Why messing with genetics in nature is not all good

Recommended Posts

Genetically modified plants are the most regulated of any crop, controlled by the FDA, the EPA, and the USDA.

The people arguing against them are alarmists who are depriving starving Africans of food.

Reminds me of this:

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/34165

POINT

I Am So Starving

By Brittany Burnbaum

Oh, my God, I am so starving. I swear, if I don't get something to eat in like two minutes, I am going to die.

I cannot believe how completely famished I am. Why do we have to wait for Tyler to get home from soccer practice? I want to eat now. It's almost 6:15.

I didn't even get to eat lunch today. Erica and I had to sign up for kickline tryouts at noon. We got to the cafeteria way late, and we weren't about to stand in line with the sophomores. All I had was a Twix and half a bag of Fritos. Plus, the stupid machine was out of Diet Coke.

No, I did not still have those carrot sticks left at lunch. I ate them all after second period. Duh.

Did you hear that? I can totally hear my stomach making these weird growling noises. I think I'm going to faint.

Please, please, please let me eat now so I can go up to my room--I have a ton of people to call tonight. It's so lame how you make us all wait to eat dinner together. Erica always gets to eat by herself in the living room with the TV on.

If we're going to wait this long for Tyler, he has to load the dishwasher. I did it last night, and it was totally nasty because you made that lasagna, and I had to scrape all the gunky cheese off the pan.

I am so totally starving. You know, it's against the law to treat your kids like this. You could get thrown in jail by the social-services people for this kind of abuse.

Oh my God, what are you taking out of the oven? Is that, like, salisbury steak? I could seriously puke just looking at that. You actually expect me to eat that? Yeah, right. Like I'm really gonna put that in my mouth. I'll be in my room if I get any phone calls.

Ugh. I swear, I could just die.

COUNTERPOINT

I Am So Starving

By Kitum Asosa

My God, I am starving. If I do not find something to eat soon, I will surely die.

Hunger consumes my life. My young body is hunched and weak, as if I were an old man. Some days, I pass the time by counting my bones.

I would walk 100 miles through the desert to reach a handful of millet. The sight of a sparrow carcass would make my mouth water, if only I were not too dehydrated to salivate. I have not eaten a full meal since the last rain, which caused a few precious patches of field grass to sprout. Soon, there will be none of us left.

I am so very, very hungry. I grow thinner and thinner, as my body starts to digest its very self. The last thing I ate was a small lizard. This was nine days ago. I gave half of it to my only remaining brother. I did this to return a favor: Last month, he discovered a piece of tree bark and shared his bounty with me. Unfortunately, my body was so unaccustomed to food, I was soon doubled over in pain, as a flood of liquid shot from my bowels. Ever since then, my rectum has protruded from my anus. My lower intestines have begun to push their way out, as well.

They say it is almost the new year, but I do not know if I will live to see it. My stomach is swollen as if I were pregnant. I joked with my brother about this yesterday, rubbing my bloated belly and calling it "my little one." My brother did not laugh. He lowered his head and cried.

My legs are like sticks and my eyes nearly sightless. I am careful not to allow myself to daydream about the harvest feasts of my youth, for my weak heart might race and burst in my chest. Those who are still alive have taken to swallowing dirt and rocks in an attempt to stop the hunger pains. Oh, God, why are we made to suffer so?

My only distraction from the constant, gnawing hunger is the chill that runs through my bones. Even in the sweltering heat, I am cold. Perhaps I will soon die of pneumonia. This would finally quell the pangs of hunger. I long to live, but, even more, I long to die.

