Forum:GMO foods

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Moved from the Saloon Bar by SophieWilderModerator 19:49, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

I do not know enough to have an informed opinion on whether or not GMO foods/crops are A Good Thing or A Bad Thing. What I am curious to hear from pro-GMO folks is why the idea of labeling seems to be an issue. I like the idea that McDonalds has to tell its customers how many calories are in a burger. I like having as much information as I can when I purchase food, or anything else. Why not tell me if GMO stuff is present in the can of soup I'm about to buy? (...and maybe tell me if it's union made/made from tomatoes guaranteed to be harvested from fairly-paid labour, etc, etc.) PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 17:57, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

The main argument from the pro-GMO lobby seems to be that labelling is seen as a warning to consumers and adds to the suspicion about the food irrespective of whether it's harmful or not. Ajkgordon (talk) 18:28, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
There is a big difference between listing the amount of calories and disclosing whether something has GM traits. All respectable scientific bodies on Earth agree that there are no health or environmental risks common to all GM crops. Every GM trait has to be evaluated on its own. Therefore, unlike a calorie label, a label such as "contains GMO" gives absolutely no useful information to the consumer. The only purpose of the "contains GMO" label is to make it easier to target pseudoscientific propaganda and boycotts. It is equivalent to a label saying "handled by Mexicans" or "not handled by Mexicans", which provides no useful information about the food and serves only as a leverage to racism. If the label disclosed some meaningful information, e.g. what specific transgenes are in the food, it may be useful, but the cost of ensuring that this information remains accurate across the food processing chain would be many times higher. (e.g. you can no longer mix GM grain from different suppliers at the mill.) --Tweenk (talk) 18:56, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
No, it is isn't equivalent to racism. Don't be a fool. ЩєазєюіδWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:17, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
All this GM panic is just weird. It's just another technology. Like electricity it is the end to which it is put which is important not the technology itself. Are we going to label our food "Electricity and computers were involved in the production of this food."?--Coffee (talk) 19:44, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
This is why you wash your produce before eating it - to get rid of any electronic, binary, or digital residue that might be on it. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 20:14, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
(EC) Electricity and computers have no effect on the end product - it doesn't matter if you calculate grain averages with an abacus or a supercomputer, as far as the food goes.
No -- it's about the UPC bar codes. If you let them be scanned, the Antichrist knows where you live. You need to be sure there is nothing cyber about your banana! - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 06:58, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
On the other hand, genetically modified crops are the end product, and to the extent that people find them objectionable, they should be aware of their presence. I had toyed with the idea that maybe there should be two factors that dictate a mandatory label - demonstrated medical need (such as nuts for those allergic) and widespread demand (such as GMO or meat products), but I realized that such a scheme was easily collapsed into lousy end results. On balance and reflection, I think that GMO labeling should not be mandatory, but that this is a good opportunity for the market to sort things out. Until there is a demonstrated risk from GMO products (and there is none, to my knowledge) then let the health-food aisle scoop up the extra money. To facilitate this, there should probably, however, be an agreed-upon standard for "GMO-free," lest it become one of the many meaningless things slapped on a box ("ORGANIC!").--ADtalkModerator 20:18, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
GMO foods don't really do any harm, at least not one that have been consistently proved. For me, that's enough evidence they don't do harm. --Ray´s Super Fun Hellhole! g͘͡r̸̀a̸̶̡n̶̶͜ţ̡ ̀҉̴̨͡m̀͘͜͢e͡ ̸͟҉̷̢ỳ̸̡̀͞ơ̡̢̡ų̧r̴̀͡͝ ̡҉҉̧̛s̵̕͏̡ǫ̀́͢ų́l̵̕҉ 20:23, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
The end product is "food" not "GM food". It contains carbohydrates, fats, proteans or whatever. GM is simply one of the many processes used in modern agriculture.--Coffee (talk) 20:54, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure you understand what genetically-modified means... it means that the genetic code of the plants that produce the food has been altered in some way, such as to make the plant resistant to parasites or to encourage a higher yield. The food that is produced, and later, consumed, is not just the end product of some technological change, but its nature is also changed. A change that caused corn to be more resistant to rot produces corn that has a changed genetic make-up. Hypothetically, that change might also alter some other overlooked aspect of the corn, making it harmful in some way. As far as I know, this is not the case, but I think in your eagerness to dismiss the problem, you're failing to actually understand it; c.f. Chesterton's Fence.--ADtalkModerator 16:13, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Virtually all our food has been "genetically modified". Conventional breeding techniques have resulted in highly modified animals and super-cultivated plants which bear less resemblance to their wild relatives than GM crops bear to the cultivated varieties from which they were produced. Do you seriously think that conventional breeding doesn't alter the "genetic code"?
If anyone is "failing to understand" it's you, not me. --Coffee (talk) 16:45, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
"Genetically modified" in this context means something quite specific. It doesn't mean artificial selective breeding for certain traits over generations. It means directly modifying the genetic code of the produce we consume. Therefore it is GM food by definition. While some concerns are just those goddamn pesky hippies knitting yoghurt and worshipping Gaia, dismissing all concerns out of hand like that (or bringing racism into it as above) does nothing to advance the argument. GM advocates need to engage with the consumer much more constructively. While many of them do, there's too much condescension in the pro-GM lobby. Ajkgordon (talk) 17:16, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
^This. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 17:18, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
^^ That. — Unsigned, by: PowderSmokeAndLeather / talk / contribs 2013-11-17T17:27:43
Ajkgordon has it. Coffee, you're mistaking the label for the term for a sort of literal truth - as though you were insisting to someone that strawberry pie has no berries in it because the strawberry isn't a true berry. You're right in a completely technical and useless sense, because you're choosing not to communicate. You perceive the result of this failure to understand makes you correct, because your misunderstanding of the term "GMO" equates the gradual shift in genetic information by selective breeding with the rapid alteration to genetic information by recombination. But just because you think that "GMO" should include both sorts of things does not mean that it does to most people, and an insistence that you don't see the difference just means it does not exist. Or, to put it more succinctly and famously, your map is not the territory.
Yes, the corn people ate in 1900 bears little resemblance to wild corn, which yields a handful of tiny and tough kernels. Hundreds of years of cultivation, and gradual selection for particular traits, gave us corn that is huge and abundant. But that took hundreds of years, and people could be reassured that the change was so gradual that any alterations from crop to crop were tiny. Another way of looking at it is that human testing had already been run on this corn, many billions of times.
Compare a new pain medication derived from aspirin with aspirin. Yes, aspirin is also processed and chemically produced and comes in little plastic bottles, even if it was originally derived from tree bark. And yes, rapid chemical prototyping is just speeding up the same sort of process that happened over many years as people learned about aspirin and started extracting it from trees, and eventually chemically synthesized it. And yes, if clinical trials have given the green light to a new aspirin derivative, then it's foolish to oppose it just because it's new.
But if you honestly don't understand the difference, then you have run smack into the dangers of reductionism sans empathy.--ADtalkModerator 19:30, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
"Hundreds of years of cultivation, and gradual selection for particular traits, gave us corn that is huge and abundant" - this is false. Not all conventional breeding is gradual. Mutation breeding, hybridization of highly dissimilar strains (hybrid seed) and doubled haploidy induction cause dramatic changes in the genome in a single generation. Compared to them, adding one or two genes for a specific trait is a very small change - yet they can be used without any oversight or safety testing (and despite this there was little if any harm so far). --Tweenk (talk) 00:07, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Really? Hm. That was not my understanding. I had thought that even if the gross amount of genetic data changed could be large with traditional breeding methods, the overall scale of the change was much less. As in, it there might be more asphalt moved when you shift the track of a highway, but it's less drastic a change than when you put in a roundabout. But I guess such a scale of change would be subjective. Thank you.--ADtalkModerator 00:50, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Quantity has a quality all of its own. You can meet and talk to humans who "just" have fewer or more than the usual complement of some particular genes or chromosomes -- the sort of copy error that you'd be permitted to induce trivially with unregulated "natural" methods on the farm -- and who as a result can expect an early and painful death, or a significantly elevated chance of particular cancers, or any number of other symptoms. A common (but far from universal) symptom of such "natural" variation is infertility, but don't worry, farmers haven't let infertility be an obstacle before, many of our "natural" foods are already incapable of reproducing on their own anyway. Yes, extra copies don't make humans glow in the dark, but don't believe anybody who tells you that we understand what happens when you make plants have twice as many copies of their genes better than we know what happens when you splice a single gene that induces phosphorescence into a mouse. Tialaramex (talk) 12:33, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
GM labelling also includes foods which don't have and couldn't ever have any any GM ingredients, but which used a GM ingredient during the processing of the actual food. For example, if you genetically modify a micro-organism to excrete something useful, and then necessarily filter out the organism, and use the results in the food, what the person is consuming doesn't have any organisms in it at all, any more than milk has "cows" in it - but of course the usual hippies will demand that it be labelled as containing GM because they believe it will poison them.
The food companies ultimately don't care, they will exactly reflect consumer demand to the extent possible. Consumers demand random things based on what they've read/ seen on TV/ heard from a friend so the big food manufacturers watch what's going on and react by reformulating and re-packaging products. If consumers actually demanded that products contain sensible balances of key nutrients, that's what they'd get, but in practice they mostly follow fads. So for example, consumers decided they don't want "artificial" colouring. Food manufacturers correctly guessed that consumers don't mean "I wish all my food looked the unappealing way it would look without colouring, I am totally OK with that" but instead "I want things to continue to have the carefully tuned colours that I'm used to, but with a notice reassuring me that they're now natural" and that's what they did. In place of an azo dye which may or may not constitute a health hazard if consumed in large quantities, you're now eating a dye derived from beetroot (or tomatoes, or beetles...). Are there some sort of health hazards associated with eating vast quantities of these pigments? Maybe, nobody has really checked, but they're "natural" not "artificial" and that's the word consumers are looking for today. Tialaramex (talk) 03:14, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Weaseloid: GM labeling is equivalent to "Mexican-picked" labeling in the sense of facilitating irrational choice and propaganda, not in the sense of discriminating against someone. As I said before, if the label was more specific, it would be useful, but I'm not very optimistic about the feasibility of such labels.
That being said, from a PR standpoint opposing labeling may not be the best strategy [3] --Tweenk (talk) 00:15, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
It's an unhelpful red herring analogy played to demonise your opposition in a needlessly insulting & unpleasant way. WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 00:49, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Ok, so there aren't any negative health effects from GM - but what about other negative effects? As a disinterested party I vaguely remember their being other issues (such as copyright or something) associated with GM foods... Oh and get over the example used, you guys are willfully misinterpreting it. We all understand the analogy. Tielec01 (talk) 00:52, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

