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Bill Gates on GMOs

At a talk in front of students at University of California at Berkeley, the Microsoft chairman and philanthropist is quizzed about his views on genetically modified food. Gates recommended the book "Tomorrow's Table" by Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak, and believes that improving resistance to drought with new seeds is important to feeding people in developing countries.

Bill also mentions the great potential of RNA interference here is a video explaining what it is.



I am not sure what you are trying to accomplish anymore. How does the endorsement of the guy I curse everytime I try to make bullet points line up, help your case?

Because of the Gates Foundation's focus on Africa and food in Africa, I am interested to know what his take on GMO is.

And, Windows 7 rocks, so I'll forgive the shortcomings of Office. :-P

Multiple posts on GMOs is no different from multiple posts on atheism or any other topic we continue to discuss. It is a current interest of mine and so I continue to pursue it.

This is not Bill Gates Microsoft speaking, it's Bill Gates philanthropist. A man who is spending millions to address food problems in Africa. I thought others would be interested on his take. Also his mention of RNA interference was something new to add to the discussion.

Does anyone have recommendations for informed books that take the opposite view Gates is taking? I am more or less ignorant on the issue. I think I'll read the book Gates is mentioning, but other sources would be nice as well.

I can tell you what not to read, anything by Jeffrey Smith, he's a hack, and what not to watch "The Future of Food" and to a lesser extent Food Inc. Food Inc. makes some attempt at balance, but "The Future of Food" none in fact they spend half (exaggeration) of the movie featuring Ignacio Chapela Ph.D. as he explains a theory of his based on his paper that was published in Nature and later removed. If you do find something good that includes references to supporting material please let me know.

Ignacio Chapela's research showing that modified genes spread to local varieties in Mexico has been corroborated, and the original controversy regarding Chapela was entirely manufactured by Monsanto's PR firm, The Bivings Group.

was entirely manufactured by Monsanto

There I've put them it bold type for you.


Norm could you expand upon why you think the documentary "Food Inc." is not worth watching. I've been following the GMO threads these past weeks and see the strongest opposition coming from those who criticize aspects of corporatization. One of the things that I think Food Inc. covered well is the ties between the food industry and the government (aka the subsization of junk food in America). Like Michael Pollan I'm a meat eater but the easiest industry to pick on is meat. It goes beyond the subject of animal cruelty and extends to worker rights and enviornmental pollution. I'm interested in the conversation concerning the mass production of foodstuff but want to know how you reconcile genetically modified fish and industry-produced meat.

Perhaps not worth watching is a little harsh. It does cherry pick a bit in how it covers different topics, but in terms of a discussion of GMOs it says very little. I don't disagree with the points Food Inc. makes about corporatism and food. I'm as hard as the next guy on the evils of corporations. Subsidizing junk food is also a bad idea. The animal cruelty, workers rights, and environmental pollution are also serious problems, nor do I care for corporate bullying tactics whether they are directed at consumers or farmers. But the discussion of GMOs I'm interested in has nothing to do with corporate abuses. Fuck the corporations. Genetic modification can and does provide significant benefits, but it like anything else can be abused. We've been modifying beef and chickens and plants for centuries. That is what selective breeding is all about. In the case of plants which I know a little more about than the animals there is very little difference between traditional methods and genetic engineering methods expect that the genetic engineered plants can be modified just to add a specific trait whereas using traditional methods it's more of a shotgun approach. One non GE method of getting plants with new traits is to use radiation to damage the plants DNA and then seeing what characteristics the new plants have and if they're useful. More genes are modified in a method like this than using genetic engineering. In fact just plain evolution hybridization of plants results in more gene changes that a typical genetically engineered plant. I don't know a lot about genetically modified fish, but don't see anything inherently wrong with the idea. There are always concerns, both ethical and practical to consider here is the link to an article which discusses the issue as it applies to GM crops and Africa, but the discussion can easily be extrapolated to questions that need to be considered in the debate on GMOs in general highly recommend that you read it.

Must... resist... comparison... to... Jobs.

His assertion that GMO crops increase yield and decrease pesticide and herbicide use has been debunked.




He also fails to mention that the GMO crops used in Africa, though free to qualified farmers, will still be licensed to the seed companies. He then openly admits to having funded the regulatory agencies in place to monitor the use of GMOs in Africa.

In your dreams

First, all GMOs are not created equal. The two biotech traits currently on the market are herbicide tolerance and insect resistance (Bt). These traits are obviously very different, but most of the report just lumps them together as “GE crops”, even though the report clearly states multiple times that Bt crops have reduced insecticide use. For example:

Bt corn and cotton have delivered consistent reductions in insecticide use totaling 64.2 million pounds over the 13 years. Bt corn reduced insecticide use by 32.6 million pounds, or by about 0.1 pound per acre. Bt cotton reduced insecticide use by 31.6 million pounds, or about 0.4 pounds per acre planted.

What report is it that states such reductions for Bt corn and cotton why it's The Organic Center recently released Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years by Dr. Charles Benbrook, agricultural economist and “Chief Scientist” of the Organic Center.

We can't even get an honest discussion because opponents of GMOs play with the numbers and think all they have to do is wave their hands and repeat Monsanto, Monsanto, Monsanto.

Huh boy. BigDaddyMalcontent, if you read the report, Failure to Yield, you will notice that it does in fact estimate a yield increase for Bt corn. It only looked at corn an soybeans, was not peer-reviewed, and also left out a mention of an intrinsic yield-enhancing trait for soybeans under development by a company called Mendel Biotechnology.

Why should the report have included something that is still under development? I see that as a recurring theme among the pro-GMO camp: GMOs might reduce blister rust on alfalfa; golden rice could maybe possibly if tons of conditions are met someday provide malnourished people with vitamin A; some technology currently under development by some company might increase yield.

How about instead of putting the cart before the horse, GMO advocates give us the benefits first and the PR later? The benefits always come with conditions and hypotheticals attached.

As far as your peer-reviewed allegation, Failure to Yield "analyze(d) nearly two decades worth of peer-reviewed research on the yield of genetically engineered food/feed crops in the United States."

Huh boy.

HI BigDaddy. I can tell that you have not bothered to read the report. In Failure to Yield, it states that no Intrinsic Yield enhancing traits exist or have undergone field trials - but this trait does exist and underwent field trials that were announced long before Failure to Yield was written:

There is a huge difference between analyzing peer-reviewed research and actually publishing peer-reviewed research and/or review articles. The former means that quality control has happened, the latter does not.

Former Monsanto VP, Sam Dryden has been named to the Gates Foundation's department of agriculture development, replacing Dr. Rajiv Shah, who left to take over the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Your point, oh I know put Monsanto in a post and that is enough, one doesn't need evidence to refute something just tie it to Monsanto, and the character assassination continues. Is Dr. Tribe still waiting for your apology?

Is Dr. Chapela still waiting for yours?

please remain skeptical and regard BigDaddy's malcontentions... did Bill Gates really just suggest that we should imagine a planet that is sustaining 9 billion people? It's one thing to suggest that we might attempt to feed all those souls, it's quite another to provide warmth, clothing, automobiles, cellphones etc.. let's just say the accoutrements that those who hear these arguments have come to equate with a deserved lifestyle for all human beings.. or did I hear something wrong?


It's a good thing there are a few comments, because B.G. kept popping up and down like he was on the proverbial hot seat, and all he could do was recommend a among many. Lame.


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