• Replies 64
• Created

Popular Days

hey, we dont need gm crops to aid africa. we have plenty of food here, everyone knows that. why we dont ship over a crapload of that food is beyond me. we shouldnt rush into a realm that we are very inexperienced in when we have plenty of resources as of now. of course gm crops have a ton of potential, and i am confident that they will be very productive in coming decades, but preparation must be done.

out of curiosity, how is genetically engineering expected to increase crop yield? would it be possible to make a corn plant that was like 20 feet tall and produced like 50 ears of corn? that would be cool

Share on other sites

hey' date=' [b']we dont need gm crops to aid africa. we have plenty of food here, everyone knows that.[/b] why we dont ship over a crapload of that food is beyond me. we shouldnt rush into a realm that we are very inexperienced in when we have plenty of resources as of now. of course gm crops have a ton of potential, and i am confident that they will be very productive in coming decades, but preparation must be done.

out of curiosity, how is genetically engineering expected to increase crop yield? would it be possible to make a corn plant that was like 20 feet tall and produced like 50 ears of corn? that would be cool

Okay I put in bold the part that really was wrong. First, we are not "so inexperienced" in this. We have been cross breeding for thousands of years. We have been doing GM for decades which is a long time when talking about plants' lives.

Secondly, we are not over-abundant in food. Notice the starving homeless people. Americans comsume a ton (figure of speech "ton") of food every year and there isn't so much left for the government to ship out. GM could put a dent in world hunger.

Share on other sites

The people arguing against them are alarmists who are depriving starving Africans of food.

Thats a load of #$&$. First off, the world produces enough food daily to feed everyone easily 10 times over. Secondly, its governmental and corporate greed which denies the food to go where its needed, due to political and monitary "issues." Its the "OmFg how can we give this food away for free" bs mentality that causes it. Hell, McDonalds alone throws away enough food daily to save the 30,000 kids who die daily from starvation. How do I factor that? Well, McDs has over 20000 stores worldwide, and they chuck more then 25000 calories of food daily per store. I know, because I used to work for this corrupt corporation. You do the math...

Share on other sites

helix, what do you mean we are not over-abundant on food?! what is the statistic now, 1 out of ever 4 adult americans obese?! we throw out so much food, it's incredible! "peon de" is right, its not the amount of food we are producing that is the problem, it's where that food is going.

Share on other sites

helix, what do you mean we are not over-abundant on food?! what is the statistic now, 1 out of ever 4 adult americans obese?! we throw out so much food, it's incredible! "peon de" is right, its not the amount of food we are producing that is the problem, it's where that food is going.

No, you mis-read. I said we have little food left. Obesity is the problem, as I mentioned in my pervious post. We would have a surplus except everyone chooses to super-size it. The obesity "epidemic" is contributing to a lack of food.

Share on other sites

you're right, obesity is a problem, not only that it deprives hungry people from food but also that it is harmful to those who are obese. but another major problem is wasting food, like peon guy said.

Share on other sites

Right, absolultely right. And GM crops that produce significantly more food would be good. We are an intelligent species (supposedly) so why can't we put a dent in world hunger?

Share on other sites

the only way to stop extremely greedy americans from eating way too much is to force them. and i dont think a mandated food-stamp law would take too well... the government ought to say 1/20th of our food production (or some realistic statistic, i dont know) goes to aid those who are constantly hungry. whether that be in africa, or even towards the homeless in america, it doesnt matter. a person saved is a person saved in my book. we dont necessarily need gm crops to stop world hunger. they would help, but you always have to keep in mind the possible side effects.

Share on other sites

What side effects? You've mentioned them quite a bit but I haven't heard one. Can you actually bring forth one valid negative side effect that has been backed up by sufficient scientific evidence? Even if you can find one, or even two, would that outweigh feeding starving people or making medicine more easily accessible (via inserting med's in food {could be used to help the hungry/poor as well})?

Share on other sites

that's exactly my point! we dont know what negative side effects could happen! true or false, genetically engineered crops that are resistant to weeds could (or have) spawn into superweeds? take any possible genetical alteration, and there is a way that it could harm the ecosystem and whatnot. foresight is necessary whenever one decides they're going to play god.

Share on other sites

Nature can not be contained. No amount of protection will keep GM crops from mingling with regular crops. This being the case maybe we should plan for it and use it to our advantage.

Lets consider this scenario:

Hemp (Marijuana) can be and has been genetically altered to produce a far more fibrous plant. This allows for a greater harvest of hemp fiber to be used in paper, rope, and other such goods. One of the side effects of this genetic alteration is the plant produces almost no THC (the chemical substance that gets people high when it's smoked).