There might be some environmental effects. I haven't looked into it very much, but I've heard that GM plants, that naturally produce pesticides or whatever, risk killing off pollinators. No clue if there's anything to that.--"Shut up, Brx." 01:10, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
There is also the question of farmers being more closely bound to multinational corporations, and the question of copyright/patent and who owns the right to produce the foods we eat. PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 01:16, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Copyright does not apply to crops, because they are not creative works. Traits obtained with conventional breeding just as patentable as GM traits, so patents are not unique to GM crops. I'm not a fan of patents, but this is a separate issue.
There are only two realistic problems with GM crops which I know of. The first one is the spread of GM traits in the environment. We have the technology to prevent it, but the anti-GMO crowd has called it "terminator seed" and effectively killed any hope of it being used in the near future. The second one is the very high barrier to entry caused by absurdly strict regulation, meaning that publicly funded scientific organizations have little hopes of bringing a GM variety to market. As a result, only the most profitable GM traits are developed, rather than the traits most beneficial to the environment or to the local community. So the real problems are in large part caused by the anti-GMO activists.
Brx: Bt toxins don't kill off pollinators, because pollinators belong to a different order of insects than those targeted by the Bt proteins.
Weaseloid: I did not intend insult or demonization. You can replace "Mexican-picked" with "Democrat-picked" and it would be the same. --Tweenk (talk) 01:29, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
I imagine there will be people that talk of other subjective negative effects of GM foods (eg, differences in taste). If what Tweenk is saying is true, which I assume it is, then there should be no requirement to label - if a product wants to differentiate itself then it can be labelled non-GM like 'Organic' or 'Natural' products are currently. Tielec01 (talk) 01:44, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
I personally would like more explicit labeling for all manner of things, including gm. Its not so much that is dangerous or not, but about knowing where and how your food is produced. Put everything on a label let me make up my own mind. There is a certain amount arrogance saying 'we have decided it safe so we won't tell you what is in it'. I am sure it is safe but the general feeling of suspicion of products is only going to increase if you refuse to tell folk that they are eating them. AMassiveGay (talk) 12:37, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
oh, and you already do get 'Mexican picked' on your food. It is usually marked as 'produce of mexico' AMassiveGay (talk) 12:42, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree with my fellow bender. What's wrong with letting people make shopping decisions based on incorrect information. Refusing to label GMO seems a bit like banning offensive speech/ideas rather than engaging and educating people.--Barryjon (talk) 20:33, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
The issue is mandatory labelling. Just how much information should suppliers be obliged to put on an item and what would be the minimum amount that would require a label? Redchuck.gif ГенгисIs the Pope a Catholic?Moderator 20:57, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
I favour mandatory labeling for as many things the average consumer could possibly be concerned with and with stuff they haven't thought of. I want to know what they've been feeding the cows, what growth hormones they have been injected with, how much water is pumped into the meat, what pesticides they been using etc. I am sure the science is is sound and its all safe, but past and recent scandals and health scares does not fill me with confidence that these big company's pushing this stuff can be trusted. They want folk like me to believe their product is healthy? The need to talk to their pr chaps because they are doing a shit job. All I hear from them is that anti gm lobby is scaremongering and clear labeling is the same as a health warning. If they are convinced gm is so fantastic then they label their products with pride. Wanting me to buy gm but not wanting me know I buying does not send out a welcoming message. AMassiveGay (talk) 21:26, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
for the record, I am in favour of gm foods, I just have no faith in the companies producing them. AMassiveGay (talk) 21:31, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
OK, not sure I agree with mandatory labelling, but I am in favour of at least lobbying and encouraging companies to do so.--Barryjon (talk) 21:47, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
what really pisses me off about the whole thing is the absence of choice. I think, judging by folks general level of education on this site, that most people are doing at least OK financially. Me, I am poor. I struggle to get enough to eat and I believe I am not getting enough calories. When I buy food I go for the cheapest crap I can find that is still in my view relatively healthy. If gm is already in foods, then I am consuming it. I cannot afford organic, locally sourced from farmers markets, I do my weekly shop at Iceland's, home of the horsemeat lasagne. Monsanto aren't trying to convince me their product is safe because I going end up buying their product one way or another anyway. Refusing to label their product, and if its not mandatory then that's what they will do, is just showing utter contempt for folk like me to access an alternative. They are saying this is your food now, deal with it. If GMs poison, then I am buying poison and I want know it. If its the elixir of life then want to know. Slapping it in my food and not telling me, they may as well be spitting in it. AMassiveGay (talk) 22:08, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
But I suppose there are practical implications, AMG. Where do you stop with food labelling? How much do you need to know? So you have all the headline stuff like irradiation, "organic", GM, free range and so on. How about the geography? Is the country good enough or should you say what county? Or perhaps the farm. How about the factory that your frozen lasagne comes from or even the provenance of all the ingredients? The species of wheat used or which transport company took it from the factory to the supermarket? Perhaps you have concerns about the hygiene standards of the food packaging manufacturers and want to know which one has the contract for that particular ready meal. At a certain level of granularity in all this, you put your faith in or are at least prepared to accept a level of competency in the agencies who assess food safety risk, make policy and enforce it. How do you draw that line? What makes it more important to know about GM contents than the farm your chicken comes from? Is it arbitrary, is it driven by media exposure, or do you make a rational judgement? I too have concerns like you do and have much less trust in the businesses who make the food I eat than has been demonstrated by some in this conversation. But I have little idea what I need to know or why. Ajkgordon (talk) 09:59, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
I'd be happy to have all those things on the label that you mention. Truth be told I don't think if I would even have the understanding to make use of most of it, but at least it would be there so I can at least attempt to have some informed decisions about what I wish to eat. Hell, I bet producers would love to have their name on the label if it meant they could get a better deal from supermarkets, and farm hands could around the world demand better wages as a result. Optimistic I know. AMassiveGay (talk) 12:23, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Expensive though. And you still have to draw a line somewhere. If you don't grow and make your own food, you're having to entrust somebody else to do it for you - from the farm hand to the supermarket and the agencies that enforce safety standards. There must be a certain level of detail you are willing not to have labelled. That's the key. Where do we, as consumers, draw that line and how much are we prepared for food to increase in price to accommodate the publishing of all this information? Perhaps a technology driven solution might work. I imagine most of this data already exists. If printing all this on a label stuck to the side of a small jar of jam is impractical, then perhaps a website or smartphone app you could use to access as much detail as you like. Do we want this, would it help us, would it turn the spot-light on the industry who produce what we put into our bodies? Or do we instead, as voters and tax payers, pressure the agencies that should be doing most of this for us? Ajkgordon (talk) 12:56, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Just 1 more thing which may show my ignorance. If I am to believe gm is safe, and I have no reason not to, what is there to stop future changes to the genetic make up from not being safe? AMassiveGay (talk) 12:43, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

There is nothing special about GM in this regard. Existing food crops and food animals experience genetic drift that could (but so far over recorded history mostly hasn't) result in them becoming poisonous or otherwise unsafe. GM changes nothing. Tialaramex (talk) 15:02, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I get tired of this irrelevant comparison of GMOs with normal genetic processes, selective breeding, etc. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:05, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
So tired that your reading comprehension fails you. These are normal genetic processes. AMG is wondering about drift subsequent to the Frankenstein processes you're so afraid of. Not genetic modification, of any sort, just the normal random drift. Tialaramex (talk) 00:36, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
I doubt that's what he's asking, since that wouldn't really be a question about GM at all. Check your own reading comprehension. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 01:07, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
to clarify I mean if further genetic changes are made in a laboratory to gm foods, would there have to be further tests and clinical trials to ensure their safety or can they just slap them into the food chain because the last lot seems fine? I do not mean the usual genetic drift that you speak of. AMassiveGay (talk) 01:37, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Oh right, yes. Every such distinct new food has to be tested. The turnaround would typically be a few decades. Then a politician can read some crank site and shut the whole thing down in moments (this procedure is known by the euphemism "safeguarding" in the EU, it applies only to GM crops), if your "natural" potatoes poison a whole school full of children they'll wring their hands and reassure everybody potatoes are generally safe, but if they were GM potatoes, clear the shelves, hang the scientists! Stop tampering with God's work... It's BANANAs ("Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone") again but with food this time. (talk) 14:42, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
and how often does the 'natural' option result in people being poisoned? How often does the 'usual genetic drift' result in an unsafe product? Are there any examples? Is the more or less potential for problems with natural product vs the gm? I'm not trying to picky I genuinely don't know AMassiveGay (talk) 15:08, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
The real problem is that nothing is 100% safe. That's one of the reasons that the default standard for dairy products is pasteurisation. Organic vegetables can be contaminated with E-coli. But people's perception of risk gets warped. After the Bandar Aceh tsunami, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on an early-warning system when a fraction of the amount spent on clean water initiatives would save thousands more lives; many more people die (or die early) as a result of the coal, oil and gas energy industries compared to nuclear, yet the general population are much more averse to the latter. You have said that you are not particularly well-off and are worried about being poisoned by GM foods but IIRC didn't you once post here about your problems with drugs and/or alcohol; things which are probably more detrimental to your long-term health than GM foods. Redchuck.gif Генгисmutating Moderator 19:43, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
the thing about about the drugs I consume is that I do so with my eyes open. I'd prefer more stringent quality control and labeling but that's unlikely considering the illegal nature of the product. The thing with gm, which I really can't stress enough, is that I do not know when and how much I consume them. Drugs are my, albeit poor, choice. With gm that choice has been taken from me and the likes of Monsanto or the companies that use their products refuse to give me that choice by not saying how they are used. AMassiveGay (talk) 20:37, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Although you're a EUian so a lot is labelled. Basically anything that is directly GM is labelled. Ajkgordon (talk) 21:12, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
ha, thank Christ for the EU. My point still stands for those with less enlightened governments. AMassiveGay (talk) 21:31, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
As I understand it, a lot of this information (even if it doesn't currently appear on food packaging) should already be available within the supply chain under current regulations, and hence there wouldn't be too much of an additional cost in making it available to consumers. The problem is that this system often breaks down across international supply chains with a focus on minimising costs, as demonstrated by various food scares like the horsemeat beef burgers thing in the UK earlier this year. The supermarkets didn't know their burgers contained horsemeat. Neither did the manufacturers, most likely. But somewhere along the supply chain, somebody had obviously been cutting corners, falsifying records and/or not checking up properly on their suppliers. Same deal with food scares about infected meat (BSE/CJD etc.): authorities should be able to trace at-risk batches of meat, from the farm to the slaughterhouse to the tin to the supermarket shelf, and withdraw them as appropriate, but the records either aren't there or aren't reliable, so instead there's panicky blanket withdrawals and boycotts which ultimately hurt the whole industry. So, getting back on topic, if food manufacturers/suppliers can't accurately tell us whether or not their products contain GMO, that should be a cause for concern, whether you're pro- or anti-GMO. WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 14:05, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Exactly. Eating horse wouldn't have worried me. What worried me was that the supermarket didn't know what it was selling me. Ajkgordon (talk) 19:07, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Great conversation, I appreciate the GMO apologists turning up and making good various points. But that outlink to the guy writing that it's time to stand tall and proud instead of hiding and obfuscating was the pinnacle. Sure, the writer went into some nasty places, but I think he came out well in the end. I remember the "first" GMO product, which actually came with a trademarked name - the "flavr savr" tomato. Tomatoes naturally start to rot as soon as they are ripe, this "version" could last an easy two weeks before that happened. Meaning that we in the frozen North could possibly enjoy "fresh" tomatoes from California in the winter.

