Hey all,

I haven't visited TA in a while, nor have I posted in such amount of time either, but I have an inquiry that I hope some of you may touch on...

I've noticed that there are quite a few Atheists/Secularists out there who are supportive on Genetically Modified Organisms in food and drink products. I for one, am not. But aside from that, I'd like to know why exactly you're supportive of it. Do you believe in what corporations like Monsanto say? Things like "GMOs allow us to feed the world.." (generally speaking) and what not? Or is it the science behind it?

I'd love to have some interesting conversation about this.

Thanks!

Tags: genetically, gmo, modified, organisms, science

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Hi Justin, what exactly do you mean by genetically modified organisms in food and drink products? Do you mean bacteria type organisms being added to regular food/drink? or do you mean regular food/drink that has been grown from plants/animals which have been genetically modified.

If it is the former: Holy shit how long has this been going on? totally news to me!

if it is the latter: I don't see the harm with genetic modification at a high level. Lets use the example of rice... if scientists can increase the yield of a crop of rice by adding in a few genes (or even removing a few genes), I don't see how that is dangerous in any way. Obviously, if you add genes which produce toxins, then GM is a bad thing in that case.

Interesting topic nonetheless,

    Matt

Hi Matt, I meant essentially the distribution of GMO foods and the growing of GMO crops. I know I wasn't very specific to begin with, but my main goal was to just see how us fellow Atheists thought about the matter. And GMO foods have been around for quite some time now and they're everywhere.

There have been some great responses and thanks everyone for their input and thoughts.

I have very mixed feelings about GMO's.  It concerns me that big multinational corporations are patenting genes for rather aggressive organisms that may come to threaten non-patented strains - eliminating the possibility of growing royalty free canola, for instance.  On the other hand, I love some of the GM varieties of produce out there - peppers of all colours, giant/juicy tomatoes, etc.  The increase in yield for cereal crops, and reduced reliance on chemical pesticides because of pest resistant strains is also a big bonus.

Mostly I just want stringent labeling of GM products so people can make their own decisions.  I guess I also want pretty tight scrutiny on just what the heck we're dabbling with so we can avoid burning our own bunions, so to speak.

A couple thoughts:

The Supreme Court made a huge and fateful mistake when it allowed corporations to patent genetic creations. One result has been that if the pollen from a field planted with Monsanto corn drifts into the field next door producing corn infected with Monsanto genetics, Monsanto effectively owns that corn, and can sue the owner of the next field.

We have been drifting toward reducing the diversity of crops in favor of crops with high yields that we understand very well. As a result, some of the older, less productive varieties are falling by the wayside and may even become extinct or become adulterated by genes from the corporate crops. The problem is that if a disease comes along that begins infecting and ruining corn or apples or soybeans, resistant genes from the older, less productive varieties could be their salvation. But not if those varieties and their gene pools are gone.

As for labeling, since the average person knows even less than you and I about what's at stake, what good is labeling? It's just as likely to drive people away from good products as to drive bad products off the shelves, isn't it?

This is a problem for those agencies we depend upon to protect us. However, between lobbyists touting "scientific" conducted by industry employees or research sucking at the industry teat and public apathy (far more people don't give a damn than do), I don't hold out much hope.

Here is an article discussing the problems related to GMO's, monoculture, and biodiversity.

Would your students be allowed to use a site like that as a trusted source in a paper..?

Arcus, we get it. You're 110% supportive of GMOs...

Demanding unbiased/balanced sources makes me a fanatic? I thought it was the other way around..

Unseen - we seem to be on the same page on all the issues except labeling.  You are right about labeling perhaps having unforeseen/inappropriate market influence but I do think people would benefit from realizing just how much of our produce has already been genetically modified.

Thanks for the responses.

In regards to labeling, there are initiatives going on all over the country to label GMO foods. Australia and the EU allow 1% of any ingredient in food to be unlabeled, anything beyond 1% is required to be labeled as genetically modified food. Japan and a lot of other countries require labeling too. California (where I live) will probably be voting whether or not to label GMO foods in November in the general election and a couple of other states are pushing for labeling. I posted a link earlier in this thread about how Monsanto is threatening to sue the state of Vermont if they pass a bill requiring GMOs to be labeled. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25180.cfm

Its just all sketchy to me. I am still open to further interpretation and more studies, however it just seems like GMOs have a scummy sensation to them, and more than likely, its companies like Monsanto which is the problem. There's a couple documentaries you can watch, in which both got my attention: The Future of Food (http://www.hulu.com/watch/67878/the-future-of-food) and Food Inc. (http://www.pbs.org/pov/foodinc/) which also touches on how ridiculous agencies like the USDA and FDA have become.

You can take the information however you'd like, but it was an eye-opener for me.

I'm a little more optimistic than you, Unseen. I have a few counterpoints to your post.

  • For Monstanto, "could sue" and "would sue" are 2 different things as are "could win" and "would win".
  • The various crop seeds available are never "gone" any more. We store them indefinitely for future use and human posterity.
  • Labeling works fine for those who read them and care about what they ingest.
  • The FDA can't be lobbied.

I believe Monsanto has sued a farmer and won. I'm going to bed now, though, so maybe you can prove me wrong tomorrow.

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