the nursery and know exactly the characteristics that a Bing cherry tree will have, rather than the random chances with a tree grown from seed.

To our digestive system, the GM proteins themselves should be little different from the non GM proteins.

However, to me, the biggest concern is WHAT is being done.  One of the big GM updates is herbicide resistance.  My fear is that breeding herbicide resistance into the plants would cause greater herbicide application to the land, with greater runoff, as well as a greater risk that the herbicide would get into our food supply.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: genetically modified food
« Reply #2 on: 25/02/2013 09:40:34 »
Many plants contain toxic chemicals, like apple seeds, tobacco plants, bitter almonds, and even staple crops like potato and cassava. And yet these foods are still consumed widely despite the known risks. (Some bitter chemicals in plants may have the effect of discouraging pests and herbivores from consuming whole species.)

There is a chance that a genetically added protein or increased levels of a new protein could cause unexpected health side-effects in a previously "known" food, and that is a risk that both the originating laboratory and the public would like to avoid, by methods like:
  • Showing that exactly the same chemical exists in other "known" foods, in similar concentrations
  • Ensuring that the new or modified protein does not occur in the edible parts of the plant (for a fruit tree, it may be expressed only in the roots or leaves, for example)
  • Performing tests on animals or human cells in culture, to show there are no adverse health effects
  • The same steps could be taken with genetically-modified animals

But some irresponsible food modifications should be carefully avoided, eg adding known allergens like peanut proteins to apples, for example...
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: genetically modified food
« Reply #3 on: 25/02/2013 13:17:58 »
..... as well the economic issue of giant companies like Monsanto that farmers will essentially be forced to buy from every year.

A valid concern and one which I share along with the lack of seed diversity. GM crops may take many years to reveal their legacy, by which time it may too late to correct.

While protecting crops from disease, insects and fungal attack may seem a good idea on the surface, there could be problems in the future. Just suppose a perfect crop were to be gained by using GM seed and this were to become the chosen seed of farmers worldwide (or the only option worldwide due to Monsanto having cornered the market). For perhaps 10 or 20 years all's well. Unfailing bumper crops year after year because the plant's main pest (a wasp for example) has been eradicated by the genetic modification of its favourite food. Unbeknown to us, the eradication of this wasp is leading to an explosion in the population of a beetle, the larvae of which were the chosen nursery for the young wasp. Now over 80% of the beetle larvae mature to egg producing adults, where perhaps only 20% would have survived due to the wasp. The beetle itself may not pose a threat to the crop, but the fungal spores it carries are. That fungus has never been of any concern, because with beetle numbers kept low by the wasp, the number of beetles carrying the spores was too low to spread the spores enough. With a greater number of beetles, the chances of passing spores from one beetle to another increases. Where perhaps only 10% of the beetles would carry the spores in the past, with beetle concentration greatly increased, now all the beetles carry the spores. The crop is devastated.

I'll grant that the above may be a tad far fetched, but it is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility. Mess around with one species and another is bound to be effected, which will affect another and another.......

What I have described is closed circuit, but the chances are that there would be many many more links in the chain. Who knows where, or even if, it will end? Sometimes it is as well to heed the old adage 'better the enemies you know'.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Is genetically modified food safe?
« Reply #4 on: 19/03/2013 17:53:39 »
I started looking for some seeds for this year's planting, and started noticing a few listed as "NON-GMO". 

What I was actually looking for was open pollinated seeds.  If somehow we lost our "seed crops", perhaps some day we could end up with millions of tons of sterile corn, and nothing to plant for the next year's crops.

Since the beginning of time, humans have been selecting the best seeds to replant the next year.  The sterile crops completely takes this choice away from the individual.

If I was purchasing "Roundup-Ready" seed, I'd put either some seed (either before planting, or from the crop) into controlled storage, so that in 20 years, the patent will expire and the seeds will be off patent.

Otherwise, I have no doubt that the seed companies will patent a newer version of the seeds, and take the old version off the market several years before the patent expires.
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: Is genetically modified food safe?
« Reply #5 on: 20/03/2013 23:03:33 »
That all seems spooky to me and it worries me that it could all boil down to to that in reality!  Potentially genetically over time basically starving our future children when the whole system fails or collapses on us.... just scenarios but worrisome just the same.. we are a logging/ farming community here in humboldt County upper Northern california. And a lot of these worries are voiced here in many of the active farming communities here and scarey stories of cancer causing agents to less nutritional food being genetically engineered foods and thus there is a huge move to boycotting basically genetically engineered foods so we rely highly on a seed based farm.. but as was mentioned... what will we or can we do to make sure that we are not forced buy these modified seeds because the pure non modified seeds are just not available anymore? I have a old suitcase that my grandma took with her everyhere she moved! I bet you all would never guess what was in it?.. well I will tell you there was one very good sized jar
of corn seeds and multiple other vegetable and fruit seeds kept clean and
dry.... She kept her important familiy papers and a jar of black sand
speckled with gold and her mining claim paperwork! Lol... She planted every year and replaced her seeds constantly always making sure she saved enough from each jar to plant again least her crop was lost to inclement weather or bugs etc.. She was a very serioous woman when it came to protecting her suitcase...She treated like a life she was protecting...:-) She was an amazing woman...
 

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Re: Is genetically modified food safe?
« Reply #5 on: 20/03/2013 23:03:33 »

 

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