Funny how the label never really was used. If everything in my supermarket that contained or derived from GMOs was labelled as such, I suspect it would be 80% of the food on offer - or more. Everything has either corn or soy in it, and both are mostly grown as GMO versions. It might be a bit of a shock at first, but surely what comes next is the idea that "I have been eating this for twenty years, what's the big deal?"

Obviously I am pro-labeling. Most of my issues with the whole GMO project come down to two things - the aggressive actions by companies that pollute our genomes and sue those who "accidentally" breed their products, and the really snide attitude most pro-GMO arguers seem to bring to the table.

So thanks everyone for turning up and discussing, and thanks to the OP for raising the question.

Now comes the deeper issue. What of our article on the topic? Human (talk) 02:24, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

"the aggressive actions by companies that pollute our genomes and sue those who "accidentally" breed their products"
Please refer to the article on Monsanto. The issue of suing people for accidental contamination was brought to court and was thrown out for lack of evidence - i.e. the anti-GMO people were unable to show a case where anyone was accused of violating GM patents through accidental cross-pollination. The well publicized story of Percy Schmeiser is a fabrication and does not match what he said in court. --Tweenk (talk) 05:23, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I lol at the blanket label "anti-GMO people". Also at your sentence structure. Oh, and I see yet another RW article hijacked by the pro-GMO hacks. ħumanUser talk:Human 07:09, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Deriding Tweenk for using a "blanket label" and then using one yourself? Human, I'm starting to think you're actually just a clown that works to help people laugh for free in his spare time. In which case you're not a reprehensible drunkard, you're a generous person. Curious.--"Shut up, Brx." 09:44, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Your sarcasm bone is obviously broken. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:46, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
No need to get personal. On the subject of the article, it does seem to be both too snide towards those who suspicious of the GM industry and overly protective of the likes of Monsanto. I wonder if we would give the banks or oil companies such a gentle time. I like Tweenk's factual approach to all of this but what seems to be missing is the social, cultural and historical side of this. The GM industry is dominated by for-profit businesses who have a less than stellar reputation when it comes to the environment or our health. Now, they might have changed with new management teams and closer government scrutiny but the suspicion is there for a reason, just like it is with oil and tobacco company claims. Bottom line is their bottom line. Ajkgordon (talk) 11:48, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I think we should at the very least list all known GMOs in a short section there. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:46, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Do you mean crops that have been genetically modified in a broad sense (e.g., maize, cotton) or all known GM varieties? The latter is quite a long list. Maize alone has several dozen. Doctor Dark (talk) 03:03, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
IDIOTS conflate GMO gene splicing with selective breeding. DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE YET? And where do you people get your brainfeeds? ħumanUser talk:Human 02:20, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
"The GM industry is dominated by for-profit businesses who have a less than stellar reputation when it comes to the environment or our health (...) the suspicion is there for a reason, just like it is with oil and tobacco company claims"
The suspicion is there not because of something specific involving biotech which those companies did in the past, but because activists have spent vast resources on manufacturing that suspicion. All high profile incidents involving biotech companies are actually a product of their activities in the chemical industry, not in the biotech industry. Unlike oil and tobacco, GM crops have never harmed anybody. The anti-GMO movement is scientifically no more credible that the anti-vaccinationists. --Tweenk (talk) 08:00, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
the suspicion is there because of the GM industry's arrogant and paternalistic attitude towards consumers. This is exemplified by a refusal of any kind of labeling. The issue for me isn't the science or the safety of the product, its about knowing what is in your food. Why shouldn't I be suspicious if they refuse to tell me? If the anti GM movement is muddying the water, thats not my problem as the consumer, its the GM industry's problem to try and win folk like me over. A bit of honesty and openness goes a long way AMassiveGay (talk) 13:09, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Bloody hell, Tweenk, way to miss the point! The point is that the companies did these things, irrespective of which industry. That's where the mistrust comes from. That various activists have been using their pasts against them is their own fault. And they have huge resources themselves to counter what the activists say. As TheHugeHomosexual says, it's up to the companies to sort it out, present their case with humility, care and honesty and let the consumer judge with their wallets. Waving it away by saying that the poison they dumped into a river a few years ago was chemicals and not biotech so everything's just peachy is a bit silly. Ajkgordon (talk) 19:07, 28 November 2013 (UTC)


[edit] GMO labelling

While I generally agree that GMO labeling is mostly unnecessary, a lot of people here seem quite strongly opposed to it. Is there a reason for this? If people want to know what's in their food, isn't that generally a good thing? If people want to avoid food with GMOs in it, for whatever reason, I see it as their choice. Hell, if enough people avoid them out of unfounded fear, we could see prices go down for the rest of us. I myself am basically neutral on such proposals, and am curious to hear the rationale of those who see passage of any GMO labeling law as a defeat. DickTurpis (talk) 20:40, 1 February 2014 (UTC)

I am opposed to it on the grounds that manipulating the evolution of animals and plants has been a long tradition of humans. Compare a wolf with a pomeranian papillon (warning: cuteness), or a wild banana with a Cavendish. In fact, I propose that we need not to believe in a supernatural God, for mankind has become one. --Raysenn Get the paddles, he's having a cancer! 21:31, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
I think the main concern is how the labelling looks like. How do they differentiate between countries/states which passed it? Osaka Sun (talk) 21:41, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
I think it's pandering to an absurd media scare story. It would really be far more worthwhile to put the label "does nothing" on homoeopathic "medicine".--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 21:43, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
It's always invoked a "meh" reaction from me. I personally don't care but if people really want the labels I say "why not?" It's ultimately meaningless though. ClothCoat (talk) 21:53, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
I would want to know if I am eating something containing an insecticide for example. Trust me does not cut it anymore Hamster (talk) 22:44, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
Really? Then you better stop drinking coffee, since caffeine is an insecticide. Don't smoke, since nicotine is an insecticide too. Or eat tomatoes, since those naturally produce trace amounts of nicotine. And, boy, are you gonna be upset when you hear about chili peppers (or pretty much any plant ever...) --MoQ (talk) 04:28, 14 April 2017 (UTC)
As with so many things, I just don't know enough to have an informed opinion. While my kneejerk reaction is a sort of blithe "well golly let's just label Mendel's pea plants too!", I also must admit that generational selective breeding often includes its own failsafes (gradual shifts over generations are less likely to be dramatically dangerous, even if it has given us today's crappy tomato). And when it comes to consumer products, I'm disinclined to rely on the competence of technicians (we should plan for three standard deviations of disaster). But hey, maybe the whole thing really is so fundamentally the same and so safe that basically nothing could go wrong.
So as usual: I need to get another book and find out.--ADtalkModerator 23:09, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
The label "Contains GMO" is so broad as to be totally meaningless. It contains no information to the consumer whatsoever. Firstly GMO needs to be strictly defined and agreed upon before we head down the labeling path. Acei9 23:56, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
It's not an absurd media scare. You're apparently too young to have seen what happened to Jeff Goldblum in that documentary about the fly. I am now so deathly afraid of genetically modified organisms that I shop at an organic market that only sells foraged foods like hen of the woods, dandelions, pine needles, and fresh thistle leaves. They sometimes have reclaimed meat, like deer or possums that passed away near a roadway. You'd be surprised how delicious bread made from grass seeds from the side of the highway, fresh robin's eggs, wild yeast, and mother's milk is. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 01:21, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

Speaking as someone who obsessively checks the ingredients and nutritional information on everything I purchase, easy to do when you avoid processed foods, I am all for clear labelling of GMO products. Living in the EU this is something that already happens, as I was told last time we had this discussion. I am yet to actually see this labelling on anything I purchase so it hasn't effected my choices yet, but it is nice knowing that the information is there to make those choices when the need arises. And choice is the issue here. I am told all anti-gmo are merely media scare stories. I don't care. It is my decision whether or not I consume GMO or organic or laced with insecticides or whatever and I cannot make that decision if it isn't labeled. This media scare stories only carry so much weight with ignorant no nothings like my self because the pro GMO people are fucking awful at putting their point across. The 'its so good that we don't want you to know you are probably already eating it' more than a little sinister. The paternalistic 'we know its good for you, so shut up and eat it' I find more than little insulting. I find myself avoiding GMO not because I think its poison but because it is pushed by arseholes. Actively lobbying against labeling is actively lobbying against people making their own choices about what the can eat. If I am at a resurant or party and someone asks me to try something but refuse to tell me what's in it, I can tell you now, I will not eat it. AMassiveGay (talk) 03:08, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

The only cereal you eat is Kix, isn't it? GMOs are quite safe.--The Madman (talk) 03:11, 2 February 2014 (UTC)The Madman
I don't give a fuck if its safe or not, I want to know what I am eating.AMassiveGay (talk) 03:18, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
To what extent do you avoid genetically-modified food? As an earlier poster suggested, do you avoid fruits, vegetables and grains that have been selectively modified over centuries and millenia, or do you have a private stock of "original" crops? PowderSmokeAndLeather (talk) 03:27, 2 February 2014 (than
this is the only place i have seen where GMO might mean something other than food whose genetic make up has been altered in a laboratory using genetic engineering techniques. When I see stories in the news this is what is meant. In debates such as this, this is what is meant. When I use the term, this is what I mean. I do not mean any selective breeding that has gone on or continues to go on. When I 'actively avoid' gmo, I mean I actively avoid products that have been so kind as to tell me via labeling that this is what is in them. And as I mentioned, I have yet to see this labeling on products I currently purchase. AMassiveGay (talk) 03:54, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
This is what strikes me as problematic. One can make a distinction between selective breeding and the more common idea of GMO, but I haven't seen any scientific data suggesting that the distinction is anything other than arbitrary. This begs the question: which foods would we label? Is there any real difference between "GMO labelling" in the popular sense and, say, providing the genetic history of the corn you're selling? This is why I'm on the fence about the topic. It seems like this line is too broad and too grey for me to reasonably demand that my food be labelled "GMO". God knows that the "organic" label where I'm from is pretty useless as it is, and just acts as a free sticker to warrant higher prices. - Grant (Talk) 03:33, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't give a fuck if its safe or not, I want to know what I am eating. A label that says "Contains GMO" gives you zero information about what you are eating. Acei9 04:00, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
it tells me better labeling is required. AMassiveGay (talk) 04:04, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, what do you want the label to read? Acei9 04:18, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Never mind covering the doings of agribusiness corporations in a cloak of trade secrets, and wrapping them in lawyerly property-rights encumbrances. Very seldom does traditional selective breeding do something like splice a bacterial gene (say, for producing the Bt toxin) into a plant in widespread cultivation. There is a lot of room for unintended consequences there. Claiming there is no difference between modern gene-splicing and the slow selection of viable offspring with desirable traits seems disingenuous, and smells like equivocation. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 04:14, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

