I’m not really either, I doubt we’ll get huge benefits from genetic modification in the near future. However I’m definitely against the anti-GMO crowd because they misrepresent the science and evidence and I’m not down with that.
But many of the non-GMO crops you are already consuming were created in labs. They were simply created in labs by means other than genetic engineering (e.g. radiation, chemical mutagenesis).
I urge those against GMOs to look into the current mainstream scientific thought on the subject. This isn’t something that’s in debate in the scientific community. The National Academy of Sciences is the highest level scientific group in this country. Google and see what they think.
Also, there are universities across this country that have departments devoted to studying this subject. See what they say and do.
Kevin Folta is the Chairman of Horticultural Sciences Department at the U of Florida and he has done a lot of work educating the public on the topic. For starters, he has been on the Joe Rogan Podcast at least once, maybe twice (I forget). The Joe Rogan Podcast is three hours long. He patiently answers question on this topic there and elsewhere. Look him up.
If you’re interested in learning more here is a link to an EDX course on the topic run by Cornell.
Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t specialize in this topic but he is a prominent science educator so if you’re interested in what he thinks on this topic you can watch this video.
Although any specific GMO needs investigation to see if it’s safe (just like any new thing does), the general concept of GMO is completely accepted among mainstream science.
There is a strong component of “natural is good” in this country (and elsewhere) and it is the genesis of a lot of misinformation. Try to define “natural.” It gets really tricky really quick. Are the corn and bananas we eat “natural?” If so, why?
Look into it. People don’t realize just how much we’ve interfered with nature just to get to where we are now. Nature wasn’t designed to make us live long, instead it is figuring out ways to circumvent nature that makes us live long. Back when we couldn’t effectively interfere with nature life expectancy was only 25 or so.
Yes, that Jane Goodall friend of gorillas everywhere.
Here we go with another round of “Austonst Reads Some Papers and Talks About Them”. I originally intended for this to point to the Soylent blog’s citations where appropriate, but for many of these it wasn’t an option.
This paper concludes that herbicide use has increased over the last 15 years. Insecticide use has slightly dropped, but the overall net increase in pesticide use has been about 7%. The blog post cites a similar report showing the same increase. This is only a problem to the extent that the herbicides themselves are a problem, so the blog post provides six citations:
- A 2015 survey in Critical Reviews in Toxicology of 14 rodent studies evaluating carcinogenic potential of glyphosate
- A 2013 survey in Critical Reviews in Toxicology of genotoxicity studies of glyphosate
- A May 2016 joint FAO/WHO report on pesticides (an interesting read)
- A 2012 survey in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology covering epidemiologic studies of glyphosate and cancer
- A 1993 (!) EPA fact sheet about glyphosate
- A 2013 EPA regulation modifying the glyphosate tolerance levels with a rough survey as justification
This paper is a sort of survey in its own way, aggregating animal studies which themselves compared GM crops to their unaltered equivalents and considering the methodologies and the results. One of their conclusions is that, across the board, there were no effects at the macroscopic level, but some studies found sub-cellular differences that were statistically significant, but with a small enough effect to not be of concern. They also conclude that further testing would be needed to rule out any possible health concerns, and push for case-by-case evaluation of each GM product.
I actually found myself surprised by the quantity of studies already performed and the consistency of the results thus far. Sure, more testing would be nice, but the surveyed papers here suggest to me that, thus far, the best scientists and tools we have available are all pointing towards “safe”.
I remember the media frenzy surrounding this paper a few years back. This paper mainly has to do with the Cry1Ab protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which was previously believed to be broken down by mammalian digestive systems and therefore cause no problems. This paper claims that Cry1Ab was found in the circulating blood of pregnant and non-pregnant women, casting doubt on its safety.
