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GMO's and other things


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Hey Everybody!

I'm curious to know what your thoughts and opinions are on genetically modified organisms. I've also just finished working in a lab that used mouse as a model organism, so if any of you have any questions or thoughts on the use of animals in research, I may be able to tell you something interesting. Since most concerns with GMO's are about food crops, it might also be interesting to talk about the development of organic foods.

My opinion on GM crops is that if implemented correctly, they could greatly increase productivity and lower costs to consumers and farmers. I think there is a knowledge barrier between laymen and scientists that is preventing us from using genetic modification to its full potential. I understand countries other than the U.S. realize the benefits and are switching over to GM crops, so anyone from a different country could give especially valuable input that my own background cannot provide.

I think everyone but the most adamant animal rights activists acknowledge the benefits that come from animal research. However, it is possible that anyone here who is against using animals for research may be misinformed in some areas, and I may be able to shed some light on the subject.

Lastly, I see organic foods as the opposite of GM foods. They require more resources to produce and cost more to consumers and farmers. My wife loves organic foods, and while I try to dissuade her from getting everything organic because of the price, I don't mind if she buys organic eggs and milk. She says they taste different, but they all taste the same to me. I think the 'organic movement' is more based on making consumers feel like they're eating wholesome, 'natural' foods rather than on health benefits. Since I don't look for reasons to spend extra money on food, I may be missing some vital research on the subject, and if anyone here is an organic guru it would be nice to hear some reasons why organic foods are worth the price.

That's all I can crank out at 4am, so I hope to hear from some of you tomorrow!
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I grew up in a farming community, and I understand how the [I]Idea[/I] of GM crops seems to "Save the farmer and consumers money" but the truth of the matter is it actually hurts the farmer. Yes cheaper to grow does sound awesome, but the reason it costs so much to raise natural crops is the pesticides/fertilizers and other means.

Cheaper to grow just means more competition and less money. If any Joe can purchase a few acres and produce these "easy grow" crops, than many rural areas will lose out. In addition, if you are getting mass quantities of corn(for example) than there is going to be MUCH less demand for it. Meaning more wasted crops for farmers. Besides, the biggest expense on a farm is the cost of fuel; so in order for there to even be a reason to go to something like this you'd have to get a group of...hmm not even sure what the technical name is, but a group of scientists dedicated to the altering of carbon atoms to allow for super fast decomp.

I also think that before GM crops would even be accepted by the populous, there would have to be at least a generation gone by to see what sort've adverse side effects they could have on human consumption.
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[FONT="Trebuchet MS"]I think it's a shame people aren't more enthusiastic about GM crops. There's just this fear in the masses that somehow the food becomes dangerous when genetically altered. I have faith in the people that are much smarter than me. If they say it's safe then i think it probably is.

I like the idea of being able to clone crops or even animals. If you get the perfect corn or cow or what have you then you can clone it and get an exact copy. It seems much more effective than selective breeding. Although, i do think there are limitations to the amount of times a certain animal can be cloned before the DNA starts deteriorating ... isn't there?

I don't care about the well-being of mice, Adahn, but if you've got something to say i'd be interested in hearing it.

As for organic crops... i dunno. People make the naturalistic fallacy all the time. A certain chemical found naturally in the environment is no better or worse than one synthesized and purified in a factory. The only difference as far as i can tell is that it is pure and controlled, whereas in nature it's got impurities and who knows how much of chemical x you're getting in plant/whatever x? [/FONT]
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One of the main benefits of GM crops is that in many cases, it's possible to completely eliminate the use of pesticides.

I think nearly all the corn in the U.S. is already and has been genetically modified for a long time. To prove your point, there was a massive overproduction of corn recently, of which you are likely aware. Environmental factors still play an enormous part, though, so yearly crop yields vary. As for the fuel, genetic modifications can eliminate the need for pesticides, which I believe plays an important part in the fuel requirements for food production.

Everyone's afraid of being the first generation to experience the possible side effects of GM crops. It's already too late, though, as almost all the corn in the U.S. is already genetically modified. I guess it will be our generation that points to corn to say whether or not it was a bad idea!


Cloning crops is the worst idea ever. The irish potato famine was a result of cutting seed potatoes from the same crop and replanting them, essentially using cloned potatoes for years. The cloned potatoes were susceptible to a disease, and since there was no genetic variation, all the potatoes died and lots of people starved to death.

Just to play both sides of the GM crops issue, scientists were able to express a protein from brazil nuts in soybeans, and people that at the genetically modified soybeans that were allergic to brazil nuts had an allergic reaction to the soybeans. However, this is an extreme case where the allergen from another plant was identified and expressed purposefully in another food crop. Most genetic modifications either remove a gene from a plant or add a gene (proven not to be an allergen) that was taken from another plant.

An example is golden rice. Rice is missing one protein that allows it to produce an essential vitamin (I think vitamin A). This causes all the rice to produce vitamin A, and the rice can be grown/distributed cheaply to populations that have been shown to have a vitamin A deficiency in their diet. Due to resistance from people wary of GM crops, golden rice is not used very widely and many people who could benefit from it will die from poor nutrition.

There once were Flavr Savr tomatoes. They were genetically modified, but no gene was added to them. Tomatoes and other crops need to decompose in order for their seeds to spread efficiently. They do this in large part by producing ethylene, which triggers the decomposition of the fruit/vegetable. When the gene that produces ethylene is removed, the plants do not rot on the vine. It increased shelf life and productivity with no risk of any foreign protein causing allergic reactions. They were available temporarily, but due to a public outcry they were banned and no longer are available.
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