[Edit conflict - repeating some points made above]I think this is a case where both sides have to acknowledge the points the other side makes. Yes, basically all the food we eat has been genetically modified in some form, so obviously the idea that GMOs are inherently harmful is ridiculous. However, we shouldn't pretend that selective breeding for certain traits over hundreds of years is exactly the same thing as contemporary genetic engineering done in labs. Likewise there is a huge difference between saying that there is no evidence that GMOs currently approved for human consumption are in any way harmful and saying "all GMOs are harmless!" Obviously it is possible to engineer a harmful organism. While even caricatured villains at Monsanto have no incentive to create harmful food, it isn't entirely out of the range of possibility that it could happen anyway. Don't pretend that domesticated rice, which humans have been eating for millennia, is the same thing as some weird hybrid of various foodstuffs spliced together at a molecular level in some lab last week. DickTurpis (talk) 04:17, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Are the two situations identical? No. Are there more potentially harmful side effects to contemporary genetic engineering than there are to selective breeding? I think that one's a bit more difficult to answer. Selective breeding can (and does) lead to significant issues, including an unfortunate propensity to introduce genetic bottlenecks. While one could argue that this isn't so dangerous to humans, selective breeding does make it easier for harmful bacteria to propagate over an entire population (imagine a disease that doesn't necessarily kill the plant, but is harmful to humans). I'm not on either side of the fence, mostly because I think that no matter how you cut it, the issue is very grey. - Grant (Talk) 04:27, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Michael Pollan has some interesting things to say in The Botany of Desire, particularly about strains of potato that were adapted (by human selection) to various micro-climates in the Andes, versus the monoculture of the Irish Lumper that had deadly consequences to humans. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 04:36, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
I'd say the situation is very grey. Most are. But giving the consumer more information rather than less is my general preference. What exactly such labeling would say is a separate topic. DickTurpis (talk) 04:41, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
(EC)How extensive is the testing for potential effects from selective breeding or the faster type of genetic engineering in the context of food we consume? I think that's the sort of thing that matters. Nullahnung (talk) 04:43, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
(EC2) Sounds like it might be worth a read, especially considering I'm not as well-educated on this subject as I would like to be. I'm of the belief that in the cases of both selective breeding and gene splicing, we're perhaps a bit less careful than we should be. There's a part of me that hopes that the companies using gene splicing are at least monitored carefully, but given the secrecy involved, it's hard to say. I also wonder if there are any scientific institutions out there that monitor selective breeding and its effect on crops. - Grant (Talk) 04:43, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Exactly, it would be interesting to know how much monitoring goes into any of this. Long term testing results would be easier to obtain for selective breeding, I'd wager. Nullahnung (talk) 04:47, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Very likely, as selective breeding is (mostly) not patented. However, I would also wager that less testing occurs in general, since selective breeding has been going on for much longer than our knowledge of genes has existed. I believe that more information is better as well, but this might better suit a national database. If I buy selectively bred corn from the grocery store, I have no idea where it came from beyond a country of origin, I have no idea what traits were bred into (or out of) the corn, I have no idea what bacteria or diseases the corn is more or less likely to carry due to this breeding, etc. Sure, this problem also exists for gene-spliced foods, but given the vast amount of data that would need to go into any food I purchased, I feel this would better befit a national database than an in-store label. - Grant (Talk) 04:52, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

As a general note to this discussion, I feel the anti-labeling guys have not so far brought forth any argument why there shouldn't be such labeling. They have mostly declared it unnecessary... okay, maybe it is. But if people still want it on their food products, why not? There are lots of superfluous things in society, and really, some more print on food products would not exactly use up many resources. So that's not, in itself, a good argument against labeling. In fact, that argument does not explain why some people are so vehemently opposed to labeling. You don't get so vehement about things that are merely superfluous. So, to be blunt, I do suspect there are other motivations at work that have not been, heh, labeled here. What the anti-labeling argument rather obviously comes down to in the end is simply the desire to have GMO acceptance in the population increase - by very backhanded means. And I think, to be blunt again, that this is either arrogance at best ("I know what's best for the people!") or egoism at worst ("But I want GMO to become more common place because of its benefits, so to hell with the people's right to choose!"). Personally, I have nothing against gene modifications and I do think such technologies have the potential for many benefits to society. But that is completely irrelevant to the labeling argument. Other people are just as free to have their opinions on the matter, and they have a right to know what they eat - even if it makes no great difference! Anything else is in fact just plain arrogance.Octo8 (talk) 11:10, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm with MassiveGay & Octo8 on this. Personally, I don't really care one way or the other whether I eat GMO, but clearly there is significant consumer demand for product labeling on this issue. The high-handed attitude of GMO-defenders suggesting that the public shouldn't be aware of whether products contain GMO because they can't be trusted to make wise decisions about this is not exactly reassuring & doesn't help foster a public image of the GMO industry being safe & trustworthy. If GMO is harmless, the pro-GMO lobby should be doing a much better job of getting this message to the public, not trying to conceal the extent of GMO in consumer products. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 12:00, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
The "GMO labelling" lobby curiously does not want any organic crops labelled "Caution: fecally contaminated". Why is that? Surely they could educate the public that "Caution: fecally contaminated" was a good thing, couldn't they? I mean, maybe they should do a better job of getting their message across?
It is an old, old trick, they claim to just want "honesty" but the specific honesty they want is for their opponents to be forced to help spread their message. These are commercial enterprises - they have to pay good money for advertising, unless they can force other companies in the same business to be legally obliged to do that for them. This same trick is played in the "green" chemical industry. Force the big suppliers to put scary warnings on their products saying they might be bad for the environment, you can't prove it, but you persuade politicians it's better to be safe than sorry. Then, put the exact same things in your "green" product, but without the warnings. Nobody can prove the warnings are needed, after all, you now have an entirely bogus Unique Selling Point, your product apparently isn't bad for the environment.
I see that this tactic keeps being mentioned here specifically for GMO, which makes me think somebody believes it's valid for GMO. But why GMO and not all the other places it was tried? Does it feel OK to force essentially identical diamonds to be labelled "fake" to prop up a single rich company? Did this tactic feel OK when it was tried on radio technology? Why is it OK to force your opponents to repeat your talking points under the pretence that it's a neutral position. Imagine you buy some bread and it is now labelled, "Warning: contains carcinogenic oxygen". Wait, is bread dangerous now? This other brand says "Low oxygen", is that better? Why are they telling me how much Oxygen is in my bread? Oh, it's just information so that's OK, right? (talk) 13:05, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
What are you even talking about? You've created a giant strawman of the pro-labeling site and proceeded to attack it. Nobody is forcing any "talking points" on anybody. Nobody is demanding "GMO may be bad for your health" markers. Just neutral markers saying "This product may contain GMO materials" or something to that effect. How customers then react to that is entirely their choice - and that is what it's all about, free choice instead of declaring any one person knows what's best for everybody else! Why it is specifically GMO food that should get that label? Because there is customer demand for that, that is all argument needed for it! But instead, the anti-labeling site would rather deliberately mislead the public (by concealing information), and spread GMO acceptance by backhanded means - and then they present that as some kind of good thing! (Oh and yes, of course companies would never voluntarily put up such markers; that's why laws are needed. I'm not sure how that's an argument in either direction? Your post was IMO not very coherent there...) Octo8 (talk) 13:15, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
I think aircraft tickets should have information like "claimed to produce chemtrails", mobile phones should have clear warning labels saying "may cause cancer" and vaccines should mention that some people feel that produce autism. After all - some people are concerned about these things and would want to know.--Weirdstuff (talk) 13:21, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
I have to say, that's a terrible comparison. DickTurpis (talk) 13:23, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
It's only information and being scared about autism and vaccinations has about as much scientific basis as being scared of GM food.--Weirdstuff (talk) 13:26, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, did I use too big words, or why do you simply repeat points I already argued? First, as I've specifically said, nobody wants "May cause..." warnings. Just neutral "Contains GMO materials" labels. And unlike vaccine hysteria and radiation hysteria, that would actually be a fact. And second and more importantly: It doesn't matter if there is reason to be afraid of GM food. It doesn't matter. It only matters that the majority of people want to decide for themselves on whether to eat GM food or not, and that's their good right! It's irrelevant on why or why not they may or may not want to eat GM food. What matters is their will as adults and responsible citizens! It's sickening arrogance to claim that one knows what's best for those people! Octo8 (talk) 13:31, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
It's disingenuous to pretend there is not a massive disinformation campaign by vested interests using scare tactics to make people irrationally afraid of GMO. Agricultural producers, especially of high-priced "organic" foods and less efficient producers in the EU oppose GMO food because they don't want to compete with ever-cheaper products. Their unending demands for "proof of safety" are unscientific and bogus. They stir up superstition among the ignorant and snobbery among those who like to feel superior based on where they shop. The food label "contains GMO" is intended to imply that there is something bad about that food in context. Weorthe (talk) 14:17, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
There is no single coordinated campaign, that is conspiracy theory-ish. And if we talk about financial interests vested in "organic food" (which, really, this isn't what it's about, but whatever) or GM food, then I do think there are more financial interests vested into the latter, by far. To portray GM food as underdog victims of financially overbearing market interests is completely reversing the truth; that is disingenious. People have a tendency to be afraid of the new, that is nearly all there is to anti-GMO sentiment. But to simply dismiss the people as "ignorant" and wanting them to deny their right to make informed decisions, that is exactly the attitude of arrogance I'm talking about! For a great deal of people, "contains GMO" subjectively is something bad, and we have to respect that! If you want to speak of competition and free market forces, then GMO has to find its market niche, like any other new product. A niche among those not disturbed by it, a niche among those drawn by cheaper prices - instead of it being forced on the entire population! I have to repeat myself yet again: It's totally irrelevant why people are against GMO. Maybe it is in fact all uninformed superstition. Maybe. But that's irrelevant to this debate! They still have a right to be informed and make their own decisions! Octo8 (talk) 14:30, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
There is not a conspiracy. There is a practice of protectionism by agricultural producers in the EU, and companies there make use of unscientific anti-GMO arguments as part of that. Putting a label onto a food undeniably implies that there is an important reason for the label. Every other required label on food provides meaningful health information. A GMO label would imply signifigance, and not just be a service for the "disturbed" public. Mayby the label should read "Contains GMO, scientifically proven to be nutitionally equivalent to non-GMO." Weorthe (talk) 14:41, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Considering food already has to label all ingredients, regardless of whether they're natural, artificial, healthy, whatever, would it be unreasonable if companies were required to specify "genetically modified corn" instead of simply "corn" in the ingredients listing? That's certainly a far cry from a big red label on the front reading "WARNING! WARNING! GENETICALLY MODIFIED INGREDIENTS CONTAINED WITHIN! PROCEED WITH CAUTION!" DickTurpis (talk) 14:53, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Exactly. And furthermore, there is a good reason for that label: GMO is a controversional issue (whether it should be is irrelevant, it is), and hence people want to decide on their own whether to use GMO food or not. Their reasons for that are irrelevant, what matter is their will as adults and citizens. "Contains GMO" would be neutral. "Contains GMO, scientifically proven to be nutitionally equivalent to non-GMO." would, uhm, not be, obviously. Octo8 (talk) 15:01, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Ingredients lists do not usually distinguish cultivars. "Contains GMO" is not neutral because it implies signifigance. But now we are repeating ourselves. Weorthe (talk) 15:07, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
It has significance - to those people. Whether it should or not is irrelevant. "Contains GMO" is significant because it's significant for a large part of the population. And then why not include it? It's not like "Contains GMO" would be a huge waste of ink. Octo8 (talk) 15:27, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
We have different definitions of "signifigant." Weorthe (talk) 15:36, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, that's what it comes down to. Everybody has different definitions of that. So why not just list the stuff that's significant for different people? Also, you didn't answer my question. Octo8 (talk) 15:48, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
I answered your question above. Putting it on the label implies that there is a fact-based reason to be aware that there is a GMO ingredient in the food, creating an impression that there is a problem with that (which is the intention of label advocates). It is not just a harmless fyi for people who don't understand science. Weorthe (talk) 15:55, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
You know what makes me so vehement in this debate? How the other's sides arguments positively ooze arrogance. "There is no 'fact based' reason to fear GMO, so we should just dismiss the demands of a large part of the population." It doesn't matter if it is or isn't fact based! Stating that you know what's best for others is just arrogance! Maybe labeling will have the effects or side-effects you describe. Irrelevant. A smaller concern then upholding the right of the people to be informed and choose for themselves. Octo8 (talk) 16:02, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I simply oppose intentionally misinforming people with misleading implications (for the benefit of some vested interests, at the expense of the consumers you say you are advocating for). I apologize for oozing such arrogance. You can have the last word. It will be wrong, but have at it :) Weorthe (talk) 16:10, 2 February 2014 (UTC) So you'd be happy with " contains thiomersal" on vaccinations?--Weirdstuff (talk) 13:43, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