The Soylent blog didn’t tackle this directly, but referred to a 2005 survey about Bt’s safety. I was curious, so I found a recent (2015), but heavily cited survey paper which refers to the Aris paper. They identified problems with the paper’s methodology (such as using an immunoassay kit not validated for use in human blood and not describing the diets of the subjects) and compared against cow and pig studies in which no Cry1Ab was identified in blood. They also referred to a posting by the food standards body for Australia and New Zealand with similar criticisms of the study and its interpretation, which itself cites a 1999 WHO report on the safety of Bt.
The name of the article you’ve cited is actually “Complete Genes May Pass from Food to Human Blood”, and their results show exactly that. Consumed DNA should normally be broken down before getting passed to the bloodstream, but this paper shows that sometimes longer strands make it through. The paper does not seem to make any claims about health problems or benefits of having these genes circulating, nor do they make comparisons between GM and non-GM foods. While it’s an interesting topic, I don’t see the relevance to the discussion here.
It’s interesting that you should cite this paper. While it was initially accepted for publication, there were numerous complaints to the editor about poor scientific practices. The paper was eventually retracted. It really shouldn’t have been accepted in the first place, but retracting it later was not a good idea either. It would have been better to publish some of the letters to the editor and acknowledge the flaws while leaving it up. But with the retraction the anti-GMO crowd instead started up the conspiracy that Monsanto was suppressing opposing results, when it was actually just crap science. The results in this paper should carry little weight in scientific discourse.
Okay, so we’re back on the glyphosate side of things. These guys incubated frog and chicken embryos in a solution with a low level of glyphosate and found consistent birth defects with a plausible mechanism of action. I think the paper seems solid enough, but the practical implications are limited. Frogs and chickens aren’t even mammals, and it’s much more likely for a parent to get exposure to glyphosate than a child.
To put things into context I again found a recent (June 2016) survey paper on the topic of glyphosate and birth defects. They conclude that “current epidemiological evidence, albeit limited to a few studies using non-quantitative and indirect estimates and dichotomous analysis of exposures, does not lend support to public concerns that glyphosate-based pesticides might pose developmental risks to the unborn child.” They also mention that, due to the limited number of studies thus far, we cannot definitively conclude that they do not cause any birth defects. But so far, so good.
This paper has been torn to shreds across the internet. Sure, you can claim that Monsanto paid them all off to discredit it, but then you also have to admit that the paper itself was written by authors with conflict of interests in selling organic foods, published in a tiny journal sponsored by an organic produce organization, and funded by anti-GMO activist organizations. Whining about authors’ conflicts of interest goes both ways.
In case you only care about peer reviewed responses to the paper, consider this 2014 survey paper which talks about the pig study, and, unlike the pig study, is published in a prestigious journal (Journal of Animal Science). They found no “unexpected perturbations or disturbing trends in animal performance or health indicators.” So far, so good.
In the end, we have two papers that are irrelevant to the actual discussion, one paper which actually supports the opposite conclusion, three papers that have been later discredited as junk science, and one paper with solid results that cannot be reasonably extrapolated to our own lives. Probably just ignorance and not intent to deceive by misrepresenting the papers.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you can always find peer-reviewed published papers that seem to support your points. But here we have yet another excellent example of where things go wrong. If you haven’t read the paper in detail yourself, you may be posting irrelevant papers, like the pesticide increase and food genes transferring to blood papers. But even worse, unless you’re an expert in the field you will likely have a hard time recognizing junk science, and then you have to find a way to verify through some other means that the paper has been accepted in the scientific community. For me in this post, it’s been through finding peer-reviewed papers which cite the original—particularly surveys—and seeing what they think of it.
So just because a paper is peer-reviewed doesn’t mean it’s good. Just because a paper is in a good journal doesn’t mean the paper itself is good. Just because a paper has a lot of citations doesn’t mean it’s good. Just because a paper has been apparently censored by an opposing side doesn’t mean it’s good. Just because someone can present a paper with the opposite conclusion in a similar study doesn’t mean either one is necessarily good. It’s also worth mentioning that even with p<.05, one in twenty papers with perfect scientific technique will still produce the wrong results. It’s in relation to other papers and in the context of the field as a whole that we can truly get a sense of the scientific consensus.