The plant will readily cross pollinate with local hemp plants, but the resulting offspring produce far less THC and be more fibrous than the local wild plant. This being the case, it could be used as a form of drug control or at the very least, make the illegal growing of hemp more difficult.

Share on other sites

we dont know what negative side effects could happen!

Yes we do, that's why these plants are put through considerable testing by the EPA, FDA, and USDA. In the end GM plants are functionally no different from what you could potentially get through a few centuries of selective breeding.

The bottom line is you can trust science to tell you whether or not these plants pose a threat, or you can trust your own foolish instinct and intuition. And science isn't starving people in Africa...

Share on other sites

that's exactly my point! we dont know what negative side effects could happen! true or false, genetically engineered crops that are resistant to weeds could (or have) spawn into superweeds? take any possible genetical alteration, and there is a way that it could harm the ecosystem and whatnot. foresight is necessary whenever one decides they're going to play god.

No, thats a sci-fi mentality. So a gene protecting something from the cold can spawn growth? That's completely ignoring basic rules not only of genetics but of logic.

What would happen if you have people pennicilin? Or flew a plane? Or ventured into space with cosmic raidation? People didn't know then but we do now. You make history. You help humanity.

Yes we do' date=' that's why these plants are put through considerable testing by the EPA, FDA, and USDA. In the end GM plants are functionally no different from what you could potentially get through a few centuries of selective breeding.

The bottom line is you can trust science to tell you whether or not these plants pose a threat, or you can trust your own foolish instinct and intuition. And science isn't starving people in Africa...[/quote']

Exactly right. The FDA USDA and foreign counter-parts have done extensive testing. And guess what, no harm?

It would be cool if these GM crops would turn killer and it would be a big "I told you so." But, sorry, they're safe.

Share on other sites

In the end GM plants are functionally no different from what you could potentially get through a few centuries of selective breeding.

are you kidding?!?! could you selectively breed a plant to produce a crapload of a specific vitamin? could you selectively breed a plant to resist cold?

selective breeding effectively happens in nature as well; it's the same theory as that of 100 monkeys pounding on typewriters for an infinite amount of time will eventually produce Shakespeare. different combinations come and go regularly. but there is a DIFFERENCE when we decide to, rather than play nature's original game of sexual plant breeding, to open up its DNA and tinker with it. can that be done in nature? do plants perform genetic surgery on themselves? can they decide "oh gee, i feel like being able to resist about 200 degrees of heat, i think i'll change that today?"

no, they can't.

and because we dont know the POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS of such screwing around with nature, we are in no position to go around changing whatever we feel like changing! yes, gm crops have lots of potential, that is INARGUABLE. but bad things can happen, and they need to be examined.

i say this about every post i make on this thread. yet you keep arguing. do you just not want us to do research on this? not spend a few years and make sure we're not screwing something up? who cares if the risk is low, the possible negative side effects are worth the time.

Share on other sites

are you kidding?!?! could you selectively breed a plant to produce a crapload of a specific vitamin?

Yes, you go through the offspring and find which one produces the most of the particular vitamin you're interested in, and kill off all the other offspring. Then, produce another generation of offspring, take the one that produces the most of the vitamin again, and breed another generation from that. Continue until you reach your desired goal.

could you selectively breed a plant to resist cold?

Yes, expose several plants to cold and breed the ones that do the best. Expose the next generation to cold again and continue until you reach your desired goal (I hope you get the idea now)

selective breeding effectively happens in nature as well; it's the same theory as that of 100 monkeys pounding on typewriters for an infinite amount of time will eventually produce Shakespeare.