If there were substantial demand for it, probably, yes. Though, this discussion is about food, not vaccines. Vaccines save lives. Genetically modified food... uh, becomes a bit cheaper? Can change tastes? Octo8 (talk) 13:57, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, the discussion is about labelling and GM foods. So labelling questions would seem to be valid. My point is that using labelling to reflect tabloid misunderstanding of science may not be the best way to go.--Weirdstuff (talk) 16:53, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Keep in mind that this is a bit disingenuous. Food can be genetically modified to remove harmful effects (or add good ones). I realize you were aiming for hyperbole, but I felt it worth pointing out. - Grant (Talk) 16:29, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Developing super-strains of food crops has already done a lot to relieve starvation. (For that to work well, there can't be too much friction in the distribution system.) That said, the trouble with gene splicing may well turn out to be the unintended consequences. It would be truly stupid of us to create an unstoppable invasive species, and bring on a "Twelve Monkeys" kind of scenario. Scare-mongering, you say? Yes, such a global plague is a hyperbolic example, but where profit-seeking collides with responsible stewardship of the only planet we've got, I believe caution is in order. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 17:04, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

[edit] Just information

I doubt I can make you change your (clearly fervently held) opinions about GMO labelling, but let me try to teach you why "just information" is bogus. Humans are not expert systems, they don't have a fixed set of variables they're considering in making a decision. You can make a person take something else into account, or disregard something they were previously considering, just by presenting some "information". People apply Grice's maxims to every sort of communication, if something is mentioned it is presumed to be relevant. If you say the food "contains GMO ingredients" a person who has no prior contact with this debate at all, no concept of what "GMO ingredients" might be, immediately believes this is an important fact about the food. But you seem to have agreed that it isn't, so perversely including this information is actually deceitful, even though it is true.
I guess you won't believe me, so try it. For example, if somebody asks you iof you'd like to go somewhere, say "I like it here". You probably do like it where you are, so that's not a lie. But they will assume you're objecting to going somewhere else. Because that's the only reason your utterance would be relevant. We consider that a person who says "I do have a son" in answer to the questions "Do you have any children?" is lying if in fact they also have two daughters. Not because what they said isn't true, but because of the inferences we automatically draw, and which they should reasonably have known we would draw. (talk) 14:54, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Again, rather irrelevant. All I know is that there is a demand for labeling, and that people have a right to that knowledge so they can make their own decisions about which food they buy - which, again, is their right. You may be entirely right in your estimation, and it might well be that GMO labeling would have such side-effects. But that's immaterial to me. All that matters to me is upholding the right of the people to choose for themselves.Octo8 (talk) 15:01, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
[EC] That's the most convoluted argument against labeling I've ever seen. Tell me this much, is it impossible that inclusion of GMOs in a food product could be of consequence in any manner whatsoever? DickTurpis (talk) 15:02, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
As much as I don't agree with the BoN's argument, I also don't think your question is the right way to challenge it, Dick. As was discussed above, there are mounds and mounds of information about selectively bred crops that are of potential consequence to the end consumer. The same is true for GMO products. I don't support the idea of labelling gene spliced foods in this manner without similar labelling for selectively bred crops. Above, I suggested a national database that could do just that, and instead of having a gigantic label full of information, a pointer to the database could be provided. Would this seem to be an adequate compromise between those who want full disclosure and those who don't want "GMO" to be singled out? - Grant (Talk) 15:42, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
What "gigantic label full of information"? 'Contains GMO'. That's it. Now, sure, we could also have labels 'Contains Seclectively Bred Crops', but since so far nobody has seriously demanded that, what would be the point of that? But sure, we could have that. Since it would end up on practically all food products there are, it would become meaningless, and people will just ignore it. Meanwhile, not all foods would have the GMO label, and hence people would make decisions based on that, and it would hence retain its significance. Octo8 (talk) 15:48, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm not making an argument from popularity. I'm saying that I want to know what's in my food, and virtually everything purchased at the grocery store is basically a wild card. I've made it clear in several of my posts that this is my stance, though most of them were far up the wall of text, so I don't blame you if you didn't read them (heh). I believe that there's enough scare mongering around the topic of GMOs (you would be surprised how many people in my area are anti-GMO without ever reading a scientific paper of any kind... Not pro-labelling, just anti-GMO) that I would rather see a system that is complete and fully informative on all foods, gene-spliced or not. - Grant (Talk) 15:54, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Okay, sorry. I admit, I did think you brought forth this idea merely as a tactical argument. The problem is, if there's some huge databank... well, as you implied, who will actually read it? Meanwhile, warning labels on the food products themselves are a rather easy, if very comprimed way of information. But sure, one could do both. Octo8 (talk) 16:02, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
No worries. I live in an area where naturopaths are allowed to call themselves doctors, and the "organic" food craze is a firestorm. Here, "GMO" is a snarl-word, so labelling GMO foods without the addition of proper education would just fuel the hysteria further. You can't sway the crazy ones, but I figured a databank would at least provide a nice and easy way to convince the moderates (or the people who are just caught up in the hype because they heard GM was bad from a friend of a friend) that perhaps there's more to this than meets the eye. - Grant (Talk) 16:26, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm with Ace on this, just slapping a "contains GMO" label on something is totally meaningless. Most products continue multiple ingredients and we would have no indication which was genetically modified and to what end. I would reckon that very, very few people are able to make an educated decision about whether any particular modification was potentially hazardous. In medicine we are on the threshold of embracing mass genetic therapies by modifying genes; is turning off a cancer-causing gene OK but turning off a gene that makes fruit rot quicker something to be feared? Now there may be modifications that are of concern and that is why I think approval needs to be given on a case by case basis. Just because there is apparently a consumer demand for labelling doesn't mean it should be conceded to. Most people only think that they need to know because they have been scared by the media. We've already seen what happens when the general public are mislead over vaccines. There is certainly a case for rational debate about GMOs but it is not the technology itself that should be demonised and slapping meaningless generic labels on products only panders to the scaremongerers. Redchuck.gif ГенгисIs the Pope a Catholic? Moderator 22:33, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── We have foods labeled as halal & kosher, concepts that are also a product of scaremongering. Some people disdain meat & insist on knowing whether things they eat contain it. There are arguments to be made for or against whether these choices are "rational" or "fact-based", but ultimately they come down to personal ethos. Yet we humour people's rights to make these choices & we make the information available on food packaging to make them. Why treat concerns about GMO differently? WëäŝëïöïďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 00:40, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Things need to be labeled halal because of religious reasons, not because of scaremongering (yes yes, religion contains scaremongering, but I think it's a significant difference and a distinction needs to be made).
As for GMO labeling, I agree with GrantC. Providing people with information so they can make their choices is good. What you shouldn't do is provide information selectively, since selective information contains bias and misleads. Therefore just "contains GMO" is not in fact enough for all intents and purposes. There really should be a reference on each type of food that people can use to look up how it was made, what's in it and how extensively it was tested for safety reasons. The reference would of course point to some kind of database. And don't tell me that "who would even bother to follow those references?". People who care would. People like to educate themselves about the food they eat, believe it or not. Nullahnung (talk) 01:24, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Some people avoid GMO for religious reasons too. As for this database thing you keep coming back to, I don't see his that would satisfy anyone. The point of food labeling is to put information on the label for easy reference, not in some other location where the customer has to go looking for it. ЩєазєюіδWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 02:00, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
People buy products labeled such as halal, kosher, vegetarian or organic on an opt-in basis. Labelling "may contain GMO" is an imposition so people may opt-out. If people don't want GMO then let manufacturers specify as "does not contain GMO". And as for a database, well we already have one with E-numbers, so if people don't want to consume a specific ingredient then they need to know its code. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. Moderator 11:18, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Religious reasons, I see. Anyways, I guess a GMO label could be used by producers/grocery stores to cater to people who have religious/ethical objections to GMO food. Of course, it should not be mandatory, but it should be an option, similar to how having a Halal section is an option for grocery stores to cater to customer convenience. Nullahnung (talk) 02:46, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Well any labelling on food is going to be vague by necessity (e.g. "Contains GMO"). The alternative is a label crammed full of 6 pt text that covers the entire product. I would like to see a system that explicitly noted what was in the food that is all-encompassing. Thus, corn would need to be labelled "Contains GMO" if it contained GMO, and if it was selectively bred, it would need to be marked as such with at least some broad indication of the breed itself. Then, the database could be used for more detailed information. - Grant (Talk) 02:04, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
