What's the bid deal with GMO's?

lpinkmountainMarch 12, 2012

If you've been following the discussion on GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) you may be wondering why enviros like me are so against it. It's not so much the act of genetic modification that bothers us, it's the kinds of modifications they are making. As I mentioned in a previous discussion, the main way that plants are genetically modified is to make soybeans "Roundup Ready." That means they have a genetic modification that makes them unaffected by treatment with Roundup (an herbicide, something that kills broad-leaved weeds). So a farmer can broadcast spray his fields with Roundup, and the weeds will be killed but the soybeans won't. Wow, wasn't that easy! But nature has it's ways. Thought I would post this follow up on the discussion.

When you broadly use something like the Roundup herbicide, there are usually members of the population you are treating that WILL NOT be killed. Either they have their own natural resistence to the herbicide, from their own genes, or they can pick it up through gene transfer from the genetically modified soybeans. Yes, plants can do that because viruses can carry genes with them, and transplant them from one plant species to another. They actually do it all the time in nature. Not sure which way the weeds are developing the resistence to Roundup (probably a little of both) but it is happening in this case. Here's the NPR article on it.

"Why Monsanto Thought Weeds Would Never Defeat Roundup"

Rather flimsy logic, if you ask me. Sounds like something the Wizard would say. If it sounds to good to be true it usually is. Man schemes . . . .

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lindac

Can't help but giggle at your typo....bid deal? You betcha!!
and then there's BT corn. I saw a couple of monarch butterflys last fall but that was the first in a number of years!!
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 3:15PM
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annie1992

The big deal for me is that it's not tested and it's here forever. It'll never go away. Mess with nature too much and it'll slap you, nature evens things out.

I saw that Monsanto's treated corn has now created resistent corn root borers, Monsanto is downplaying that problem but people in agriculture know how bad that is.

Monsanto is also destroying any genetic diversity and creating a huge monopoly. Any farmer saving seeds that may have been accidentally cross pollinated with a GMO Monsanto seed will be sued by Monsanto and the courts have sided with big agriculture, of course.

One of the local farmers bought some Round Up Ready corn and planted it. The next year he didn't plant corn and got a visit from a representative from Monsanto, telling him that if he saved any of that seed and planted it, that he would be prosecuted and that they'd be flying over his fields to make sure he wasn't growing corn.

Funny how all those other countries have banned GMO foods, but it's OK here. Yeah, could it be that the Assistant Director at the USDA (or is that FDA, I get confused) used to work for Monsanto? Hmmmm. Along with a lot of other ex-Monsanto employees that are now on the government's payroll. Yeah...

OK, now that my blood pressure is all up, I'll step away from the soap box and go think about things like the National Animal Identification System and the survey that I just got from the Department of Agriculture telling me that I must fill it out by law and how many chickens did I have? How many pigs? Cattle? Horses? Bees? Goats and sheep? Do I sell produce? How much? Any agricultural product? Do I get any federal subsidies? Yeah, right, I'm not commercial agribusiness so I won't be getting any federal help for my farm, that's for sure. So, how many acres of pasture do I have? How many acres of tillable ground? Do I raise fish or other aquaculture? Grow grapes? Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries? do I sell eggs? Yes, I'm gonna get rich on my 60 acres selling eggs. And I'm going to eat the horses, I guess. Pah. Eight pages of survey questions because I have "farm acreage". Arrgghhh....