If you’re going to cite papers to support something you’re saying, it would be a huge help to at least read the abstract and conclusion and provide a brief summary to the rest of us. That way you also double check that you aren’t going to accidentally post something that contradicts what you’re saying. It would be even better to read some of the papers which cite the one you’re citing and see how it has been received in the scientific community, but I guess that’s a lot to ask. And finally, when someone else cites some papers, their stance is not strengthened unless the papers contain good science and actually do support the stance.
And to follow that up, read how lame Dr. Terry Simpson’s cheap hit article is. I think I will go with Jane Goodall and the many eminent scientists who have praised this book(see amazon page for list), and not with the internet advice blog of a lawyer, turn doctor.
I read and hand picked every article thank you - so do not give me the read beyond the abstract - stuff, they all have real scientifically based results. I think at least they show that a precautionary principle with a case by case look at each GMO modification in these early days ( might be different with 20 years when more research) makes way way more sense then the " corporations they would never mess up for greed reasons - all GMOs are not only great but we are Proudly behind every type of GMO" stance of your extreme position. I do appreciate that you at least took on the peer reviewed ( or opinion piece in major journals/news orgs from preeminent scientists) that I have attempted to educate people on - (most on this forum have not). Funny how it is the balanced approach to GMO group here ( and of course all of Europe, WHO, Salk , …) that are citing peer reviewed articles in the precautionary case, and the “Proudly Pro GMO” group (in this case you) who are countering with "This paper has been torn to shreds across the internet. " - Oh, really the internet you say.
You can not have it both ways - you can not say all scientists agree and it is a done science - so we then are “Proudly Pro GMO” – and then when folks here point to real journal papers with real data - well there is debate and push back on those papers.
Your appeals to authority are misplaced, the scientific consensus happens to be arranged against you on this topic no matter how many quotes from eminent scientists you can summon. There are billions of people on Earth, you can always find someone who believes something. You snidely call Simpson a “lawyer turned doctor” but fail to recognize that Druker himself is a lawyer except he has no medical training.
The man who wrote that rebuttal to Simpson was simply incorrect about many things - which is consistent with his other views. He believes the JFK assassination was overseen by the CIA, 9/11 was a false flag operation by the US government, radio and Wifi are hurting people, and a bunch of other things I didn’t read. The man is not exactly doing evidence-based critical thinking. I don’t imagine you regularly read someone like him, did you just google search for a Simpson rebuttal?
Dude, that was one sentence. In paragraph after paragraph I’ve stuck only to peer-reviewed literature. In one case, I indulged a bit and found some places where qualified scientists said things that weren’t peer-reviewed first. But that wasn’t all: I still went and found a peer-reviewed survey in a top-tier journal that cited the pig study, and it’s cited up there in my post. It was in a table adapted with permission from another paper, titled “Examples of limitations in experimental design, analyses, and interpretation in some whole food toxicity studies with genetically engineered (GE) crops”, and their entry for the pig study was “Study results were not interpreted in light of differences in antinutrient or mycotoxin levels in test and control diets.” So they didn’t give it much say in their final aggregated conclusions.
But you’ve ignored all that, taking one sentence out of context and using it as the representative of the entirety of my post. Why?
Three of them have been thoroughly rejected by the scientific community as more review and new evidence have been brought to attention. The remaining three have only tenuous links to the precautionary principle in the context of GMO safety. Yes, we should test new modifications on a case-by-case basis, and the Soylent guys will agree with that:
I don’t see anyone arguing otherwise. But if the amount of testing on current GMOs (e.g. Bt crops) is still too little for you, then you must be extremely risk-averse. I imagine you stay far away from cars, then?