All agricultural produce is "selectively bred". If that were to be labeled on foods - something that nobody is actually demanding - it would be on pretty much everything except ocean fish. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 02:16, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm aware. I would like to know which specific breed I'm eating, however. For many types of produce there are multiple possible breeds, and any reporting requirement on these is fairly lax in general. This isn't necessarily a shot at farmers, either, since the selectively bred crop seeds sold by Monsanto have the same issue. I'm not sure what reporting requirements are like in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world, but the labelling requirements in Canada require only the name of the product, a country of origin (whittled down to a province if sold within Canada) and a quality grade. Beyond that, I have no idea what my produce is. It doesn't help that "organic" isn't really a recognized certification here either, so everyone and their mother just slaps it on their produce when it ships out. - Grant (Talk) 02:21, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Actually the EU has rules on where the "organic" label can be used.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 09:33, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Oh that's good. Perhaps the upcoming Canada-EU free trade agreement will see that adopted here in Canada. As it stands, there is no such (trusted) certification here). - Grant (Talk) 16:10, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Exactly - nobody is demanding labels for selectively bred corps. But people do demand labels for GMO food. That is the difference, and that is why there should be mandatory labels. A large part of the population doesn't want to buy GMO food. It doesn't matter how silly their reasons might be. Only that fact itself matters. Government exists to serve the people, and hence governments should enforce the ability of the people to choose against GMO, for whatever reasons the people have. Thing is - nobody's rights would be violated if there is mandatory GM labelling. You'd still be able to get GM food if you want it. But if you want to not buy GM food (which is your good right!) then you have a problem if there is no mandatory labelling. So, comparing the situations, mandatory labelling is clearly better. Octo8 (talk) 14:16, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm going to push a potentially unpopular viewpoint here, but the job of certain government departments is often to work at arms length from "what the people want". For example, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency doesn't give a crap what the populace thinks when it's determining what's safe and what isn't. There was quite the public uproar when energy drinks were re-classified such that most of them had to be taken off the shelves while they were re-labelled. While I'm not saying this directly affects the GMO argument, I think your argument is nonetheless far too broad. Lots of folks near where I live would love to buy unpasteurized milk, but it happens to be illegal both to buy and sell it. I'm also not sure where you live, but I also don't know if the majority of Canadians (for example) actually give a damn about the GMO labelling debate. Heavens knows most people in the grocery store just pick up their food and pay for it without so much as a comment. - Grant (Talk) 16:10, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
And that's exactly what I've been lamenting all the time. This "We know what's best for you" attitude. Pure arrogance, nothing more. Especially since your comparison doesn't work. Certain energy drinks might have a health risk, that's why the agency had to act (maybe - I don't know the details, I'm simply agreeing for the sake of argument). But non-GMO food is obviously not in itself a health risk; it's the stuff we've so far always eaten. GMO food has certain bonuses, but that doesn't mean non-GMO food is a danger. So nobody is endangered by people choosing to buy non-GMO food. And so that's their free decisions as adults and cittizens. And in order to make that decision, they have to have the necessary information. And given that there's a demand for it let's give them that information! As for that demand, well, I'm German. Europe, the eco-nutters' home continent ;)Octo8 (talk) 23:37, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
As I said before, I wasn't arguing that the pro-labelling crowd is wrong because "they don't know better". My point was that your broad argument of "government exists to serve the people, so they should do X if the people want it" isn't a fair statement to make broadly. I'm not sure what the political system is like in Germany, but Canada is not a direct democracy, and the people don't really have much choice in certain matters. There may be very good reasons for labelling GMOs. I've argued that there's very good reasons to improve food labelling in many different ways for all foods, and that this should be the goal, not just labelling GMOs. Who cares if a vocal minority clamours for labelling GMOs? I would be interested in seeing a nation-wide survey here as to how many people really care, and if so, how many people just want to know what's in their food period, whether GMO or not. - Grant (Talk) 00:16, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Germany unfortunately has very little in the way of diretc democracy. But that's a factual statement, not a normative one. Saying "Canda is not a direct democracy" is hence not a great argument; it simply says how things are, and that's something we can all agree on ;) It has no argumentative value on how things should be. Octo8 (talk) 00:24, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
While that's fair, I happen to prefer a system that isn't a direct democracy, because I believe very strongly that the tyranny of the majority is a potentially dangerous thing. Anti-vaccine scare tactics in the U.S. and around the world endanger lives, and while GMOs (currently) aren't related to anything so dangerous, that will eventually change. After all, if someone found a way to safely gene-splice peanuts to remove the protein that causes allergic reactions, I would support that whole-heartedly, because peanut allergies can (and do) kill people. This may be a point at which we must agree to disagree, however, as your position seems to be that you would prefer something closer to a direct democracy, while I'm very happy where Canada sits now. :) - Grant (Talk) 00:31, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
That argument can be used in favor of any useless labeling scheme. Why not mandate labels warning people that the factory was built on an ancient Indian burial ground, or that the factory's arrangement fails to properly deflect negative qi according to feng shui principles, or that the factory employs homosexuals? According to your logic, since anyone avoiding such products wouldn't harm themselves, the labels would be perfectly fine. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 01:09, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, there is obviously so much demand for such labels... Octo8 (talk) 01:12, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
You say that, but there are places in the western world where the latter probably would be loudly advocated for. Of course, such discrimination would also be illegal in most of the western world, but I don't think Frederick's point is without merit as much as you suggest. - Grant (Talk) 01:15, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Halal and kosher labeling are voluntary. The people calling for GMO labeling want to make such labeling mandatory. Anyway, for the people who want to avoid GMOs, there's always USDA Certified Organic, which ensures that the product contains no GMOs. It's not exactly difficult to find foodstuffs that don't contain GMOs. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 01:32, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
This is also a good point (Halal and kosher designations being voluntary). Similarly, the certification process to deem a food USDA Certified Organic is exactly that; a voluntary process undertaken in order to be allowed to use a certain label. Currently none of these are mandatory labels, which makes them somewhat difficult to compare to the topic of mandatory labelling of GM foods. - Grant (Talk) 02:06, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Voluntary labelling would be fine idea. That would really be a kind of advertising aimed at a specific market wouldn't it?--Weirdstuff (talk) 09:24, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Whole Foods is doing it, since they already target that specific market. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 03:19, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
GMOs aren't inherently unhealthy to eat and I would even claim the goal of GMOs is inherently benficial; to increase crop yield. Rational reasons to oppose GMOs have nothing to do with the resulting crop but for conditions surrounding its cultivation. For example a) the accompanying use of pesticides which poison everything but the resistant GMO (including farmers to some degree), b) that GMO seeds are expensive and therefore not available to poor farmers (which has obvious socio-economic consequences), c) that the aforementioned farmers do get sued if GMOs spread to their fields (which can easily happen without intent), and d) that there is the potential for insufficiently testing GMOs before releasing them for cultivation (traditional breeding is by default tested over at least one season for each genetic modification). But of course all these issues can also NOT be present in the cultivation of a certain GMO. A label would hit all GMOs alike. To the average consumer such a label would almost certainly indicate bad qualitiy of a product, instead of the circumstances in which the item was produced. The same is happening with the "organic" label; it is usually seen as an indicator of good quality, when the only measurable improvement in quality is that organic food contains less traces of pesticides for example. The were studies showing that people think any food tastes better if it was presented to them as "organic". I am pretty sure the same thing would happen with a GMO label, only in reverse and that may as well be the motivation behind anti-GMO folks advocating mandatory labelling. I personally buy mostly food labelled "fair trade", but for ethical reasoins, not because I expect it to taste better. - Bismarck (talk) 11:04, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
a) 99.99% of pesticides present in crops are produced by the crop itself, an effect of millions of years of natural selection favoring crops that can defend themselves.[1] Glyphosate, a.k.a. Roundup, is one of the mildest (if not the mildest) pesticides available.[2] What we need are safe pesticides, not no pesticides (which would be impossible). b) Agreed. c) Nobody's been sued for unintentional contamination. d) That could be said about almost anything. Transgenic modification has not been shown to be riskier in those regards than any other field of research (e.g. selective breeding, chemistry, engineering). Frederick♠♣♥♦ 05:25, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
I admit I was in error regarding lawsuits (point c). My point concerning pesticides was that certain GMOs are explicitly developed with pesticide use in mind, and overuse of pesticides is obviously a problem. About point d: I'm not saying transgenic modification is more dangerous, just that selective breeding is by default a slower process. Bismarck (talk) 18:52, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