Annie

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 6:40PM
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lpinkmountain

Yes, that's the other big application of GMO, to breed BT into corn and other products. BT is a naturally occuring pesticide, (which is present in either a bacteria or virus, I can't remember which one, probably bacteria), and when applied as a spray, will biodegrade. Organic oriented farmers liked to use it, (judiciously) for that reason. But with it bred into absolutely every single plant in thousands of acres of corn, that process will just speed up the rate at which insect develop resistance and soon BT spray will be useless. I know some organic farmers who are really up in arms about that. The whole idea of broadly applying something whether your fields need it or not, goes smack against the principles of integrated pest management (which is the state of the art science). Integrated pest management uses systems designed to avoid the problem of pests developing resistance. But it is a little fussy to apply and you need to know what you are doing. So it's not a blanket "one size fits all" like what Monsanto is peddling.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 7:17PM
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publickman

Why doesn't someone report this to 60 Minutes and see if they will do a show on it. They did a show on my cousin, who was being threatened by the big chemical companies because he had developed a biological control of pests for some crops. He dropped tiny spiders from his crop dusting plane instead of chemicals, and the spiders would eat the pest insects and then die when there were no more pest insects to eat. This was much more effect than chemicals, and the insects could not develop immunity to the spiders. The spiders were not harmful because they had a singular diet and would not eat anything else. I think the chemical companies eventually put my cousin out of business with the lawsuits they filed against him. My BIL does research for the government on biological control of weeds, but his research may never be used because the government owns it.

Lars

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 7:29PM
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jessyf

Anyone who has Netflix can watch all the food chain films for free. We enjoyed Food, Inc. and I'd like to watch The Future of Food, etc. All 'Watch it now'. Kudos to Netflix for making these 'free' for subscribers.

Annie pretty much summarized it - for me, the issue isn't the GMO food itself, it is the corporate behavior behind it. From one Netflix reviewer of 'The Future of Food':

"Anyone following the legal policies of Monsanto - the massive company with the "Imagine" tagline - or the plight of the North American farmer will need to watch this movie, even if they already believe they know everything they need to. But the rest of us need to watch âÂÂThe Future of Foodâ as well, since a sustainable food supply should be at least of some importance. Consider some points in the movie: * the insecticide and herbicide companies have bought out the majority of seed companies * these companies are genetically modifying the seeds and patenting them * today just a few companies own the rights to the majority of farm-grown products * large corporations (i.e., Monsanto) are winning lawsuits against much smaller farmers because genetically modified seed that is patented has blown onto their farms. The film conveys somewhat one-sidedly and briefly the history of food, but focuses mainly on the court cases and the how the individual farmers were affected by them. So is the movie good. Absolutely. Written and directed by Deborah Koons Garcia, wife of the late Jerry Garcia, the film has a low-budget feel that seems to enhance its accuracy and relevance. Is the film great? It could have been easily, but all the interviews and background information supported the directorâÂÂs premise. Obviously, Monsanto refused to comment �" it is not a forthcoming company. But hearing from the other side, would not have impacted the conclusion the movie imparts and would have added a journalistic objectivity to this superb film."

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 9:38PM
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annie1992

Lars, as Jessica mentioned, there have been several movies made about GMO foods and Monsanto and agri-business, all with a decidedly anti-Monsanto/CAFO/agribusiness slant. That does not make them less valid, but they are slightly unbalanced in viewpoint, LOL.

60 Minutes will never do a show maligning Monsanto or Cargill or Tyson. They are too big, too powerful, too closely aligned with our government agencies. Frankly, not enough people even care, as long as food is cheap, they're happy, it doesn't matter if it's nutritious or sustainable.

Although I am offended by Monsanto's business practice and concerned about the dwindling bio-diversity of the world's food supply, I'm also concerned about the food itself. There has not been enough time or testing to determine the safety of GMO based crops or food and it's here forever. We very well may be destroying that which sustains us and that's very worrisome to me indeed.

So, I raise my cattle and plant my garden with heirloom tomatoes and beans. I push for bio-fuel and cleaner renewable sources of energy and stay away from the evil that Monsanto and other agri-business promotes. I try to balance my "buy local" mindset and my "anti-GMO" mindset, I always used to buy Pioneer and Big Chief sugar, made here in Michigan, but now I get cane sugar because of the GMO sugarbeets used. And I pray that there will be any kind of a world left for my grandchildren.

Annie

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 10:45PM
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