Correct, there is no such thing as a 100% “done” science. This is as true for GMOs as it is for psychology and gravity. But as more research is performed, we begin to approach a threshold of posterior probability where we can make informed decisions. For example, there have been so many studies on glyphosate toxicity that have turned out so overwhelmingly in favor of “non-toxic to most things in realistic doses” that it’s very hard to justify a different stance.
yes, I was unfair with that “internet” push back - I guess I am reacting all the posts, when in fact you spent time to talk through the science ( as I have IMHO). The internet line bothered me so I seized on it, but it was not the main thrust of your informed debating points. I would contend though that it is a debate and we are having it - and we are not that far apart but “Proudly Pro GMO” is, and is not the same as “Cautiously case-by-case Pro GMO” that you defend Soylent is. There is a significant biased corporate influence in this field - because of the billions at stake. Europe has decided the history, health of the field along with the way way too early days of simply manipulating genes without an overarching scientific knowledge of the full systematic mechanisms at play warrant a slow down. The US (and Soylent) have decided otherwise.
I think you might just be over reacting to Soylent’s statement. You do seem like a smart rational person but, like a lot of people myself included, you also seem to fly off the handle. I always took their statement as that they were proud of their GMO ingredients and support GMOs in general. But you seem to be taking it as they are blindly accepting ALL GMOs and the corporations behind them. As @austonst pointed out they have said that they are more of a case by case mindset.
It’s implied that “Proudly PRO-GMO” means ones that have been tested. Is there anyone anywhere that is in favor of just doing GMO left and right without testing? Of course not.
I think “Proudly PRO-GMO” is a great (and courageous) slogan. It’s as if they’re boldly saying, no,we won’t be in the closet about these, which of course they have no reason to be.
Think about it, the easiest thing to do would be to feed the public nonsense and pretend you’re anti-GMO because you know it’ll boost sales. Instead they’re actually speaking some truth. How often does a company give the public unpleasant truths at the expense of sales?
Maybe I’m extra sensitive about this because I live in an area full of hard core foodies who would think you ignorant at best and evil at worst if you publicly admitted you think GMOs are okay.
Ummm, of course not? So by testing of GMO food, would we all agree that means independent scientific testing - right? Well I hate to break it to you but Soylent products ( and all US products, as opposed to real case by case testing in Europe) are not tested to the normal scientific definition ( AT ALL!)
All referenced below. …
The FDA has repeatedly made it clear that they do not test themselves whether GMO products are safe . Jason Dietz of the FDA said about GMOs: “It’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to insure that the product is safe.” Theresa Eisenman of the FDA said, “it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure that the [GMO] food products it offers for sale are safe…”
The FDA does not even require independent pre-market safety testing for GMO food. They allow agrichemical companies to submit their own studies to the FDA as part of a voluntary “consultation.” The FDA does not even require the companies to submit complete information about these studies. Rather, as the FDA has testified, “After the studies are completed, a summary of the data and information on the safety and nutritional assessment are provided to the FDA for review.”
Many companies have even failed to comply with FDA requests for data beyond that which they submitted initially. Without test protocols or other important data, the FDA is unable to identify unintentional mistakes, errors in data interpretation, or intentional deception…
At the end of the consultation, the FDA issues a letter ending the consultation. Here is a typical response from FDA, in its letter to Monsanto about its MON 810 Bt corn:
“Based on the safety and nutritional assessment you have conducted, it is our understanding that Monsanto has concluded that corn products derived from this new variety are not materially different in composition, safety, and other relevant parameters from corn currently on the market, and that the genetically modified corn does not raise issues that would require premarket review or approval by FDA…. as you are aware, it is Monsanto’s responsibility to ensure that foods marketed by the firm are safe, wholesome [emphasis ours] and in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.”
thats it! not real testing in my view, or as it says in this official same doc ( if you do not believe my words see  FDA words:
"During the initial consultation phase, GE plant developers meet with FDA and explain their GE product to FDA. FDA can then provide feedback about the kinds of data and information that would be important to consider in a safety assessment.
The final consultation phase begins once a GE plant developer completes its safety assessment and submits a summary of the assessment to FDA."
So nothing even close to independent scientific testing. Greed over safety IMHO.
 Statement of Michael M. Landa, J.D., Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, Before the Subcommittee on Health, Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives. December 10, 2014.