[edit] The picture

The uploaded pic is really reavealing. In the end, the anti-labelling side wants to prevent mandatory labelling not for consumer protection or anything like that, but to push through GMO acceptance by backhanded means (i.e., by concealment). That picture makes that very clear, or why else attack anti-GM quotes of the pro-labelling site? Octo8 (talk) 14:16, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Because the anti-GM, pro-labeling lobby is misleading the public (both intentionally and unintentionally) by lambasting GMOs as unsafe and unnatural. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 01:26, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
You have little standing of accusing anybody of misleading the public when you yourself want to have information actively concealed from the public. But that's besides the point. The main point is that attacking the anti-GM quotes of pro-labeling people shows that the anti-labeling site doesn't care about the people at all - only about pushing through GMO food. Octo8 (talk) 01:32, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I'd have no problem with the label if it listed the GMO by name, instead of just saying "GMO". But none of the pro-labeling people are asking for that. They want the label to just say "GMO", which is not informing the public, it is labeling the food with a term that has been sullied by years of misinformation by anti-GM organizations. If one of the many GMOs being sold or yet to be sold turns out to be harmful, the label as currently proposed wouldn't help me determine whether the food I purchased contains the harmful GMO, and that's ultimately my determining factor for whether I'd support such a label. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 01:39, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Meh, you are full of shit. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:53, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
No one here has said what the label should say, except for the pro-GMO blindness advocates. I'd be for exact naming, such as "sodium propionate added to prevent clumping". ħumanUser talk:Human 02:26, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm not "pro-GMO blindness", I'm pro-actually putting the names of the ingredients on the label, or as you call it, "exact naming". Frederick♠♣♥♦ 06:02, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
But it is informing the public. There are several people out there who just don't want any GMO food, period. And that's their good right, no matter what their reasoning may be. So for them such a label would be valuable information. If one were to really care about people, and not pushing through one's agenda, but one would take care they're informed about that fact. "Listing GMO by name" would just lead to GMO food not being recognized as such due to a deluge of information. But the aim is that GMO food is marked as such, in a way the average consumer can recognize it! Octo8 (talk) 01:54, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Not listing which GMOs are in a product is concealing the ingredients of the product, which is something you were against in your earlier post. And again, if people don't want to eat GMOs, then they can eat organic foods. There is no barrier in place preventing people who want to avoid GMOs from doing so. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 02:06, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Likewise, if you want to eat GMO food, you can simply eat the products without label. Which is in fact even easier. Why should anybody have to go to niche food just to be "safe" of GMO food? Why can't there be regular food, at regular prices, in regular supermarkets, simply labeled as being with or without GMO? This doesn't hurt anybody, and is of use to a great number of people. So clearly that solution has a far greater utility than not having labels. And also, I'm not against labeling which GMO is in a product. But it would have to be done in such a way that the essence "This contains GMO" is not flooded by detail information. Which, be honest, is what you want. Concealment by yet another measure. But it's not like having the GMO label, and then also additional information, are mutually exclusive solutions. Octo8 (talk) 02:20, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Organic foods are expensive not because they don't contain GMOs, but because the companies that produce them are largely interested in ripping people off. Whether there exists labelling or not, I think you'll find that companies will find a way to translate labelling (of any kind) into profit. No, I'm not saying there's some organized conspiracy or the like, but if people think "GMO foods are bad" and there are foods labelled "GMO", you can expect to see the price of "non-GMO" food rise. - Grant (Talk) 02:28, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't want to conceal anything, which is why I don't want a blanket GMO label that fails to elaborate on what exactly is in the product. My point is that none of the GMO labeling proposals have ever mandated that the GMOs be named. If it was really about informing the public and not just scaring people into buying organic, then why wouldn't they want to give the public as much information as possible regarding GMOs in food products? Frederick♠♣♥♦ 02:48, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Lets be honest about what you want. Consumers have a right not to be deceived by untruthful food labels required by their governments. The untruth of the "contains GMO" label is in the implication. GMO is not a real category, any more than "contains proteins" is. The implication of the "contains GMO" label is this: It intentionally tricks the consumer into thinking there must be something unhealthy or dangerous about GMO ingredients - why list it otherwise? The implication is a lie. You keep saying "it doesn't matter" whether there is a rational reason for consumers to fear GMO. That is wrong. A government of a free people does not succumb to pressure by a few or by many to deceive them in order to promote false, pseudoscientific theories or selfish economic interests. Weorthe (talk) 02:56, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
(EC - funny, Weorthe, I was talking about the others side's honesty as well) Grant, that's my point, kinda: Organic goes a wee bit farther than just "non-GMO". That also includes how the corps are cultivated and the farm animals are held, which does make prices go up due to production costs alone (whether that's worth the while is another question). Which is why there has to be non-GMO food, clearly distinguishable from GMO food, in regular supermarkets at the regular cheap supermarket prices, too. Some people don't want to go all organic, they simply don't want GMO, period. Frederick, then I do kinda wonder about that the anti-labeling site variously pushes "no labeling" or "so much labeling that GMO isn't clearly recognizable as such" - whatever arguments suits them best at the moment, with no consistency. This all is about trying to trick people into buying GMO, so they can see there's no harm from it. And no, this can be in no way or form be justified or be held as an ethical position! What it comes down to is that people who don't want to buy GMO must be able, both in theory and also in reality, to choose against it! And you want to take that choice away! Even though labeling would not in any way or form hurt your choices! And that's an unacceptable position!
Selfihs economic interests? Let's not kid ourselves, there are economic interests on both sides - and in fact, probably larger ones on the anti-labeling side, because large agriculture businesses stand to make good money if people weren't so resistant to GMO. This is painting an one-sided picture, and close to reversing the truth. A "government of free people", eh? Yeah, very free people if you want others to make the choices for them, because clearly dumb hoi polloi doesn't know what's best for them. That's authoritarian nonsense best suited to reactionaries! Octo8 (talk) 03:03, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I will remind you that in many countries - mine included - there is no real certification required for food to be labelled "organic". As such, the extra cost associated with organic food is entirely due to the name recognition, not the preparation or anything of the sort. This trend in increased pricing for organic food happened because people started liking the idea of eating organic because it was better in some mystical fashion. I'm just saying that there are economic repercussions to labelling "contains GMO" that could very likely see non-GMO foods rise in price, as non-GMO foods will become the new craze. - Grant (Talk) 03:08, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't want to take their choice away, I just don't want the labeling options currently proposed. If someone proposes a label that actually informs people as to what's in their food, then I'm all for it. But the labels that have been proposed are not intended to inform the public, they are intended to mislead people into thinking that all GMOs are the same. They are not, and anyone avoiding "all GMOs" is severely misinformed. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 03:17, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
People, including the hoi polloi, have a right to make informed choices, and not be tricked with lies and deceipt into spending more on food for no reason, or rather because third party selfish interests want them to. Weorthe (talk) 03:18, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Frederick, whatever the labeling system might be like, it must fulfil one criterium: That people can use it in such a way as to be factually able (that factual part means it must be easily spotted) to choose not to buy GMO food. If that criterium is fulfilled, whatever system is fine with me. But that choice is what the label would be all about. Not public education or whatever - just a label that would allow people to make that choice. I recognize the argument that such a label could raise false fears, but while this is probably an intented effect to some, to me it would merely be a side-effect, and one worth it in the face of public demands to be able to choose against GMO. I personally have nothing against GMO, but I am insistent that everybody can make that choice for themselves. Weorthe, yet more of the typical, tiresome, authoritarian "I know what's best for them" bullshit. Octo8 (talk) 03:32, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Then I propose all foods with meats in them should be able to just say "meat" instead of specifying which meat it is. After all, specifying which meat it is would just confuse the consumer and hide the use of meat, and what's really important is informing vegetarians whether the product has meat in it. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 03:43, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I promise I am not an authoritarian. Do you believe me? :) You would be shocked if you were to look in my fridge: Free-range eggs, local organic produce in season (but also imported cheese, how inefficient). I just don't want to impose food costs on others, most especially the 2B human beings in danger of starvation each day, just because rich Westerners (I always think Gwenyth Paltrow) want to impose pseudoscience. That is my real angle. I am a good person, I aver. Let the people make their own choices. But let them not be deceived by scare tactics funded by agribusiness organizations that are just as evil as Monsanto. Weorthe (talk) 03:48, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Frederick, the thing with meat is that most of the time you see whether it's meat or not. You can't just see if a product has GMO or not. If you could, the entire debate would be moot. Now, as I've said before, I have nothing against additional information on products; in fact that would be a good thing. All I said was that whatever form GMO labeling take, it must factually enable the consumer to decide against GMO products, if they so wish. Because that's the entire point. Octo8 (talk) 03:59, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm not against all GMO labeling. What I'm against is GMO labeling that does not inform the consumer as to which GMO is in the product. If the label does not inform the consumer as to which GMO is in the product, it's like a label that states only "contains meat" or "contains preservatives". Utterly useless to anyone with half a brain. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 04:20, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, "contains preservatives" is a thing now and then. But anyway, sure, I'm all for more informations on products. But at the same time, the essence ("contains GMO") must also be clearly visible somewhere. The point is that label would not be for people "with brain", as you decided to call them. And like it or not, those people "without half a brain" are still citizens in our societies, too. They have a right to make decisions about whether they want to eat GMO food or not. But that requires that they're able to distinguish between GMO and non-GMO. Octo8 (talk) 04:47, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
So what you're saying is we need to use a vague, loaded term that provides absolutely no useful information because there are severely misinformed people out there who won't understand the ingredients unless they're dumbed down? Frederick♠♣♥♦ 05:13, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
"Contains GMO:(insert name/info about which GMO)" There, that whole dispute between the two of you was trivial all along! You're welcome! Nullahnung (talk) 07:54, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Note, I still don't understand why labelling should be mandatory at all. Name me any other label that is mandatory in grocery stores and tell me why it's the same case for GMOs/preservatives/Halal and you might convince me. Nullahnung (talk) 07:58, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Weorthe... well, there is also such a thing as a well-meaning authoritarian. If you want to make decisions for other people (not decisions affecting others, mind, just decisions about themseles) because you think their reasons for this or that choice are invalid, then that's a form of authoritarianism. I know about the benefits of GMO food. But not labeling it despite great demand does amount to pushing acceptance of it through by means of tricking people into buying it. In fact, part of your argument now is about how great it would be if GMO was more widely established, so, yeah, hard to escape the notion that that's your aim (despite whatever you personally might have in the fridge). As for the people starving to death... well. Thing is, the industrialized countries, which are those who will see the most benefits from GMO, already produce an overabundance of food anyway. Clearly that doesn't help areas hit by starvation. And as for GMO crops in those areas, well, that is an issue that is of course affected by general anti-GMO activism, but it wouldn't really be affected by GMO labels in stores. At least not GMO labels in stores in industrialized countries. I mean, as I've said, I'm not anti-GMO, just pro-labeling. Those are two different issues. Octo8 (talk) 03:59, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
The claim is that if Europe discourages GMO, then there won't be a market for it, because American farmers export tons of produce to Europe and they will want to be able to sell their products. Also, third world agricultural products won't be able to be exported to a major market (Europe). There has also been political pressure by certain European governments (France) on third world nations not to take advantage of GMO crops despite the potential benefits of them. That will dry up research and end any benefits to the third world that GMO might provide. This will benefit protectionist interests in Europe at the expense of third world starving masses, so they say. As for benevolent authoritarianism: From my point of view I want to empower people by protecting them from falsehood. You just can't wrap your head around the fact that "contains GMO" is an intentional deception. Weorthe (talk) 04:09, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Those points have all to do with anti-GM activism, but nothing at all with labeling. African countries really won't care about how much or what America exports to Europe. Third world agriculture is a completely different market than the developed world agriculture market; if nothing else the high protective customs of the developed world in regards to agriculture make sure of that. Whether GMO is successful in the market of the developed world will have little influence in the third world. And whatever bullying France might do, that really has nothing to do with labels! And lastly, while some people pushing for GMO labels surely have deception in mind, that doesn't mean that such labels would always be intentional deceptions. That's just ridiculous. It's about accomodating anti-GMO consumers - and those exist already, no further "deception" required! Octo8 (talk) 04:47, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Third world agriculture is completely dependent on first world consumption, who are you kidding? Does your rice come from Scotland? Labels intended to discourage imports of GMO foods discourage development of GMO foods. You think people have a right to know things that are unscientific. I think people have a right not to be misinformed by their governments about science. Weorthe (talk) 04:59, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Could be from Italy. Anyway, yes of course there are some cash crops that are imported from the third world, like peanuts and cocoa. But the basic food stuffs (those which would actually help in cases of starvation), things like most grains, meat, etc. are traded within the industrialized world (plus emerging countries) , and the industrialized world makes very sure that stays that way with protective customs. Now, if you talk about export economics instead of domestic food supply of those countries (something that would be untouched by GMO labels here in our regions), then well, GMO labels would hit all regions of the world the same. I'm not quite seeing how they would hit the third world's agricultural economies extra hard. Oh, and yes, I'd hope there wouldn't be mislabelings. But otherwise, there'd be no "misinformation" involved. As I've said, the statement "contains GMO" would be trivially true. Octo8 (talk) 05:09, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Third world countries have far more to lose if development on certain GM crops (e.g. modifications to make crops drought-resistant or higher yield) slowed or stopped. While it's the third world economies that stand to benefit the most from these sorts of modifications, it's the companies in the industrialized world that actually develop the crops themselves. Reduce or remove the profits these companies stand to make in the first world, and the third world suffers as a result. That's important to consider. - Grant (Talk) 05:15, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