Wrong. Evolution is the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators, whereas 100 monkeys pounding on 100 typewriters is simply pure randomness. Imagine how long it would take the same number of monkeys to write Shakespeare if for every letter they managed to hit correctly (through randomness) those letters stayed fixed and they need only type the ones that are incorrect. You'd get a lot closer to Shakespeare a lot faster that way.

different combinations come and go regularly. but there is a DIFFERENCE when we decide to, rather than play nature's original game of sexual plant breeding, to open up its DNA and tinker with it. can that be done in nature? do plants perform genetic surgery on themselves? can they decide "oh gee, i feel like being able to resist about 200 degrees of heat, i think i'll change that today?"

But selective breeding involves what the breeders want. Random variations in gene transcription alter the genetic code all the time. The only difference with GMO crops is that the alterations to the DNA are intelligent rather than random.

and because we dont know the POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS of such screwing around with nature

But we do. Do you think you've magically forseen a disaster scenario with GMO crops that the scientists actually trained in the field have not? Do you think you've seen one that the top scientists at the EPA, FDA, and USDA have not forseen? And even if such a scenario hasn't been forseen by scientists in any of these groups, do you think there's a disaster scenario which could occur in the wild which wouldn't crop up in the extensive testing processes laid out by the EPA, FDA, and USDA?

we are in no position to go around changing whatever we feel like changing! yes, gm crops have lots of potential, that is INARGUABLE. but bad things can happen, and they need to be examined.

i say this about every post i make on this thread. yet you keep arguing. do you just not want us to do research on this? not spend a few years and make sure we're not screwing something up? who cares if the risk is low, the possible negative side effects are worth the time.

That's exactly what we are doing. That's why these crops go through years of extensive testing by three different agencies and must get all three stamps of approval before they are put into production.

The bottom line is... I trust the opinions of the scientists at the EPA, FDA, USDA, and the scientists at the institutions performing the research.

You can either accept these opinions or attempt to second guess them. And that's not to say that there aren't GMO alarmists with PhDs in biochemistry/genetics/molecular biology, but these people are in the minority and their claims, at least as far as I have ever seen, are essentially baseless speculation, much like yours.

When it comes right down to it, I'd say feeding the starving children in Africa is worth risking whatever unlikely doomsday scenario you feel GMO crops could pose. And if such a doomsday scenario were to occur, I'm confident science would find a solution.

Second guessing science puts you in the same category as creationists... the sad thing is GMO alarmists managed to convince many African governments not to accept GMO crops and are thus forcing hundreds of thousands to starve. That is real, quantifiable harm to humanity... so consider the people your alarmist stance on GMO crops are hurting

Share on other sites

are you kidding?!?! could you selectively breed a plant to produce a crapload of a specific vitamin? could you selectively breed a plant to resist cold?

selective breeding effectively happens in nature as well; it's the same theory as that of 100 monkeys pounding on typewriters for an infinite amount of time will eventually produce Shakespeare. different combinations come and go regularly. but there is a DIFFERENCE when we decide to' date=' rather than play nature's original game of sexual plant breeding, to open up its DNA and tinker with it. can that be done in nature? do plants perform genetic surgery on themselves? can they decide "oh gee, i feel like being able to resist about 200 degrees of heat, i think i'll change that today?"

no, they can't.

and because we dont know the POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS of such screwing around with nature, we are in no position to go around changing whatever we feel like changing! yes, gm crops have lots of potential, that is INARGUABLE. but bad things can happen, and they need to be examined.

i say this about every post i make on this thread. yet you keep arguing. do you just not want us to do research on this? not spend a few years and make sure we're not screwing something up? who cares if the risk is low, the possible negative side effects are worth the time.[/quote']

Okay well you assume no research has been done? As if the United States federal government would do something like tamper with genes and not know the possible outcomes? Yes, the US Gov't is incredibly inept but not that inept.

Research has in fact been done, contrary to your allegations. And the results point towards saftey.

Why do you keep arguing that we have no proof when we do and it's you who doesn't have proof? Look, I don't like the gov't screwing around in things that should be off-limits to humans either. But this is not going to turn out like a sci-fi movie. More research will be done and that will just back up the current findings: GM crops pose no serious threat to humanity and if any minascule risk would exist, it would not shadow out the enormous benefits.

