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The Right To Know - Genetic Engineering

Sometimes there are comments that are worthy of posts of their own. Anastasia's comment on the right to know about genetic sequences in the food is one of them. Her questions are ones that those who are opposed to genetically engineered foods should be willing to answer.

Whether or not we have a right to know about genetic sequences in the foods we eat is a really interesting discussion. I'd like to expand it a little. There are a variety of crop breeding techniques that can change the genetic makeup of the plant. For example, new traits can be created by mutagenesis - soaking seeds in mutagenic chemicals or bombarding them with mutagenic radiation. Mutagenized plant lines require no safety testing, even though we know that unwanted mutations are created along with ones we want. Tissue culture can cause huge changes in gene expression and cause mutations. Wide crosses between species can also do some funky stuff to the resulting plant's genome.

Why are people calling for labeling of genetically engineered organisms but not of organisms that have undergone other procedures to change their genetics?

Further, we know that different varieties of the same species can be very different. Some varieties of tomatoes and potatoes are toxic, for example, and the genes that code for the toxins can be upregulated by unknown changes elsewhere in the genome by breeding, mutagenesis, and so on.

Why are there no calls for the exact variety of each organism based food ingredient?

Do we have a right to know these other things, or just about genetic engineering? How are these things and genetic engineering different from each other?

If you say they are different is because genetic engineering can move genes from one species to another, how does your argument change when faced with natural occurrences of genetic code moving across species lines or of genetically engineered plants or animals that use only genetic sequences from the same species?


 

Comments

I'm all for knowledge. Meaning is a favorite of mine too. The creation of proprietary information with regard to the genetic codes of plants and animals, the conversion of genetic sequences to intellectual property is wrong by my lights. Most of the rest of the arguments around genetic manipulation aren't very interesting. I note that my neighbors soybean field, well saturated in glyphosate and planted with Monsanto's best Round-up Ready seed this year had a lot of ragweed that one would expect to have been suppressed. The beans are just food for the pigs, so the chemicals they carry that make them unfit for human consumption aren't really at issue. And what happens to those chemicals when the pigs eat them and are subsequently butchered and enter the food chain is information I don't have. But patenting the genetic code of soybeans or people and keeping that information secret just irritates the heck out of me.

Essentially what I said to Chris was that this is the real arguement against GMO labeling. His arguement was absurd. We have a right to know what we are eating. The question really is, "Is a GMO corn really 'Corn'?"

But I think the answer to Aa's question is obvious.

The reason people care about GMO food labeling but not Mutagenized food is that noone knows what mutagenized plants are, or they probably would. and if they can create toxic hybrids as easily as she implies, they probably should.

but my arguement for GMO labeling is that we define the organizms we eat by our understanding as to how they are produced.

In the same way that cheese food by kraft might be chemically similar to actual cheese we don't allow it to be called cheese because it is thickened by oil rather than aged curds and so it isn't cheese

re: "Anastasia's comment on the right to know about genetic sequences in the food is one of them. Her questions are ones that those who are opposed to genetically engineered foods should be willing to answer. "

Lots of bad stuff happens in the name of science or greed. To suggest that we MUST fight every one of them else we CAN'T fight any one is rather like saying "science has been wrong before, they said trans-fat margarine was better for us than butter. Therefore don't believe them when they say vaccines don't cause autism". Or, it's rather like saying "Linus Pauling got a Nobel prize, therefore he must ALSO be right that Vitamin C cures the common cold."

I say, If Monsanto and other Genetic Engineered food folk are proud of the health properties and quality of their work, why object to labeling it?" Most other manufacturers listen to their consumers. If the products they produced are not wanted, then they stop making them, instead of hiding behind government regulation. Food producers who are proud of their work, brand it.

That said, sure, I also think that soaking seeds in mutagenic chemicals or bombarding them with mutagenic radiation just to see what weird sh.t might be created is not what I want on my dinner table either. Perhaps the only reason why there is no hue and cry over it's lack of testing and labeling, is because these products have not contaminated 70% of our food supply. Indeed, I cannot find a single example of a know commercially sold radiation mutagenicized plant. 'Course, if it were labeled, then we'd know...

Perhaps the only reason why there is no hue and cry over it's lack of testing and labeling, is because these products have not contaminated 70% of our food supply.

Are you sure about that?

I'll bet that most of "more than 2500 varieties derived from mutagenesis programmes [that] have been released [over the past 70 years]" were produced by this scattershot approach.

I like to think of "eating organic" like "eating Kosher" or "eating Halal".

Monsanto seems dissatisfied with their reputation as The Great Satan of The Food Supply, but they earned it.

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