I would point out that "Does not contain GMO" could be implemented right now as a voluntary label along the lines of Kosher or Halal. If there is a large demand for non-GMO food, the market would support such labeled products. Imposing a "Contains GMO" label is not necessary for consumer choice in that regard if there really is a market for it. 192․168․1․42 (talk) 20:38, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Yes, that's what I think as well! Nullahnung (talk) 20:47, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
It already is being implemented by some companies. There's several independent agencies that offer such labels, there's USDA Organic, and Whole Foods is making their own labeling system for their stores. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 21:54, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I was thinking of GMO concerns specifically, since "Organic" typically involves additional criteria. "Some people don't want to go all organic, they simply don't want GMO, period." and all that, since that's what this is nominally about. 192․168․1․42 (talk) 22:17, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
There are independent agencies that offer that, the most prominent being the Non-GMO project. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 06:23, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm with Nullahnung on this. If we had a label that said "This product contains the following genetically-engineered proteins/ingredients/etc.: [insert name of protein/ingredient/etc. here], that would be acceptable. The term "genetically-engineered" is more accurate, and it's not too nebulous to know what it means either. It would be roughly akin to the "Milk not from cows treated with rBST/rBGH." labels on milk jugs. Speaking of which, those milk labels also have a footnote stating that "According to the FDA no significant difference has been found between milk derived from rBST/rBGH-treated and non-rBST/rBGH treated cows." In that same vein, a similar footnote may be in order explaining what the FDA and/or USDA has actually found about the product. In addition, the label could also give allergy information stating whether the product contains any genetic material from corn, soybeans, nuts, etc., or whether or not it may have shared some growing process with products containing long-digestion proteins (as seen in some livestock feed-grade crops), clarifying that such proteins may increase the risk of allergy development.

From what I've learned about biotechnology, many GM crops are so different that the only thing they have in common is that they underwent a genetic engineering process of some kind. Pardon me for invoking Godwin's Law, but I think a vague label stating whether or not it "contains GMO" is no less meaningless than a label stating whether or not a product comes from Jewish growers/suppliers/etc. I could see the more clean-cut "intellectual" anti-Semites claiming that the public has a "right to know" whether a product comes from Jewish sources so anti-Semites aren't "tricked into funding Jewish enterprise" or similar. While all analogies have their limits, I think the fact there is no unifying characteristic of all GM foods makes this a sound analogy. (To be clear, this analogy has nothing to do with people who want to boycott Israeli goods, and mandatory Country of Origin Labeling is already a thing.) I'm disappointed that people overlooked Nullahnung's idea, and it got buried in the debate pretty quickly.

On another note, I find it somewhat curious that while there are several names for genetically-engineered agricultural products (genetically-modified, genetically-engineered, GM, GMO, biotech, transgenic, recombinant, etc.), anti-GM campaigners use "GMO" nearly exclusively and invariably. While one could say it's easier to use initials, they seem to prefer "GMO" even to "GM" in their rhetoric. To me, something looks scary about that "O" at the end, even if it just stands for "organism," though it may just be me (it may also be the other way around, that the use of "GMO" in anti-GMO rhetoric has made "GMO" scarier-looking in my mind). The idea they wish to avoid confusion with the automaker General Motors strikes me as incredibly naive, as no one's going to get them confused in practice. My hypothesis is that they want to use that particular term repeatedly enough to imprint it in people's minds as a pictograph-like symbol of sorts, a set of easily recognizable initials which "jump out at you" in the same way "USA" or "CIA" (and now, "NSA") do. Perhaps my hypothesis is overly grand, and the preference for the term "GMO" is just the result of institutionalized force of habit within the movement. Still, it's easier to frighten people away from a scary symbol than from words someone actually has to read, which is why I think the sort of labeling Nullahnung and I are proposing would be preferable. It succeeds in making it clear that the product is genetically-engineered, but it also entices the consumer to read further and find out relevant information. The One They Call Mars (talk) 17:53, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

GM is a car company, friend. "Anti-GM campaigners"? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Your hypothesis is so sad and poorly assembled I wish you weren't wasting out time here. I'm still waiting for one good reason not to include specific mention of GM products involved in various foodstuffs. Some of us might prefer them... ħumanUser talk:Human 02:23, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
If you actually read what he wrote, you'd see he's in favor of including "specific mention of GM products involved in various foodstuffs", and that he simply wants a more descriptive label than "contains GMOs", which I agree with as well. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 06:11, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
People regularly use the term GM to describe these products, including on this wiki ("GM foods" etc.) I was saying that the anti-GMO movement will use "GMO" exclusively and invariably, and I wanted to get some second opinions to see if their emphasis on only one term out of several had some motivation behind it or was just a force of habit within the movement. I did mention the part about General Motors and what GMO actually stands for, and I said that avoiding confusion with the automaker was a naive explanation in my personal opinion. I never made any absolute assertions. I acknowledged that my perception of GMO as a scary-looking term was probably the result of a cognitive bias on my part, and I acknowledged that the use of the term "GMO" by the anti-transgenic food movement may not have had any significance. I don't see what was so grating about my post as to warrant such a reply, Human. I've seen "but this is RationalWiki!" trolls treated more cordially. I had an idea I thought might have merit and which made sense to me, but which I also realized may just be a personal delusion which made sense only to me, and all I wanted to do was get some second opinions from the community. A simple "I think you're reading way too far into it." would have sufficed. The One They Call Mars (talk) 16:01, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

A person denying the right to label is a denier of science and transparency. What if the government decided that people shouldn't be allowed to know whether food contains meat or not? Honestly, what type of baby mentality do you have to have to get suckered into even considering the idea? SuperInfinity (talk) 18:20, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

I am in no way trying to deny anyone the right to label their products. What I am against is currently proposed GM labeling laws in the United States. The currently proposed labeling laws are equivalent to the government saying "okay, your product has to say whether it contains meat, but you don't have to tell anyone what animal the meat came from". The proposed labels are useless and misleading. If future studies found that a certain strain of GM corn was harmful to humans, the currently proposed labels wouldn't provide people with enough information to determine whether a product contained that strain, so they would do nothing to protect or inform consumers, which is ostensibly what they're all about. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 20:31, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

[edit] References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]

07:20, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

[edit] Allergies (sub-topic)

I think I recall hearing somewhere that there is the potential for allergies to be carried across species when inserting genes from one food into another? Is there evidence of this? Is there the potential for this to happen? If so that can be an important factor. DickTurpis (talk) 15:08, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

I can't imagine this being a real problem unless the company is splicing in whatever genes cause the allergic reactions in the first place. Usually it's specific proteins within foods that generate allergic reactions, so unless the company is splicing in that particular protein strand, I doubt it. - Grant (Talk) 15:44, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
There's a certain risk of introducing new allergens with GMOs, that's what the whole concern with Starlink corn was about. It's not a huge problem though. Starlink corn never actually caused any allergic reactions, but since it had a new protein in it with a relatively long digestion time, it was potentially allergenic and therefore deemed unfit for human consumption. We're not flying blind in regards to transgenic modification. GM crops are extensively tested and regulated, and there's a host of tools used to determine what exactly the modifications do to the organism. Frederick♠♣♥♦ 00:04, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

[edit] We had a similar conversation...

...a few weeks ago. One of the points raised there was the same one AMG is raising again here. That the GMO advocates need to do a much better job than the one they're doing now. While they might stamp their feet and scream that the Monsantos of the world are much better now than when they were dumping chemicals in rivers, there is a huge trust issue and they have to do much better than simply saying "Trust us. It's all perfectly safe. You don't need to be told when you're eating GMO." Even if what they are saying is all perfectly true, they have to persuade the consumer that it is. They haven't done that, which is why there is demand for labelling. It's got bugger all to do with organic farmers lobbying. The GMO lobby are pretty damn powerful themselves. Ajkgordon (talk) 18:42, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Just a couple of comments - one is that the first GMO foodstuff to hit the market actually had a name - the flavr savr tomato, which had been engineered not to start rotting the moment they were ripe, which could mean picking them ripe (yummy) in California and shipping them cross country in a still edible condition. That "label" never actually came into existence.
From my understanding the organic food industry is actually anti-labelling, because as things stand the only way to avoid "GMO food" is to buy "organic food".
The GMO process and concept has nothing to do with selective breeding.
Quite a number of selectively bred varieties of things are patented, I'm thinking here of things like roses and such. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:53, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Oh and also, some people might want to buy and eat GMO-derived products, for various reasons. Such as liking roundup-ready crops for their vastly lower weed-killer impact on farmland. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:55, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Let's be blunt here: anyone who says artificial breeding is similar in any way to GMO is an ignorant fool. It's like saying that putting a large asteroid through the earth is no different to stepping outside the door, because you're removing earth in either case and the asteroid just makes it occur "faster". Artificial selection over a few hundred years is really not much different to natural selection by selection of particular traits by animals such as mammals which then propagate those seeds. That's just selecting for particular traits, much like how no matter how much you breed an apple it will still be an apple, a dog will still be a dog... a GMOed apple is arguably no longer an apple, it just would likely "look" like an apple when it might be 1% an orange or something completely different. SuperInfinity (talk) 19:09, 18 October 2014 (UTC)

If "no matter how much you breed an apple it will still be an apple", where did apples come from in the first place? Species are man-made classifications. Many organisms formally classified as different species can breed, and vice versa. Domestic dogs should probably be split into multiple species, since there's no way some of them can interbreed naturally; that we lump them all together as "dogs" is mostly out of tradition. As far as species go, humans have created hundreds of entirely new species through breeding. Look at the incredible difference between corn and its wild ancestor, teosinte. And it's estimated humans share 50% of their genes with bananas, so by your logic you are 50% banana. Most GMOs involve the addition or manipulation of a single gene, which is nothing compared to the amount of genetic shuffling that occurs in normal sexual reproduction (see meiosis and chromosomal crossover). Not only that, but vertebrates like you and me accumulate mutant cells all throughout our lives; it's how we develop immunity to pathogens (see adaptive immune system, VDJ recombination). So being injected with a vaccine turns you into a mutant! Oh geez, hope the anti-vaxers aren't reading this. -- (talk) 08:07, 25 October 2014 (UTC)
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