Share on other sites

you could selectively breed a plant to resist cold? really? why has that not been attempted then? why has humanity not selectively bred crops (a procedure that has been available for a long time...) to grow plants in siberia, or alaska? just didn't feel like it? I guess you could selectively breed crops to grow in deserts too, like the sahara. if this is true, WHY DO WE NEED GM CROPS IN THE FIRST PLACE?! you cannot selectively breed crops like this! that is the point of GENETICALLY altering them! to do things to them that are otherwise impossible in nature!

genetically altering plants involves inserting genes that were not there before. genes that are impossible to accomplish via natural selection or random evolution.

"Do you think you've magically forseen a disaster scenario with GMO crops that the scientists actually trained in the field have not? Do you think you've seen one that the top scientists at the EPA, FDA, and USDA have not forseen? And even if such a scenario hasn't been forseen by scientists in any of these groups, do you think there's a disaster scenario which could occur in the wild which wouldn't crop up in the extensive testing processes laid out by the EPA, FDA, and USDA?"

no, i do not. but do you think it is possible that, in the rush to market some new super-crop, that these governmental agencies overlook something? do you assume that they are omniscient? and what about other governments whose agencies are not as great as the (as you assume) american ones? should there be no independent research done? oh, well, because the americans are screwing around with nature, i guess we can.

second-guessing science puts you in the same category as creationists? well, you see, technically it has been science that has been second guessing creationists, seeing as the christian idea of the world has been around longer than the contemporary scientific one. i'm not a creationist, mind you, but they've been arguing their points longer. and isn't second-guessing science its most important aspect? when you do an experiment, do you just attempt it once? or do you say "hmm, maybe that's not right, why dont I try it again?" are theories postulated once, and accepted as truth? When galileo speculated that the sun was the center of our solar system, did everyone immediately go "oh, he's right, we're wrong"? NO. thousands of poeple had to prove it for themselves.

"and their claims, at least as far as I have ever seen, are essentially baseless speculation, much like yours."

thanks for the respect. i guess everything needs scientific basis for it to be worth discussing. it is certainly impossible, i guess, for someone to have an idea first and then scientifically prove it later. it is my understanding that that is how most (if not all) scientific theories are formed.

Share on other sites

you could selectively breed a plant to resist cold? really? why has that not been attempted then? why has humanity not selectively bred crops (a procedure that has been available for a long time...) to grow plants in siberia, or alaska? just didn't feel like it? I guess you could selectively breed crops to grow in deserts too, like the sahara. if this is true, WHY DO WE NEED GM CROPS IN THE FIRST PLACE?! you cannot selectively breed crops like this! that is the point of GENETICALLY altering them! to do things to them that are otherwise impossible in nature!

Not planting crops in Siberia and Alaska doesn't have to do with temperature. It is a challenge because of the soil, or lack thereof. The soil in the tundra is dry and relativley un-fertile.

genetically altering plants involves inserting genes that were not there before. genes that are impossible to accomplish via natural selection or random evolution.

Partly right. It is not specific to adding genes, it is any way of genetically modifying. And how do you know what evolution will bring? How do you know how things will evolve. Viruses can swap parts of genome creating totally different traits that under your logic "could never happen naturally." Evolution brings different things for different species, so how do you know what will happen?

no, i do not. but do you think it is possible that, in the rush to market some new super-crop, that these governmental agencies overlook something? do you assume that they are omniscient? and what about other governments whose agencies are not as great as the (as you assume) american ones? should there be no independent research done? oh, well, because the americans are screwing around with nature, i guess we can.

In light of recent scandals involving the FDA, the government would not overlook anything. Vioxx was put on the market wrongly and caused increase risk of hear attacks. For a while drugs have been having potentially lethal side effects and the FDA is starting to take heat. And for a new controversial science like GM, they would spare no expense researching the potential problems and outcomes. Which they are.