 Nathaniel Johnson, “The GM Safety Dance: What’s Rule and What’s Real.” Grist, July 10, 2013. http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF14/20141210/102797/HHRG-113-IF14-Wstate-LandaM-20141210.pdf http://grist.org/food/the-gm-safety-dance-whats-rule-and-whats-real/
 Rachel Pomerance, “GMOs: A Breakthrough or Breakdown in U.S. Agriculture?” U.S. News & World Report, April 25, 2013.
 William Freese and David Schubert, “Safety Testing of Genetically Engineered Food.” Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews, November 2004, 21:299-324.
 FDA doc: How FDA Regulates Food from Genetically Engineered Plants
So is there anyone in favor of doing GMO left and right without testing, as I asked? Not that I’m aware of.
Here is what the FDA says.
Here’s the first paragraph:
“We regulate human and animal food from genetically engineered (GE) plants like we regulate all food. The existing FDA safety requirements impose a clear legal duty on everyone in the farm to table continuum to market safe foods to consumers, regardless of the process by which such foods are created. It is unlawful to produce, process, store, ship or sell to consumers unsafe foods.”
If you don’t the way the FDA regulates GMO then that’s a separate issue. We can discuss whether the US model or the European model of regulation is better but that’s not really the point. “Proudly PRO-GMO” doesn’t mean “The US model of regulating GMO is better than the European model.” It means they’re in favor of GMOs in principle and they’re proud of their stance, as they ought to be. Particular details about particular products is a separate issue.
Are you not proudly pro-GMO? If not, why not?
Generally recognized as safe. Every ingredient in every concentration of every formula there has ever been. Even the macro nutrients have been at generally safe ratios.
You are worried that we might find out, even after years of reliable research, that something will end up causing diseases. How likely is it that out of the millions of synthetic materials around us that have all been researched heavily, any given one is going to turn out to be lethal? It could happen but abstaining from everything synthetic forever would be impractical.
[quote=“dipaola, post:74, topic:25870”]Well I hate to break it to you but Soylent products ( and all US products, as opposed to real case by case testing in Europe) are not tested to the normal scientific definition ( AT ALL!)[/quote]The PB&J sandwich or the apples tree growing in my yard has been studied less than Soylent and the GMO’s.
What do you eat? How well has that been studied?
People not farming because of GMO’s can work on self driving cars to prevent car accidents, solar panels to reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gases, or getting off the planet so we don’t die from an asteroid impact or gamma ray burst, or making a Zika vaccine. And getting people to eat a more healthy diet by making it super convenient to do so can do a lot to prevent heart disease, which kills more people than all cancers combined. Those are much more important and have impactful problems to solve.
So yes, Pro-GMO. Even Monsanto’s GMO that are designed to sell more herbicide is a big net-positive effect on the world; if not as if not as net positive as it could be.
It’s happening all the time around us, whether you like it or not.
Cosmic rays and myriad other forms of radiation produce mutations in plant and animal and fungi. They are genetically modified.
Viruses insert dna into animals and plants, and cause them to produce the inserted sequences. They even cross dna from one species to another with alarming frequency. They are genetically modified.
Phages act like viruses, only for bacteria, again causing gene insertion. Genetically modified. Bacteria swap dna with each other, too, including cross-species.
A tablespoon of dirt contains more genetic modification experiments in process then all the human labs in the world have ever done. Literally.
None of these genetically modified organisms are tested. Most people simply don’t realize it’s happening. Those who know realize that it has been going on since the beginning of life.
This is, in fact, the strongest evidence of safety. If a real world - killing superbug was possible, it would almost certainly have already been created by the uncountable natural experiments that have been going on. But we’re here, so it’s actually not that dangerous.
Fortunately, regardless the safety on the world-ending front, we care even about individuals, and so we carefully design and test the few intentional genetic changes we make. It’s much safer that way.
Soylent’s “Proudly PRO-GMO” stance has gotten a positive review from Slate.com.