I harldy think your portrayal of people's mindset is accurate. For many because America is doing this is reason to research the possible negative outcomes.

second-guessing science puts you in the same category as creationists? well, you see, technically it has been science that has been second guessing creationists, seeing as the christian idea of the world has been around longer than the contemporary scientific one. i'm not a creationist, mind you, but they've been arguing their points longer. and isn't second-guessing science its most important aspect? when you do an experiment, do you just attempt it once? or do you say "hmm, maybe that's not right, why dont I try it again?" are theories postulated once, and accepted as truth? When galileo speculated that the sun was the center of our solar system, did everyone immediately go "oh, he's right, we're wrong"? NO. thousands of poeple had to prove it for themselves.

True but what you're describing isn't second guessing, it's all out refusal. From what I gather, you don't think the extensive research is enough and want your own proof. What kind of proof do you want? Who knows, seeing as how you avoid answering. So, while I agree with what's stated it isn't what you're doing.

thanks for the respect. i guess everything needs scientific basis for it to be worth discussing. it is certainly impossible, i guess, for someone to have an idea first and then scientifically prove it later. it is my understanding that that is how most (if not all) scientific theories are formed.

Yes a scientific idea. Einstein's theory was just that but it was still rooted in scientific basis based on previous research. Germ theory was, again, a theory, but it was based on scientifically proving wrong what others thought was right.

Share on other sites

you could selectively breed a plant to resist cold? really? why has that not been attempted then? why has humanity not selectively bred crops (a procedure that has been available for a long time...) to grow plants in siberia' date=' or alaska? just didn't feel like it? I guess you could selectively breed crops to grow in deserts too, like the sahara. if this is true, WHY DO WE NEED GM CROPS IN THE FIRST PLACE?! you cannot selectively breed crops like this! that is the point of GENETICALLY altering them! to do things to them that are otherwise impossible in nature! [/quote']

dude plants have been made to resist colder enviroments

Share on other sites

why has humanity not selectively bred crops (a procedure that has been available for a long time...) to grow plants in siberia, or alaska?

Because you're depending on random variations to accomplish the genetic manipulations you desire, so it could take dozens of generations of selective breeding before you accomplish your desired goal. And chances are, you won't live that long...

People have dedicated lifetimes to using selective breeding to improve the hardiness and yield of crops, most notably Dr. Norman Borlog, who was given the Nobel Prize for his work in food science. His efforts are estimated to have saved the lives of one billion people, and he is a staunch advocate of using GMO crops to accomplish now what would take a century of selective breeding.

The bottom line: tens of thousands die from starvation every day. We need to produce food to save these people now, not in a century. GMO can accomplish this. Why are you irrationally denying these people the food they need to eat to survive?

Share on other sites

The bottom line: tens of thousands die from starvation every day. We need to produce food to save these people now' date=' not in a century. GMO can accomplish this. Why are you irrationally denying these people the food they need to eat to survive?[/quote']

But what are the negative effects of reducing genetic diversity of a species?

Share on other sites

But what are the negative effects of reducing genetic diversity of a species?

There would still be genetic diversity. I can't think of anything more diverse than intorducing new genes. There would be so many new paths for evolution to take.

With the normal genome, the options are limited to the genes present and how natural selection can act upon them. Imagine how adding more genes would effect the genome. The new options would lead into many new types of expression. Lack of genetic diversity? Opposite, actually.

Share on other sites

All of you guys make great points

but the thing is you cant breed plants to resist extreme temperatures or to produce a new kind of protein in milk, thats where genetic modification come in. Scientists are not genetically modifying plants and animals to harm people and I am pretty sure a lot of precaution is taken to keep plants from spreading around the world and terroricing people with some kinda new ability to walk....

its quite simple, you add a gene to a salmon to make it grow very fast and big and thats it, theres no negative consequences unless the scientists did their job and research the possibilities of the gene they are altering having a negative consequence like the salmon somehow beimg poisonous.

stop crying and eing scared of genetic modification and learn about it, go to college and study this field and become a scientist who makes a difference instead of crying about it.

Share on other sites

Right well I think it's clear from my posts that I am for GM. (I don't want to speak for bascule, but his arguements seem to suggest the same.)

Create an account

Register a new account